Global Problems Concerning Fertility

Mark Steyn wrote an excellent mediation on Christmas, posted on National Review on Dec. 24. It’s a political piece (as Mark Steyn is a political commentator), making an excellent point about the problem with low fertility rates:

If the problem with socialism is, as Mrs. Thatcher says, that eventually you run out of other people’s money, much of the West has advanced to the next stage: It’s run out of other people, period. Greece is a land of ever fewer customers and fewer workers but ever more retirees and more government. How do you grow your economy in an ever-shrinking market? The developed world, like Elisabeth, is barren. Collectively barren, I hasten to add. Individually, it’s made up of millions of fertile women, who voluntarily opt for no children at all or one designer kid at 39. In Italy, the home of the Church, the birthrate’s somewhere around 1.2, 1.3 children per couple — or about half “replacement rate.” Japan, Germany, and Russia are already in net population decline. Fifty percent of Japanese women born in the Seventies are childless. Between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of Spanish women childless at the age of 30 almost doubled, from just over 30 percent to just shy of 60 percent. In Sweden, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, 20 percent of 40-year-old women are childless. In a recent poll, invited to state the “ideal” number of children, 16.6 percent of Germans answered “None.” We are living in Zacharias and Elisabeth’s world — by choice.

You know, it’s difficult to argue with the numbers. If you haven’t picked up Steyn’s larger book, America Alone, do it. It is a riveting read.

For some, numbers are difficult to follow. The heart is more convincing. We don’t understand why so many people resist the calling of parenting. Why do millions opt out of it? Why is childlessness attractive? We’ve talked about fertility these past few days, and they’ve drawn some outlandish responses. We are speechless at some who actually find childlessness a nobile desire, something to be encouraged. Our jaws drop at such ideas.

Because we can’t help but compare. Really, we remember childlessness; the childless don’t recall the alternative life with children. We remember the footloose and fancy-free life. It was great while it lasted, but why would we have wanted it to continue? There came a time to marry and bring children into our lives, to broaden our limited view of life, to take on the next step and become parents. To find out what love was all about. Rather than just receive it from our own parents, we wanted to give it to our children.

Doesn’t this make sense? Why such objection?

Read Mark’s article. It’s excellent. Especially because of the fact that this is a Christmas meditation on the birth of Jesus. The truth is, life is worth it. Life – and bringing life into the world – leads to beauty and eternity, as did the “unconventional” births of John and Jesus did. We think similarly of our life. It may be unconventional, but it is so worth living.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Harriet

    God calls us all to different paths.

  • SC

    I am 31, single, and care-free. I love my life and I am not sure that I will ever have kids. Why? Because I can’t afford them. If I can’t give a kid the life that I want them to have, then I won’t have them. I would not want to raise my kids on Goodwill clothes….sorry I don’t. All of these “quiverfull” women are subjected to the oppression of patriarchy, serving nothing more than a brood mare. There is so much more to life than that. I am just trying to advance my career so I can depend on myself, if I find a partner then so be it, I will be able to be a provider as well. If I have 1.3 kids at 38, then you better believe that I will have a “designer” kid….and we will enjoy our annual trip over seas. 

    • Maria

      I’m sorry, but I think that is sad for you. To be so hung up on materialistic stuff that you view it as a necessity to have a “designer”kid. Even before I had children, I still shopped at thrift stores – and I’m passing this habit on to my children. Not because I can’t afford to buy new things, clothes or whatever, but because I believe it’s environmentally better to re-use all the stuff that “have-to-have-new” folks just discard all the time. Have you thought about that aspect at all? Kind regards, Maria

  • Salamander

    I think there is a difference between what is good for the individual and what may be good in the larger country-context .(If you believe Steyn’s arguments).  As SC said, she doesn’t want to have children because she can’t afford them.  That’s her right and it is the right decision for HER.  If you believe Steyn’s arguments, the correct choice for the COUNTRY is for SC to have many many children.  So what is more paramount? Individual liberty as one perceives it, or the country’s welfare? Personally, I think individual liberty trumps all..

