The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Motherhood (and the Lack Thereof)

Posted on | May 9, 2021 | Comments Off on Motherhood (and the Lack Thereof)

One of the phrases I hate is “working mothers,” which is often deployed in such a way as to stigmatize stay-at-home mothers. Ever since the rise of the feminist movement in the late 1960s, liberals have promoted the idea that women must have careers — not just jobs, but professional careers — in order to deserve admiration or praise. In order to have a career, it follows logically, women must go to college and ever since the late 1970s, women have been a majority of college students and are now about 56% of undergraduate enrollment. The result has been a disaster in demographic terms because, as the old saying goes, “Fertility delayed is fertility denied.” That is to say, from the day a girl reaches menarche, she has a fixed number of potential reproductive opportunities — in a healthy female, 12 cycles a year for about 25 years from ages 15 to 40, or roughly 300 lifetime chances to become pregnant. If she does not become a mother as a teenager (and middle-class America adamantly believes that teenage motherhood is the worst of all possible fates), this means her reproductive opportunities are reduced to about 240 — 12 menstrual cycles per year for about 20 years. Thus, every year that she delays motherhood represents a reduction in her total fertility.

Any adult attempting to explain these simple facts of life to young women is apt to meet with a hostile response, attacked as an enemy of “equality” and “women’s rights,” but the alternative — what has actually been happening since the 1970s — is that many young women keep hitting the snooze on the alarm on their biological clocks, so that they unexpectedly arrive in their 30s with the sudden realization that their opportunities for motherhood are now drastically reduced. If a woman is childless at 30, she has already passed by near two-thirds of her biological opportunities for pregnancy, and other considerations (e.g., declining fecundity) have the effect of further reducing the likelihood that she will ever give birth. The majority of all mothers give birth to their first child before age 30, so the woman who postpones childbearing past that age is on the losing side of a probability curve in terms of her chances of becoming a mother.

The decisions of millions of young women add up to demographic trends and, until rather recently — 30 or 40 years ago — the problem of declining fertility was unimaginable in America. The post-WWII “Baby Boom” had been so extraordinary, in terms of shaping our society, that many Americans didn’t even realize that it ended in the mid-1960s. Our nation was embroiled in struggles over civil rights and the Vietnam War, and issues related to demographic trends got little attention. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that Ben Wattenberg began studying census data and realized we had a problem: The Birth Dearth was the title of his 1987 book on the subject, but it made little impact on the national psyche. Some 35 years later, the consequences of ignoring Wattenberg’s early alarm about demographic trends are now apparent:

The decision to have a baby in the middle of a pandemic isn’t an easy one. I know because we struggled with making it (ultimately, we decided to go for it, though not without real serious conversations with medical professionals and a great deal of soul-searching). It’s unsurprising that amid all of the uncertainty, millions of American women decided to go another route and forgo pregnancy and birth.
[Wednesday], the CDC announced the worst fertility news we’ve ever seen in this country: We’ve hit a record low birth rate in the United States (1.64 babies per American woman) and we’re well below the necessary replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman.
While this latest, drastic drop is certainly due to the medical and financial insecurity that a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic brings, unfortunately, the fact that our birth rate has plummeted cannot just be part of the COVID-19 story. Indeed, it’s part of a larger trend of fewer American women not only having babies, but getting married at all.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal about the announcement Janet Adamy explained, “Demographers say the data suggests that more fundamental social and economic shifts are driving down fertility. Births peaked in 2007 before plunging during the recession that began that year. Although fertility usually rebounds alongside an improving economy, U.S. births fell in all but one year as the economy grew from 2009 until early 2020.”
“It’s not just Covid,” a demographer at the University of New Hampshire told the Journal. “I’ve been waiting for years to see a big jump in fertility to women in their 30s and it hasn’t happened.”
Notably, half of American states saw more deaths than births in 2020. That statistic can of course be explained at least in part by an increased death rate — thanks (and no thanks) to COVID-19 deaths and the impacts that came with social isolation and a strained health care system.
But it’s illustrative of the larger picture of what this reduced birth rate means for the future of our society: It’s a dying one. . . .

Read the whole thing. (Hat-tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)

Nothing like this has ever happened before in human history, and so no one knows how to reverse such a trend. Wattenberg’s thought was that, with proper encouragement, some zeroes (i.e., childless women) could be converted to ones, some ones could be converted to twos, and so forth. It would not really take much, in per-capita terms, to raise the total fertility rate by 0.5 babies per woman. But a generation of decadent, selfish hedonists is not even willing to think about long-term social consequences of their short-term personal choices, and so it is likely that America will continue slowly slouching toward extinction.

Not me and mine, of course. I’m a father of six, and already a grandfather of five, with my youngest three children — ages 22, 20 and 18 — yet to begin their own procreative careers. This is all part of the McCain “Victory Through Breeding” program for global domination. If y’all ain’t having kids, tough luck. The future belongs to the fertile.



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