I don’t have time to pull out quotes at the moment, but here are several angles on the dual debates of (1) whether we are headed for overpopulation or underpopulation, and (2) whether motherhood is beneficial/good/enlightened or oppressive/evil/neanderthal.
- Emily Yoffe on the vicious reaction to her suggestion that a young woman consider having a child.
- Glenn Reynolds on the Baby Bust.
- Norman Myers on Europe’s population decline.
- Randall Parker collects a bunch of articles on worldwide population trends, mainly focusing on how Europe is falling behind everyone else.
OK, I’ll pull one quote. Emily Yoffe cites the main benefit claimed for the “childfree lifestyle” and why it’s bogus:
As one woman wrote: “My husband and I are childless by choice and I heartily encourage all younger friends to consider it. It is the most wonderful lifestyle, free of whining and sniveling and mini-vans.”
What is going on when there is so much scorn for parenthoodâ€”the way a society perpetuates itself? Fertility rates are much in the news these days. The United States is rare among developed nations in that it is still producing children at a replacement rate. But many countries collectively agree with the people who wrote to meâ€”that children are a tantrum wrapped in a diaper and not worth the trouble. So, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain, among others, are going down the demographic tubes, with shrinking pools of young workers to support growing masses of seemingly immortal retirees.
I noticed something else in the letters from nonparents that I had experienced myself: They have an unrealistic sense of the passage of timeâ€”or at least the passage of parental time. They seem stuck on the notion that being a parent means forever climbing a Mt. Everest of diapers (and what happens to these punctilious couples if a spouse ends up needing diapers?). Diapers pass in a snap. It all goes so fast. When our daughter turned 6, my husband and I realized with a pang that we were already one-third of the way through the time she would live with us. And I worry that the writers have an unrealistic sense of their own passage through timeâ€”believing they’ll forever feel that nothing is more important than building their career or taking that next trip.
I’ll go you one better. Before we had kids, Different Wife was hoping she’d have triplets or quadruplets — an entire family, without having to go through pregnancy more than once! Apparently, she thought pregnancy was the hard part. I tried, based on my “experience” as the oldest of five children, to explain that pregnancy was the least of it both in time and impact, but what did I know, I was male, how should be be so arrogant…. Pregnancy is, mainly, the only part of parenting that doesn’t have many benefits offsetting the costs, but that’s not what she meant…