The Pew Research Center has just released a study headlined “Growing share of childless adults in US don’t expect to have children.” It is plastered all over legacy media. The Washington Post headline from November 21 is: “More Americans say they’re not planning to have a child, new poll says, as US birthrate declines.”
Yes, there is a birth dearth – big time.
From 1964 to 2018 the global total fertility rate (TFR) plunged from 5.06 to 2.4 (replacement level is 2.1 children per female).
The 2019 TFR in the European Union was 1.53 — from 1.14 in Malta to 1.86 in France.
The US is slightly above 1.6, roughly the same as Russia.
In East Asia, China’s TFR is 1.3; South Korea’s 0.9; Japan’s 1.3; and Taiwan’s 1.1.
India’s TFR hovers just above 2.1 and is declining. Latin America and the Carribean are at 2.0. The continent of Africa has a TFR of 4.2 and falling.
Bottom line: this is the first time in the history of humanity that fertility has declined on a sustained basis.
Why is this happening? Even demographers, who relentlessly track such things, are stumped. Rather than rehash Pew’s research, let’s cut to the chase. Why?
I’ll take a whack at it. Here are some reasons, all interrelated and overlapping, in no particular order:
Birth control: TFR declined with the widespread availability of birth control pills and other contraceptives. Fifty years ago, most “experts” believed Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s thesis in their 1968 book The Population Bomb that too many people would overwhelm the planet and cause mass starvation. Family planning became a priority. Also, China’s one-child policy implemented in the late 1970s was a factor. In 1980 over 22 percent of the world’s population were mainland Chinese.
Abortion: Beginning in the 1960s and 70s the number of abortions skyrocketed. While accepted by many governments, it is opposed by legions who abhor the killing of human beings not for anything they have done but for who they are. No other issue has so estranged people of faith from their rulers. Readers of MercatorNet know the grim statistics. According to the Christian Post, there were42.6 million abortions worldwide in 2020. Worldometer claims 38,100,000 already this year. There is no definitive tally and likely will never be.
Toxins: A 2021 book,Countdown: How Our Modern World Is Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, Threatening Sperm Counts, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race by Dr Shanna Swannconveyed grim tidings. In the last 40 years, sperm counts in Western countries declined 59 percent. Since 1982, testosterone levels have dropped 1 percent per year. Miscarriages have risen 1 percent each year for the last two decades.
The culprits, according to Dr Swann, are endocrine disrupting chemicals. One of the major concerns is phthalates, which are added to plastics for flexibility and longevity. They decrease sperm counts and testosterone levels and cause ovarian cysts, disrupted menstrual cycles, and early menopause. Another is Bisphenol A, found in plastic bottles and industrial canning, which interferes with conception and causes early miscarriage. Bisphenol A is everywhere – in flame retardants, electronics, hard plastics, food packaging, cosmetics, personal care items and much more.
These poisons leach into the contents of food containers. Testosterone and oestrogen, our baby-making and “gender identity” hormones, are affected the most.
Radiation: The Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Reproductive Medicine has cited cell phone studies showing that “…radiofrequency electromagnetic waves emitted from cell phones can impair sperm quality… Semen exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic waves emitted from cell phones had higher levels of damaging free radicals, lower sperm motility (the ability of the sperm to move and swim) and sperm viability (the percentage of live sperm), and possibly greater oxidative stress…”
Of course, cell phones are not the only source of radiation. Technological progress is a double-edged sword. We benefit from it, but we’re also being poisoned by progress.
Economics: Urbanization means that people move to cities for better jobs. Children are an asset down on the farm where they work and care for their parents in their old age. Now, less labour-intensive corporate farms have put family farms out of business.
If life is only about economics, then children are too expensive, time consuming and stress inducing. Housing costs don’t help. Children are the greatest treasure, but globalism does not recognize them as an irreplaceable asset – people are valued solely for their economic utility.
Loss of faith: A post-Christian Europe is upon us. Devout Christians and Muslims have significantly higher fertility than the “nones”, as surveys call those without religious affiliation. The US is similarly secularized. Loss of religious faith is more notable in the West, where belief in personal salvation has given way to politically correct “social gospel” ideas, which are watered-down versions of Marxist-inspired “Liberation Theology” from the 1970s.
Individualism: The cult of the individual is another predominantly Western affliction. If the most important thing is self-actualization, and fulfilment in life is a matter of individual happiness, family comes second. Remember the “Me Generation?”
Instant gratification: If you’re addicted to hedonism, materialism, careerism and consumerism, children get in the way of getting rich. A lot of addicts don’t even realize it; they have never known anything else. If the essence of life is simply accumulating economic wealth, why bother with children? Careerism causes many to delay starting a family. Media, entertainment and advertising have conditioned us to “need” all the latest stuff. Captives on this treadmill to a better life should remember that no animal breeds well in captivity.
Substance abuse: Talk about instant gratification! Widespread substance abuse and drug addiction are the nexus of hedonism and despair. Opiates, methamphetamines, marijuana, alcohol, and much else have taken a grim toll. So many families of every socio-economic status have first-hand experience with it. These and related social pathologies increased significantly during Covid-19 lockdowns. Addiction destroys families and thus there will be fewer children.
Ideology: Everyone has a belief system. Absent religious faith, something else inevitably supplants it. Political correctness (cultural Marxism) is a secular religion, accepted on faith which brooks no dissent. Again, this is more of a Western affliction. Not having children is seen as female “empowerment.” Faux environmentalism posits that not having children is the highest and best thing anyone can do to “save the planet.” Relentless moral relativism has led to all manner of relationships being recognized as equal, if not superior, in value to Holy Matrimony between a husband and wife. “Trangenderism” is another “value.” There is incessant denigration and ridicule of the nuclear family as “patriarchal” and “misogynist.”
All of the above corrode social cohesion and facilitate family breakdown.
So there we have it: some reasons why we aren’t having children like we used to. If anyone out there can think of others, I’m all ears.