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Natalism (also called pronatalism or the pro-birth position) is a belief that promotes human reproduction. The term is taken from the Latin adjective form for "birth", natalis. Natalism promotes child-bearing and parenthood as desirable for social reasons and to ensure national continuance. Natalism in public policy typically seeks to create financial and social incentives for populations to reproduce, such as providing tax incentives that reward having and supporting children. Adherents of more stringent takes on natalism may seek to limit access to abortion and contraception, as well.
The level of natalism varies between individuals. One extreme end of the spectrum of views, such as Bionatalism, presents natalism as a life stance and holds natalism as of ultimate importance. Philosophic motivations for natalism may include that of considering value in bringing potential future persons into existence.
Survival of humanity
Humanity can't exist without human babies. Therefore, some natalist ideologies, such as Bionatalism, consider human procreation a moral duty of a person since he is alive only because his family and society shared resources with him.
Many religions (including some parts of Islam and Judaism) and some branches of Christianity (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Church) encourage procreation.
A recent movement among conservative Protestants, known as the Quiverfull movement, advocates for large families. Some scholars[which?] note that Quiverfull resembles other world-denying fundamentalist movements which grow through internal reproduction and membership-retention - such as Haredi Judaism, the Amish, Laestadianism in Finland and the Salafi movement in the Muslim world. Many such groups grow relative to other categories, as seculars and moderates have transitioned to below-replacement fertility.
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Natalism to increase the numbers of a group and, consequently, its political influence is called "fecundism". In practice, it is difficult to prove whether a group is conducting fecundism, or if high birth rate is natural consequence of a group's beliefs or actions (and would therefore exist even if it would not result in greater political influence). The religious groups involved most often have long-standing principles and family structures that predate any democracies in which they may take part (although some, such as the Quiverfull movement, openly acknowledge it, and use Psalm 127:5 in its justification). Fecundism might change the dynamics of a democracy, as the one man, one vote principle favors larger groups over smaller.
For a general discussion of the impact of population change on politics, see political demography.
Some countries offer financial incentives to encourage couples to bear more children. Incentives may include a one time baby bonus, or ongoing child benefit payments or tax reductions. Some impose penalties or taxes on those with fewer children.
Paid maternity and paternity leave policies can also be used as an incentive. For example, Sweden has generous parental leave wherein parents are entitled to share 16 months paid leave per child, the cost divided between both employer and State.
Nativity in the Western world dropped during the interwar period. Swedish sociologists Alva and Gunnar Myrdal published Crisis in the Population Question in 1934, suggesting an extensive welfare state with universal healthcare and childcare, to level the number of children at a reproductive level for all social classes. Swedish fertility rose throughout World War II (as Sweden was largely unharmed by the war) and peaked in 1946.
In 1946, Poland introduced tax on childlessness, discontinued in the 1970s, as part of natalist policies in the Communist government. From 1941 to the 1990s, the Soviet Union had a similar tax to replenish the population losses incurred during the Second World War.
Socialist Republic of Romania under Nicolae Ceaușescu severely repressed abortion, (the most common birth control method at the time) in 1966, and forced gynecological revisions and penalties for unmarried women and childless couples. The surge of birthrate taxed the public services received by the decreţei 770 ("Scions of the Decree 770") generation. The Romanian Revolution of 1989 preceded a fall in population growth.
Some countries with population decline offer incentives to the people to have large families as a means of national efforts to reverse declining populations. Some nations, such as Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, have implemented, or tried to implement, interventionist natalist policies, creating incentives for larger families among "native stock." Immigrants are generally not part of natalist policies.
Another government which has openly advocated natalism is Iran following tremendous losses in the Iran–Iraq War. The government encouraged married couples to produce as many children as possible to replace population lost to the war.
In Israel, Haredi families with many children receive economic support through generous governmental child allowances, government assistance in housing young religious couples, as well as specific funds by their own community institutions. Haredi women have an average of 6.7 children while the average Jewish Israeli woman has 3 children.
According to Tibetologist Melvyn Goldstein, natalist feelings run high in China's Tibet Autonomous Region, among both ordinary people and government officials. Seeing population control "as a matter of power and ethnic survival" rather than in terms of ecological sustainability, Tibetans have successfully argued for an exemption of Tibetan people from usual family planning policies in China such as the one-child policy. Natalist literature among the Tibetan exile community discourages sex with foreigners; however it is not particularly successful.
In a 2004 editorial in The New York Times, David Brooks expressed the opinion that the relatively high birthrate of the United States in comparison to Europe could be attributed to social groups with "natalist" attitudes. The article is referred to in an analysis of the Quiverfull movement. However, the figures identified for the demographic are extremely low.
In the United States, former US Senator Rick Santorum made natalism part of his platform for his 2012 presidential campaign. This is not an isolated case. Many of those categorized in the General Social Survey as "Fundamentalist Protestant" are more or less natalist, and have a higher birth rate than "Moderate" and "Liberal" Protestants. However, Rick Santorum is not a Protestant but a practicing Catholic.
In May 2012, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan argued that abortion is murder and announced that legislative preparations to severely limit the practice are underway. Erdogan also argued that abortion and C-section deliveries are plots to stall Turkey's economic growth. Prior to this move, Erdogan had repeatedly demanded that each couple have at least three children.
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Antinatalism is a philosophical position that assigns a negative value to birth, standing in opposition to natalism. It has been advanced by figures such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Emil Cioran, Peter Wessel Zapffe and David Benatar. Similar ideas can be seen in a fragment of Aristotle's Eudemus as "the wisdom of Silenus" and were discussed by Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Official anti or pro-natalist policies can be oppressive of reproductive rights, depending on how they are structured and enforced. Antinatalism may also be included in concern of overpopulation and its effects, e.g. as a mitigation of global warming and societal or moral decline.
- Natalism group on Reddit
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