The Cause of America’s Declining Birthrate

The birthrate in the United States has fallen to record lows, according to a new study published by the Pew Research Center. What’s more, the report says the most dramatic drop has been among foreign-born Hispanic women.

We have been content for some time that the U.S.-born Caucasian birth rate was below replacement but that the Hispanics had been making up for it by having births higher than replacement, and that this made us unique in the industrialized west.

Pew reports, “The overall U.S. birthrate, which is the annual number of births per 1,000 women in the prime childbearing ages of 15-44, declined 8% from 2007 to 2010. The birthrate for U.S.-born women decreased by 6% during these years, but the birth rate for foreign-born women plunged 14%—more than it had declined over the entire 1990-2007 period. The birth rate for Mexican immigrant women fell even more, by 23%.”

The National Center for Health Statistics says the over all birth rate in 2011 is the lowest in this country since 1920. The peak year for U.S. births was 1957 when it was nearly double what it is today. With very little change, birth rates have edged downward since that time.

Pew says the reason for the current slide and what has been repeated endlessly in the press is the “Great Recession” caused this. Given the state of the economy in recent years, an economic answer is certainly plausible.

Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute is one of America’s big brains on demography and almost everything else. He has never really bought into the common wisdom that Hispanics have been reproducing at higher rates than Anglos and therefore the current slide may not be a slide at all.  He suggests that babies born to undocumented women may simply have been credited to documented mothers. This would have increased the births per woman for Hispanics.

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.

Eberstadt points to another Pew study that might shed light on fertility declines. Last October they released a study that shows a dramatic decline in religious belief. One-third of Americans between the ages of 18-24 say they have no religion. Those in the study were called “Nones.” There are more and more of them.

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.

For religious people the universe is not everything, far from it. And even if the universe ended, it’s still not everything. And we would still live on. That must do something to the psyche, too, and it results in many good things including children.

And then there is greed. We live in an awful greedy age. Religious folk may have a slight edge on the Nones in the greed department but not by much. This greedy age seeps into our very pores. It infects everything and everyone to a greater or lesser extent. 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.

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.

So, sure, if the Hispanic decline is real, economics may have played a part. The Great Recession might have played a part, but consider this; people far poorer than they have continued to get married, found families and produce children. This is true throughout history.

The problem to ponder is not about fertility rates and the Great Recession, but about how to chase greed from the human heart once it’s found a home there.

Editor’s note: The image above is a publicity shot from the 1950 film “Cheaper by the Dozen” staring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy.

Austin Ruse


Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. He is the author of Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data published by Regnery. He is also the author of the new book Little Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ published by Tan Books. The views expressed here are solely his own.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    We cannot simply equate giving birth out of wedlock with single motherhood.

    In France, (I do not know the figures for the USA) 44% of all births are out of wedlock, including 56% of the births of first children, a third of the births of second children, and almost a quarter of the births of third children.

    Nevertheless, 85% of all children under 15 are living with both their parents.

    • NormChouinard

      Living with both parents in an unmarried cohabitation is dangerous business for the child. There is a strong correlation between cohabitation and child abuse. According to Robert Whelan, Broken Homes and Battered Children, 1993, a child whose bio mother cohabitates was 33 times more likely to suffer serious abuse than a child with married parents.

      • Micha Elyi

        False alarm. The mothers in that study were typically choosing to cohabitate with some boyfriend they picked up other than the children’s father. And the source of most child abuse is the mother. Always has been.

        Try again.

        Yes, females should marry and domesticate rather than sperm-hunting in the wild. But let’s not use statistics dishonestly to make the case for honest marriage, eh?

      • Yoyo

        False reading of that research. The mothers studies were cohabitating with other men rather than the biological fathers, and the figures claimed have since been found to be rather rubbery besides.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    If the Catholic bishops were really serious about Catholic marriages being open to children, they would institute policies that support this in the administration of Catholic schools. Instead, for instance, of sending Catholic money to the USCCB to support anti-Catholic groups like CCHD and CRS, they could keep that money on the home front and subsisdize Catholic education and evangelization.
    Here’s what I have in mind: institute a graduated tuition reduction based on the the number of children in the family. Families with four or more children would pay increasingly reduced amounts for those attending the Catholic school to the point that those with six or more children in the family would pay nothing for those children attending. Let’s reward those Catholics who actually follow Church teaching. (And No, this does not have to mean that those who cannot have but one or two children are being forced to subsidize those who can have more since they would pay no more than they already do; just shift priorities).
    At this point, with the socialists in power, there is more than enough money available to provide for the poor in this country. Let Catholic funds go where they are needed most – the family – to shore up the assault on the family at the hands of the contraceptionists and abortionists in the government and elsewhere in society).

    • misplacedbook

      “At this point, with the socialists in power, there is more than enough money available to provide for the poor in this country.”

