As I’ve been talking to people about getting knocked up and what this means in terms of getting married and my career, I’ve found myself saying rather astonishing things, like, “I’m not that concerned about my career. It’ll be there no matter what I decide to do.” Similarly, while my partner and I are a couple, I’m not concerned about getting married because I know he is going to be involved with our child and in my life no matter what our official status is. Both of these things are big changes in American society which are turning out to have huge and mostly positive effects on families and fertility rates.
I write in Slackonomics about how educated, middle class Generation X parents are having more children than similarly situated baby-boomers, and in fact are nudging up the fertility rate here in the US not seen since the 1960s. I explain this in my book — and so does yesterday’s Times magazine — in a somewhat astonishing and counter-intuitive way.
Professional American middle class couples are more open to flexible gender roles, as I noted in a previous blog post about shared parenting, which make it easier and more attractive for professional women to have more children than previous generations. While fertility rates were dropping among the more educated and professional classes for many decades, that changed with Generation X as strict rules about who does what in the household have loosened considerably, and as post-Boomer men have become more equal partners in child-rearing even when the marriage or partnership dissolves. So getting married and having kids is a whole lot more attractive for women who now have more options about what to do with their lives. (A spate of Gen X fatherhood books attests to how Xers have brought shared parenting into the mainstream; see Neal Pollack’s book, Alternadad, as one example).
What’s more, the Times magazine piece adds another interesting dimension to the American fertility puzzle. Read the rest of this entry » »