Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today.

CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Plummeting US fertility rates: What can we learn from Israel?

New parents watching babies in hospital nursery
New parents watching babies in hospital nursery | Getty Images/ER Productions Limited

After all the recent hyperbole of the alleged danger of losing American Democracy, the mainstream media is finally picking up on a story of true existential importance for the United States. Recent alarming fertility data brought even CNN to note “The fertility rate in the United States has been trending down for decades, and a new report shows that another drop in births in 2023 brought the rate down to the lowest it’s been in more than a century.” Billionaires known for predicting global trends have been sounding the alarm about this issue for years. Elon Must, who has frequently warned of this danger, recently retweeted “yes” to “population collapse is the biggest threat to civilization.” The plunging birthrate is a civilizational threat that must be turned around. It’s time for America to look to the uniquely high birthrate in Israel for the answer of a shared religious-based consensus on the importance of children.

Across economically advanced countries, fertility rates continue to plummet. To sustain a population, a country must maintain a 2.1 average per woman. In Europe, that average is only 1.46 and going down while in the US rate is going below 1.6. Throughout advanced economies in East Asia, the birth rates are around and declining. In contrast, advance-economy Israel has a whopping 3.1. According to Israeli research center Taub:

“Fertility in Israel stands at 3.1 children per women the highest fertility rate in the OECD, and almost one full child above the next highest fertility countries, Mexico and Turkey. To put Israel’s fertility in historical perspective, among Western countries fertility was last as high as 3.1 in the US toward the end of the baby boom in the mid-1960s, in Italy in 1931, in Germany in 1914, in the UK in 1908, and in France in 1889.”

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

This cannot be explained by the uniquely high birthrates among ultra-religious Jews, as they make up only around 10% of the Israeli population. Additionally, this cannot be explained by Jewish culture considering that throughout the other economically advanced nations Jewish birthrates are generally lower than that of their country of residence.

Some argue that the high Jewish Israeli birthrate can be explained by social welfare policies making it easier for families to afford children. However, this falls short of an explanation as similar social policies in other advanced countries have virtually no impact on the birthrates. South Korea has had the lowest birth rate in the world even after pouring around half a trillion dollars into social programs and incentives for having children. Various European countries, particularly in the Scandinavian nations, have thrown extravagant amounts of money at the problem to no avail.

The Israeli birthrate is also unique in pervasiveness through society. In other nations, higher birth rates are generally inverse to income levels, education levels, and secularism. Wealthier and more educated and secular women generally have fewer children. Israel cuts against this dynamic, as Taub writes “strong pronatalist norms cut across all educational classes and levels of religiosity … at least in the Jewish population ... Israeli women with a college degree have the same number of children as those whose highest level of education is high school ... a higher percentage of children in Israel are being born to older and more-educated parents than is the case in other developed countries.”

Pediatrician and researcher Robert Hamilton studied the issue and wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the Israeli baby boom “seems to arise from cultural norms sustained by religion ... Israel treasures (children)” and he further claimed, “(It’s high fertility rate) reflects a consensus among Israel’s communities (secular and religious).’”

Breakpoint researchers John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera found the beliefs about the importance of children in Israel come from shared religious values, “these beliefs have shaped how many Jews, even secular ones, view children. Having children is not a purely private act. It has communal dimensions.”  

Decades ago, America was similar to Israel in its shared consensus, sustained by religious belief, valuing the importance of children to our future. At the time, American religiously-based cultural norms ran throughout society to affect both secular and religious Americans with respect to family and children. Except for the unique periods like the great depression, America was known for having a high fertility rate and a high value placed on children, like modern Israel. Other nations have shown that social programs cannot fix our current fertility crisis.

We need to regain what Alexis de Tocqueville claimed about America in Democracy in America: “There is no nation on Earth in which the Christian religion holds greater sway over the souls of men than in America.” May we regain that consensus, founded on religious values, that children are a gift from God and should be brought into the world and cherished.

Bill Connor, a retired Army Infantry colonel, author and Orangeburg attorney, has deployed multiple times to the Middle East. Connor was the senior U.S. military adviser to Afghan forces in Helmand Province, where he received the Bronze Star. A Citadel graduate with a JD from USC, he is also a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Army War College, earning his master of strategic studies. He is the author of the book Articles from War.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More In Opinion