by Shane Vander Hart
A new poll released last week by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal contains surprising information that could have a profound cultural impact in the years to come.
It is interesting to note that the article releasing the results of the poll buries the lede.
The NBC News’ headline reads, “‘A deep and boiling anger’: NBC/WSJ poll finds a pessimistic America despite current economic satisfaction.”
Carrie Dann writes, “The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that — despite Americans’ overall satisfaction with the state of the U.S. economy and their own personal finances — a majority say they are angry at the nation’s political and financial establishment, anxious about its economic future, and pessimistic about the country they’re leaving for the next generation.”
That does not tell us anything new, and Dann focuses on the current political ramifications of the poll. The political aspect of the poll is important, but not nearly as significant as what is described later in the article when she turns to “shifting values.”
Dann notes a decline in the importance of patriotism, religion, and having children compared to 20 years ago. Twenty years ago in the same poll, 70 percent of American adults surveyed said that patriotism is important to them, now only 61 percent say that. The view that religion is important dropped 14 points from 62 percent in 1998 to 48 percent today. According to those polled, those who believe having children is important dropped 16 points in two decades from 59 percent to 43 percent.
Dann notes the generational differences are stark, and it is here where we should be concerned.
Only 42 percent of Millennials and “Generation Z” (18 to 38-year-olds) believe patriotism is an important value compared to 79 percent of those over 55 who say it is.
Among adults 38-years-old and younger polled, only 30 percent say religion or believing in God is important, whereas 54 percent of adults over the age of 55 say it is.
Frankly, finding fewer young Americans believing patriotism and religion is an essential value is not surprising, that is documented. We have seen other polling, especially where religion is concerned, that shows that. There has always been a generation gap. However, it is more pronounced.
What is most surprising is how few among the younger group, the group that is of child-bearing age, believe having children is important. Only 32 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 38 believe having children is important compared to 54 percent of those 55 and older who are at the point in their lives they want grandchildren.
Only 32 percent of young Americans believe procreating is important.
We can already see the effect of that attitude as the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest in 32 years.
Bill Chappell wrote back in May for NPR that the drop is cause for concern.
“The news has come as something of a surprise to demographers who say that with the U.S. economy and job market continuing a years-long growth streak, they had expected the birthrate to show signs of stabilizing, or even rising. But instead, the drop could force changes to forecasts about how the country will look — with an older population and fewer young workers to sustain key social systems,” he wrote.
The U.S. birthrate is below what is needed to replace our population, and based on the current attitude about having children, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
This trend represents cultural suicide.
The view of having children also impacts one’s view of religion and patriotism. Those who are parents tend to be more conservative than those who are not. There’s even research that backs that up.
A study by Tulane University researchers found that parenthood contributed more to a person being socially conservative than even age.
Interestingly, a different study, conducted by Dalton Conley of New York University and Emily Rauscher of the University of Kansas, found that having daughters, especially when the daughter was born first, “significantly reduces the likelihood of Democratic identification and significantly increases the strength of Republican Party identification.”
The Pew Research Center found that among religious “nones,” 74 percent were non-parents where only 26 percent had children under the age of 18.
Parenthood has a relative conserving effect on a person.
Should this attitude persist, we will see not only a declining birthrate and, with it, a declining workforce, but also a more secular and leftist culture as well.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0