A View From The Handbasket

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Tiring out the stork
Posted by neros_fiddle at 4:12 PM
Since American culture has become more and more fixated on the needs of children in recent years, it's perhaps inevitable that people want more and more of the little angels. The recent passing of the 300 million US population mark is perhaps a symptom of this. But in this recent CNN article discussing the trend, this passage in particular stands out:

But a leading expert on family size, Duke University sociologist Philip Morgan, says it makes sense that some well-off couples are opting for more children as concern about global overcrowding eases because of lowering birth rates overall.

"The population explosion -- fears about that are over," he said. "People used to think that having more than two kids was not only expensive but immoral. Now, people say if you can afford three kids, four kids, that's great."

Lowering birth rates overall? No more worries about population explosions? When did this happen? Why didn't any one tell me about these astounding developments?

Let's go to the numbers:

Well, it looks like we're still adding a billion people to the planet every decade or so. So why are these affluent Americans so morally comfy with having enormous broods?

It probably has to do with this:

There's one (or both) of two things happpening here:

  1. Well-off Americans see their own birth rates leveling off, and assume that their breeding happens in a vacuum.
  2. Well-off (and largely white) Americans are frightened by the burgeoning ranks of non-white people, and do their best to keep up.

Perhaps I'm charitably naive, but I think it's probably more the former than the latter, but in an age when Fox News seemingly exists primarily to provide Americans with images of scary foreigners, you never know.

Whatever the motivation, it certainly seems near-sighted, in much the same way as celebrating paying off a credit card by going on a shopping spree. If "fears of a population explosion" are going away, just what do these people think will happen if they all start having big families?

I wonder if people in China can access this story through their national firewall. If so, I'm sure it makes them happy.

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