Carol Platt Liebau

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Here is a very sobering piece on declining population rates and the ramifications for the future.

There is one potential beneficial outcome -- the increasing conservatization (yes, I know it's a created word) of society, because socially conservative women are more likely to have more children than liberal ones. The phenomenon is like the "Roe effect," where young people may be trending pro-life because, obviously, they are living proof that their mothers were pro-life.

At the heart of the problem, in a sense, is the upward trend of lifestyles for women, with contraception, advanced education, opportunities beyond marrying and reproducing very young. And that's a difficult one to solve -- as a 37 year old childless female, it's not terribly fair for me to insist that others should choose a different path against their will.

Cultural changes could help -- in "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us" (available on Amazon; can't be linked, though) Danielle Crittendon suggested that society foster a system under which women marry and have children young, and then go to to fulfill their intellectual/other aspirations later. And that's a possibility. It just doesn't address the issue of how people change and grow as they're educated; in many important ways, I'm a very different person now than I was as a 22 year old off to Harvard Law School. And if I had married young and had several children, it's far from clear to me that I would ever have gotten around to having some of the wonderful experiences that I've subsequently enjoyed.

It's a tough problem, fighting biology.


Blogger SpiritualFields said...

Hi, Carol, I'm the Ed that assisted you way back when with getting your email link up in lights. I'll tell you, this phenomenom of women electing not to bear children simply flummoxes me, and one spitball that I'll throw at the wall is that much of it comes from secluristic rationalization. As a man, I cannot come up with an analogy that makes sense to me, because I can't conceive of ignoring a bioligical precept that was built into my genes and supported in biblical literature (How many verses do you have to read in Genesis before you get the idea that it was God's will and a favor when he opened up a woman's womb and she bore fruit?). I can understand delaying having children because of career, financial or marital problems, and using contraceptives to forestall pregnancy, but the people who never have children are a puzzle. I'm not talking baby factories here, just onesies and twosies, and yes, there still is a practical reason to have children...just ask my mother who got a stroke 6 years ago and whom I'm taking care of, not putting her into a nursing home.

There will be a political rammification as well, as the article you linked to points out, but when you reduce the abstractions down to the concretes of nature and life, the rationalizations seem less important.

There's still plenty of time to make a little Carol Platt Liebau, so don't think you're out of the woods yet, especially given the wistful tone of your post ;)

11:42 AM  
Blogger Ol Cranky said...


As a 38 year old childless woman, I may be able to address the issue of the childless woman for some of us. I've not met the right guy for me and it's not because I'm too picky, because I have some unrealistic expectations of "the ideal man" or because I have some overly-romantic notion of the 1 perfect soul mate for each person. Marriage is a major committment and I think it would be wrong to just find some guy to marry me unless I honestly thought we had a stable, mutually respectful, loving relationship that could last. Unfortunately, the guys who are attracted to me seem to want exactly what men say they don't want: a woman who nags them and bosses them around - they assume I'll be like that (though they don't really admit it) because I can take care of myself and seem to be a strong person. A relationship in which I could ride roughshod over my partner would not be a good one.

Personally, I think a stable marriageis the ideal environment in which to raise children. I think it a bit selfish and irresponsible to intentionally get pregnant to have a baby as a single mother because I want to have a baby. I'm also not really sure it's wise to adopt a child without the appropriate partner and support network. Since there are many couples who want to adopt babies, I'd feel guilty adopting one ahead of a couple and, as a single person who is not rich, I'm not so sure I could provide the additional care needed by a child with special needs who is considered "unadoptable" by most.

8:14 PM  

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