No Wonder They’re So Bummed Out

Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff notes an essay by Phillip Longman in the magazine Foreign Policy that predicts a conservative evolution in the West, thanks to birth rates that decline more the farther one moves to the left of the political spectrum. Longman forecasts that if the population in the West declines dramatically, the remainder will adopt an old-fashioned cultural model of patriarchy as conservatives reproduce at higher rates:

With the number of human beings having increased more than six-fold in the past 200 years, the modern mind simply assumes that men and women, no matter how estranged, will always breed enough children to grow the population—at least until plague or starvation sets in. It is an assumption that not only conforms to our long experience of a world growing ever more crowded, but which also enjoys the endorsement of such influential thinkers as Thomas Malthus and his many modern acolytes.
Yet, for more than a generation now, well-fed, healthy, peaceful populations around the world have been producing too few children to avoid population decline. That is true even though dramatic improvements in infant and child mortality mean that far fewer children are needed today (only about 2.1 per woman in modern societies) to avoid population loss. Birthrates are falling far below replacement levels in one country after the next—from China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, to Canada, the Caribbean, all of Europe, Russia, and even parts of the Middle East. …
Declining birthrates also change national temperament. In the United States, for example, the percentage of women born in the late 1930s who remained childless was near 10 percent. By comparison, nearly 20 percent of women born in the late 1950s are reaching the end of their reproductive lives without having had children. The greatly expanded childless segment of contemporary society, whose members are drawn disproportionately from the feminist and countercultural movements of the 1960s and 70s, will leave no genetic legacy. Nor will their emotional or psychological influence on the next generation compare with that of their parents.

This matches to the theory espoused by James Taranto at OpinionJournal about the political effect of abortion. In short, he postulates that the mothers who abort their children will trend significantly towards the left politically, and they will leave a shrinking legacy on which to pass their political views. The same effect occurs, Longman argues, by the willful or circumstantial refusal to procreate that apparently occurs more frequently with liberals. Longman also notes that in the US, the states that supported George Bush have a 12% higher fertility rate than those that supported John Kerry.
The article is fascinating, but it does also recall an earlier survey that showed conservatives as happier than liberals. Pew Research reported that 45% of all Republicans described themselves as happy, while only 30% of Democrats did so, and that these results have been consistent since 1972. Is it possible that the reason why conservatives are happier is because they’re procreating more than liberals? If so, it would be a rather delicious irony.