Do Car Seats Lower Birth Rates?

Graco Car Seat

Though we know the benefits of mandating car seats for the safety of our children, have they unintentionally limited the number of children families choose to have? According to a recent study, the answer may be yes. In a paper titled, "Car Seats as Contraception," professors Jordan Nickerson and David H. Solomon concluded that car seat laws led to 145,000 fewer births between 1980 and 2017. The researchers found that laws raising the age for when a child must use a car seat significantly raised the cost of having a third child, as many cars cannot fit three seats in the back. The timing of these laws also largely coincides with the falling of American birth rates.

The American total fertility rate has been consistently decreasing over the past couple of decades, falling to an all-time low in 2019 of 1.7 children per woman of childbearing age. During this time, researchers have tried to identify the causes behind this decrease. Journalist Jonathan V. Last discussed the many factors, including the expense of car seats, influencing America's declining birth rate in his 2013 book, What to Expect When No One's ExpectingLast recently discussed his book with the MCC as part of our 2020 Virtual Annual Assembly. We highly encourage our members to listen to this podcast to learn more about the falling birth rate and its consequences on society.
image via Flickr

October 9, 2020 - 11:01am

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