Is a declining fertility rate a negative or positive sign? I read "Baby Bust" in The Wall Street Journal and Froma Harrop's editorial in the Herald (Feb. 7). The fertility rate in the United States has dropped below the replacement rate of 2.1 The article, "Baby Bust" by Jonathan Last, claims that the decline is a negative sign. Ms. Harrop argues that the declining fertility rate is a benefit. She is concerned about the environment. She supports investment in health care and provision for the elderly. But what if we don't have enough younger people coming into jobs, providing the capital for these government benefits? Rather than seeing children as a significant part of the future, she sees them as an expense.
As I read her argument I recalled a paragraph in a book that I am currently reading. The following quote is from the biography of Joseph Bolivar DeLee (by Morris Fishbein, M.D., with Sol Theron DeLee, M.D.). "Dr. DeLee, who was himself a ninth child, liked to point out that Benjamin Franklin was the 17th child, Napoleon the eighth, Daniel Webster the seventh, Wagner the seventh, Washington Irving the 11th, Coleridge the 13th, Madame Curie the fifth, Osler the ninth, Louis Pasteur the third, Lincoln the second and Jane Addams the eighth in their respective families."
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The Bible presents fertility as a sign of health, and I agree. God gives rules for living through Moses. The blessing for obedience is described in Deuteronomy. "The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground." (Deuteronomy 30:9 ESV)
Carol Van Der Woude