      This statement is not exactly true, Deacon. The Democrats are not Socialists, and the poor are certainly not going to be helped long term by the wobbling social programs that we have in place. Partisan cheap shots are not helpful, and backhanded swipes at our bishops on top of that….it is sad to hear one of our deacons talk that way.

      As to your idea, I applaud the idea of bolstering our school system but I don’t see how your idea will be practically implemented. You say that those with less children will not be forced to subsidize those who have more, but that is exactly what would occur. You dodge this with the “shift priorities” comment, but the operating costs and the like will have to be paid for from somewhere. More vigorous encouragements to parishioners to tithe? Ask the Knights? The Archdiocese?

      I don’t know if I see any more the Church can do for renewal on the initiative front….Theology of the Body is brilliant and vital…I did the year long course at my Newman Center in college…that is growing (along with NFP seminars and the like) Father Barron’s Catholicism series, the growth of Catholic media, World Youth Day and other youth programs….outreach by parish ministries and the Knights….I see a lot to be positive about, despite the whirlwind on the outside. On the level of actual application, there can be some increased vigor as far as the boots on the ground go, but I think we’re improving things, by increments.
      The America of Archbishop Fulton Sheen is dead….there will be no restoration, and the sooner many get that in their head, the better. There is cause for hope, though. Vocations are ticking upward, and parish life is stabilizing in many places. It isn’t the glory days of the 50s, but there is a growing nucleus of the faithful that is keeping the Church going, even in these dark days. What we are seeing is change, the American Church is adjusting to the realities that the European Church is already living in.
      The only way I think to stem the flood of contracepting anti-family rhetoric is by witnessing to the joys of the traditional family. We have something that the utilitarian jungle does not have, and we should push that out front more. A siege mentality and Pius IX reaction to “liberals and libertines” does nothing….it is self ghettoization, and whatsmore… is piss poor evangelization.

      • musicacre

        The America of Archbishop Fulton Sheen is not dead, maybe smaller and hidden, but not dead!

        • misplacedbook

          It most certainly is….just as the America that our grandparents knew is gone.
          This idea of “restoration” is I think the biggest hinderance to us. It is a hard thing to face, that we are moving towards a post-Christian era in America….that we are, indeed….going down the road of Europe. That doesn’t mean we will necessarily be exactly like that, America still has a stronger religious fervor….but, it isn’t in our direction. Ross Douthat’s book Bad Religion covers that quite nicely…..whether it is a country of heretics or heathens, it still is not Fulton Sheen’s America.
          In my previous posts I cited many of the initiatives the Church is doing to strengthen us, and I think it is bearing fruit. We can’t go backwards, but we can go forwards….and bring the Gospel message back to where it needs to be preached….and re-evangelize.

      • JTLiuzza

        The democrats are most certainly socialists. And socialism is not care of the poor as you and many misguided bishops would have us believe. Socialism is evil.

        The good Deacon I believe puts forth an excellent idea.

        • misplacedbook

          You assume that I believe that socialism is caring for the poor….I do not. I happen to believe that socialism is not the answer, nor am I defending the misdeeds of Democrats. The Democrats are not Socialists, nor are Republicans Fascists. That sort of rhetoric belongs on HuffingtonPost, not in a Catholic publication.
          How would the Deacon’s idea be paid for without forcing smaller families to subsidize larger ones?

          • Deacon Ed Peitler

            Socialism is, among others thing, a redistribution of private wealth confiscated by the the State. Obama has openly declared this as his intent.
            How would my idea be paid for? As I said, by a reordering of priorities and greater sacrifice on the part of parishioners in supporting their Catholic school which, in my thinking, ought to have as its primary mission the preparation of young Catholics to take up the mantle of evangelization of the world.
            Also, if we practiced subsidiarity in our assistance to the poor, we could drastically cut back funding of Catholic organizations which purposrt to do this on a national level. As someone who was once my diocese’s director of Catholic Charities, I have seen ample evidence of opportunites to reallocate our funding to provide greater support to Catholic families – especially those who are faithful to Church teaching on contraception.

          • Augustus

            I think you would be hard pressed to find a distinction between the
            agenda of the Obama administration and the Socialists of France or New
            Labor in the UK. There was a time in American history when calling
            someone a socialist was considered a slander, mainly because most
            Americans did not believe in socialism. Those days are gone. Obama is a
            socialist, or if you prefer, a “social democrat.” It’s the same thing.
            There many be some registered Democrats who oppose socialism in theory,
            but they voted for Obama anyway. It may have been out of ignorance, but
            that doesn’t change who Obama is and his party has embraced his
            policies. You yourself said this isn’t Fulton Sheen’s America. You are more right than you know.

