Lymon Stone has spent some pixels on the question of “How Many Kids Do Women Want?,” and the findings raise further questions with profound implications for the future of our society:
… women are simply settling for less than they want. They are in fact not “having it all.” Notably, the decline in intentions came after the actual decline in fertility, which suggests that the recession did permanent damage to fertility: it took a chunk out of childbearing, those births were not recovered later on, and now women have simply re-calibrated their expectations to the diminished circumstances of post-recession America. Longer hours, lower wages, less consistent employment, high childcare costs, poor access to credit, burdensome loans, all-too-few good husband candidates—take your pick of the problem—a growing number of women are simply lowering their expectations for their own family lives, even as they continue to believe that something like 2.3 kids would be ideal for them. …
The decline in fertility is not due to women wanting fewer kids. It also isn’t due to men wanting fewer kids, or to population aging. Nor is it due to abortion: abortion rates are actually declining. It may be partly due to the rising usage of longer-acting contraception, or diminished sexual frequency, or any number of social factors. It might also be due to economic pinches on household budgets. But the truth is, none of those are probably the biggest driver of declining fertility. The decline in fertility is mostly due to declining marriage.
Naturally, my past writings on related issues have made clear my leanings on this sort of thing, but it seems to me that the effects of undermining traditional values are compounding.
Thanks largely to the judiciary and a heavy-handed elite, our society no longer imparts the sense that marriage and having children are intrinsically related. Still, people know that marriage provides more of the sexual safety and household stability that are, first, prudent when doing the sorts of things that produce children and, second, crucial in the raising those children.
The lack of harmony between the messages that our society sends to us and the realities that we all know to be true underlies this disconnect between the life most of us would like to live and the one we end up living. The secular world does some work encouraging us to plan for things like careers, but it no longer encourages us to think in terms of families, and “family planning” has become a euphemism for avoiding the growth of families.
Thus, family life has become cloaked in this romantic mist that treats it as something that just kind of happens, or doesn’t. Increasingly, that will mean “doesn’t,” especially in a licentious, sterile society.