Natalism (also called pronatalism or the pro-birth position) is a belief that promotes human reproduction.[1] The term is taken from the Latin adjective form for "birth", natalis. Natalism promotes child-bearing and parenthood as desirable for social reasons and to ensure national continuance. Natalism in public policy typically seeks to create financial and social incentives for populations to reproduce, such as providing tax incentives that reward having and supporting children. Adherents of more stringent takes on natalism may seek to limit access to abortion and contraception, as well.


The level of natalism varies between individuals. One extreme end of the spectrum of views, such as Bionatalism, presents natalism as a life stance and holds natalism as of ultimate importance.[2] Philosophic motivations for natalism may include that of considering value in bringing potential future persons into existence.


Survival of humanity

Some natalist ideologies, such as Bionatalism, consider human procreation a moral duty of a person since he is alive only because his family and society shared resources with him.[2]

In religion

Many religions (including some parts of Islam and Judaism[3]) and some branches of Christianity (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[4] and the Catholic Church[5][6][7]) encourage procreation.

The Amish are among the fastest-growing populations in the world, with an average of 6.8 children per family.[8]

A recent movement among conservative Protestants, known as the Quiverfull movement, advocates for large families. Some scholars note that Quiverfull resembles other world-denying fundamentalist movements which grow through internal reproduction and membership retention, such as Haredi Judaism, the Amish, Laestadianism in Finland and the Salafi movement in the Muslim world. Many such groups grow relative to other categories, as seculars and moderates may have by contrast transitioned as far as below-replacement fertility, in certain groups.[9][10][11]

Intention to have children

An intention to have children is a substantial fertility factor in actually ending up doing so, but childless individuals who intend to have children immediately or within 2 or 3 years are generally more likely to succeed than those who intend to have children in the long-term.[12] There are many determinants of the intention to have children, including:

Natalistic politics

Further information: Population decline

For a general discussion of the impact of population change on politics, see political demography.

Some countries offer financial incentives to encourage couples to bear more children. Incentives may include a one time baby bonus, or ongoing child benefit payments or tax reductions. Some impose penalties or taxes on those with fewer children.

Paid maternity and paternity leave policies can also be used as an incentive. For example, Sweden has generous parental leave wherein parents are entitled to share 16 months paid leave per child, the cost divided between both employer and State.

Historical examples

Nativity in the Western world dropped during the interwar period. Swedish sociologists Alva and Gunnar Myrdal published Crisis in the Population Question in 1934, suggesting an extensive welfare state with universal healthcare and childcare, to level the number of children at a reproductive level for all social classes. Swedish fertility rose throughout World War II (as Sweden was largely unharmed by the war) and peaked in 1946.

In 1946, Poland introduced a tax on childlessness, discontinued in the 1970s, as part of natalist policies in the Communist government. From 1941 to the 1990s, the Soviet Union had a similar tax to replenish the population losses incurred during the Second World War.

The Socialist Republic of Romania under Nicolae Ceaușescu severely repressed abortion, (the most common birth control method at the time) in 1966,[15][16] and forced gynecological revisions and penalties for unmarried women and childless couples. The surge of the birth rate taxed the public services received by the decreţei 770 ("Scions of the Decree 770") generation. The Romanian Revolution of 1989 preceded a fall in population growth.

Current examples

Some countries with population decline offer incentives to the people to have large families as a means of national efforts to reverse declining populations. Some nations, such as Japan, Singapore,[17] South Korea,[18] and Taiwan, have implemented, or tried to implement, interventionist natalist policies, creating incentives for larger families among native stock. Immigrants are generally not part of natalist policies.

Another government which has openly advocated natalism is Iran following tremendous losses in the Iran–Iraq War. The government encouraged married couples to produce as many children as possible to replace population lost to the war.[19]

In Israel, Haredi families with many children receive economic support through generous governmental child allowances, government assistance in housing young religious couples, as well as specific funds by their own community institutions.[20] Haredi women have an average of 6.7 children while the average Jewish Israeli woman has 3 children.[21]

According to Tibetologist Melvyn Goldstein, natalist feelings run high in China's Tibet Autonomous Region, among both ordinary people and government officials. Seeing population control "as a matter of power and ethnic survival" rather than in terms of ecological sustainability, Tibetans have successfully argued for an exemption of Tibetan people from usual family planning policies in China such as the one-child policy.[22] Natalist literature among the Tibetan exile community discourages sex with foreigners; however it is not particularly successful.[23]

In a 2004 editorial in The New York Times, David Brooks expressed the opinion that the relatively high birthrate of the United States in comparison to Europe could be attributed to social groups with "natalist" attitudes.[24] The article is referred to in an analysis of the Quiverfull movement.[25] However, the figures identified for the demographic are extremely low.