    • Howard Kainz

      “anti-Catholic groups like … CRS”? The Catholic Relief Society as anti-Catholic? This needs explanation.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Yeah…they’ve been implicated in all sorts of shenanigans, mostly having to do with those whom they partner with. Every time they are caught, they offer an apology and promise to ‘do better next time.’ Sorry, but if anyone did some vetting of those who work for CRS, you’d find a surprising number who are #1 not Catholic #2 Catholic and non-practicing #3 Catholic but dissent from Church teaching on same sex marriage, contraception, abortion, women priests, etc etc. No, better to keep the money local, let the guvmint use our tax dollars to care for ‘the poor’ and use funds provided by Catholics in the pews to support Catholic family life.

        • misplacedbook

          #1 and #2 are not necessarily a problem…..#3 is potentially problematic, depending. Why would you advocate the Church renouncing its responsibility to the poor in favor of the government? That is nonsense.

    • Fr. W. M. Gardner

      Excellent and forward thinking by the Deacon (Ed Peitler) with his
      suggestion to subsidize the tuition of Catholics based on the number of
      children… even if the older children are no longer attending Catholic schools. What a great message it would send to parents!

      After all, what institution can flourish if it is not
      promoting the growth of its own members? Catholic Schools that do not
      form their children to be generous fathers and mothers, as well as God-fearing and family-loving disciples of the
      Lord Jesus, are charting their own demise… and the demise of the parishes which support them.

  • lifeknight

    I work with an undocumented Hispanic population. My experience is that they become “Westernized” rapidly. I have also noted that the local abortion mills advertize in Spanish and are frequented by those from foreign lands. With contraception readily available, many women utilize the convenience and some arrive here with their “free” IUDs already in place.
    I do agree with the Deacon that a serious effort must be made by the bishops to turn Catholics back to the right thinking regarding the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage. However, my experience is that true Church teachings are rarely conveyed in Catholic schools. Sadly, if one wants to promote the Faith, homeschooling is the most secure effort.

    • Wilson

      Over-all about half of them are NOT Catholics to begin with. They are rabid “fundamentalist” protestants, now bringing it back up here where they got it from via “missionaries” and the CIA. Most of the rest of them are mere “cultural” Catholics with vestiges of old and real Hispanic identity [innately Catholic], coming from countries that have been dominated by freemasonry for nearly a century and a half. Comments based on forty-five years of living and working in the Central American version.

      • hombre111

        And you live on what planet? In the United States, I have been ministering to Hispanics, mostly from Mexico and Central America, for all of my priestly life. Most of them are wonderful Catholics who try to share their faith with their children. You are right about the role the CIA played in bringing radical Protestant Fundamentalism to countries like Guatamala. I spent some time in the Highlands and watched the indigenous people lining up to be baptized every weekend, and I saw some well-financed efforts by Protestants in places that witnessed martyrdom and the heroism of the Church during the genocide sponsored by Protestant radicals like Rios Mont.

      • jemblue

        Fundamentalist Protestants are not pro-abortion. It’s the “mainline” ones (whose pews are emptying out rapidly) that are more tolerant of abortion.

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  • Prof_Override

    Well thought out article. I live in pretty darn affluent north dallas suburban sprawl and the empirical evidence amongst my friends and neighbors lines up true to Mr Ruse’s thesis. Let me add the phenomena of grand parents raising their grand children to the picture as these single parents can’t make it in today’s economy physically or psychologically and grandma & grandpa are left hold the figurative bag.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Spot on. Greed that fuels envy and bigotry against the next generation, is the American Way.

  • dgravers

    We are so willing to look for complexity. It’s not greed, it’s practicality. Women want lives. Even Jesus acknowledged this in talking to Martha an Mary. Not monitoring / managing one’s fertility is not being a good steward of a finite earth: we are charged with managing the resources G_d has given us. If we did a better job of not simply encouraging marriage and children, but of teaching what marriage means, and how to handle personal differences … If we did a better job of making it easier for families to manage many children … If we made it easier for both men and women to have individually purposeful lives … we would have more marriages and more children.
    “We” society as a whole … “we” must value marriage, family, children … we must teach kindness, consideration, cooperation … anger management, how to know “who you are” and how to find meaningful work, raise learners, curious people … we will support a family culture and see improvements in our overall family life.
    The church missions that live in the trenches of endemic poverty know this. American poverty is not made up of welfare cheats, neither Fox News nor NPR preaches the truth.

    Welcoming community, not snotty-nosed condemnation, will engender family growth.

