For years, tech mogul Elon Musk has been warning the public that fertility rates have fallen precipitously. The industry titan, proponent of having more babies, seems to be promoting fertility as a laudable goal in itself. Previously, Musk had said, “If people don’t have more children, civilization will collapse.”
And while he provides his children with love, immense privilege and quality time, his approach to the offspring is not something that should be emulated. The crisis we face is not just falling birth rates, it is the breakdown of families.
Bearing a child is not particularly difficult compared to the immense responsibility of raising them to be healthy, happy and productive members of society. This is where Musk, with his ten children born to three different mothers (that we know of), fails to model and promote the right message.
Lately, Musk has multiplied broken households while multiplying offspring as if wealth and status could compensate for an intact family life, where mom and dad live under the same roof, love each other and raise their children together.
Musk may be a genius, but he’s mistaken if he thinks we can solve the fertility crisis just by producing more babies.
The serial entrepreneur has so far fathered 10 children from three different women, most of whom were conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Musk had six children with his first wife, Justine Wilson, one of whom sadly died in infancy but is not married to any of the women who gave birth to three of his children late last year. Singer Clair Boucher (Grimes) produced a second child with Musk via surrogate, while Shivon Zilis, COO of Musk’s company Neuralink, gave birth to his twins just weeks before.
Through Grimes’ use of a surrogate, Musk further condoned the uncoupling of a child in the womb from the child’s genetic mother and then the snatching of that baby from the mother who carried it. wore for nine months.
As a businessman, however, Musk certainly knows the numbers. Fertility rates are falling all over the world. The US fertility rate fell to 1.77 children per woman in 2020, well below the replacement rate of 2.1 needed to keep the population from declining.
But people shouldn’t start making more babies like there’s a shortage of batteries for electric vehicles. We don’t want a world where children are begotten in artificial wombs and raised without love, for example, even if that would ensure a steady supply of new humans. It’s people, and how they’re nurtured and by whom matters deeply.
Nothing in Musk’s recent behavior, however, suggests that he is at all thinking about the importance of organic families: a biological mother and father raising their children together, from womb to adulthood.
More and more children are growing up outside of the ideal, organic family structure, and although so many parents do their best in their less than ideal circumstances, children still suffer the consequences. For example, the number of married couples with children under the age of 18 has increased from 57% in 1970 to 37.6% in 2021, and the number of single mothers is almost the highest ever, at 15.49 million. .
According to Kay Hymowitz, co-author of a 2015 report on poverty and economic mobility, “In 1970, only 9% of women were single mothers at age 35. Today, that number is 20.5%.
The marriage rate has fallen while the out-of-wedlock birth rate has increased. In 2020, over 40% of all babies in America are born out of wedlock. This figure rises to 70.4% for babies born to black mothers, up from 37.6 in 1970. For white mothers, the out-of-wedlock birth rate rose from 5.7 in 1970 to 28.4% in 2020.
All these single-parent families and pregnancies outside marriage have economic consequences for families. According to the study, more than 37% of single-parent families headed by women lived in poverty, while the same was true for only 6.8% of married families with children. Hymowitz observed that “in the United States today, marriage offers the best chance for children to thrive.”
Other studies have linked fatherlessness and divorce to lower education and labor force participation, poorer mental health, higher likelihood of substance abuse, and early childbearing.
An analysis by the Institute for Family Studies found that “young black adults living in non-intact homes” were about twice as likely to have been incarcerated as those raised in “intact homes”, while white children in similar circumstances were 2.4 times more likely to be incarcerated. incarcerated. The odds of child poverty in non-intact families were more than 3.5 times higher for both racial groups.
The impact of non-intact families on behavior is also important. A 2006 study showed that “children in all family types, except the married-biological parent family, had higher levels of behavior problems.”
Stable and loving marriages of biological parents tend to create stable and nurturing environments for children. Such marriages are also more hospitable to adopted children. We need more children raised in this scenario, not just more children.
Like declining fertility, family breakdown is a crisis that unfolds in slow motion, but with immediate, profound and lasting effects on the children born into it.
We’re not just in a fertility crisis, we’re in a family crisis: we’re having fewer babies, and babies being born are more likely to be negatively affected by broken families. If we increase the number of healthy marriages and more babies are born in those marriages rather than outside them, we may be able to make having more children more desirable and realistic for families.
We cannot “manufacture” our way out of the fertility crisis, like Musk, leading to even fewer healthy biological families. Instead, we need to regain a lost sense of responsibility to the next generation and think about our future children and the life we want for them before making consequential personal decisions.
The past two and a half years of subjugating the needs of children to the anxieties of adults show us how far we must go to create a culture where the well-being of children comes before the wishes of adults.