Rags of Light

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Faith, fertility, and the future.

This very interesting piece by demographer Eric Kaufman predicts a demographically-driven shift in western societies toward conservative religiosity. People of all ethnicities who are actively religious have far more children than those who aren’t. Eventually, this will make a big difference.

A common response to arguments like this is that, as people gain access to education and the amenities of modern, life, their fertility declines. Kaufman thinks this is likely to happen in parts of Africa as people there become integrated into modernity. But, he notes, we already see diverse religious communities living in the midst of modernity ‐ Conservative Muslims, Amish, Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Christian Old Believers ‐ who have said “No thanks” and continue to live a procreative life in the midst of the increasingly sterile modern world. These communities, Kaufman thinks, will in time alter the values and direction of the societies in which they live.

Even more daring, I think, is his prediction that, for similar reasons, western societies will return to thinking of sex as being basically about procreation rather than entertainment. That would be a massive shift from the entertainment economy that now defines our lives.