    Do we really want a world where women have 12 children each? I don’t know: it’s not good for the woman, her overall family, or her planet. Are 2 kids enuf? Again, I don’t know. Children need to be loved and welcomed. Are 2 parents enuf? I don’t know, but it’s usually better than one parent. Should they be of same or different sex? Again, I don’t know, except to say that real love conquers a lot of problems.
    Jesus’s comments on any of this are few: Love one another, as I have loved you, marriage is irrelevant after death, avoid sin that dishonors your established relationships … live your life so that your parents are not the only source of truth, yet care for your parents, they are due honor. Keep the commandments, give alms to the poor, support widows. He yells only at those who may short-change others. He meets with both the wealthiest in his society (Lazarus / Eliazer may have been on the Sanhedrin), and its most annoying elements (Matthew, the apostle, the tax collector, as well as Roman centurions and Samaritans).
    It is an important societal step that women can control their fertility more than they ever were able in past generations. It is equally, vitally important that we support families with kindness and consideration, not condemnation. The future will always depend on the family.

    • MarkRutledge

      Looking back over the past half-century, it appears that the push for control over fertility has had negative consequences for women and society as a whole. Perhaps we need to move past bromides and platitudes and rediscover what is truly important in life. For a woman, is there no greater vocation in life than to be a mother? Then why is it disparaged so by so-called progressives? Women of today are much more likely to be treated for depression, more likely to attempt suicide, more likely to be abused, more likely to live in poverty, etc., etc., than the days before the sexual revolution. We have enough evidence that the revolution it has been a disaster. Let’s recognize that and restore our society.

      • Yoyo

        Your claims about the lives of women before the sexual revolution are beyond ridiculous. Women were far more likely to live in poverty when they could be abandoned with a bunch of children, when they weren’t allowed to work after marriage, and those jobs allowed them prior will I’ll paid with low status.

        • MarkRutledge

          How can it be ridiculous (let alone beyond) when the statistics so overwhelmingly support my claims?

        • Euphrosyne

          (Back in the day, there was a general feeling that women who had small children at home to care for, and a husband to support them, would do best to leave the workforce and make one more job available to someone who needed it to support him or herself and a family. Good-paying jobs weren’t all that plentiful, and people really appreciated having an actual job with good pay and good benefits – for two adults in one family to monopolize two such jobs was not looked upon as normal, as we do today, but as somewhat avaricious or greedy.

          Plenty of women who didn’t have young children at home – single women, or mothers of grown families – held traditionally female jobs such as nurse, teacher and secretary. These jobs were still fairly demanding and didn’t pay all that much, but they were better than factory or housekeeping jobs, in which the pay and working conditions were pretty gruelling. If a single woman doubled up with one or two others or stayed with family, she could make ends meet.

          Women whose husbands abandoned them or died were most certainly “allowed to work”, if they were the sole support of their families. I know of a woman in the 1920s who was one of our country’s first Postmasters. She was at first turned down for this very well-paying job, as it was “a man’s job”, but she answered, “Sir, my husband disappeared some months ago and has never been heard from and I have a family to support. We need the money.” She got the job.

          Part of the reason that our much ballyhooed income gap between the rich and the poor has been increasing so enormously, is that members of wealthy, educated married couples are able to occupy all of the best-paying corporate, and professional positions. It’s not just the wealthiest men getting the best jobs, as it used to be; it’s wealthy women and the men they’re married to, who also happen to be wealthy, getting the best jobs: two paychecks – one family; two great jobs for one household. Hence, the horrific competition for our young people to get into the *best* universities: A degree from State U. isn’t going to get you an excellent position anymore: in this competitive environment, you *must* go to Harvard or Yale. Our grandparents and great-grandparents would have thought that this arrangment outrageous, unfair and likely to siphon all the best jobs to an ever-decreasingly small number of our population. And they would’ve been right.)

      • ok

        Many women have higher aspirations than becoming a mother. We don’t want to be mindless house slaves.

        • musicacre

          I’m not a mindless house slave, as you put it. I am a registered nurse and gave it up to have my six children. Not only do I not regret it, I have more joy as each year passes. Such a richness, and diversity with six different children to enjoy….

          Just this last weekend, (Mother’s Day) I came home from church to a wonderful surprise ( from an older son and teen son); the kitchen was spotless, table cloth on the huge table, decked with chocolates, cards, champagne and OJ, dishes of hot food inc, pancakes, egg/bacon muffins,cakes, etc. (They had gone to Mass the night before, those plotters!) I was flabbergasted they pulled it off, with out their sisters’ help. Most of them (sisters) have left home so weren’t there yet.
          I don’t know what lofty thing you are aspiring to, perhaps you will be queen or PM someday? But still, most queens and PM are also mothers. What is wrong to aspiring to loving children and they pass on that love? There is no 9-5 or material thing that can possibly give that much joy, and amazement. (Not to mention all the things I’ve learned. )

    • Drea916

      Women CAN control their fertility with NFP. I have friends who are professional women (lawyers, teachers) and they have two children each (not 12) Husbands and wives can’t use each other only for their personal gratification. This falls into line with you long post about love and acceptance. It beings in the home.

      • ok

        NFP has an extremely high failure rate.

