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Old 02-17-2007, 02:57 PM
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Why Women Have Fewer Babies

Why Women Have Fewer Babies
By Corey Binns
Special to LiveScience
posted: 15 February 2007



The number of children a woman in America has in her lifetime declined during the past two centuries, and it's not just because of the birth control pill.

Historians are closing in on the socio-economic and cultural factors in family downsizing, a trend also found in most of Western Europe.

"There are two reasons fertility rates can decline," said J. David Hacker, a SUNY Binghamton historian. "One explanation is that marriage declines. Not as many women get married, and if they do marry, they do so at a later age, so that there is less time to have children. The second explanation is that people consciously try to limit having children, which was revolutionary in the 19th century."

According to most census estimates, an American woman had on average seven to eight children in 1800. By 1900 the number dropped to about 3.5. That has fallen to slightly more than two today. Birth rates fell first in New England, and then among pioneers as they headed west. Internationally, France led the way to smaller families.

Reconstructing the intricacies of census data has been difficult for dates prior to 1933, when the National Birth Registration system was put into place. With grant money from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Hacker is taking a closer look at long-term census trends thanks to a new database developed by the Minnesota Population Center.

Family budgets

Modern economics have made smaller families a good investment, historians and economists agree.

Before the 1800s, children were educated at home or in church. Children became more expensive to care for and less helpful around the house once public schooling became available. At the same time, women were freed up from all-day children-rearing, allowing mothers to enter the paid labor force.

However, money isn't the only incentive for smaller families, experts say.

"We know for sure that you don't have to reach a high level of per capita income for fertility to decline, but we don't know exactly what sets it off," said historian George Atler at Indiana University. "Whether it's general change or attitudes about birth control is still a question debated among demographers today."

The dogma of most major Christian religions during the 1800s forbade abortion and divorce in the United States. And in 1873 the Comstock Act made it illegal to send any so-called obscene materials in the mail, including information about contraception.

Popular literature

Ironically, Hackler said, record sales of two family planning books published in the 1830s suggest that the public was eager to keep families small, regardless of religious or political pressure.

"There's a flurry of publications in the mid-19th century giving readers advice on how to control family size," Hacker told LiveScience.

"Moral Physiology" by Robert Dale Owen and Charles Knowlton's "The Fruits of Philosophy" became popular for advocating contraception methods. Owen described coitus interruptus, where a man ejaculates outside of the woman's body. Knowlton's book included instructions for women on how to wash with a spermicidal solution.

Hacker's research may better inform economists and policy makers about current worldwide trends toward smaller families.

"All nations are experiencing fertility declines," said Hacker. "It's becoming a social policy issue as countries face prospects of caring for an aging population."

My Dad was one of Twelve in his family. My Dad's mom was one of 16!
My Dad only had three kids. I have three kids.
My wife is the second of eight in her family.

We would love to have more kids but we do not have uncles and aunts, grand parents, nor the finances to have a large family.

Can you think of other resons why the birth rate is declining?
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:46 PM
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Why Women Have Fewer Babies

Than whom?
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:47 PM
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Why Women Have Fewer Babies

Than whom?
than cows... ???
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:49 PM
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than cows... ???
Or rabbits.
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:53 PM
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or fish
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:53 PM
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oh come on. comparing women to fish or rabbits is not insulting...

let's get back to cows... why do women have fewer babies than cows..??
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhymis View Post
Why Women Have Fewer Babies

Than whom?
I was gonna ask that....

Anyways. I think it is due to cultural/economic implications.

However if you will take a good look at cultures you will see people from Mexico still having tons of babies. That is part of their culture and is a survival mechanism.

In places with less health care options having many babies was a survival mode. In the bible the reason Kings had so many wives and children was the same sort of thinking...it ensured there would be a surviving member to inherit the throne.

Here in America we have different priorities based on economic and cultural changes.

Did the study say what "race" reproduced less? I bet it's mostly white and asian
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:56 PM
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Fewer kids than in previous generations?
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:57 PM
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Naw, whities are gettin irresponsible with their activities.

Chinese girl went to school with can't date till she finishes college! Now that's havin' priorities straight!!
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:58 PM
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Fewer kids than in previous generations?
yeah, but I was havin fun...
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