Women Entering the Workforce and the Calamitous Declining Fertility Rate Effect

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  • #1976255
    ujm
    Participant

    I was considering entitling this discussion “The Decline of Western Civilization”, but having reviewed the issue it is obvious this is a worldwide catastrophe effecting almost every civilization, including both the East and the West. The only corner of the world that it hasn’t yet fully engulfed is Africa. But even there it is trending in this direction.

    The whole world has relatively recently woken up to the brewing demographic train wreck that the society is quickly barreling to. That is, the rapidly declining fertility rate, now well below the population replacement rate. China is estimated to lose nearly half its population by the end of this century. And they aren’t the only ones in that extreme. Europe, Japan and two thirds of the world (Africa being the exception in terms of how rapid this is occurring) are in a similar sinking boat. The United States, too, is well below the replacement rate, and the only thing causing the US’ descent into this abyss somewhat slower than other regions is its immigration rate. But American women are also not producing enough offspring to replace the aging population.

    And reversing the normal demography throughout history up to the present, the population is strongly trending towards the elderly outnumbering the young. Such a ticking time bomb introduces all sorts of demographical, economic and other hardships and predicaments. Indeed, never before in the history of mankind has the world witnessed such a decline in the fertility rate.

    This trend started in the First World in the 1960s, with all the other immoralities that decade is infamous for having wrought upon society. It was in that period that the birthrate began a precipitous decline that has most sadly picked up ever since. This timeline coincided with the mass entry of women into the workforce. Whereas, previously women mostly were homemakers and stay at home mothers, the feminist movement began insisting women join the workforce and demanded government and social programs pushing society into that direction. Aside from the obvious losses to children at home without a mother’s care a large portion of the day, and the antisocial results introducing disharmony between spouses resulting from this, it led to the long-term decline in the fertility rate, among other social ills.

    Clearly the Torah communities around the world resisted this push, often even heroically, nevertheless as even we are effected by the negative behaviors of the world and the communities around us, it surely has an adverse effect on us too. Firstly, obviously to the extent, even if much smaller than general society, it infected our own communities; and secondly, in to having to live among those outside our communities who suffer from these after-effects.

    And, of course, the worst side effects of this machla is yet to hit society. As time proceeds and with things now even recognized by the gentile world and their demographers of this upcoming debacle, what can be done to mitigate, if not outright reverse, this problem?

    #1976257
    Meno
    Participant

    Since when is it our responsibility as Jews to solve world problems?

    #1976266
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    ” ……..what can be done……?”

    A good start would be by looking at the hard facts and cold science, before getting into hard to define cultural issues.

    #1976326
    huju
    Participant

    I do not recall any post this long or detailed from ujm. Did he/she have help in preparing it, and was he/she paid, directly or indirectly, to post it?

    #1976352
    Benephraim
    Participant

    Do you think nonJews have a mitzvah of having children or it is only a Jewish mitzvah? Same for men and women? Is the family unit a sociological or religious construct?

    #1976353
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    The wisdom of the parable that did not really retain to vaccines, was considerably longer.

    #1976359
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    Huju- he does this with ops. Rewrites of articles or blogs. If you spend some time you can usually find it.

    #1976351
    akuperma
    Participant

    Changes in fertility probably resulted from a decline in infant mortality (in the past, wanting two to four children who lived to adulthood, required ten or more pregnancies). Antibiotics and improved surgical techniques (e.g. ability to do a ceasarian other than to rescue a baby whose mother had just died) meant humanity can survive without women having to spend their entire adult lives producing children. Combined with a collapse in maternal morality (formerly the leading cause of death for adult women), this lead to a greater number of women getting jobs and a willingness to invest in women’s education (since they were now surviving childbearing). This has been true in all countries, though is more obvious in the ones that industrialized first since it takes a few generations for birth rates to fall. It is hard to say if it will be good or bad in the long run, since more educated women (and education for women became cost effective when their survival became the norm) arguably make better mothers.

    The frum community has hardly rejected the overall trend. In the period before industrialization most women received minimal education. They could read books such as “Tzena u-reina” but that’s about it. The average Bais Yaakov girl is on a vastly higher level than the average frum girl of 250 years ago (not to mention she is likely to survive childhood, childbearing and live to old age, something was exceptional back then). Also note that 250 years ago very few frum women were unemployed since they usually supervised large households, helped run business or if they were poor, worked as servants (remember most housework done today with appliances was previously done by servants, and anyone middle class probably had servants, and for obvious reason Jews were preferable as live-in servants). Unless you favor banning antibiotics, anesthesia and electric appliances, there is no going back to the “good old days”.

