A new story in the Boston Globe reports the happy news that among educated marrieds, there has been a slight return to replacement-level families. Married people need to have a bit more than two kids per couple merely to replace the population. In recent years, though, the whole country has not been having enough kids to keep up. Among married people – those in the best position to care for kids on their own – the birth rate has dropped well below replacement level, and among educated marrieds the birth rate has fallen alarmingly. Even among educated married people who do have kids, there has some sense for the past generation that two was the maximum responsible number.
As I have argued for some time, though, it is precisely among educated marrieds - those people most likely to consider the impact of their family size on the world - that we need a few more kids. So it is encouraging that there has been a small but real uptick in the number of third-or-more births, from 26% in 1995 to 28% in 2004, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This statistic includes unmarried as well as married women, so is not exactly what this doctor ordered. But it is a movement in the right direction.
At a time when Russia and much of the former Second World is trying desperately to keep their population from collapsing, it is encouraging to see that more Americans vote for the future with a third child.