Sometimes Less Is More

I read an article a few days ago about “America’s Falling Fertility Rate”.  My curiosity was piqued by the title, so I read on.  Turns out that women in the U.S. are having fewer babies than at any time in recorded history.  Okay, so … the earth is overpopulated, there are some 330 million people in the U.S. … what’s the problem?  Fewer people is better, at least in my book.

According to the experts, a replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple is necessary to sustain a country’s population, and at present the U.S. is only achieving 1.705 births per woman while Britain, Canada, France, and Australia all had fertility rates below 1.9.  So?  Again … what’s the problem?

Given the effects of humans on the environment and given that people in some parts of the world are dying of hunger due to the lack of arable land on which to grow food, it seems to me that lowering the rate of population growth could well contribute to saving the planet.  Oh, but wait … silly me, I wasn’t considering the wealthy corporations!

Some experts are calling this phenomenon “a demographic time bomb.” In coming years, lower fertility rates could have profound economic consequences, with employers lacking sufficient workers to grow the economy.  Le GASP!  Oh damn!  Microsoft and Apple won’t have enough workers to invent more useless software and market it for 5,000% of what it’s actually worth, and Wally World (aka Wal-Mart) will have to scale back on some of the junk they sell!  The world’s richest dudes will start losing money instead of languishing in obscene profits!  And they will learn, perhaps, to live a little less extravagantly, to appreciate their employees, maybe even to pay them a living wage.

So, why are women having fewer children today?  According to the article in The Week

A complex set of factors has driven down birth rates for almost all age groups of women — except for those in their late 30s and early 40s. As more women pursue college and advanced degrees and devote their 20s to career building, the mean age at which women have their first birth reached a record high of 26.9 in 2018. The Census Bureau reported that from 2000 to 2019 the number of 25-year-olds who had obtained a master’s degree doubled to 21 million and the number of those pursuing doctorates more than doubled. In a 2020 survey of thousands of women who delayed childbirth, 3 in 5 cited their desire to reach a certain job title or level before starting a family. Many feminists say this is necessary because many employers sideline mothers. Ashley Stahl, a career coach, points to a Princeton University study showing that for every child a woman has, her earnings potential falls 4 percent.

The article goes on to say that housing plays a significant role …

The National Bureau of Economic Research says that the largest component of child-rearing costs is housing. And the cost of housing in America has skyrocketed. The median U.S. home in 1953 cost $18,080, or about $177,000 in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars. Today, the median home price is $301,000. Young people who cannot afford homes or even a two-bedroom apartment are less inclined to marry and to have children.  One 2014 study published in the Journal of Public Economics explicitly linked housing costs to fertility, suggesting that for every $10,000 jump in housing values, fertility among nonowners fell 2.4 percent.

Now, I fail to see the problem.  As a person who is deeply concerned about what humans have done and are continuing to do to the environment, I can only conclude that fewer humans on this earth is a positive thing.  Fewer humans = fewer cars, fewer airplanes, fewer trees being cut down, less pollution.  As a supporter of animal rights and protecting the earth, again I see fewer humans leading to fewer species becoming extinct as a result of human activities.  Perhaps this is Mother Nature’s way of leveling the playing field.  I realize that the majority of people do not likely share my opinion, but rather see the growth of the human species as invaluable and essential.  I also realize that to a degree, my view of this complex issue is somewhat simplistic.

In my view, fewer humans means more trees, healthier animals, cleaner air and water … a healthier planet in general.  It may also mean that the planet can better sustain all the people on earth, that nobody will be without food, water, and fresh air.  Let’s learn to appreciate the truly finer things in life, the things that man, in all his greed and arrogance, is in the process of destroying.

38 thoughts on “Sometimes Less Is More

  1. Remember, for both racism and hyper-consumption (which involves aLOT of waste, don’t forget) “you have to be carefully taught” to do these things.

    Habits to reuse and save, to pack lunches in reusable materials, as we did in the 80s, and before, etc, all of these, rather than buying and tossing food after letting it go bad, which I’ve seen each of my roommates do, are learned behaviors, no?

