These days, large families are starting to pop up everywhere. More than three kids seems to be the definition of a “large” family these days, although in generations past that wasn’t large at all.
Unfortunately, at the same time, there is a movement of people popping up calling these families “selfish,” and asking them to consider their environmental impact. First of all, that isn’t (and shouldn’t) be a family’s primary motivation for having or not having children. And second, truthfully? We need those large families. Keep reading to find out why.
Let’s just assume, first, that women have the right to have as many children as they want, ranging from none to 20. Or more. Whatever they decide is right for their family. I’d suggest, as would most, that the family have the means to take care of these children — you should be able to provide for them emotionally, physically, financially, etc. But supposing that’s the case, why does anyone else care if someone else chooses a large family?
Being “green” is huge right now. I know; I’m sort of part of the “green” movement too. I do get those concerns and I do what I can to reduce my own environmental impact. I do think that’s important. But I don’t think that’s the crucial reason for choosing not to have more children, the extra environmental impact. There are certainly ways that large families can — and do — reduce their overall environmental impact.
Anyway, that’s not really my main point here.
The real reason is because the overall birth rate is rather low. The rate required to “replace” the population (especially as these Baby Boomers are aging; it’s likely over the next 20 years we’ll see significant population decline as they age and pass away — although immigrants are keeping the population growing currently) is 2.1 babies per woman, which allows for infant mortality.
The U.S. current rate is 2.06 per woman. Not significantly different, I know, but it’s been dancing around — usually below — this number for the last twenty years or so. If we didn’t have immigrants coming in, experts say the population would fall to around 250 million by 2020 (it’s currently around 300 million).
Many European countries are concerned with their birth rates, too. According to the link above, France is 1.96, the U.K. is 1.91, and Germany’s just 1.41!
Overall, people are having fewer babies. Some countries have started campaigns to try to increase the birth rates for this reason. People who are concerned about the world becoming overpopulated aren’t looking at this data (yes, third-world countries still have very high birth rates, but also higher infant mortality). Why would we want to decrease the population so sharply?
Regardless, it’s happening. And if we want to keep overall birth rates at or near “replacement” levels, we need those large families. Some families will choose not to have children, or only to have one. That’s completely their right. But if every family did not have children or only had one, our population would soon go down. Large families make up for those who choose not to have children or to only have one!
Next time you see a large family, just smile. It may not be for you, but we need the people who enjoy having them too!
What do you think about large families?
Top image by caswell_tom