Here’s a religion story that some enterprising Godbeat pro really needs to do. (If somebody already has, please share the link with me.)
I’m talking about the role of faith — or lack of faith — in Americans having fewer and fewer babies.
The “baby bust” trend is the subject of an article in the latest edition of The Economist.
The gist is this:
Soon after the great recession hit America, in 2007, the birth rate began to fall. Many people lost their jobs or their homes, which hardly put them in a procreative mood. But in the past few years the economy has bounced back—and births continue to drop. America’s total fertility rate, which can be thought of as the number of children the average woman will bear, has fallen from 2.12 to 1.77. It is now almost exactly the same as England’s rate, and well below that of France.
Although getting into Harvard will be a little easier as a result, this trend is bad for America in the long run. A smaller working-age population makes Social Security (public pensions) less affordable and means the national debt is carried on fewer shoulders. America could admit more immigrants to compensate, but politicians seem loth to allow that. The baby bust also strikes a blow to American exceptionalism. Until recently, it looked as though pro-natalist policies such as generous parental leave and subsidised nurseries could be left to those godless Europeans. In America, faith and family values would ensure a good supply of babies.
Ah, faith and family values. Please tell me more.
To its credit, The Economist offers a bit more insight on that angle: