BreakPoint: Toys R Us to Close Down

Record Low Fertility Isn’t Child’s Play

What happens when a society stops reproducing itself? Well, we’re in the early stages of finding out. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

Toys R Us, otherwise known as heaven for us kids who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, is closing all 800 of its stores’ doors. One of the nation’s largest and oldest toy retailers, the toy chain made the announcement last week.

In its annual filing, the company pointed to online competition like Amazon, as well as traditional retailers like Walmart and Target, as the major reasons for its bankruptcy. But Toys R Us (which also runs Babies R Us) cited another and much more troubling reason for its collapse: sagging birth rates.

“Most of our end-customers are newborns and children,” writes the toy chain’s management. “Our revenue [is] dependent on the birthrates in countries where we operate. In recent years, many countries’ birthrates have dropped or stagnated as their population ages.”

It’s so obvious, most people don’t even consider it. But a toy chain’s business model is dependent on, well, children. One of the reasons toy retailers are dying is because their base of small customers has become…well…too small.

The U.S. fertility rate is now at an all-time low. Some experts estimate it could be nearing 1.77 children per woman, which is well below what’s known as the “replacement rate”—or that number of babies each couple must have on average in order to keep the population from shrinking.

Little wonder, since according to a recent Pew Research poll, young Americans today are less likely to be married than any prior generation. In 1965, nearly 80 percent of “silent generation” members between 21 and 36 years old were married. Today, just 37 percent of Millennials that same age are married.

As a result, the non-immigrant population isn’t just shrinking. It’s also graying—and fast. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2035, senior citizens will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.

With trends like this in progress, the closing of toy stores may be merely a bellwether of further effects of low fertility to come. Smaller generations mean smaller consumer bases, which in turn mean less economic growth, and further declines in fertility.

As I explained on this program back in December, low fertility is also an unfulfilling way to live as a society. In a 2014 Pew poll, two out of five mothers nearing the end of their childbearing years said they wish they’d had more kids.

Babies are catalysts… they lead adults to care more about the future: to save, invest, make sacrifices, and defer gratification. With fewer children, there’s less of that other-centered love that children inspire. And our already me-centered culture may yet become even more me-centered.

In fact, the consequences of long-term population decline and aging can be seen in other countries ahead of us on this downward demographic curve. For example, Japan has shrunk by over a million people since 2010. The remaining share of Japanese students and young adults face crushing financial burdens, sometimes working 16-hour days to provide for older family members and prop up the country’s entitlement system. Many young people succumb to despair; Japan has one of the highest suicide rates among school-aged children in the world.

Folks, the negative consequences of a culture that fails to see children as the blessings they really are and who view family as a second priority at best, far outweigh any short-term gains. If you couple child-free lifestyles with our society’s disregard for marriage and support for abortion, we will deprive ourselves of more than just toy stores. We’ll be depriving ourselves of a future.


Toys R Us to Close Down: Record Low Fertility Isn’t Child’s Play

As John highlighted, our culture’s attitude toward marriage and children significantly impacts so many other areas. We see the effects of this in other countries as well as in the U.S. For further information, click on the links in our Resources section.



Toys R Us’s baby problem is everybody’s baby problem
  • Andrew Van Dam | Washington Post | March 15, 2018
How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago
  • Richard Fry, Ruth Igielnik and Eileen Patten | Pew Research Center | March 16, 2018
Elderly in U.S. Are Projected to Outnumber Children for First Time
  • Paul Overberg and Janet Adamy | Wall Street Journal | March 13, 2018
1.77 Kids Aren’t Enough: The Consequences of a Shrinking Population
  • John Stonestreet | | December 18, 2017

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  • Just One Voice

    Take a hint America!!

    My wife and I always dreamed of having 3-4 kids. Well, now we’re at that 2 child stage where we’re downright exhausted and asking ourselves, “can we really handle any more?”

    I’m curious what the “replacement rate” is, according to research firms anyway. Simple math tells me that 2 kids is just enough to replace two parents. 3 kids would add one child per couple to the population.

    • zonie6044

      You’re on the right track. In most industrialized societies, the replacement rate is approximately 2.1 children. Not exactly 2 because not all kids will make it to adulthood and child-bearing years. In third world countries the replacement rate can range from 2.5 to 3.5+ due to higher rates of infant and child mortality.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    Curious about why you didn’t mention that Toys R Us contributed to the Komen Foundation which is a supporter of Planned Parenthood: So Toys R Us was contributing to an organization that contributed to another organization that kills its future customers. That’s really dumb.

    • Just One Voice

      Wow, really dumb indeed. More proof that we reap what we sow.

      I had no idea of this until you mentioned it.

  • Wow. Big business takes a hit due to low birth rates.

  • TennesseeRedDog

    This is precisely why we have an immigration “problem” right now. Our elites know this fact and their “solution” is to replace 60 million aborted babies with the children of third world nations. This is the quickest way to add tens of millions of people to the US tax rolls.

    That is what we are seeing now… the outworking of that shadow policy.

    • zonie6044

      The immigration “problem,” as you put it, is a complex one. Drawing so many from third world countries is more likely to add to the welfare rolls than the tax rolls. In the early part of the last century most immigrants coming legally were looking for a second chance or better opportunities, for a hand up, not a hand-out. And they worked hard and assimilated into society, making their own way. Then policies changed and it was apparent that “our elites” were more interested in adding to democratic party voting rolls.

      • TennesseeRedDog

        They are also of the opinion that these warm bodies will replace the 60 million dead American babies on the tax rolls. Wishful thinking.

  • GenXConservative

    As a youngster, some of my favorite toys and games came from Toys R Us. I remember Erector sets, Incredible Domino Rally Mark II, electric train sets, and other things I enjoyed. While it is sad to see a store like this close, the company just didn’t do a good job of adapting to a changing competitive landscape. Big box retailers across the board are feeling the squeeze of e-retailers like Amazon.

    • TennesseeRedDog

      The mega malls are “going the way of the buffalo”.

  • gladys1071

    the article says low fertility is an unfulfilling way to live. That is not neccesarily true for all, most people limit their number of children by choice or are childless by choice. Most people do not want to have 3-4 children.

  • Alicia Smith McCoy

    Hello it cost money to have children! Today’s economy one or two parent families cannot support the financial burden of more than 2 kids. Especially if you want your children to grow up in a upper middle class envirorment as opposed to poverty level.

    • gladys1071

      not only that, children are not pets, they need to be raised properly by parents that are available not working long hours as most do. Children need time attention in addition to financial resources.