In ancient times, only the rich had large families. The poor couldn’t afford to have many children and newborns were often discarded and found on the dung heap.
Making a quantum leap forward, large families in America were common in the early days, especially among the farmers. The family was self-sustaining and the elders were cared for by their children in old age. Also, unlike in antiquity, law – and esp. religion – prohibited the killing or abandonment of infants.
However, men and women married very early – especially women as soon as they had passed puberty – partly so that parents no longer had to feed and clothe them.
In the 1940’s and 50’s, children married soon after completing high school. The women stayed home and raised children. Things began to change when women sought higher education and/or joined the workforce. They wanted a career of their own and didn’t want to be bothered with raising children.
Birth control became popular among the middle and upper classes while the poor kept having children. Those without work looked to welfare to support their families. The middle class primarily bore this tax burden. The middle class began shrinking and the gap between rich and poor widened. In hard economic times, as we are now experiencing, the burden is even greater.
Birth rates continue to have a great impact on our society. Those who complain the most today are singles and parents without children. The same is happening in other western societies. Migrant workers remain in the country and produce children while the career oriented indigenous population doesn’t want to be bothered. In some countries, social welfare pays the family based on the number of children. The welfare income in large families is so good that there is little incentive to work, even when jobs are available.
The future is happening now. Former minorities will become the majorities. It is projected that by 2025 that the world Muslim population will exceed the Christian population. Reversing this trend is analogous to changing the effects of global warming.*
The best bet is to accept the reality of change and adjust. Those we hate today may become the rulers of tomorrow. Fighting change is a losing battle.
* See http://muslim-canada.org/muslimstats.html for statistics on Christian vs. Muslim population growth.