Is The US Losing Drive To (Re)Produce?

We see stories in the news about freaks like “the Octomom” and the horror of welfare mothers with many children from as many fathers. But those are probably not statistically significant as another piece of news for the New Year.

“At the current pace, the nation’s population will grow by 7.3 percent during the decade, the lowest level since the 7.25 percent increase recorded between 1930 and 1940, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”

You know what was going on in the US between 1930 and 1940, don’t you? That’s right: The Great Depression. Or perhaps historians will soon rename it: World Depression 1 to compare and contrast with World Depression 2—the one we’re in now.

One might deduce from this that poor people tend to limit their children, but that doesn’t make much sense of world history as a whole. Historically, poor people are prone to recognize the value of their children and have more of them. Prosperity has been associated with reduced population growth. In fact, long before this last decade, it has become obvious that the prosperous, modern world was inducing a crisis in its own economy by being reluctant to have children.

I suspect that the real issue is not poverty so much as pessimism. When people lose hope in the future, they start shutting down. They turn in on themselves. It is hard to want babies when you are busy having a pity party for yourself. But, ironically, accelerating our economic decline is only going to delay our economic recovery. While Bernanke and the rest of the ruling class keep trying to reignite some kind of economic boom by producing more fiat currency, what we actually need is a baby boom. Of course, admitting that this would help would also mean admitting that our economic recovery is going to take a generation. That may be why our ruling class doesn’t want to push this message. They want to be able to promise to turn the situation around in the next four years.

I can only hope that Bloomberg’s data is incomplete. If we are having fewer children, I hope that means that secular America is the main source of the drain. Religious conservatives, who know to live by faith and not by sight, should be rejoicing in new babies in their families. As Jonathan Last wrote in his excellent article in the Weekly Standard:

“…there are two Americas today: a secular population that wants small families (or no family at all) and a religious population that wants larger families. Religious affiliation is part of the story, but the real difference comes with church attendance. Among people who seldom or never go to church, 66 percent say that zero, one, or two children is the ideal family size, and only 25 percent view three-or-more children as ideal. Among those who go to church monthly, the three-or-more number edges up to 29 percent. But among those who attend church every week, 41 percent say three or more children is ideal, while only 47 percent think that a smaller family is preferable.When you meet couples with more than three children today, chances are they’re making a cultural and theological statement.”

He adds, “And the truth is, America needs more of such statements.”

I don’t mean by any of this to say that contraceptive are always wrong, or anything like that. If you believe that, it isn’t a conviction that I share. And I don’t want to tell any family that I know how many children they should (try to) have. I don’t.

But I do want to say that allowing economic fear or despair to weaken our desire for children is a temptation to unbelief. Even in economic bad times we still can find ways to have food and shelter. So let’s not give into pessimism.

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