    #1976374
    ujm
    Participant

    akuperma: You don’t recognize the significant problems resulting from an aging population where the demographic population of the old are rapidly reaching the tipping point of outnumbering the young?

    #1976371
    ujm
    Participant

    huju: It took me about 10 or 15 minutes to write this. It’s an unpaid, unhelped, original; if you like it I’m available for future articles on contemporary societal issues.

    #1976397
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Ujm,

    Factually speaking, I have seen no evidence that it is a result of social influences. But if you say so.

    #1976395
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Akuperma,

    Fertility and growth rates are really dealing. Civilization needs many young people to thrive. The world is facing a depopulation crisis. But the experts are still howling about overcrowding and emissions.

    #1976387
    huju
    Participant

    Thank you, Syag.

    #1976386
    ujm
    Participant

    akuperma: Furthermore, the tremendous gains in longevity, health, medicine and education as well as the technological improvements resulting in less work in the home in no way whatsoever mandate or somehow require people to choose to reduce their fertility rate.

    Indeed, the very factors you cite make it all the more possible to have the naturally higher rate of fertility designed and graciously offered by the Ribono Shel Olam. It should not be rejected.

    #1976384
    user176
    Participant

    The birth rate among the frum does not seem to be diminishing. As long as everyone does their best to fulfill their obligation of peru urvu that is enough for Bore Olam.

    #1976383
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    🤣

    #1976417
    ujm
    Participant

    n0mesorah: Seriously, you think that social influences over the last half century have no bearing on the unfortunately rapidly declining fertility rate?

    #1976422
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Ujm,

    They definitely do have influence. But on the whole, it could be an equal factor both ways. It is all guesswork. Until someone does some real research. But real research has been done on fertility and infertility. Which is somewhat immune to cultural factors.

    #1976440
    yaakov doe
    Participant

    Akuperm, I assume you meant to write mortality instead of a “collapse in maternal morality”. Both maternal and paternal morality have indeed declined in recent years as has morality of non parents.

    #1976454
    ujm
    Participant

    Yaakov: Good catch; but a perfect freudian slip for this conversation.

    #1976472
    Amil Zola
    Participant

    UJM I would suggest that this is an issue you are powerless over. Lets face it, your influence over the reproductive rates of nonJews is pretty much zilch. You do have power over your own reproductive rate. Start there and keep it private.

    #1976478
    ujm
    Participant

    Amil: I would suggest you’re greatly mistaken. We have influence over social policy (via our electeds, etc.) that affects this issue as much as other citizens. This is a societal issue.

    #1976482
    Ben Levi
    Participant

    I am just waiting for the next crisis.

    The experts will convene to discuss the declining birthrate in the West.

    Professors will organize Think Tanks.

    All will ponder, Why is it that the birthrate is sinking?

    Those brilliant penetrating intellects will then realize it is the fault of the lack of incentives at play.

    Michelle Obama’s school lunch program took the will away from parents to subject their children to it.

    After all who would want to force a child to go through 8 years of that?

    And to get them all Avocado toast?
    Think of the cost!

    So we must reverse course!

    No less then CNN and the the NY Times followed by WaPo will trumpet editorials about the obvious need to incentivize child bearing!

    It is the consensus view!
    All experts agree that only proper incentives will get the birthrate numbers up!

    A new program will be started,

    “Have a child get-Free Burgers & Fries for life”

    Ready for two children?

    Get Free soda as well!

    But have no fear no Bug Gulps will be given out!
    That’s to unhealthy plus you need to use environmentally unsafe straws!

    Of course the free burgers and Fries will the engender a new crisis of declining longevity due to a prevalence of heart attacks.

    At which point the brilliant think tanks professionals and media personality’s will have another crisis to solve.

    #1976418
    littleeema
    Participant

    This trend started in the First World in the 1960s, with all the other immoralities that decade is infamous for having wrought upon society. It was in that period that the birthrate began a precipitous decline that has most sadly picked up ever since. This timeline coincided with the mass entry of women into the workforce. Whereas, previously women mostly were homemakers and stay at home mothers, the feminist movement began insisting women join the workforce and demanded government and social programs pushing society into that direction.

    The feminist movement? How about the KOLLEL movement, where the husband abrogates his kesuba obligations?

    #1976580
    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    How about the KOLLEL movement

    You’d have a hard time convincing me that it has a negative effect on the birth rate.

    where the husband abrogates his kesuba obligations?