    • Harriet

      I’m pretty surprised that the Jeubs want to take away the right NOT to have kids. I am all for individual liberty!

      • Chris Jeub

        Oh, please, Salamander and Harriet. We are saying no such thing.

      • Salamander

        i’m not saying that the JEUBS are saying anything.  I’m postulating that the answer to the jeub question “why do people resist loving another child?” in the context of Steyn’s argument is quite simple. People put their individual needs above those of the country. In no way did i try to put words in anyone’s mouth.

  • Jaqueray

    don’t blame God for a selfish path that many people choose. People SOMETIMES choose to be childless out of selfishness and a warped view of what matters (like the annual trip overseas or not wearing “Goodwill” clothes. My children wear the SAME designer clothes that others pay lots of $$$ for, they have just been worn by others first.

  • Harriet

    “In Sweden, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the
    United Kingdom, 20 percent of 40-year-old women are childless.”

    Let’s take this statement apart. If 20% are childless, that means 80% have kids. 80%! That’s pretty good!

    How many of those 20% are infertile or have infertile partners? How many of them are single?

    You’ll never have 100% of women having kids. Male and female infertility prevents that. Singleness prevents that in some cultures. 80% sounds pretty darn good. Hardly a crisis.

  • Personal Failure

    Really, we remember childlessness; the childless don’t recall the alternative life with children. We remember the footloose and fancy-free life. It was great while it lasted, but why would we have wanted it to continue? ”

    That’s not true, Chris. Wendy had one or two children before she met you, so unless she had given custody to someone else at the time, you were never childless while you were married to Wendy.

    • Carel7373

      Wendy had two kids coming into her marriage with Chris.

    • Chris Jeub

      I was referring to before my marriage. And Wendy before she had children. Is it really that complicated? And what’s your point, anyway?

      • Harmon

        I think she was confused by your statement:

        ” It was great while it lasted, but why would we have wanted it to
        continue? There came a time to marry and bring children into our lives,
        to broaden our limited view of life, to take on the next step and become

        Wendy did it the opposite way. She brought kids into her life and later married. It is a bit confusing, the way you phrased it.

  • jenny

    I like that sponsor on the side bar!

  • Anonymous

    Not everyone is meant to have children.  While we completely disagree on this subject I know more couples who feel pressured into having kids or more kids by family and church than couples who think it over and decide kids aren’t for them.  

    • Chris Jeub

      Sure, anecdotal evidence may go either way. Steyn’s argument, though, isn’t anecdotal. It’s factual. The ramifications of the world “just deciding” against kids are devastating. Our question is simply this: Why do so many decide against the blessing of children, especially when the results can be so bad? We have trouble understanding the logic of this.

      • Anonymous

        So you question why people are against having children given what could happen to the world if the population declines?  If that is truly what you are questioning then basically aren’t you saying people should have children regardless of if they want them, can take care of them, or are in a stable relationship to have them.  Is that truly what you want?  What happen to love?  For all this talk the past few days about how children are blessings it comes down to one thing… love of children.  I don’t know how to convince someone who thinks children are yucky that children are wonderful life enhancing things.  If my baby is being super cute and smiling, etc and a neighbor is holding her and gives her back to me and says “that’s the best birth control ever. Spending time with your kids.” will that person ever be convinced?  I mean not to brag but my kids are super easy and helpful.  My furniture isn’t sticky, my kids don’t fight that often, and they don’t yell/scream in the house.  If someone can’t handle my kids they probably aren’t suited to have kids.

        • Raphael

          ” If that is truly what you are questioning then basically aren’t you
          saying people should have children regardless of if they want them, can
          take care of them, or are in a stable relationship to have them.  Is
          that truly what you want?”

