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June 25, 2007

Comments

Erin P

Sounds like a great conference, Meghan! Very worthwhile in the midst of finals:)You pose a great question: when will people start caring about declining birthrates, particularly in Europe? Will it happen when a country's economy falters because there aren't enough young workers to support it...or does globalization change that?

I wonder how the realization will happen when increasingly there's a "me first", "survival of the fittest" mentality in the western world...a mentality that says the sacrifice of family and children just isn't worth as much as high-powered careers or material acquisitions...

My husband would say this neglect of marriage and family has everything to do with our generation's lack of responsibility. And I think he's right. Responsibility has become a chore and burden, right?

Parents are examples to their children. So I think the value of family life comes from one's own parents putting their family first and lovingly educating their children on the value of marriage and children -- often an education they're not going to get in school or the workforce.

spudmom

The negative population growth seen today is the legacy of the overpopulation fears of the 70s. I grew up being told that there wasn't enough food for so many people, and that we all had to have only 1 or 2 children or we would all starve to death(I liken it to the same hysteria over global warming that we see today.) The advent of contraception and the availability of legal abortion made it easy to limit family size while still having a 'normal' intimate relationship. The unintended consequences were more infidelity (after all, they won't get caught if there's no risk of having a child), more divorce, and more working mothers who needed something to do once the two kids were in school. Unfortunately, developing countries didn't get the message, and their increasing populations have rushed into North America and Europe to fill the void. The changing demographic is having serious consequences that were not anticipated by the zero population proponents. Another consequence of a small family is the greater reliance on government for care of the ill and aged. It's just too much of a burden for one or two children to care for a parent out of their own income, or in their own home, as was expected. Nor does the eldest child receive a greater inheritance that was intended to offset the added burden of parental and/or sibling care. I could go on and on, but you get my point.
As far as being an example goes, Meghan, I grew up in a 2 child household and enjoy all six of my children (well, some more than others depending on their stage!) There is nothing like having a large family to instill a sense of unity between siblings, especially when they realize that they outnumber the parents! It has been rewarding to see children who fought over every little thing become close friends who willingly spend time with each other over outside interests. That's what makes the broken furniture, empty bank account, and gray hair worth it. Being able to share it all with the same man for over 25 years -- well, that's just priceless.

Jayme

I have to admit that I am a little disturbed by this post. Not that I disagree with all it - but because it seems to be tainted with a decidedly misogynistic tone.

In fact, I am concerned with the statistics used to make the assertion that "the replacement rate in Europe, in Poland, in the U.S., and many other places is negative! That means that more people are dying than are being born." According to the 2007 CIA World Factbook that is not an entirely accurate statement. For example, the crude birth rate for the US is approximately 14.16 (expressed as number of births per 1000 per year) while the crude death rate is 8.26 (expressed as the number of deaths per 1000 per year). That is a natural increase rate of 5.9% (decidedly positive). For Poland it is neither an increase nor a decline with both a 9.94 birth rate and death rate. I found this to be the case for many of the countries I examined.

It is my understanding that the U.N. has been predicting a decrease in growth rates for many years, and that on a whole, growth rates have decreased. But keep in mind that in the 20th century alone global population quadrupled. In fact, the U.N. still predicts a population growth between 7.3 and 10.7 billion by 2050, increasing by about 1 billion every 13 years. And while approximately 1/3 of the worlds countries have fertility rates which have fallen below replacement level, majority of countries are above replacement level, some substantially so. It is still an absolute annual increase near historic highs.

I am a little curious as to the agenda that would eagerly advise "big families" when there are no real statistics to show population decrease as problematic. Furthermore, it seems an actual manipulation of the facts to provide such information under the guise of some sort of human-endangerment.

For arguments sake however, I fail to understand, if statistics in fact supported an overall negative rate of increase (below replacement level), why a decrease in population would be bad. Erin mentioned something about economic necessity, but if one were to use economics as a supporting factor for population increase one could just as easily use environmental impact as support for population decrease.

The facts just do not support the overly zealous call for 'big families'.

Also, I think there is a faulty implied correlation being made between a healthy society and big families, or healthy marriages and lots of children. It seems a rather nostalgic call for women to get back into their aprons and open their legs (the latter of which is ironically the same despicable argument being used by modern feminists to assert a woman's independence).

On the other hand, a decrease in divorce rates, good parenting, and fostering healthy relationships would all be more beneficial for society than popping out kids.

Lori

I've long thought that the call for big families has a lot to do with churches increasing their membership.

I've known people who had a female family member suffering from emotional problems, and sadly, was advised by a priest to have a baby to strengthen her marriage. They multiplied...the problems.

astonished

Yes, more children is really what we need. Our planet is so underpopulated. That must be why we are rapidly destroying our natural resources and overtaxing the environment. Maybe you should think about the millions of homeless and orphaned children around the world and work to help them, instead of encouraging people to have more children on a planet that can't sustainably support unchecked population growth.

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