        • musicacre

          Once again, your comments are without any source to back up your opinion. Actually, contraception has a high failure rate, hence the need to have abortion for back-up.

          When actually followed as is taught NFP was found to have close to 99% success rate in India, and similar in China, according to 4-year studies carried out by none other than the World Health Organization.
          Whereas condoms have a 82% success rate, and the pill is not over 80% due to legally having to lower the dosage for health concerns.

          You may feel strongly about this, but there are actual facts out there.

    • Micha Elyi

      Not monitoring / managing one’s fertility is not being a good steward of a finite earth…

      “Finite earth”? Get back to us when women birth an infinite number of children.

      Do we really want a world where women have 12 children each?

      “Women” never had “12 children each” and we’re not likely to see that in your lifetime, no matter what. Yeah, sure someone might object “such and such woman did” but Mrs. Gilbreth and the tiny number of others who have borne 12 children are not all women. You are being unnecessarily alarmist, dgravers.

      It is an important societal step that women can control their fertility more than they ever were able in past generations.

      I disagree. No one is concerned that men have no similar “control (of) their fertility”, therefore it’s not really a genuine problem if women don’t either.

  • Lew Warden

    This may or may not be so according to Pew’s statistics. But it sure isn’t in the streets of Santa Maria, California where young mothers (Oaxacans) pushing a baby carriage
    with a young child strapped to her back, a 3 year old trotting by her side and a big belly signaling #4, are common scenes on sunny days.
    Lew Warden, Santa Maria, CA

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  • slam7211

    perhaps the correlation is incorrect, the 18-24 group is predominantly where the “nones” come from which means they also predominantly have massive college debt, combined with a bad economy this could basically have them, looking at everything and ask, can I support a child (or 2) adequately? and even with 2 debt burdend college students in a family, that answer may be no

  • Shirley J. Schultz

    Deacon Ed, thank you for your comments. I totally agree with everything you wrote. May God bless you for the courage it takes to speak truth. I am so tired of pandering to people who twist truth. I think they forgot Satan is the father of lies. For example, how can a believing, practicing Catholic belong to the Democratic party who has shown it is pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-family and anti-God? I just don’t understand it.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      Thank you.

      • Micha Elyi

        [H]ow can a believing, practicing Catholic belong to the Democratic party who has shown it is pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-family and anti-God?
        –Shirley J. Schultz

        Answer: Bad bishops.

        When public figures who trade on their claims of being Catholic give public support to sin, their bishop should rebuke them publicly. Silence implies consent, or at the very least it implies that the behavior isn’t so bad. In January of 1973, an anniversary faithful Christians are about to mourn, the time for private correction of “I’m Catholic, but…” politicians – including but not limited to Kennedys, Cuomos, Biden, Pelosi, Sebelius – ended. (Ironically, in the early days of the Culture of Death’s great Supreme Court victory most pro-abortion pols were Republican.)

        • Art Deco

          Cdl. O’Connor did offer correction to Gov. Cuomo, among others. What’s disgusting is the hobnobbing with politicians, the tedious position paper manufactory at the U.S. Catholic Conference, and the incestuous relationship between Catholic apostolates and state agencies.

          I think the bishops are less troublesome than social psychological collapse. There used to be a certain distance in mind which protected the Catholic Church from aspects of the wider subculture. This was absolutely destroyed during the period running from 1962 to 1970. It can only rebuilt in small increments.

          It would help if parish clergy encouraged the sacrament of reconciliation, threw out the OCrap Press materials, and gave homilies which offered a concise elaboration on the day’s readings and supplemented them with hortatory messages in the bulletin on topical questions. Instead, we get a lot of pap with phrases like “the joy of Jesus Christ” and “our relationship with God” repeated over and over.

  • A big factor in the drop in childbearing is the increase in unemployment and underemployment. And those two things are due in large part to globalism: we both ship millions of jobs overseas and bring in millions of foreign guestworkers to take jobs here. No American can count on being able to pay a 30 year mortgage no matter how good a worker they are. Or even month to month rent.

  • cloonfush

    I hope you dear people don’t consider this vulgar but I see this fertility crisis in somewhat simpler terms. Rampant internet pornography, ask any confessor if rampant is too strong a word, is causing so much “seed to be spilled” and not deposited where God intended. This plague ruins sex lives within marriage, ruins marriages, ruins lives and diminishes birthrates dramatically. Just a theory and possibly the “elephant in the room”.


    I am a 65 yr old white Mormon woman. I have four grown children and 6 grandchildren. Mormons are still forming families and having children. It is because our belief that it is a commandment to marry and multiply, and we obey all the commandments.
    I am shocked by what I see even in my non-Mormon neighborhood. A young married Christian couple who have already decided not to have children. They post on facebook frequently always at a party or restaurant. Another young man who chose to have a vasectomy now even before he has married anyone. His friend is also thinking about doing this and has already vowed he will never marry. It makes me so sad to see people making these choices. They see children as expensive and bothersome. They will never have the joy and happiness. I see selfishness as the basis of all of it.

