Posted by: Zsuzsanna | July 26, 2008

How big is big?

“Total fertility rate” (TFR) is the expected number of children born per woman in her child-bearing years. At the ripe old age of 29, I am currently somewhere between Djibouti and Guatemala. Hopefully, in just a few months I will move up several ranks to the levels of Eritrea. Niger tops the list with a TFR of 7.19, which does not seem that far off for me. I love to be #1 and have every intention of making it there!

The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest figures, for 2002, reveal that 0.3 percent of women ages 15 to 44 have given birth to seven or more children. Moreover, the number of U.S. women birthing seven or more children has declined steadily since the government began tracking the demographic in 1976. I read an interesting statistic today that families who pick Biblical names for their children have more children than families who pick non-Bible names.

It is interesting to note that in the UN figures below, the TFR for the world in general is only 2.55. Not that I believe the “the world is overpopulated” talk in the first place, but even just to maintain the current level we would need a worldwide replacement fertility rate of 2.33 children per woman (the replacement fertility rate is roughly 2.1 births per woman for most industrialized countries but ranges from 2.5 to 3.3 in developing countries because of higher mortality rates). At this rate, global population growth would trend towards zero. So all these doom and gloom predictions on how we will soon be standing shoulder to shoulder don’t add up even with the UN figures, which if anything would be skewed in favor of their agenda (reduction of population).

I understand that, unfortunately, there are many women who wish they could have children, or who wish they could have more. It is not my intention to make them feel bad or inferior. Being infertile is a physical disability and I feel bad for anyone affected. But I cannot for the life of me understand why a perfectly healthy, married woman would act as if adding another child would just be such a burden. I have yet to hear a reason not to have kids that is not motivated by selfish reasons. Is having a baby really that much worse than getting to spend more money at the mall, more time playing and vacationing, more hours in front of the TV, and less time working and cleaning?

