The Demographics of Liberal Thought

The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed on The Fertility Gap today. While this article concentrates on the United States, this is actually a world wide phenomenon. I discussed this fertility gap back in March in a post at The Democratic Daily following a story in Foreign Policy:

Phillip Longman has a cover story in Foreign Policy magazine on the differences in fertility between liberals and conservatives world wide. His findings were also reviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition and in USA Today.

Longman reports findings such as that Utah has the highest fertility rate in the nation with 92 children born each year for every 1,000 women. In comparison, liberal Vermont has the nation’s lowest rate with 51 children per 1,000 women. Similarly, around the United States and Europe those with liberal views are more likely to have smaller families, or possibly never reproduce. He believes this is responsible for the drift towards the right in the United States. The average fertility rate is more than 11% higher in states which voted for Bush as opposed to Kerry.

Longman fears the long term consequences of a world populated by a greater percentage of those raised with conservative values:

Tomorrow’s children, therefore, unlike members of the postwar baby boom generation, will be for the most part descendants of a comparatively narrow and culturally conservative segment of society. To be sure, some members of the rising generation may reject their parents’ values, as often happens. But when they look for fellow secularists with whom to make common cause, they will find that most of their would-be fellow travelers were quite literally never born.

Considering how much harm this country has suffered in just over five years of a Bush presidency, there certainly is cause for alarm. We will undoubtedly continue to have periods in which we move backwards, but I still believe that the overall trend will continue to move forwards. While I may have only raised one daughter, my bet is that she, and others like her, will have far more impact on the world than children spoon fed conservative dogma. The ability of conservatives to regurgitate right wing talking points, and even cut and paste them all over the blogosphere, is no match for the ability to think.

Despite all the obstacles, the overall trend has been for liberty to win out over tyranny and reason to be victorious over superstition. I doubt that even the Republican Party’s recent embrace of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism will be enough to stop the course of history. While they will have victories, and even additional periods of dominance, if the Republican Party remains a foe of liberty it will wind up in the dust bin of history.

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