Parenthood, if done right, is wonderfully arduous. It is the source of great joy, great terror, great contentment, and great worry. It is also a lot of hard work.
Word of the effort involved in procreating additional humans has leaked out into the general population, and as a result people are delaying or eschewing reproduction. Moreover, as women in developing nations have more education and opportunities, they are marrying later and having fewer kids. Considering that too many people competing for too few resources causes an abundance of misery and child mortality, this is not a bad thing. Unsurprisingly, people would prefer to have smaller numbers of children who can thrive than to have fifteen kids and loose five of them to childhood diseases or malnutrition. Go figure.
Of course, access to birth control is the key. However, if you give a woman condoms then she will have fewer babies and thus be more present in the public/economic sphere. This makes the patriarchy nervous. Frankly, I think that is what is driving the attack on birth control we have seen in the last couple of years.
In spite of the fact that smaller families born to more mature parents is good for society, there has been some hysteria about the declining birth rate. Some conservatives are calling on Americans to be making more babies, quick! Needless to say, the conservative faction hasn’t stepped up to offer better maternity leave policies, childcare subsidies, or social safety nets … things that would make having babies less problematic for women. Nope. Just be prepared to take the socio-economic and career penalties for childbirth, bitches. Then get your ass back into the kitchen where it belongs!
As a stay at home parent, nothing devalues my choice like saying it is a biological imperative that comes easy for us womb-owners.
Conservatives are also ignoring the fact that it is the plunging rate of children born to immigrant women in America that is causing the “sudden” dearth of birth; the numbers were already in marked decline for native-born women in the US but immigration and immigrant births masked the drop for a couple of decades. Funny how the same people who want electrified fences to keep those brown people from crossing into “our” country to provide incredibly important labor now worry there isn’t enough population. Huh.
And why, pray tell, are there fewer immigrants coming to America? Well, the USA was once a beacon of economic hope, and people immigrated here in droves to strive to improve their standard of living. Now, thanks to the last thirty or so years of right-leaning policies that have gutted unions and workers rights, America is in the grip of desperate income inequality and no longer such a great place to try for upward socio-economic mobility. Again – do conservatives want to put wealth-distribution polices in place (like those under Eisenhower) to spread the wealth and help more Americans join the middle class rather than keeping all the money piled up in a handful of families? Hell, no.
Here’s the reality, wailing baby-wanting pundits. People, in general, want to be able to afford kids before they make them. So if you want another baby boom you have to put the awesome things in play that were happening during the last baby boom – like good manufacturing jobs to hold up the economy, mom & pop stores that aren’t being eaten alive by Wal-marts and their ilk, and decent social-safety nets. You can also make it easier for people from over-populated countries (like Nigeria and Haiti) to come to here, although I suspect that hell will freeze over before the right wing embraces dark skinned immigrants with open arms.
Now, excuse me while I go tell Sweet Babou that his vasectomy makes him unpatriotic.