by Ryan Streeter on April 5, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.
If you care about long term fiscal strength, you should care about family formation. And if you care about family formation, you should care about religion.
That’s one important point from Joel Kotkin’s latest Forbes column. Read the whole thing. But at least read this:
Perhaps the most important difference over time may be the impact of religion on family formation, with weighty fiscal implications. In virtually every part of the world, religious people tend to have more children than those who are unaffiliated. In Europe, this often means Islamic families as opposed to increasingly post-Christian natives. Decline in religious affiliation — not just Christian but also Buddhist and Confucian — seems to correlate with the perilously low birthrates in both Europe and many East Asian countries.
I’ve always found this fact deeply interesting. We believers are supposed to be the people who fret and worry about the possibility of an eternally painful afterlife (if you can call damnation “afterlife”), as well as an ever-imminent Armageddon – reason enough not to have kids. Atheistic or otherwise nonreligious Darwinists are supposed to have nothing else but their genes living on past them. You’d think, living by the logic of Darwinism, that the urge would be greater among those who have no expectation of a meaningful afterlife to have more kids. Or at least you’d think people who fear eternal damnation would have fewer just to reduce the possible risk on offspring.
But that’s not the case at all. People generally choose not to have kids because they think this life is pretty much all they’ve got and they want to enjoy it without the hassle of diapers. Darwinism has little to do with it. Believers, on the other hand, usually have a deeply-held view that children are a creation of power far beyond sperm and egg, and that having children is a joyful responsibility given by God – not by nature or necessity.
One irony about Darwinism, by the way, is that the urge to have children increases the less Darwinian you are in your beliefs.