My daughter and son-in-law have decided they will not have children due to overpopulation and the cost. I don’t understand how they could make such a decision. Can you give me some good stats to share with them?
Hoping for Grandchildren
Dear Hoping for Grandchildren,
Since I have five grandchildren already, I know the joy they bring! Obviously, it is their choice whether they want to have children or not, but I would hate to see them make that decision for the wrong reasons. Based on what they have told you, I would say there is no reason not to have children. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Underpopulation is a Bigger Problem than Overpopulation
A population’s replacement level is a total fertility rate of 2.1 live births per woman.
From 1950 to 2017, research conducted by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation indicates that American fertility rates decreased from 4.7 live births to 2.4. That is nearly a 50% decrease! But it gets worse. In 2019, America’s total fertility rate dropped to an alarming 1.7.
The research, published in the Lancet, states that the current world fertility rate, about 2.4, could drop to below 1.7 by 2100.
Despite dropping population growth in some parts of the world (like eastern Europe), large population increases have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 59 countries with fertility rates of more than 3 live births per woman, 41 of those are in sub-Saharan Africa. Based on the work of several organizations to slow down population growth, I wonder how long that will continue.
The BBC addressed the economic concern in an article entitled “Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ Global Crash in Children Being Born.” Professor Christopher Murray told the BBC, “It will create enormous social change.”
Like Murray, experts are wondering who will pay taxes in a senior-dominated world? Who will cover welfare, healthcare, and the benefits that countries bestow on their people? Who will actually care for the growing elderly population? Who will be the innovators and caretakers of God’s creation?
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat told parliament that because COVID-19 is causing would-be parents to postpone parenthood, he wants to grant an additional financial bonus to help cover expenses. This is in addition to the current baby bonus to incentivize parents. The country is facing its worst economic crisis due to COVID-19 on top of a fertility rate that is one of the lowest in the world: 1.14.
Why the fall in fertility rates?
Planned Parenthood cites financial concerns as a reason many women choose to have an abortion:
Financial concerns often play a role in a woman’s decision for abortion. The Guttmacher Institute survey found that nearly three-quarters of women (73%) chose abortion in part because they felt they could not afford a baby at that particular time in their lives.
There are other considerations that affect population growth. These include reduced fertility as women wait to bear children, environmental toxins, pandemics, natural catastrophes, and wars. The Brookings Institution, using data from the Great Recession and the Spanish Flu, predicts a U.S. “Covid baby bust”: the possibility of half a million fewer births.
At the World Artificial Intelligence Conference held in Shanghai, August 2019, Elon Musk said the biggest problem facing the world is population collapse, saying, “Most people think we have too many people on the planet, but actually this is an outdated view.” Jack Ma, China’s outspoken technology billionaire, agreed.
My bottom line is there is no reason to worry about overpopulation to justify not having children.
Economics and Children
There will be a negative economic impact on the world due to the imbalance between young workers and a retired population. God will not be mocked.
In the ESV, God says “be fruitful and multiply” nine times in Genesis alone. After creating Adam and Eve, in Genesis 1:28 we read, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
Babies are Blessings
The Bible makes it clear that children are designed by God to be a blessing.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5 ESV)
The Lord speaks of the family (marriage and children) as being a blessing in Jeremiah 29. He tells the Israelites, “increase, do not decrease.” It is one of the ways that the Lord prospers us and gives a hope and a future. I truly believe that children are an investment in our future happiness and a way that we send a blessing into the world.
While it may seem expensive, daunting, and frightening to have children in today’s world, God is the Author of life, the Creator of each new child that is born, and the Provider for our every need. In the Philippines, they have a saying, “each baby is born with bread in its mouth.” This is their way of expressing that provision will arrive when the child arrives. It is a beautiful, simple way to acknowledge that God knows our every need and He is faithful.
Over and over I have seen young families trust God with the decision to start a family and experience His faithfulness to take care of their needs. It is good to encourage them to be prepared financially should they change their minds and the Lord allow them to be blessed with children.
I hope this helps! Let us know if grandchildren are in your future soon!
Originally published by the Christian Post, October 16, 2020.
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