(Photo: Louisiana College)
A major voice in the conservative Christian movement has expressed his concern over the falling birth rates of American families in a recent opinion column.
James Dobson, founder of the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Focus on the Family and of the radio broadcast Family Talk, wrote about his concerns last week for the Green Bay Press Gazette.
"Americans are realizing they are facing a demographic nightmare that has been looming in other Western nations for decades. For the first time in history, fewer American babies are being born while the number of senior citizens is growing," wrote Dobson.
"Men and women have a right not to procreate, but serious consequences emerge when an increasing percentage of couples choose barrenness. A nation can reach a tipping point from which it cannot recover. America is not there yet, but that appears to be where it is headed."
In his column, Dobson compared the forthcoming "demographic nightmare" for the United States to that of present problems facing nations like Russia, France and Japan.
"If the human population continues to wither, it will have shocking implications for nations, economically, politically, culturally, socially and spiritually. Every dimension of life will be impacted. Medical plans will fail. Pensions will not be sustainable," wrote Dobson.
"Not only should the government do what it can to encourage families, but the culture at large must honor those who are investing themselves in children."
Dobson's column comes as many surveys have noted historically low birth rates for American families.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2011 the United States' birth rate decreased to its lowest point recorded since 1920, at 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. To compare, in 1957 during the "Baby Boom" years of America the birth rate was 122.7 per 1,000.
"The birth rate sagged through the mid-1970s but stabilized at 65-70 births per 1,000 women for most years after that before falling again after 2007, the beginning of the Great Recession," wrote Gretchen Livingston and D'Vera Cohn of Pew.
According to Livingston and Cohn, the drop in birth rate is notable not only in native born women but immigrant populations as well.
"The birth rate for U.S.-born women decreased 6% during [2007-2010], but the birth rate for foreign-born women plunged 14% - more than it had declined over the entire 1990-2007 period," wrote Livingston and Cohn.
"Despite the recent decline, foreign-born mothers continue to give birth to a disproportionate share of the nation's newborns, as they have for at least the past two decades."
While many including Dobson voice concern over the trend, others view the conversation as an overblown issue and have pointed to the United States nevertheless having a growing population.