          Bravo, Bea! Mr. Jeub forgets that children need to be wanted. We shouldn’t have kids to improve the fertility rate in our countries.

          I, for one, am in favor of personal choice, and respecting other’s personal choices about kids.

      • Harmon

        Actually, 200 years ago there were far less people and nothing so terribly bad happened.

        Now that there are more people, our air is dirtier and so is our water.

        • Chris Jeub

          I don’t think you’re correct. Yes, there are more people.
          Air and water are dirtier? Not true.

          Here’s a good article about this common misunderstanding.

          • Harmon

            I have traveled the world and seen it for myself. I don’t need to attend Google university to educate myself.

            • Chris Jeub

              Okay, Harmon. Anecdotally, you can believe whatever you want. (Google the term if you don’t know what that means.)

              • smy

                Pollution in the US might be decreasing, but only because heavily polluting industry has been outsourced to nations like the PRC and India. 

                Also, the article is a joke – nothing that would stand up the rigor required of a peer reviewed scientific article in a real academic journal. 

              • Chris Jeub

                Hmmm, okay. Stephen Moore is one of the most respected minds in the developed world, but I suppose you could find someone more scholarly (albeit unknown) to disagree with him.

                Logical fallacy: Appeal to Authority. You disagree with Moore, so you appeal to imaginary authoritarians to justify your disagreement. 

    • Charlene

      I know only a few people who have decided against kids. They felt it was God’s Will that they give their ministries their full-time attention. I don’t feel it is for me to judge their decision.

      Most people I know have kids–either by birth or adoption (which is rarely mentioned here).  So I don’t see what the “crisis” is about.

      • Chris Jeub

        That’s probably because, like us, you hang out with other families. The demographic numbers are what they are, no matter what your experience is.

        • Charlene

          Why are you assuming I have a spouse and kids? And that I hang around with families?

          And the demongraphics don’t look that bad to me. 80% of 40-year olds have kids? That is higher than I expected.

          • Chris Jeub

            I said PROBABLY, Charlene. Can I have my head back?

  • Sonya Lillis

    I am a mom of 5 kids, soon to be 6. for me, being a mom is the happiest thing in the world. I love every minute of it. even in the pull-my-hair-out-frustrated moments I’m still happy to be a mom.
    I find it sad that so many people choose to not have the joy of a child in their lives, or see children as “burdens” rather than precious gifts from God.
    while i do agree that some people should not have children (such as drug dealers, murderers ect…) I find it very sad the attitude i come up against so often of people thinking that children are “just to much” or “to expensive”
    mankind as a whole needs to be more loving and accepting towards children.

    i know several infertile couples who want children and can’t have them. they feel pain and emptiness because of it. when i talk to them i can’t imagine why anyone would CHOOSE to live in that emptiness on purpose.

    someone posted below about children shouldn’t be brought into the world unless they are “wanted” and i just wanted to say a little about that too:
    i grew up in an abusive home, i know what it is for a child (me) to feel unwanted. however, that being said i would never ever go back on my life and wish I hadn’t existed. every child, no matter who their parents are, no matter what their parents have done, every child is a blessing from God.

    it concerns me greatly that when i reach old age with the birth rate going down so fast, there won’t be many young people and many many middle aged people will be forced to care for the elderly population which will vastly outnumber the younger and middle aged people in most countries. that alone is going to create HUGE social problems and premature death, elderly abuse, financial crisis…ect…

    • CathyB

      So unwanted children should be brought into the world to be abused–in order to solve social problems?

    • Chris Jeub

      I did some quick research on elderly abuse. My oh my, that is a huge social problem. It appears to be a bigger problem than people realize.

      • Jaye

         And many cases of elder abuse are at the hands of the elders’ own children who neglect and mistreat them while stealing their social security checks. There’s no guarantee that ANYONE will treat you well when you’re old and infirm.

    • Nancyjoya

      It creates huge social problems when children are brought into the world, neglected, and forced to be cared for by society too.  Is it not better to have one child who is well cared for and loved than 10 who are not?  That is the argument missing in this discussion.  What do you suggest?