    That’s pretty much a fallacy. In the vast majority of cases (I’m not aware of any exceptions but there certainly might be) the wife is mochel on him going to work and allows him to go to the beis medrash.

    #1976567
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Ben,

    Ha, I liked it! But the fact is that fertility as in the ability for humans to reproduce, is way down. This is a serious problem that might be solved with major interventions in the here and now. Therefore, expect your government – conservative or liberal, to completely ignore it.

    #1976576

    >> Since when is it our responsibility as Jews to solve world problems?

    Since Avraham opened his hotel?

    Main reason for improved childhood survival is due to vaccinations and improvement of public health, such as milk Pasteurization lead in US by Mr Nathan Strauss from Lakewood 100+ years ago. (this partially reversed problems created by industrialization). Also, science advances primarily by another German Jew – Fritz Haber, who got Nobel for saving billions of people from starvation and allowed billions to be born but was written off history for also developing poison gas that killed thousands. Thanks to these scientists and public health experts, we had unprecedented growth of humanity in last 250 years …

    another aspect of current changes – it used to be that rich, educated, and successful people had larger families, and less well-to-do did not. Most of us are probably coming from those rich people. Now, richer and educated people have less children, and less educated are moving into depopulated countries. It is an open question what will happen going forward with this …

    #1976593
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    “the wife is mochel on him going to work and allows him to go to the beis medrash.”

    Allows him to go to the bais medrash? Prefers it. And most girls of learning guys specifically chose it. Those on the outside of the kollel world fight to make it oppressive, serm not to understand the sheer pride and energy in facilitating the full time learning of a husband.

    #1976603
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    There is a major misconception on these pages. Kesubah is not just document, but the entire system behind it. The wife is obligated to work for the benefit of the household. The husband is obligated to provide for her completely. The husband is entitled to abandon her to go learn and teach Torah. In town kollel, is a bit more complex. But as long as the money is there, this part of his obligation is fulfilled. Now, people are not starving there days. The recurring idea that kollel wives are exerting themselves just tokeep body and soul together, is the equivalent of deep state theories. Grow up.

    #1976606
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    Abandon her to learn or teach? Is that your way of saying what you think of learning or were you trying to make their point?

    #1976610

    s general comment that I found in R Soloveichik reflecting how halahkic process disintegrated into political opinions on both side in 1953. relevant to this and other topics:

    I must decline to consider the controversial problem. The reason for my reluctance to engage in this controversial issue is the unique stand taken by many of our Jews on matters of Law and tradition. We have reached a stage at which party lines and political ideologies influence our halakhic thinking to the extent that people cannot rise above partisan issue to the level of Halakhah-objectivity. Some are in a perennial quest for “liberalization” of the Law and its subordination to the majority opinion of a political legislative body, while others would like to see the Halakhah fossilized and completely shut out of life. I am not inclined to give any of these factions an opportunity for nonsensical debates.

    #1976613
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Syag,

    Thanks for pointing that out the way you did. My purpose in that post was one thing. To say that a husband learning is not in violation of his agreement with his wife. Every time a thread gets near that topic, it rains down from a range of posters that kollel is the ultimate hypocrisy because of umm, well, yeah, that one… kesubah! And they are lying. Sitting and learning absolves the husband of the entire kesubah. Not just providing for her. It is explicit in the Mishna. And the most famous example is Rabi Akiva. The neighbor said to her, “until when would you allow yourself to be a widow of the living?” Your response #1976593 echoes Rachel’s.

    Now to what this means. To really acquire Torah one must be ready to sacrifice everything. Just as a husband who is a pilot will be away more than a husband who is a taxi driver, one who is acquiring Torah will be away from his wife indefinitely. Kesubah does not relate to salary. The poor pilot and the rich pilot have the same terms of absence. The husband being there for the wife is a crucial aspect of their partnership. Marriage is not about the money. Since every Jews career is in Torah, it follows that every serious student has the option of fully investing himself in Torah.

    In-town kollel is a different setup. In that the husband would be obligated to come home, at least occasionally. I did not fully cover the topic, as there is different challenges to raise. And it is better to dilute the proper responses. But again I only came to say that the idea that kesubah forbids kollel is false.

    #1976614
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Always,

    Thanks for posting that!

    #1976686
    ujm
    Participant

    A woman’s place is in the home. The feminists certainly don’t like hearing that truth spoken. But it absolutely is a Torah and Halachic truth that is a very central fact of human nature and society itself.

