The U.S. fertility rate will rise from its 25-year low of 1.89 children per woman in 2012 to 1.90 in 2013, according to a report released yesterday from the analytics firm Demographics Intelligence. While the increase is slight, it represents the first time the birth rate has risen since the recession hit. In 2007, the rate was 2.12 children per woman.
Part of the reason for the turnaround is that religious women are having more babies, the report finds. Women who attend weekly religious services intend to have 2.62 children, while those who rarely or never attend services plan to have 2.1 children.
At the other end of the spectrum, some women are choosing not to have any children at all, according to this week’s Time magazine cover story, “Having it All Without Having Children.” In it, author Lauren Sandler, who has made a name for herself by establishing the case for being and having an only child, argues that more women are opting not to become parents, and instead are looking for new paths of acceptance “in a culture that often equates womanhood with motherhood.”
I know quite a few people who would call that last paragraph a “self-correcting problem.” I was noting something similar on Twitter earlier: there’s a certain long-term demographic feedback loop that occurs when any particular group’s personal, moral, ethical, and/or religious beliefs causes its members to deliberately scale back their fertility. Just ask the Shakers*… well, OK, you can’t. Which is the point.
Besides: this may not even really be a thing. Fertility rates are somewhat hard to codify, as even a cursory examination of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting will reveal.
*What’s that? You think that I’m suggesting that the Gnostic disdain for, and rejection of the world, that informed certain sects in the 19th century is alive and well and exists in various quasi-secular denominations commonly found among my political opponents? …Well, you might say that; but I couldn’t possibly comment.