- Sunday, May 12, 2024

When President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day a federal holiday in 1914, the average American woman had six children. During the baby boom, the number was 3.62. Today, it’s an anemic 1.6, which should set off alarm bells.

Motherhood is the most important job in world. But it’s a job fewer and fewer want to do.

In 2023, 3.6 million babies were born in the United States, compared with 4.16 million in 1990.

The total fertility rate is the number of children the average woman will have in her lifetime. We haven’t had replacement-level fertility (2.1) since 1973.

Still, the United States is experiencing another baby boom compared to most of the industrialized world.

In Italy, the fertility rate is 1.21. The average Italian child has no brothers, sisters or cousins.

In South Korea, it’s 0.72. The nation will lose more than half of its population in each generation. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can disband his army. In a few years, he’ll be able to just walk in and take over.

Last year, Japan lost 595,000 people. This is the 13th consecutive year of population decline. More than 20 million Japanese are 75 and older, a record high.

The number of vacant homes also hit an all-time high of more than 9 million, or 13.8% of the housing supply.

At a May 3 meeting of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, a number of countries expressed concern about their dismally low birthrates. Some worried they may disappear in the 21st century.

Ridiculous, said Jose Miguel Guzman, formerly with the U.N. Population Fund (Malthusians R Us). He called alarm about a pending demographic train wreck an “irrational fear that hampers the ability to make informed policy decisions.”

A month earlier, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling abortion a fundamental right and demanding legalization throughout the European Union. The resolution also called for more contraception.

The European Parliament is saying to the people of Europe: “You’re drowning? Great. Here, put this anchor around your neck.” No wonder the Brits left the EU.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 73 million abortions annually — more than four times the number of military deaths in World War II, the bloodiest conflict in history.

Other factors contributing to falling fertility include failure to marry, late marriage, couples putting career before family and the increasing determination to forgo procreation.

Many young adults are too busy with their electronic gadgets and social media to have time for sex, let alone marriage and children.

Writing in Bloomberg (“Global Population Crash Isn’t Sci-Fi Anymore”), historian Niall Ferguson notes that in one study, between 2000-02 and 2016-18, 24-year-old men who reported having no sexual activity in the past year increased from 19% to 31%.

Mr. Ferguson says causes include “the stress and busyness of modern life, the supply of online entertainment that may compete with sexual activity, elevated rates of depression and anxiety among young adults, the detrimental effect of smartphones on human interaction, and lack of appeal to women of ‘hooking up.’

However we get there, the end is in sight — and it won’t be pretty.

The impact of fast-falling fertility will include a growing number of old people (and the taxes to pay for their pensions and health care) and fewer and fewer workers to shoulder the burden and do society’s vital work.

A future American landscape will likely include idle factories, farmland lying fallow and cities in ruins.

Why wait until it’s too late to do something before we do anything? And what can we do, especially with one party running on abortion (the president makes the sign of the cross at an abortion rally) and the other running away from it?

Like everything in life, it starts with the family.

Mothers do more than give birth. They nurture. They teach children how to be human.

Why is this work less important than accounting, investment banking, or “would you like that super-sized?”

We need to get beyond flowers and candy to the realization that mothers are unique and irreplaceable.

Then we need to get beyond the rhetoric. I’d love to see ads recruiting young people for marriage and parenthood, which might include “Your smartphone won’t cry at your funeral.”

All of us were put on this Earth for a purpose — not to get the most toys or retire comfortably but to ensure the survival of humanity.

Don Feder is a columnist with The Washington Times.

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