    • ok

      Mormons do not value women and raise them to accept oppression. Everyone has different goals in life. What works for one person will not work for another. There is nothing wrong or selfish about choosing to not have children! I have known that I never wanted kids from the time that I was one! Every day of my life is filled with joy and fulfillment! I don’t believe in marriage–it is an outdated institution: but I support anyone who wishes to marry. I consider my relationship with my boyfriend to be the exact equivalent to a marriage. I don’t need to say a “magic spell” or pay for a license to “validate” my relationship (we have been together for 6 years). It appears that you are the one who doesn’t understand happiness nor do you comprehend freedom.

    • Ashley Johnson

      1.It’s selfish to breed 20 kids you don’t want,can’t pay for, or simply to make you happy.
      2. Kids are expensive. Try raising one with a 6 figure student loan debt and a minimum wage salary,

      • Art Deco

        You mean its ‘selfish’ to do something which incorporates sacrifice?

    • Art Deco

      I see selfishness as the basis of all of it.

      Or risk aversion. Most people do not live within a Mormon subculture. Family relations can be evanescent and the operations of family courts brutal.

  • Hominid

    The price we must pay for consciousness is self-inflicted extinction. We turn all our efforts to brief extension of our lives at the cost of reproduction of new life.

  • Mark

    One reason people are having fewer children is that child rearing is much more intensive and expensive for our generation than it was for our parents. Our children have so much that we didn’t have. My wife and I ferry our children from music lessons to orthodontist appointments to occupational therapy to sports coaching sessions to Tae Kwan Do, etc. They all have special talents that are being assiduously developed. My kids have annual medical appointments and see their dentist every six months. I have two kids undergoing orthodontics; one just had her braces off her teeth. They get formal eye examinations every year. They all have both contact lenses and glasses. We would like to put all three of them through graduate school. They’ve all attended intensive language immersion programs in other countries. They’ve all studied French in both Montreal and Paris, and one has studied Japanese in Japan. They’re incredibly happy, fulfilled people who are able to give expression to their gifts. Their childhoods are so much happier and healthier than my own. We couldn’t provide all this care for 10 kids. My wife and I can do it for three, though.

    • Micha Elyi

      It’s not your three children that are expensive. What’s expensive is your choice to splurge on them. Wake up. You’re raising children, not trophies.

      • Karen

        Straight teeth and glasses are “splurges?” I hope you don’t have kids; I would hate to be raised by someone who thinks providing education and medicine are extravagant.

        • Mark

          Thank you, Karen! Micha Elyi, it’s called being a parent. And what is wrong with my three children that I should be dissatisfied and want more?

          • Disqus User

            What is wrong with your parenting of children that you don’t want more? We have four. How I wish we had had more!

            • musicacre

              We had six; I wish we had had more!

    • ok

      You are doing everything right, Mark! I applaud you for raising amazing well adjusted & educated children!

    • Kenny

      Hispanics and African American’s don’t make as much money as Whites yet they have more children. Care to explain that?

  • Ray Olson

    Mr. Ruse is certainly correct, as far as I can see, that greed is a major reason for declining birthrates. I wonder whether he or any of his respondents have considered despair as another. Many who might have children look at the instability of the economy for the–yes–99-percent, the environmental crisis, the seeming ubiquity of domestic and civilian violence against children as well as the policies of governments around the world to deliberately kill children, the rotting away of the schools, and the moral bankruptcy of churches, and they ask themselves, “Is it at all responsible to bring children into such a world?”, and they conclude that it isn’t. I’m a grandfather, and I have several excuses for not having more than one child. Yet not the least of them is that I couldn’t see how I could ever make enough to support even one additional child.

    I will add that I’m not interested in debating what I have written but in seeing others’ ideas about the impact of despair on families and fertility. I will not add anything further to this stream.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    The cause of America’s declining birthrate is twofold:
    #1 There is no belief in a God who is the Creator and Author of life
    #2 Children are viewed as burdens and not blessings.

    • ok

      #1–God is a delusion created for extreme social control
      #2–Children ARE burdens.

      • sibyl

        #1: Assertion doesn’t make it true. Every culture, every people that we know of, from the time history was written, have believed in divinity of some sort. Radical atheism is an EXTREMELY recent phenomenon — like not even as old as the printing press. Humanity, overwhelmingly, disagrees with you.
        #2 Every thing worth having involves struggle and patience. I suppose you could say that owning a house is a burden. Or, that maintaining good health is a burden. Or that being a good friend is a burden. But recognize that your perspective on this puts you in the tiny, tiny minority of human beings who think human life better for being homeless, sick, and friendless. Recognize that ordinary people (not people like you) really do want children, and if they get suckered into avoiding them, will suffer great remorse and loneliness later on in life.

