A Counter Trend—Sort Of
I am writing not as a single cultural aberration, but as part of yet another cultural trend: the rise of the larger family. In March 2004, USA Today ran a front-page story with the headline, "For More Parents, Three Kids Are a Charm: Professional, educated women lead the trend." The headline on the inside page read, "Opportunity to Raise Big Family Is 'a Tremendous Liberation for Women.'"
"We're undergoing a gender and family revolution," Stephanie Coontz, national co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, said in the article. From 1995 to 2000, the number of women of childbearing age giving birth to three or more children rose 7 percent (to 18.4 per 1,000 women). "Women with impressive resumes no longer see life as a choice between work and motherhood," Coontz continued.
The Families and Work Institute, a New Yorkbased center for research on the changing work force, reported in a recent study that female managers and professionals are having more children. In 2002, such women had double the number of children under 18 at home as women in the same positions had in 1977. Women with four-year or higher college degrees had triple the average number as women with similar educations in 1977.
A number of demographers, journalists, and sociologists have noted a strong correlation between religious values and fertility rates. The more frequent the church attendance, the higher the birthrate. "White fundamentalist Protestants" who attend services weekly show a fertility rate 27 percent higher than the national average. Mormons show twice the national birth rate.
David Brooks, in a New York Times opinion piece, calls this "little- known" movement natalism. The significant difference in fertility between the religious ...