Table 2
UN Ranking
Country Fertility rate
(2000-2005)
(births/woman)
Fertility rate
(2005-2010)
(births/woman)
1 Niger 7.45 7.19
2 Guinea-Bissau 7.10 7.07
3 Afghanistan 7.48 7.07
4 Burundi 6.80 6.80
5 Liberia 6.80 6.77
6 Democratic Republic of the Congo 6.70 6.70
7 East Timor 6.96 6.53
8 Mali 6.70 6.52
9 Sierra Leone 6.50 6.47
10 Uganda 6.75 6.46
11 Angola 6.75 6.43
12 Chad 6.54 6.20
13 Somalia 6.43 6.04
14 Burkina Faso 6.36 6.00
15 Rwanda 6.01 5.92
16 Malawi 6.03 5.59
17 Yemen 6.02 5.50
18 Guinea 5.84 5.44
19 Benin 5.87 5.42
20 Equatorial Guinea 5.64 5.36
21 Nigeria 5.85 5.32
22 Ethiopia 5.78 5.29
23 Zambia 5.65 5.18
24 Tanzania 5.66 5.16
25 Mozambique 5.52 5.11
26 Palestinian territories 5.63 5.09
27 Eritrea 5.53 5.05
28 Kenya 5.00 4.96
29 Togo 5.37 4.80
30 Madagascar 5.28 4.78
31 Gambia 5.16 4.70
32 Senegal 5.22 4.69
33 Central African Republic 4.96 4.58
34 Republic of the Congo 4.78 4.49
35 Côte d’Ivoire 5.06 4.46
36 Mauritania 4.83 4.37
37 Cameroon 4.92 4.31
38 Comoros 4.89 4.30
39 Iraq 4.86 4.26
40 Sudan 4.82 4.23
41 Guatemala 4.60 4.15
42 Djibouti 4.52 3.95
43 Samoa 4.42 3.93
44 Solomon Islands 4.36 3.87
45 Sao Tome and Principe 4.34 3.85
46 Ghana 4.39 3.84
47 Tonga 3.73 3.83
48 Papua New Guinea 4.32 3.78
49 Vanuatu 4.15 3.74
50 Federated States of Micronesia 4.23 3.71
51 Haiti 4.00 3.54
52 Pakistan 3.99 3.52
53 Bolivia 3.96 3.50
54 Swaziland 3.91 3.45
55 Lesotho 3.79 3.37
56 Cape Verde 3.77 3.37
57 Saudi Arabia 3.81 3.35
58 Tajikistan 3.81 3.35
59 Honduras 3.72 3.31
60 Nepal 3.68 3.28
61 French Guiana (France) 3.67 3.27
62 Philippines 3.54 3.23
63 Laos 3.59 3.21
64 Namibia 3.58 3.19
65 Zimbabwe 3.56 3.19
66 Cambodia 3.64 3.18
67 Jordan 3.53 3.13
68 Paraguay 3.48 3.08
69 Syria 3.48 3.08
70 Gabon 3.39 3.06
71 Oman 3.70 3.00
72 Belize 3.35 2.93
73 Botswana 3.18 2.90
74 Egypt 3.17 2.89
75 Bangladesh 3.22 2.83
76 Dominican Republic 2.95 2.81
77 India 3.11 2.81
78 Nicaragua 3.00 2.76
79 Fiji 2.98 2.75
80 Israel 2.91 2.75
81 Libya 3.03 2.72
82 Western Sahara 3.01 2.70
83 El Salvador 2.88 2.68
84 Qatar 2.93 2.66
85 South Africa 2.80 2.64
86 Maldives 2.81 2.63
87 Malaysia 2.87 2.60
88 Ecuador 2.82 2.58
89 Panama 2.70 2.56
World 2.65 2.55
90 Venezuela 2.72 2.55
91 Guam (US) 2.74 2.54
92 Peru 2.70 2.51
93 Turkmenistan 2.76 2.50
94 Uzbekistan 2.74 2.49
95 Kyrgyzstan 2.50 2.48
96 Jamaica 2.63 2.43
97 Suriname 2.60 2.42
98 Algeria 2.53 2.38
99 Morocco 2.52 2.38
100 Réunion (France) 2.46 2.36
101 Guyana 2.43 2.33
102 Kazakhstan 2.01 2.31
103 United Arab Emirates 2.52 2.31
104 Grenada 2.43 2.30
105 Brunei 2.50 2.29
106 Bahrain 2.51 2.29
107 French Polynesia (France) 2.39 2.26
108 Argentina 2.35 2.25
109 Brazil 2.35 2.25
110 Colombia 2.47 2.22
111 Mexico 2.40 2.21
112 Lebanon 2.32 2.21
113 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2.30 2.19
114 Bhutan 2.91 2.19
115 Kuwait 2.30 2.18
116 Saint Lucia 2.24 2.18
117 Indonesia 2.38 2.18
118 United States Virgin Islands (US) 2.23 2.15
119 Turkey 2.23 2.14
120 Vietnam 2.32 2.14
121 Uruguay 2.20 2.12
122 Guadeloupe (France) 2.06 2.11
123 Costa Rica 2.28 2.10
124 New Caledonia (France) 2.23 2.08
125 Myanmar 2.25 2.07
126 Albania 2.25 2.06
127 United States 2.04 2.05
128 Iceland 1.99 2.05
129 Aruba (Netherlands) 2.12 2.04
130 Iran 2.12 2.04
131 Bahamas 2.11 2.02
132 New Zealand 1.96 1.99
133 Ireland 1.97 1.96
134 Chile 2.00 1.94
135 Tunisia 2.04 1.93
136 Martinique (France) 1.98 1.91
137 France 1.88 1.89
138 Sri Lanka 2.02 1.88
139 Mongolia 2.07 1.87
140 Mauritius 1.91 1.86
141 Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands) 2.06 1.85
142 North Korea 1.92 1.85
143 Thailand 1.83 1.85
144 Norway 1.80 1.85
145 Montenegro 1.83 1.83
146 Puerto Rico (US) 1.84 1.83
147 Finland 1.75 1.83
148 United Kingdom 1.70 1.82
149 Azerbaijan 1.67 1.82
150 Denmark 1.76 1.80
151 Sweden 1.67 1.80
152 Serbia 1.75 1.79
153 Australia 1.76 1.79
154 People’s Republic of China (mainland only) 1.70 1.73
155 Netherlands 1.73 1.72
156 Luxembourg 1.67 1.66
157 Belgium 1.64 1.65
158 Trinidad and Tobago 1.61 1.64
159 Cyprus 1.63 1.61
160 Canada 1.52 1.53
161 Barbados 1.50 1.50
162 Cuba 1.63 1.49
163 Estonia 1.39 1.49
164 Portugal 1.45 1.46
165 Macedonia 1.56 1.43
166 Switzerland 1.42 1.42
167 Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) (UK) 1.41 1.42
168 Austria 1.38 1.42
169 Spain 1.29 1.41
170 Georgia 1.48 1.41
171 Moldova 1.50 1.40
172 Armenia 1.35 1.39
173 Italy 1.29 1.38
174 Malta 1.46 1.37
175 Germany 1.35 1.36
176 Croatia 1.35 1.35
177 Russia 1.30 1.34
178 Greece 1.38 1.33
179 Bulgaria 1.26 1.31
180 Romania 1.29 1.30
181 Latvia 1.25 1.29
182 Hungary 1.30 1.28
183 Slovenia 1.23 1.28
184 Japan 1.29 1.27
185 Lithuania 1.28 1.26
186 Singapore 1.35 1.26
187 Slovakia 1.22 1.25
188 Czech Republic 1.18 1.24
189 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1.28 1.23
190 Poland 1.25 1.23
191 Ukraine 1.15 1.22
192 South Korea 1.24 1.21
193 Belarus 1.24 1.20
194 Hong Kong (PRC) 0.94 0.97
195 Macau (PRC) 0.84 0.91

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Responses

  1. I think it is awesome that you are going to have as many children that God gives you!! I don’t know if you have ever heard of the Duggar family. She is still in her 40’s and is pregnant with her 18th child. They continue to make the news each time she is pregnant. They home school the children and they are also Christians. They have posted some helpful hints and recipes to feed a large family that you may find useful.

