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 the continuance of humanity. 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 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
Some natalist ideologies 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 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 Sweden and the Salafi movement in the Muslim world. Many such groups grow relative to other categories, as seculars and moderates may have by contrast transitioned as far as below-replacement fertility, in certain groups.
Intention to have children
An intention to have children is a substantial fertility factor in actually ending up doing so, but childless individuals who intend to have children immediately or within 2 or 3 years are generally more likely to succeed than those who intend to have children in the long-term. There are many determinants of the intention to have children, including:
- The mother's preference of family size, which influences that of the children through early adulthood. Likewise, the extended family influences fertility intentions, with increased number of nephews and nieces increasing the preferred number of children.
- Social pressure from kin and friends to have another child.
- Social support. However, a study from West Germany came to the result that both men receiving no support at all and receiving support from many different people have a lower probability of intending to have another child, with the latter probably related to coordination problems.
- Happiness, with happier people tending to want more children.
- Secure housing situation.
Some countries with population decline offer incentives to the people to have large families as a means of national efforts to reverse declining populations. 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. 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.
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.
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.
- McKeown, John (2014). God's Babies: Natalism and Bible Interpretation in Modern America. Cambridge: Open Books. pp. 2–4.
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