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Four Reasons Why People Are Choosing Not to Have Children

Four Reasons Why People Are Choosing Not to Have Children

North Carolina State University Professor (Emeritus) Mike Walden is known for explaining complex issues in ways understandable to the general reader. That is unusual among scholars. Three “economic thrillers” written by Professor Walden and his wife M.E. Whitman Walden, Micro Mayhem (2006), Macro Mayhem (2006) and Fiscal Fiasco (2014), show how they do it.

Professor Walden just posted a short, down-to-earth piece, “You Decide: Should We Worry About The Declining Birth Rate?” He is writing not as an advocate, but simply raises relevant points. In a few succinct sentences he distills the falling fertility conundrum to its essence, citing four reasons why Americans are having fewer children these days:

Individualism

[An] increase in individualism, particularly among young people. The notion is that many young people have made their career and personal satisfaction top priorities, hence reducing their interest in having and raising children.

Radical individualism stems from the Age of Reason’s man-centered ethos. Frankfurt School-infused postwar hubris amplified that, fostering the self-absorbed “Me” generation of now-ageing baby boomers.

The late Tom Wolfe, a quintessential chronicler of American popular culture, dubbed the 1970s the “Me decade”. Social critic Christopher Lasch followed with The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (1979). Triumphalist rhetoric about “The Greatest Generation” helped “Me” generation boomers feel even better about themselves.

This ego-centered ethos has been passed on to Generation X (1965-80), Millennials (1981-96) and Zoomers (1997-2012). “Personal fulfilment” and “self-actualisation” are all the rage. Without getting into the weeds about all that, Professor Walden nails it: “[M]any young people have made their career and personal satisfaction top priorities.”

Priorities indeed. The work, sacrifice and inconvenience of rearing children don’t jive with egotistical priorities. Fewer children are what happens when people see themselves as stand-alone forces of nature fixated on temporal “success”. Solipsism morphs into sociopathy. This zero-sum thinking begets a dog-eat-dog world. Gotta stay competitive.

Tight money

[T]he rising cost of raising children… The federal government… estimates the cost of raising a child to age 17, and the current amount is $233,000.

The high cost of rearing children is the impediment to family life most often cited in legacy media. It is huge. There are multiple causes, none of which will likely be remediated any time soon. Globalist mammon-worship is today’s zeitgeist. Those ideally situated to correct this – government, big business and big “education” – thrive on the system at the expense of family life, which cannot be monetarily quantified.

The $233,000 figure Dr Walden cited increased before it was published. Why? Fractional reserve banking and fiat money. The US’s $35 trillion national debt, out-of-control “entitlement” spending and wars without end have been eroding the American standard of living for decades. This has a global impact, especially on the empire’s client states. Monetising the debt and inflating our way out of things is not sustainable. An economic collapse, gradual or precipitous, will force a re-examination of personal priorities. Hope it doesn’t come to that.

Ageing

With life spans increasing, some young families may perceive a tradeoff between devoting time and money to raising children, or using those resources to care for aging parents. If they can’t do both, then a choice has to be made.

Tradeoff? Looking out for elderly family members is a familial duty as old as time. So we’re choosing between continuing the family or caring for the elderly? Sadly, this is how many young people, squeezed to the bone by a predatory FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) economy, are seeing things. This economically cannibalises families. Evil. Let us reclaim our humanity and resist.

With lower fertility and increased longevity, the population pyramid slims down at the base, a demographic transition that is sweeping the globe. In Japan, 30 percent of the population is 65 and older, more than twice the percentage of those 14 and under.

Not only is their population declining, but the dependency ratio of workers to retirees is way out of kilter. This jeopardises old-age pensions that are fundamental to the modern-day social contract. Japan is the canary in the coalmine for what is coming.

Fear

Last is an answer I frequently hear from my young friends. It is that young people are fearful of the future, and consequently they question if they should bring children into the world.  

Fear is the most crippling emotion of all. It manifests as insecurity, indecision, procrastination and much else.

Napoleon Hill’s best-seller Think and Grow Rich (a misleading title) spoke of the “The Six Ghosts of Fear”: fear of poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love, old age and death. Fear is pervasive. It is a means of conning, coercing and cowing people to bend to the will of powerful special interests.

Fear of poverty means waiting for worldly stars to align before starting a family. World Economic Forum types and a compliant media have led many to fear for the future, telegraphing that not having children is the most environmentally conscious course to save the planet.

Through the ages, humanity has soldiered on, resolute, persistent and sustained by faith. Today’s moral relativism, promoted even by churches, calls into question the very fundamentals of human dignity. We don’t know what to believe. Is it any wonder that fear has stepped into the breach – and that family life bears the consequences?

More common sense needed

I have visited NCSU many times. Dr Walden’s no-nonsense approach characterises much of what comes out of the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, globally recognised for contributions to agriculture and related fields. In 1953, NCSU activated the “first nuclear research reactor to be designed, built, and operated by an academic institution anywhere in the world.”

It was a pleasant surprise to run across Dr Walden’s post. There should be more down-to-earth common-sense types in academia. Were that the case, perhaps impressionable students wouldn’t be suffused with guilt, fear, egotism and much else that stands in the way of family life.

This article was originally published on Mercator under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Image credit: Pexels

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