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Fertility Collapse: Your Thoughts
Feedback on my interview with Simone Collins
A divisive one, this! Lots of feedback, both positive and negative (including from my mum - hi mum).
A few of the best comments below…
Here’s Zahira on how house prices actually impact fertility…
[W]hen people talk about high house prices, they only talk about money. It's not that it's too expensive to have children in a material sense, or that more money would persuade people to have more children. It's that if you can't afford to live near your large extended family, or if you need or want to move abroad or to a big city for your work because there are no jobs in your town, you lose so much of the kind of family structure and support that is helpful when raising children. The kind of very integrated care that a village can support is dispersed out and then outsourced to a nanny or an agency, grandmother isn't around the corner, and even friends or family who want to have need to travel to help.
I'll give you just a small example that I'm going through today: a very close friend of mine just had her baby girl. The baby is in NICU and mother is recovering from a traumatic birth. The father's family live overseas. The mother's parents are ageing / passed so can't help. That leaves just me, her close friend, to help. I am helping, but I'm balancing that with working full time, then cooking her meals in the evenings in individual and freezer portions, and then travelling 1.5 hours across London to the hospital. I can only spend an hour there before I need to go home and repeat the same thing the next day. I am sure more of her friends want to help, but can't because they can't travel as far with young children of their own.
It is incredibly challenging and off putting to raise children with such limited care options. Contrast that to this model: I'm the oldest of many children and I've helped my mum raise most of my younger siblings. For most of their lives, we lived in an extended family unit with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all nearby. Every birth resulted in a flurry of family visits and overnight stays, all family brought food and hand me downs, and all did extended stays. My mum was never without help. Her last pregnancy was difficult so me, my sister, and two cousins moved in for a year to help. The problem with high house prices is we can't afford to live so near to each other in that extended network anymore.
If my friend lived round the corner from me (and I didn't work full time too), I could provide longer, extended, near daily help with her newborn in a way I simply can't now. I really wish conservative parties would focus much more on creating the kind of housing policies that allowed families and friends to live near each other in extended communities, economic policies that encouraged people to stay closer to their childhood home and parents rather than move to a big city for work, and family policies that allowed more mothers to stay home with their babies rather than outsourcing care. So it's not just about money, but the cost of homes and the labour market does also materially impact people's social conditions in a really profound way.
And Carina on Simone’s position on repro tech…
After the previous guests, it was surprising to hear from a guest who is pro-transhumanist and started off lamenting that surrogacy is too expensive. However, I appreciate your open approach that allows guests to explain their unique points of view.
It was especially interesting to hear Collins say, essentially, that gay people should have kids to maintain a population that supports gay rights. I’m a lesbian with a donor-conceived child, but this is a perspective I honestly had not considered.
I don’t really buy the idea of reproducing to pass down my ideology, but with birth rates collapsing, one could argue that every child benefits the community. My son is the only grandchild in my entire extended family, and the older generation sees him as a miracle. They had given up on grandchildren (with a lot of sadness) and were shocked when the lesbian, of all people, had a baby.
I’m used to hearing that my decision to use a sperm donor was selfish, especially in pro-motherhood, biology-respecting spaces. But with straight people having fewer children, maybe reproduction in non-traditional families will become more valued on a micro and macro level.
SeaRose responds to Simone’s argument to progressives…
If we just zoom way, way out and look at this, perhaps we should ask the obvious question; If one ideology reliably results in its adherents avoiding participation in humanity's existence in the future and opting into genetic and species wide extinction, whereas the other ideology reliably results in its adherents actively looking forward to the future and ensuring humanity continues to exist beyond their own lives......why are we sure the inherently extinctionist ideology is the good one?
And finally here’s Ctdcb, saying it like it is…
I find their advocacy of surrogacy and artificial wombs creepy, but mostly this world view just exhausts me and sucks all the joy and ease out of procreation. There is already a fix guys, it’s faith. The oldest instinct and behavior that we all know about. The faithful populations are not in decline. We humans know how to cultivate faith. But, let them investigate it. Faithless people don’t trust their instincts unless it’s been previously approved in a peer reviewed investigation. Faithless people with abundance and security are bored and others are chewing their legs off. It’s nice that they are trying to help each other.