More babies in America, white, black and brown

Most developed countries want people to have babies, lots of them. They want the babies to grow up,Newborn
get jobs, pay taxes and help support the elderly. But people in countries such as Canada, Italy and Japan are just not having enough babies, perhaps because of all the costs and effort involved. They don’t want to spend a fortune on baby formula and diapers; they don’t want to clean up when the baby throws up the formula and finds a gap in the diaper.

In America, however, people are starting to have more babies — or so it seems.

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP)  — Bucking the trend in many other
wealthy industrialized nations, the United States seems to be
experiencing a baby boomlet, reporting the largest number of children
born in 45 years.

The nearly 4.3 million births in 2006 were mostly due to a bigger
population, especially a growing number of Hispanics. That group
accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births. But non-Hispanic
white women and other racial and ethnic groups were having more babies,
too. [Link]

When a woman goes into labor, it’s her panic; when she gives birth, it’s Hispanic. Or something like that.

An Associated Press review of birth numbers dating to 1909
found the total number of U.S. births was the highest since 1961, near
the end of the baby boom. …


Experts believe there is a mix of reasons: a decline in contraceptive
use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty.

There are cultural reasons as well. Hispanics as a group have
higher fertility rates — about 40 percent higher than the U.S.
overall. And experts say Americans, especially those in middle America,
view children more favorably than people in many other Westernized
countries.

"Americans like children. We are the only people who
respond to prosperity by saying, `Let’s have another kid,"’ said Nan
Marie Astone, associate professor of population, family and
reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University.
[Link]

The only people? That really surprised me, so I decided to find out how people in other countries respond to prosperity:

Canada: "Let’s have another snowblower."

India: "Let’s have another cow."

England: "Let’s have another war."

France: "Let’s have another bath."

Ireland: "Let’s have another beer."

Saudi Arabia: "Let’s have another wife."

You’d think that European women would have more buns in the oven than American women. After all, many European countries have family-friendly policies regarding maternity leave and childcare. "Congratulations, Marie!" the boss says. "We’ll hold your job for you. See you when your kid is off to college."

But other factors come into play, said Duke University’s S. Philip Morgan, a leading fertility researcher.

Other factors include recent declines in contraceptive use here;
limited access to abortion in some states; and a 24/7 economy that
provides opportunities for mothers to return to work, he said.


Also, it is more common for American women to have babies out of
wedlock and more common for couples here to go forward with unwanted
pregnancies. And, compared with nations including Italy and Japan, it’s
more common for American husbands to help out with chores and child
care.
[Link]

You hear that, American men? Those guys in Italy and Japan don’t change the baby’s diapers or give her a bath. They just prop their legs on the coffee table and watch the soccer game. Lucky guys Poor saps — they don’t know what they’re missing.

Photo by Laura Pardo

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

Comments

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