  • Alethia

    Gendercide is going on in India and China.  Where have all their girls gone??? America and Europe have bought the ideal of me first, pursue my career, go into college debt slavery.  So to them the point is why have children, they are just too expensive…. I have to have my stuff, my huge house and maybe my trophy 1.2 children.  

    Does any of the Christians today read the Bible?  Do they realize that God calls children blessings and not curses (To expensive$$) 

    • Rocky

      Actually, just because girls aren’t counted on the official census in China and India doesn’t mean that “genercide” is taking place.

      Girls in orphanages and living in an unofficial adoption situation are not given government IDs, so they are not counted in the census. But they still exist. There are plenty of girls in that situation, but the “missing girl” situation is played up by the media, and then bought, hook line and sinker–by people like you.

      Have you ever been to China or India? I have, and I saw no shortage of girls and women. Don’t believe all you read.

      • Alethia

         I have never been to China or India.  But how many Chinese children  adoptions to the US are boys?  Also, what about the abortions that are happening in both countries.  India has made it illegal to use ultra sounds to do selective abortions, but they still happen.  The girls that are not wanted end up in the orphanages in India. 

        As for being played up by the media, some of it probably is played up.
        But the US is still big into abortions, as are other countries. 

    • Jaye

       Oh good grief, I don’t have a huge house, college debt, fancy car, lots of “stuff”.  I do have a husband I adore, a job I love, travel opportunities (a priority for a girl raised in Nowhereville TX), and a fairly simple kind of life. Especially compared to many we know who have children.  Their lives seem needlessly . . . complicated. Of course, not being religious, I’ve never thought of children as blessings or burdens. But they definitely are a choice. I can promise you that my life is every bit as lovely for me as yours is for you.

  • Katie

    It is sad.  I have even had a couple of childfree-by-choice people tell me that they don’t need to have grandkids, because they will have money to buy private nurses.  Oh if only they had witnessed the horrors that my many relatives and friends who are nurses have witnessed when they bring these people into the hospitals after what these expensive private nurses have done to them.  I’ve heard it time and time again.  Bed sores oozing with infections. Money does not buy compassion!!  And with no family to watch over you, you are putting yourself at the mercy of people who do not love you, and do not want to be with you without getting paid.

    • Rod

      Having kids doesn’t always lead to compassion either. I know plenty of families where the kids take off and don’t care for elderly parents. Then you don’t have the money from being childless, and you don’t have the advantages of family watching over you. A lose-lose situation.

      Happens more often than you think, to good Christian families.

    • Guest

      Being a volunteer in a nursing home, I have seen plenty of “good christian kids” leave their parents and never come around once they reach the age where they can no longer be taken care of at home without proper nursing care.
      I am against birth control and plan to have many children, but having many children just so you can be taken care of in your old age is not always the best of ideas.

  • Rod

    The book you discuss has no citations or bibliography. He does not back up his statements. And he blames everything wrong in the world on Muslims.

    • Chris Jeub

      You’re right, the book isn’t heavily cited, but it’s more of a humorous expose of world culture than an detailed critique. But though Steyn is concerned about radical Islam, he makes the claim that Muslims are the only ones having children, attributing that culture as valuing what we ought.
      Did you read the book? Wikipedia has a pretty decent review of it here if you’re interested. 

      • Rod

         “You’re right, the book isn’t heavily cited,. . .”

        Then I’d be careful of believing his numbers, or citing them on your blog as “factual.” He could’ve made up the whole thing. In fact, I found many stats that were completely wrong.

        Muslims are welcome to have all the children they want. Children are a blessing, always.

        • Chris Jeub

          Inaccuracy has not been Steyn’s criticism. Some liberal outlets have tried, but in my opinion, have failed. Steyn is right on. And he would likely agree that children are always blessings. He’s more critical of the West’s refusal to have children than the Muslim’s embrace of it.

