NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 17, 2006

Liberals are much less likely to have children than conservatives. It's a pattern found throughout the world, and it augers a far more conservative future -- one in which patriarchy and other traditional values make a comeback, if only by default, says Phillip Longman, a fellow at the New America Foundation.

Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among liberal secularists. As a consequence, increasing shares of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families.

Today, fertility correlates strongly with a wide range of political, cultural and religious attitudes, says Longman:

  • In the United States, for example, 47 percent of people who attend church weekly say their ideal family size is three or more children; by contrast, 27 percent of those who seldom attend church want that many kids.
  • In Utah, where more than two-thirds of residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 92 children are born each year for every 1,000 women, the highest fertility rate in the nation; by contrast Vermont -- the first to embrace gay unions -- has the nation's lowest rate, producing 51 children per 1,000 women.
  • Similarly, in Europe today, the people least likely to have children are those most likely to hold liberal views of the world.

This correlation between secularism, individualism and low fertility portends a vast change in modern societies, predicts Longman:

  • In the United States, for example, nearly 20 percent of women born in the late 1950s are reaching the end of their reproductive lives without having children.
  • The greatly expanded childless segment of contemporary society, whose members are drawn disproportionately from the feminist and countercultural movements of the 1960s and '70s, will leave no genetic legacy.
  • Nor will their emotional or psychological influence on the next generation compare with that of people who did raise children.

Source: Phillip Longman, "The Liberal Baby Bust," USA Today, March 13, 2006.


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