    Shulchan Aruch (73:1): A man must give his wife clothing like women normally wear outside. A woman should not go outside much. The beauty of a woman is to stay inside – “Kol Kevudah…”

    #1976701
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Ujm,

    Your source does not even say what you say. Who says that people have places? And what if a woman is homeless? We just read Rus……

    #1976746
    anonymous Jew
    Participant

    Ujm, ironically, likely life forces the mother out of the home to work. Someone in the family has to bring in money

    #1976800
    anonymous Jew
    Participant

    Kolel life, not likely life

    #1976866
    Yserbius123
    Participant

    Birth rates are a statistical misdirection. You need to look at population growth rates. And I believe that the population growth rate is growing. Like someone said earlier, back in the day most pregnancies would not result in an individual surviving until adulthood. So families these days have less babies simply because they aren’t afraid of them all dying.

    #1976890
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Yserbius,

    Fertility is way down. As in having difficulty conceiving is far more common than it ever was. Just a matter of numbers, before we get to cultural ideas.

    #1976895
    ujm
    Participant

    That’s a misnomer. Families have babies because the Bore Olam gave them babies; and they didn’t reject what offered. Having less babies by rejecting nature as offered to you by the RBS”O is a relatively new phenomenon that was in previous generations never even a consideration.

    #1976907

    >> A woman’s place is in the home.

    I understand halakha gives considerable autonomy to women. On one hand, it is definitely fine if the woman stays at home. Some current government people disagree. They are now quoting numbers of women who stayed at home during COVID as a generational “setback”. They insist on measuring and forcing women into workforce without, seemingly, bothering to ask those women what they actually prefer.

    On the other hand, halakha definitely allows for women in business, allowing them to keep and manage property. Even in Torah learning, R Yehuda brings an unprompted example of Beruriah learning from multiple teachers to someone who thinks he can learn fast. She probably had to travel to get to all of these classes, unless they were on zoom.

    You can make a case that halakha requires a woman not to be idle. Then, with all the (men-invented) dishwashers and washing machines, there is less things to do at home. Of course, standards of tideness increased in response (mostly by women themselves!). So, then she can either need to work or teach the kids. So, she needs either a profession, a Torah education, or secular education. Otherwise, we are essentially relegating women to spending their times to make the houses look better than Joneses, which is not a mitzvah at all.

    PS New consideration – women can now work or do business from home, maybe resolving some of the contradictions?

    #1976940

    n0 > Fertility is way down

    quote the numbers, as long as you separate them by age. A lot of fertility-down is due to later pregnancies. But I wouldn’t discount other factors. Same as pre-vaccination epidemics and food poisoning increased in industrial age due to less SD and milk travelling into cities.

    #1976941

    ujm > Having less babies by rejecting nature as offered to you by the RBS”O is a relatively new phenomenon

    Same as kids throwing away unfinished food. We live in an age of plenty and have yeshurun problems.

    #1976961
    Yserbius123
    Participant

    @n0mesorah You don’t have to jump on cultural ideas, you merely have to look at the numbers. Fertility is down, but populations are growing at a faster rate than ever before. Because people are living longer and children aren’t dying as much as they used to.

    @ujm People practicing birth control was very much a thing. It’s mentioned in several places in Shas and Rishonim. The difference today is that people don’t feel compelled to have 10-12 children as they can be sure that it’s unlikely to have so many children die before adulthood.

    #1976965
    ujm
    Participant

    Yseribus: Where does Shas and Rishonim ever mention practicing birth control in a favorable sense?

    #1976983
    ShtarkButRelatable
    Participant

    Kids are overrated anyhow

    #1976937
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Ujm,

    Misnomer or Mrs. No more, history disagrees with your idea of precedent. But declining fertility rates are even in countries where contraceptives are hard to come by.

    #1976995
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    huju,

    “I do not recall any post this long or detailed from ujm. Did he/she have help in preparing it, and was he/she paid, directly or indirectly, to post it?”

    You must be fairly new here 😀

    Also, just because a poster supports a position you disagree with doesn’t mean he is paid to do so.

    #1976996
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    n0mesorah,

    “A good start would be by looking at the hard facts and cold science, before getting into hard to define cultural issues.”

    What’s cold science?

    #1976997
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    ujm,

    “This timeline coincided with the mass entry of women into the workforce.”

    I think this is a factor, but there are other reasons as well for the declining fertility rate. There has been a decline in physical fertility as well, partly due to people marrying and trying to start families later, but also potentially due to environmental factors that are slowly becoming more defined.

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