In a recent article, The Federalist author Tristan Justice (a pseudonym?) opined that a happy society would have more children. Happy society? Well, I’m pretty happy, as is Mrs. Animal, but I can see how some folks might not be. We have four kids, so I guess there’s at least a correlation there, in our case. Anyway. Excerpt:
According to new data from the General Social Survey highlighted by former Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham, just 19 percent of Americans last year said they were “very happy,” down from 31 percent, nearly a third, three years before. Twenty-four percent in 2021 said they were “not too happy.”
Americans are also having fewer children than ever before, with the nation’s birth rate falling for the sixth consecutive year in 2020 to its lowest ever. Just 3.6 million babies were born, according to CDC statistics, down from 3.7 million the year before.
There are a lot of reasons why Americans aren’t having more children. Marriage is declining so rapidly that married people will soon be the minority. Faith, the bedrock of a moral society that incentivizes children (and empirically raises levels of happiness) has deteriorated so much that church membership has already dropped below 50 percent, according to Gallup. Americans aren’t even having as much sex, or even engaging in masturbation which signals a lack of interest.
According to the Pew Research Center in November, no baby boom is expected anytime soon. Only about a quarter of non-parents under the age of 50 reported they were “very likely” to have children, down from 32 percent in 2018. Forty-four percent said they were “not too likely” or “not at all likely” to have children whatsoever.
Read the whole thing; there are some interesting points made, but there are a few I’d like to point out.
Faith, the bedrock of a moral society that incentivizes children (and empirically raises levels of happiness) has deteriorated so much that church membership has already dropped below 50 percent, according to Gallup.
While there may be some correlation between church membership and morality, you can color me a bit skeptical, mostly because of my own lifetime experience. Plenty of non believers are very moral people and good parents to large families; the Old Man, for one, me for another. That’s kind of a thinly supported blanket statement, and I suspect there are other factors at play. Correlation, after all, is not causation. And I think there’s another source of stress; read on.
Only about a quarter of non-parents under the age of 50 reported they were “very likely” to have children, down from 32 percent in 2018. Forty-four percent said they were “not too likely” or “not at all likely” to have children whatsoever.
See, this part is just sad. I’ve known a few people, not young folks any more but contemporaries of mine, who for one reason or another decided not to have kids. My worry for them is this: What happens when you’re old, and one spouse dies, leaving the other all alone, with no family, no kids or grandkids to fill your remaining days? The only word I can think of to describe that is lonely, and that seems like an understatement.
Still, I’d like to see more numbers here. I’ve known plenty of folks who, when young, claimed to want to eschew the responsibility of parenthood, only to change their minds as they got older.
I don’t know how to measure the happiness level of a society. I suspect polls in general. It’s too easy, and pollsters are too practiced at, wording and conducting polls in a certain way to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. Certainly in uncertain times like these, with inflation tugging away at our pocketbooks and a sham administration in the Imperial Mansion, with crime spiking in our major cities and the average IQ of most Congresscritters being below room temperature – well, with all that I can see how lots of folks are feeling stressed.
Up here in the valley, though, most folks seem to be doing pretty well. Maybe what stresses people out, what makes them unhappy, if being jammed together, unnaturally, in big cities that are increasingly unsettled, filthy and dangerous.
For whatever reason, I don’t see why folks would avoid parenthood. We raised four daughters, and being a father and grandfather is one of the primary things that gives my life meaning. Our oldest two certainly don’t fit the trend mentioned here, having three kids each; the younger two haven’t started yet but both have indicated the want families.
Maybe this is a short-term trend. Maybe it isn’t. Only time will tell, I suppose. Meanwhile, as I’ve been saying for some time now: Get out of the cities.