You know that old saying, “Demographics are destiny”?
Here at GetReligion we have an observation about religion news trends that is linked to that: “Doctrine is destiny,” especially when doctrines are linked to marriage and family.
I thought of that when reading a long New York Times feature that ran the other day with this headline: “Why Birthrates Among Hispanic Americans Have Plummeted.”
Now, I am sure that this is a very complex subject and that there are lots of trends linked to it. However, I found it fascinating — stunning, actually — that this story is missing one rather logical word — “Catholic.” How do you write about Latino families, marriage and children and not even mention Catholicism and its doctrines (think contraceptives, for starters) on those subjects?
However, the Times team managed to pull that off. Here is a crucial chunk of this story:
As fertility rates across the United States continue to decline — 2017 had the country’s lowest rate since the government started keeping records — some of the largest drops have been among Hispanics. The birthrate for Hispanic women fell by 31 percent from 2007 to 2017, a steep decline that demographers say has been driven in part by generational differences between Hispanic immigrants and their American-born daughters and granddaughters.
It is a story of becoming more like other Americans. Nearly two-thirds of Hispanics in the United States today are born in this country, a fact that is often lost in the noisy political battles over immigration. Young American-born Hispanic women are less likely to be poor and more likely to be educated than their immigrant mothers and grandmothers, according to the Pew Research Center, and many are delaying childbearing to finish school and start careers, just like other American-born women.
“Hispanics are in essence catching up to their peers,” said Lina Guzman, a demographer at Child Trends, a nonprofit research group.
Catholic thinkers would note that the phrase “catching up” contains some interesting assumptions.
Meanwhile, if you know anything about Catholic culture and Hispanics, you know — at the very least — that the regions in the United States in which the church is growing are those where immigrants from Mexico and Latin America are thriving.