“One of the things about pretty much all human societies until recently is that they put pressure on their members to have children.”
Professor Glenn Reynolds on the population implosion.
In a recent post at his Substack site, Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit wrote about changing ideas on having children and the impact it is having on society:
Free Will, Children, and the Great Filter
Is the “great filter” simply choice?
People looking for alien civilizations have posited that we haven’t found any because something kills them off before they reach the point of being able to travel across interstellar distances. This “something” is an unknown – monsters from subspace? Nuclear, biological, or nanotechnological war? — but whatever it is, it’s generically referred to as “the great filter.”
Humans would – mostly – prefer that we not be filtered into nonexistence. But of course other intelligent species would presumptively prefer that too. So if a filter exists, it must be something about which they have no choice.
But maybe the filter is choice: Choice whether or not to reproduce. And maybe we don’t have a choice about that anymore.
One of the things about pretty much all human societies until recently is that they put pressure on their members to have children. Some of that pressure was provided by nature in the form of hormones and sex drive, but some of it also came from societal/cultural pressures to reproduce. Get rid of those and people have fewer kids.
One example is China, where rates of marriage and childbirth are plummeting, far below replacement. As the New York Times recently reported, even backing away from the one-child policy hasn’t changed things. Chinese of 50 years ago wanted lots of kids. Chinese today, on the other hand, don’t care so much. The cultural chain has been broken, and it won’t restart itself just because the Party realizes it made a big mistake. People got used to smaller families, and to lifestyles that make bigger families harder and more expensive.
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