        • ok

          Well, those of us who are blissfully childless are a growing population–20% and rising. Children should never be expected to waste their lives by caring for their elderly parents. Be a responsible adult and plan for your own elder care–don’t burden your children. Anyway, I have an appointment with the barrel of a shotgun the exact moment I “need someone to take care of me.” Self sufficiency is a must. I’d rather be dead than dependent on someone else.

          Owning a house is an investment. Children are a deficit. I am investing in a house with the hundreds of thousands I save by not having children.

          Everyone makes different choices in life. What works for one person will not work for another. We all have different goals. I would rather die than be a mindless housewife. Some people will thrive in that role–which is fine. However, religion de-values women and places them in a “lesser” role brainwashing them to believe that their only function in life is to sputter out babies. You are so much more than that! If you want children because that is what YOU want that is perfect. Don’t do it because you are a mindless religious follower. Your goals are what matter…don’t be a sheep. Religion is the worst invention of mankind. Heaven is here & now. This is beauty. This is life. Embrace it before it is too late.

          By the way, I have tons of friends. We have an excellent time not changing diapers and ruining our bodies with childbirth.

          • musicacre

            Good for you your parents didn’t think that way:) I’m guessing you’re extremely young or just naive because you haven’t truly read what the church teaches. The Church invites, or proposes, not imposes, or invading.
            I know people who are childless, and I wouldn’t describe them as blissfully anything. I have a childless uncle who wants my grown children to visit him so he can pontificate on how they should be good little atheists. I and they think it’s sad and pathetic that he has not his own children to preach to, so he feels the need to bitterly tell mine why he think everything in the world is wrong or disappointing. He is one of the most bitter people I know, well into his 60’s now. And yet he is educated, has 2 PhD’s, taught in a university and was a curator for a large museum for decades, travels the world with his latest wife and they collect “stuff” and bring it back from all the trips. And he shows everyone his historic collections, etc etc. And yet, he is miserable!

            So anyways, congrats for pouring your affections on yourself, and having fun with your fair-weather friends. It’s usually family that buries us though, and remembers us.

          • Disqus User

            “Well, those of us who are blissfully childless are a growing population–20% and rising.”

            I’d suggest a better term is “a dying population”. We all die, of course, but for those who shun procreation, that’s the end of the line — forever. So when you and your 20% are dead, that will be it. For the rest of us, there is the hope and prospect of progeny into the indefinite future.

            It is interesting that throughout Scripture, God’s word calls fertility and children a blessing and barrenness a curse. It even goes so far in more than one place to indicate that those to whom He gives many children are especially blessed. But I guess blissfulness and blessedness are two different things.

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  • dch

    “The price we must pay for consciousness is self-inflicted extinction. We turn all our efforts to brief extension of our lives at the cost of reproduction of new life.”

    Uhh..the population of the world continues to grow, how is that “extinction”? The world population has more than doubled in my lifetime and will continue to do so until at least the mid century.

    • Disqus User

      No it won’t. It is already slowing and will likely peak at between 9 and 10 million at mid-century and then begin a dramatic decline which will be hard to arrest. It will likely plunge considerably before a future generation comes to its senses and starts loving having children again.

  • Mary

    Selfishness and narcissism are serious problems today because for 40 plus years we deemed acceptable no-fault divorce, artificial contraception, and abortion as solutions to social problems. John Paul II constantly warned us about the upholding marriage and family as the foundation of society. Take down marriage and the family, eventually take down a nation. And no surprise that our youth, now three generations into the anti-family landscape, self-identify as Nones. If demography is destiny, and it sure looks that way, the sad truth is that your article title could have been “The Cause of America’s Decline–Birthrate.”

  • Euphrosyne

    Another commenter (above) wrote about her satisfaction in being able to give the best of everything to her three children. While I think it is a fine idea to arrange one’s life so as to give one’s children excellent medical care and educational opportunities, is it not also conducive to their ultimate happiness for parents carefully to form childrens’ characters and to rear them in a home where God comes first?

    The above author wrote as if only material advantages are the ones that matter. As Catholics, we don’t believe this. Material advantages *do* matter, and any loving parent will want to provide the necessities of life in abudance, and some luxuries, too, to their children, but children often benefit, too, from having perhaps one or two fewer extracurricular opportunities in exchange for one or two more brothers or sisters to love and care for them, and to love and take care back.

