Fertility, Immigration, and Public Support for Parenting
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
As this Essay shows, the fertility discourse of the last half century deals with the profound effects that come from the transformation of the economy and the place of modern families within it. Discussions of race and class have been an important—and, often, pernicious—part of a transformation in family values, as the upper-middle-class efforts to channel ever greater investment into children have increased economic inequality and contributed to racial, ideological, and gender division. We see the convergence in fertility rates as an indication that, at a practical level, a much larger part of the country is embracing the new family ethos we have labeled 'blue'—that is, postponement in childbearing that facilitates greater investment in both men’s and women’s earning capacity. This ethos, at its core, accepts women’s critical role as wage earners and calls attention to the fact that societies cannot adequately support child-rearing without remaking the public infrastructure that supports family planning and care. Cultural values in the new regime reflect not just 'family values' but also the larger demographic and economic trends that are remaking our society.