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Birth rate drop has psychologists worried for future of profession

Fewer students threatens quality of ‘research, patient care’: APA

America’s declining birth rate over the past two decades has the American Psychological Association worried about the future of the profession.

Fewer children means fewer college students will be pursuing careers in psychology, thus threatening “the quality of education and training, psychological research, and patient care,” according to an article in the March issue of the APA’s Monitor on Psychology magazine.

Scholars predict a “steep drop” in college admissions starting next year, according to the article.

The “demographic cliff” is the result of a significant drop in the birth rate that began with the 2008 recession, Inside Higher Ed reported. Those “missing babies” would have been approaching college age next year, had they been born.

And with society facing an increase in mental health problems and decrease in providers, psychologists say their profession must start taking steps to recruit more students.

“We’re looking at a very serious crisis, and we’re going to see massive problems for psychology and related professions if we don’t get ahead of it and correct course,” said Melanie Wilcox, a licensed psychologist and assistant professor at Augusta University in Georgia, in the article.

The APA Board of Educational Affairs is developing plans to increase enrollment. These include making it easier to transfer credits from community college, giving credit for internships and work experience, making college more affordable, and educating students about the value of psychology, according to the report.

To encourage more students to study psychology, the APA also plans to highlight how psychologists support “the ethical development of new technologies” and study “ways to reduce racism, ageism, and other forms of bias in a variety of settings,” the report states.

With the birth rate continuing to decline, Wilcox said the association must be proactive about developing ways to ensure enough students are being educated to meet the need.

“We’re staring down the barrel of a multifaceted problem that is not a temporary blip in the radar, but one that is worsening,” Wilcox said. “We can’t make more 18-year-olds, so what are the things we can control?”

However, the APA report did not mention any possible ways the association could address the root of the problem: Young adults are having fewer children.

Meanwhile, arguments against marriage and childbearing are common in higher education. And many prominent professional groups, including the APA, support abortion.

MORE: College enrollment drops by 1.3 million in two years

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.