Voluntary Extinction: America's One-Child Policy?

Chuck Colson | BreakPoint | Monday, November 15, 2010

Voluntary Extinction: America's One-Child Policy?


According to Britain's Guardian newspaper, the Chinese government "has been considering options for relaxing" its infamous "one-child" policy.

While economic realities are forcing the Chinese to rethink that disastrous and cruel policy, many Americans seem to be voluntarily adopting a one-child policy of their own.

At least that's the conclusion of a recent article in the Weekly Standard.

On the surface, there doesn't seem to be a problem: America's average fertility rate is 2.06 births per woman.

While that is slightly below what demographers call the "replacement level," it is higher than China's and much higher than Japan's or that of most European countries.

But the difference is almost entirely the result of high levels of Hispanic immigration. In 1980, before the wave of Hispanic immigration, America's fertility rate was the same as China's today and trending downward.

This reprieve probably won't continue: As Hispanic immigrants and their children become more assimilated into American culture, they, also, will have fewer children.

Absent a shift in cultural attitudes, the United States will eventually face the demographic realities that Japan, Western Europe, and sooner rather than later, China are facing. These societies will have fewer workers to support an increasing number of elderly.

In China's case, the reality will be all the worse because it "may be the first major country to grow old before it grows rich."

The reasons for this possible downward trend in America are cultural: As author Jonathan Last notes, the decline in fertility coincided with the arrival of contraception and the sexual revolution that made it possible. Add abortion-on-demand, and we would be shocked if birth rates weren't in danger.

Then there's increasing emphasis on work and career. Americans are waiting longer to get married, and the inevitable by-product of postponing marriage is decreased fertility.

Now, to a generation raised on population-control dogma, this sounds like good news. But, as many countries are realizing, the "birth dearth" is the stuff of economic stagnation and a loss of cultural vitality.

Of course, there are exceptions to this trend: There is a strong relationship between fertility and religious commitment.  Whereas two-thirds of Americans who don't attend church think two or fewer children is the ideal family size, 41 percent of those who do attend church weekly think that three or more is ideal.

As Last writes, "When you meet couples with more than three children today, chances are they're making a cultural and theological statement."

Well, I don't think that they are so much making a statement as they are bearing witness to what they believe about God's intentions for the family—what the Bible says. They're simply living out a Christian worldview.

On the other hand, the population-control worldview is not only morally problematic, it is literally unfruitful and ultimately self-negating—no matter how it's adopted, voluntarily or otherwise.

Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Publication date: November 15, 2010

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