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  2. If I may, I would like to introduce one or two other factors into the concern over the falling birth rates, especially in European-based countries, including Canada, the USA, Australia, Aotearoa, etc., and number one is Christianity and it’s offshoots. There is in the Christian religion a seldom visited 11th Commandment, actually predating the first Ten by literally millennia, the commandment from their God to Go forth and multiply! The number of white Christians is falling, and the leaders are worried, just like the capitalists are worried, that falling numbers will produce falling revenues, not to mention fewer adherents. Fewer adherents also means removing the dominance of Christians of any ethnicity (thank you, Barry). Muslim women are having more babies, last I heard, so adherents of Mohammed are increasing much faster than adherents of Jesus, and that scares the authorities to their core. Catholics, especially, are going to suffer. Catholic women are using birth control in greater numbers, despite the fact birth control is a sin in Catholic Christianity. Throw in the white supremacists, and the increasing number of mixed race births, and white Christians are losing control of their world, no matter how desperately they try to hang on.
    What I really do not understand, non sequitur to this post, is why whites look at half-whites as non-whites. Being half white and half red myself, it really makes me wonder. Neither side really wants me, or those like me. In Canada they call us Metis, but the government considers us aboriginal, less than white. I don’t know what the present nomenclature is in the US, but I know you have many words for whites mixed with other colours and ethnicities. Why can white be only pure white?
    Okay, sorry, I have gone off topic, and forgotten my other thought I wanted to present. If I remember it, I will add it.Growing old sucks at times.

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    • Well, as I’ve mentioned a few times before, I see religion as the source of most conflict in the world and I think we’d all be better off without it. Period. But, you bring up some good points … why do we have to label people by their ethnicity or the colour of their skin? WHY??? They are “PEOPLE” … not ‘whites’, ‘Blacks’, or anything else … just people who, because of where their ancestors lived, have varying shades of skin tones. Who gives a rat’s ass? At the end of the day, we’re all just a clump of skin, bones, muscles, etc., that go into a big fireplace and come out as ash. Yes, if you think of it, add it … and I agree … growing old has a few small advantages, but for the most part it sucks.

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  3. Jill, good post. I have a Ted talk stat in my head, when a scientist answered the question he asked – how many people can the earth support? His answer was telling. He said if we all consume like Americans, the world can support about 2 billion. If we all consume like Rwandans, it can support about 15 billion. Right now, we are around 7 billion. Fresh water has become more dear while salt water is more abundant, warmer and filled with more plastic. Change is needed, but polluting companies with their products do not want to help us change and we cannot do it alone. Keith

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    • Wow … that certainly shows the difference in the way we live and the way those in poorer countries such as Rwanda live. Somewhere, there must be a happy medium? I think that in the Western world, not only the U.S. but much of Europe as well, capitalism has run amok. The nations’ lawmakers pander to the corporate whims, putting mega-profit ahead of people. Something will have to give, but I fear it will take a catastrophic event to force it to. Thanks for those statistics … very interesting!

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  4. In aotearoa New Zealand it’s around 1.8 births per woman. Like you I don’t see a problem. Worryingly this does appear to be a problem to some racists who look at the fertility by ethnicity and see that it varies considerably with pākehā (people of European descent) having a birth rate of less than 1.6 whereas some non-Pākehā groups have rates of over 2.2. These idiots think this a “takeover by stealth”, that somehow a change in ethnicity is harmful.

    Mind you, in their eyes, I’m contributing to the “problem” as my wife is Japanese and our grandchildren are of Pākehā, Japanese and Māori decent. I loathe using the word “race” as it ascribes personality traits to one’s physical appearance. I much prefer “ethnicity” and/or “culture” as this relates to perspective or worldview. And when it comes to ethnicity or culture, the more the merrier. As is often quoted: “variety is the spice of life”.

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    • I’m shaking my head here … like you, I see those who care about the demographics of a population as bloody fools! But, it’s the same here … likely everywhere. I wonder, though, how some of us don’t care about the colour of a person’s skin, while for others it is a determining factor in that person’s value? DNA or upbringing … or a combination of both?

      I most always refer to it as ethnicity rather than race, for in my book we are all the same ‘race’ … the human race. Though these days I wonder about some. I’m with you … the more the merrier, for each culture just adds value to the diversity of a nation! We have neighbors who came here 5 years ago as refugees from Iraq, and we have shared many meals and fun times with them, tasting new foods while sharing ours with them, learning of their holidays and language, while helping them learn English. Just last year, they all became citizens and we are so proud of them, love them so much! They have added value to our lives, as I hope we have to theirs.

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  5. It’s pretty obvious to me why the birth rate continues to drop! First women have to find a chap they would like to share their precious genes with, then factor in careers and affording any sort of home let alone one suitable for little feet. Ten of us – my siblings and cousins – have produced 11 children so we did our bit and I don’t feel too guilty about having three children to make up for the four who didn’t have any. Big families are fun, we have a programme about a family with 22 children and they look like a nice family who have great fun, but we could not all do that. It evens out obviously. To get the population down we will have to put up with an oldie bulge and robot carers! My son and daughter have two each and other son no intention having any, so I guess they fit with statistics.

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    • Your first point is a great one … those chaps seem to be getting harder and harder to find these days! Yes, your family is spot on with the statistics. I had three, and between them they have produced two children with no more to come. People who still, in this day, have 7 or more … I just don’t see how they can do it!

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