  • Chris Jeub

    Wow, this video is really interesting. Thanks for posting it!

  • Celee

    I read Steyn’s book America Alone about 5 years ago while I was teaching full-time at a local university.  We had already had 3 children and adopted our fourth, which was to be our last.  My husband is a pastor of a small church and we thought we needed the benefits that my job provided.  Steyn’s book helped us to see beyond our family to our country and the legacy we would leave.  I’ve been home now 3 years and the Lord has blessed us with two more children.  I’ll be 39 in a couple of months and am so grateful that God changed our hearts when he did.


    • Chris Jeub

      We know many people with similar stories. Thanks for sharing, Celee!

  • Kathy Obierzynski

    That’s wonderful Celee! We had a change of heart 3 years ago too and now have two more children. That makes eight for us and we’re hoping for more. I’m 43, so we’ll what God does! :-) Kathy

    • Chris Jeub

      There are so many wonderful testimonies like yours.

  • Travis Stephanie Fehler

    AW… love Mark Steyn :) – he’s a Canadian :)…  I used to joke that i’d have my friend’s “share” of children since i’m pg with #8 now and having a baby is usually (or was, in my 20s and early 30s) an “every other year” occurence.  Now that she’s finally found the man of her dreams, the best wish i could have for her is to add to her family with children of her own :)

  • Travis Stephanie Fehler

    Hm… SC – patriarchy?  Actually, i am the most extreme feminist going, i’m guessing?  My dad wanted me to work (after a lot of university), my mom didn’t encourage me to get married or have children, esp not more than the usual.  I’m bucking family, church (which is also in the huge majority anti-child), all the other “feminists” who think, along with Simone de Beauvoir, that women shouldn’t be given the “choice” of being a mother…
     “because too many women would make that choice.” 

  • Charlene

    Mr. Steyn complains and frets about Muslim people having too many babies. And you believe that children are a blessing, always. Isn’t this a bit of a contradiction? How can you recommend this author? 

    • Chris Jeub

      I didn’t take it this way. Steyn complains and frets about the West NOT having babies. I don’t think anywhere throughout the book does he “complain and fret about Muslim people having too many babies.” Styen then looks to demographics and considers whose worldview will carry into the future. It will likely not be the West’s.

      • Roger

        Does the West really have one unique worldview? Do Muslims? 

  • Roger

     How many kids do you think 53-year old Mr. Steyn has? Judging from his writing, you’d think he had 7 or 10, wouldn’t you?

    He only has 3.

    He just wants everyone *else* to have lots of kids, I guess. . .

    • Johnnyc

      So you know all the circumstances surrounding Mr. and Mrs. Steyn’s fertility? You know exactly what situations their family were in when they could have been deciding to have more kids? I often have my suspicions about families with lower numbers of kids (even though it is not really my business to speculate), but the only ones you actually know are living against God’s will with regards to family planning are the braying jackasses who tell you how horrible you are for bringing kids into this world. Judge not, lest ye be judged. Three kids is still above replacement level for the general population.

  • Sephia8

    I’m not a god follower. In fact we are secular humanists, but we both knew we’d have a large family. We currently have 8 children and are hoping to add to it with a 9th in the near future. We have it more difficult because our other secular friends don’t see children like we do. We still see them as a blessing. They are showing their true colors with the news of us wanting to have “more”. We’re being told we’re stupid, ignorant, have ‘flawed thinking’, and so much more. We’re told we should adopt instead (because a $20,000 adoption is so budget friendly compared to conceiving freely!), and ‘over population’ is thrown at us (which we do not believe in). I don’t know what it is, but we both know in our hearts we are supposed to have at least one more child. Ironically if we “accidentally” got pregnant it would be more easily accepted by people than a planned child. I absolutely do NOT get that thinking at all. An accident is accepted verses a planned and wanted child?! O.o

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