2018 Scholarship Winner

We Have Selected A Winner For Our 2018 Scholarship!

Three years ago, we began sponsoring The Peck Law Firm scholarship to help assist exemplary students pay for their college education. The cost of attending college has continued to grow in recent years and we expect the scholarships we award to help offset these costs.

This year, we asked our applicants to write an essay responding to the following question: “How will America’s declining birth rate redefine American families, culture, and government?” We were eager to hear the differing perspectives of young adults on this important issue.

We had over 140 applications submitted to us from across the nation. The winner was chosen on the merit of their essay — without any reference to gender, race, age, where they live, or where they plan to attend school. After numerous hours of consideration, we found one essay that stood apart from the rest.

The writer of that essay, and winner of the 2018 Peck Law Firm Scholarship, is Elizabeth Hipes.

Elizabeth is the first winner of our scholarship who is local to the Charleston area. Our two previous winners were from outside Charleston County. We are especially honored to help a student so close to our firm. She is also the second high school student to receive this award.

Elizabeth was born in Columbus, Ohio and lived there for four years before moving to Wilmington, North Carolina. Ten years ago, she and her family moved to Mount Pleasant. She graduated from Wando High School in June 2018 and will be attending the College of Charleston this fall.

She plans on double majoring in Chemistry and Communication with a minor in Spanish. Her dream is to go to medical school and became an Anesthesiologist in New York City.

We are extremely proud of Elizabeth and have posted her winning essay below.

We thank everyone who submitted an application this year and can’t wait to see what’s in store for our 4th annual 2019 scholarship contest. We will be announcing the essay topic soon.

Here is Elizabeth’s winning essay:

With the steadily declining birth rate in the United States, there has been lots of debate on what the future of our country looks like and what should be done, if anything, to solve the problem. The declining birth rate will redefine many parts of American life like families, culture and government; but there is significant debate over whether or not this shift should be looked upon as a blessing or a national emergency.

The traditional American family 60 years ago consisted of the working father, stay-at-home mother and 2.5 children. But in today’s world due to the declining birth rate and and many other factors, the “traditional” American family is almost impossible to put into one category. The birth rate has been slowly declining since the 1980s and has been continuing to decrease for several different reasons with one of the biggest reasons being that women are waiting longer to have children. With secondary education becoming more and more common, women have been focusing on furthering their education and building a career rather than having children. Because women are going off to college first, some decide to focus on their career and not have children at all while others simply wait until a later age. Not only has the population been dipping because of the emphasis on secondary education and career building for women, but the intense lapse in teen pregnancy rates have also contributed to what is now seen by some demographers as a national emergency. Teen pregnancies in the United States have dropped 8% since 2014 and are continuing to drop. Because of this rising trend in secondary education and the degeneracy of teen pregnancy rates, American families are becoming smaller and parents becoming older. As compared to the “traditional” American family back in the 1950s, today’s family unit looks drastically different and will continue to do so until there is stabilization in America’s population.

Since the declining birth rate is decreasing the American population, it also means that the number of people in the workforce will continue to decrease as well. Therefore the government’s hand will eventually be forced to act to combat the diminishing workforce. When the “Baby Boomer” generation becomes Social Security eligible, those dependents will then look to the generations before them to fill in the gap or reach the “replacement level” in the workforce so that the retirees can receive their Social Security benefits. But since the birth rate has been continuing to decline, the replacement level will not be high enough to meet the bar set by the Baby Boomers. The government will then be forced to step in to combat the replacement level problem. This can be carried out in many ways but one of the clearest solutions to the problem is to outsource from other countries. By hiring people from around the world to come work in the United States, America’s culture will shift dramatically because of these employees and their families coming from different countries with different cultures than that of the United States. America has always been a melting pot of cultures, but with the declining birth rate and the inevitable influx of outsourced employment, the melting pot of America will become even more dramatically diverse.

Government policies and the types of problems that the government will intervene in will also change because of this growing problem. Government funded incentive programs could encourage people to have more children (like programs implemented in Singapore and Denmark). Aspects like longer maternity/paternity leaves, cheaper child care, and maybe subsidizing families will take place in order to keep the population in America stable. This type of government-run program (although carried out by many other countries around the world) has never been done by the United States before and so would completely change the way American citizens see their government and the role they should play in their everyday lives. Government intervention would not be the only thing to redefine American government; things like policy changes could take place when it comes to immigration. To keep tax revenue flowing — since there will be a lack of due to the aging population — the government could alter their immigration policy to allow more families to legally come into the country and work to stimulate the economy (and therefore generate more tax revenue).

All of these possible solutions to the declining birth rate problem would completely redefine the way American government is run, how American families look and the American cultural atmosphere. Although this redefinition and other effects of the declining birth rate are not seen by all as a bad thing. Some demographers are claiming that the declining birth rate could create several short term benefits for the community and for the planet. As the population declines, it is safe to say that people will produce less waste and consume less energy. With the earth rapidly deteriorating, demographers say that this could buy the world some time to mend the destroyed environment (whether it’s deforestation, air pollution or climate change) before it becomes irreparable. Another reason why the declining birth rate could be a good thing in the short run is that the American economy could be stimulated and productivity would increase. These short term benefits in the face of a declining birth rate are referred to demographers as the “demographic dividend”. When people have less children, they are more apt to focus on career building rather than family building, making a community (and a nation) more productive. Also with children being an additional financial responsibility, those with more children are less likely to consume and would keep the economy stagnant as compared to those with little to no children who would be more financially able to spend their money. There is a compelling argument that the declining birth rate could be an asset; but these benefits are temporary and in the long run the declining birth rate could have a major negative impact.