6th January 2013
While economics could have played a part in any decline, Eberstadt sees other things at play. He points to the continuing fracture of the U.S. family structure. People of all ethic backgrounds are running from marriage and family formation. No way this couldn’t affect fertility rates. There may be lots of babies being born out of wedlock but you have to believe that most single mothers are not having multiple babies that way. They learn how to stop pretty quickly once reality dawns that their single motherhood won’t be like Madonna.
Let’s hope the Octomom is listening.
What does religious belief have to do with embracing children? Eberstadt says there is a strong correlation. Nones in the U.S. and Europe have matching low fertility rates while religious people in the U.S. have the same relatively high fertility rate as their counterparts in Europe. The problem for Europe is they have so many Nones. Our problem could be that we are catching up.
Why such a correlation? It could be that Nones look at this world and see nothing beyond it. This is it. There is no more. In Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, Alvy Singer is scolded for not doing his homework. “The universe is everything,” he says, “and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything! So what’s the point?” Such nihilism must do something to the psyche and to the desire to multiply. Woody Allen had only one biological child.
I am comfortable in a world where Woody Allen has only one biological child.
Face it, children are inconvenient. When my wife and I married we went to Europe a lot. When our first daughter came, we still went to Europe but less. Our second daughter has never been to Europe.
My, what a hardship.
For many people such things really matter. They want to be able to go to Europe or Bermuda or Patagonia. They want a new car every two years. They want a vacation house. Those inconvenient children can stand in the way of all of this. Even one child can stand in the way. Now think about two or three or four children and then ponder a future of vacations not in Paris but at the small lake down the road.
The horror! The horror!