  2. It is wonderful that you feel you are capable of handling a large family and you have the ability to do so. I would never criticize anyone for that choice, nor would I criticize a family who chooses to have one or two–isn’t that the beauty of life, to have these choices, to know your limits whether it be financial, emotional, patience? Not everyone feels they have it in them to handle alot of children-wouldn’t you rather them make that decision, then bring another child into the world and have them resent that child or be pushed to their limits?
    And instead of having so many children biologically, have you looked into adoption-you mentioned in a previous post that you have thought you could adopt, or is it second best to biology?

    I know you won’t post this, but just thought I would throw out some thinking points to you.
    Best wishes and congrats on your soon to be new addition.

  3. Kris,

    as a Bible-believing Christian, I do not think that the Bible condones birth control. There is an essay on that subject on our church’s website, so I won’t relay all the verses and arguments here. Adding each child has definitely stretched our limits financially, emotionally, and otherwise each time, but as Christians, we are commanded to grow constantly, and one way to do so is by having children. As Christians, we also have the promise that God will help us and not forsake us. Besides all that, there are no methods of birth control that I could condone (for various reasons).

    I am glad that you have chosen to adopt, and I stand by my statement that adoption of orphans or abandoned children is wonderful. I don’t think adoption is superior or inferior to having biological children. As I said above, I don’t believe the Bible condones birth control, and because I have been blessed with many children this is just not a time when I could add an adopted child to the family. There are many couples like yourself who cannot have children, or who may naturally only be able to have one or two. Someone in that situation could more easily adopt a child then me, who has a baby on average every 22 months. But if I were to not be able to have children any more for biological reasons, I would not rule out adoption later in life.

    Thanks for your thoughts, and best wished with your children.

  4. Hi, Zsuzsanna. My question for you is about (what seems to me) a disparity between something you said. In your comment to Kris, you stated, “…and because I have been blessed with many children this is just not a time when I could add an adopted child to the family.”

    But in your original blog post, you stated, “But I cannot for the life of me understand why a perfectly healthy, married woman would act as if adding another child would just be such a burden.”

    My question is: what is the difference?

    Thank you,
    Pascha

  5. Pascha,

    there is a difference between adding an adopted child vs. a biological child. The latter is the natural result of being married and not using birth control (which the Bible commands against). In a way, we do not get a choice about whether or not we want to add another biological child, at least not if we want to obey God and his word.

    However, we are not commanded to adopt children but rather it is an option that we have.

    I am not saying that adoption is inferior to having biological children. It is a different option for people who cannot naturally conceive or who want to adopt in addition to also having biological children. It should, however, never be used as an alternative to having biological children because again, the Bible never condones birth control.

    Hope that clears up my position on this for you. I always appreciate when people take the time to spell my name correctly! 🙂

  6. i think it’s fab that you have some amazing kids, but i don’t necessarily agree with you on all points in this blog. You say that it’s wrong for people to think of children as a burden, and where I believe that ALL children are a blessing, I do not think it’s out of the question for new parents to be to have genuine doubts and concerns for the future of their children. On a personal note, my sister is fertile and is having baby #2 but i kinda see it as a burden because she doesn’t live in a healthy environment, can barely take care of one kid responsibly and doesn’t have a plan to effectively raise baby #2. She and her boyfriend work at jack in the box, and my neice, who has captured my heart over and above suffers all the time because of it. But she didn’t finish high school and she has made poor choices. And i have genuine concern for her in having baby #2. I won’t despise the baby, i will love it unconditionally forever and a day, but there is legitimate concern as to the success of the baby’s future in such an environment. and we come from a poor family, so helping them out financially will mean that we will fail to maintain our own means of living. But we give her love and time and offer to help where we can. I just think that it’s easy for you to pass judgement on other moms to be when you live in a nice house, have money to do stuff, and all that, while others are living different lives. just a thought. and for the record, i totally think that you should adopt and have more biological kiddos. because apparently you are super mom and can make the world go round, while those of us who worry are just losers. (note sarcasm)

  7. Amanda,

    I agree that your sister should not be expecting her second baby, in fact I think she should have never gotten pregnant the first time because she is not married. I am not saying that she should have aborted either child, I am saying she should not be fornicating and getting into this situation in the first place. When you disobey God you can hope he will be merciful, but you can’t blame anyone when your life turns out less than what you hoped it would be.

    We got married and then got pregnant, and were VERY poor at the time. But we did it by faith, and God blessed. We were just as poor when baby #2 was on the way. While we certainly live a comfortable life-style now it is due to the fact that my husband works 70+ hours each week, and I spend countless hours shopping for the best deals on everything.

    I don’t remember saying I was supermom. In fact, there are many posts on this blog that show my shortcomings. Nor did I say you have to be perfect to be a parent. I don’t worry because the Bible commands us to cast all our cares upon God, and because He has always been more than able to sustain us so far. It’s called living by faith, and is actually quite liberating.


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