    I grew up in a family with five children. We had the basics and some extras, but the latter were few and far between. At dinnertime each evening, my parents talked with us and invited us to talk with the rest of the family. Proper adult conversation was expected, and with give-and-take. The littlest ones might participate, but they were also expected to listen politely and not interrupt. Dad liked to hold forth on every subject from history, politics, science, and music, and Mom liked to discuss the arts, poetry and drama. We learned proper manners and how to pose questions diplomatically during these conversations, and to this day, my siblings are among the best adult conversationalists I know. People frequently tell me that I am “an encyclopedia” of knowledge (which, of course, isn’t true), but I have read non-fiction extensively all my life, my interests sparked and guided by my parents right at home. Books needn’t cost much, especially borrowed from the library, and so much is available online nowadays that any youngster who has an interest may pursue it on his or her own.

    We played together in our backyard, put on plays, set up and operated a lending library of books for the other kids in our neighborhood, listened to music and danced, went for walks, rode bicyles and skate-boards, played sports after school, and enjoyed summers at the seashore. None of this cost much, except for the summers at the shore, which were the big splurge. We were told that Mom and Dad could help with college tuition, but that we needed to contribute as well, and so from high school, we all had Saturday jobs, and saved our money, and all of us worked part-time during college. Some times we took a semester off, to earn extra cash, and then right back to school. All of us took his or her college education as far as he or she wished to go with it.

    We learned how to stand on our own two feet while being concerned for others, to take care of business while working as a team, to appreciate the good things we had as well as the opportunities to obtain for ourselves what we needed. we knew Mom and Dad were not “Santa and Mrs. Claus”, and it made us appreciate life more, I think, to understand that at least half of enjoying something good, is the striving, the working, and the waiting to obtain it.

    Your mileage may vary.

  • Jimmy

    3 or 4 generations of children being taught that they are the center of the universe and we wonder why, to paraphrase that social critic Hank Williams, Jr., that the divorce rate is up and the birth rate is down. My needs and wants are what’s important.

    Of course, once the demographic winter sets in here as it is about to in Europe then we’ll probably start paying people to have babies just to generate a labor force to tax to pay a bankrupt social security to pay the selfish old people who have to spend all that money on home care because they have no children or families to help them in their old age.

    Ah, the circle of life in the dying West. Man, at the peak of his knowledge and technical abilities, is still the dumbest animal on the planet.

  • DJ Hesselius

    I know I have posted this one many times, though perhaps not here. A writer over at points to the Welfare State as a huge component to declining birthrates. Interestingly, the big welfare states of Europe have rather low rates of religious (Christian) participating.

  • K. Q. Duane

    Radical, second-wave feminism, intensely promoted by non-Christian activists like Gloria Steinem, during the late 1960s and early 1970s caused MILLIONS of young, female baby boomers to irrationally choose the “independence” of career over marriage. They were naive enough to believe that they were “liberating” themselves from the “oppressive and domineering” sacrament of marriage to a “male chauvinist pig” and that money and career were all it would take to be happy. Radical feminism has proven to be nothing but a ruse, destroying everything it has touched, including our the Christian family and our birthrate.
    Discovering that they had nothing to offer in the way of improvements to the “oppressive” institutions (organized religion, military, government, business and education) that Christian men had created to protect and provide for their families, radical feminists chose to instead irrationally undermine and destroy those same successful institutions claiming that if men created them they were sexist and were therefore in need of an overhaul. These crazy women and their gullible followers are now dramatically affecting policy at all levels of those very same institutions across our nation, with harrowing results. See my blog “It’s the Women, Not the Men!” to read about the wide-spread damage done to Christian America by these brainwashed and dangerous females. I was one of those 1960s radical feminists. I know from experience how destructive it is.

    • ok

      HAHA…As a dangerous female, I am living an awesome life! I don’t believe in marriage, I’m atheist….and I have never wanted children. I make an excellent living for myself. I am too busy enjoying life to care about your stupid cult.

      • K. Q. Duane

        You must be very young.

      • K. Q. Duane

        Come back and tell me how thrilling your life is when you’re still single, sidelined from your “career” and 60! This is radical, second and third-wave feminism’s legacy and it SUCKS! Good luck while you foolishly fritter your life away.

      • Disqus User

        Remember this post when you are in the nursing home and there is no one to ever come to visit.

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  • e19431946t

    The countries with declining birth rates are going to become your future world powers. Because they are not going to producing a lot of welfare bums forcing them into debt. Germany thus Germany will rise again.

    • Disqus User

      Nations populated by tired, old people don’t become world powers. Never have, never will.

  • K. Q. Duane

    You are describing the depleted, secular, Jewish (non-Christian)view of the world! As a result of Vatican II’s push for ecumenicalism, their negative view of the world and their misguided priorities, have permeated and negatively influenced everything, politics, organized religion, judiciary, academia, military, business, banking, government and family. Until the Christisn men become leaders once again and begin to verbosely oppose this destructive view of the world, nothing will change, allowing our children and grandchildren to continue as sacrificial lambs on the pyre of non-Christian secularism.