This article made me sad. The subject is the coming depopulation of much of the world. Here’s the key graph:
For the majority of the world's inhabitants who no longer live on farms or rely on home production, children are no longer an economic asset but an avoidable liability. At the same time, the spread of global media exposes people in even the remotest corners of the planet to glamorous lifestyles that are inconsistent with the sacrifices necessary to raise large families. In Brazil, birthrates dropped sequentially province by province as broadcast television became available.
I suspect another cause: depopulation happens when religious faith disappears. If the point of a couple’s life is to maximize their own comfort, having any children is hard to justify. Raising kids costs money and, even more, time. It saps both energy and confidence—I never knew what a total screw-up I am until Ruth and I had children. Often, it’s painful: there is nothing so agonizing as watching your child suffer. And children expose parents’ worst flaws, like a mirror that reflects only warts and unkempt hair. Why go through all of that—not once, but several times—if you don’t have to?
But if life’s goal is larger than maximizing my welfare, if my job is to leave the world better for my presence in it, having children is much the best means of reaching that goal. I have far more confidence in my kids’ ability to make their corner of the world better than in my own. Most parents I know would say the same. And the point extends beyond any utilitarian calculus. Those of us who believe in a good God who made human beings in His image also believe that we honor the family resemblance when we raise families. Christians believe God’s life and creativity could not be contained in a single divine Person. As the Father begot the Son, as the Son left the Spirit to guide believers, so should we do some begetting of our own.
Last but not least, raising kids is incomparably the greatest of life’s joys. Even in purely hedonic terms, I wouldn’t trade it for a lifetime of expensive vacations. The great irony of the contemporary West is that, in their ceaseless pursuit of pleasure, far too many citizens of the nations entrusted with Western civilization are missing the greatest pleasure of all. Civilization itself may be that error’s biggest casualty.