Jan 16, 2020

The Birth Dearth is Upon Us


America is going to need to find strategic solutions to deal with a demographic blip that will have a ripple effect for years in the education sector. In 2018, the United States experienced the fewest number of births in three decades. Demographers tell us that ten of the past eleven years have seen births decline in the US. Add that to a declining fertility rate, the United States is below the “replacement” level for overall population.

The Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) periodically publishes a study called “Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates”. This publication outlines state by state trends and is an enrollment planning resource fixture in every college admission office in the nation. Their summary in 2016 with projections through 2032 included the following:

After steady increases in the overall number of high school graduates over the last 15 years, the U.S. is headed into a period of stagnation. WICHE’s projections indicate that the number of graduates in each graduating class will average around 3.4 million through 2023, before peaking at 3.56 million prior to 2026. At the same time, the number of high school graduates from private religious and nonsectarian schools is projected to decline.

So, what does this mean? The impact of these numbers will be real. Child and youth-centered services, structures, and systems will be impacted. The educational infrastructure of our nation was built on a much larger volume of students moving through the system. The reality of the future will see educational leaders with big brands and resources seize market share, innovative disrupters show flexibility and agility by creating new markets, and followers fall behind.

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