In the United States, former US Senator Rick Santorum made natalism part of his platform for his 2012 presidential campaign.[26] This is not an isolated case. Many of those categorized in the General Social Survey as "Fundamentalist Protestant" are more or less natalist, and have a higher birth rate than "Moderate" and "Liberal" Protestants.[27] However, Rick Santorum is not a Protestant but a practicing Catholic.

In May 2012, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan argued that abortion is murder and announced that legislative preparations to severely limit the practice are underway. Erdogan also argued that abortion and C-section deliveries are plots to stall Turkey's economic growth. Prior to this move, Erdogan had repeatedly demanded that each couple have at least three children.[28]


Main article: Antinatalism

Antinatalism is a philosophical position that assigns a negative value to birth, standing in opposition to natalism. It has been advanced by figures such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Emil Cioran,[29] Peter Wessel Zapffe[30] and David Benatar.[31] Similar ideas can be seen in a fragment of Aristotle's Eudemus as "the wisdom of Silenus" and were discussed by Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Official anti or pro-natalist policies can be oppressive of reproductive rights, depending on how they are structured and enforced. Antinatalism may also be included in concern of overpopulation and its effects, e.g. as a mitigation of global warming and societal or moral decline.

See also


  1. McKeown, John (2014). God's Babies: Natalism and Bible Interpretation in Modern America. Cambridge: Open Books. pp. 2–4.
  2. 1 2 "Principles of bionatalism". Retrieved 2015-10-12.
  3. Twerski, Rebbetzin Feige. "Joys of A Large Family". Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  4. First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles (September 23, 1995), "Gospel Topics – The Family: A Proclamation to the World",, LDS Church, retrieved 2013-12-11. See also: The Family: A Proclamation to the World
  5. Pope Paul VI (1968-07-25). "Humanae Vitae: Encyclical on the Regulation of Birth". Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  6. Pope Pius XI (1930-12-31). "Casti Connubii: Encyclical on Christian Marriage". Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  7. Pope John Paul II (1981-11-22). "Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio: On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World". Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  8. Ericksen, Julia A; Ericksen, Eugene P; Hostetler, John A; Huntington, Gertrude E (July 1979). "Fertility Patterns and Trends among the Old Order Amish". Population Studies. 33: 255–76. doi:10.2307/2173531. ISSN 0032-4728. OCLC 39648293.
  9. Kaufmann, Eric. 2011. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century. London: Profile Books.
  10. Sneps.
  11. Toft, Monica Duffy (2011), "Wombfare: The Religious and Political Dimensions of Fertility and Demographic Change", in Goldstone, JA; Kaufmann, E; Toft, M, Political Demography: identity, conflict and institutions, Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 Nicoletta Balbo; Francesco C. Billari; Melinda Mills (2013). "Fertility in Advanced Societies: A Review of Research". European Journal of Population. 29 (1).
  13. Axinn, William G.; Clarkberg, Marin E.; Thornton, Arland (1994). "Family Influences on Family Size Preferences". Demography. 31 (1): 65. doi:10.2307/2061908. ISSN 0070-3370.
  14. Vignoli, Daniele and Rinesi, Francesca and Mussino, Eleonora (2013). "A home to plan the first child? Fertility intentions and housing conditions in Italy". Population, Space and Place.
  15. Scarlat, Sandra (May 17, 2005), "'Decreţeii': produsele unei epoci care a îmbolnăvit România" [Scions of the Decree': Products of an Era that Sickened Romania], Evenimentul Zilei (in Romanian).
  16. Kligman, Gail (1998), The Politics of Duplicity. Controlling Reproduction in Ceausescu's Romania, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
  17. "Pro-natalism: Breaking the baby strike". The Economist. 25 July 2015.
  18. Onishi, Norimitsu (21 August 2005). "South Korea, in Turnabout, Now Calls for More Babies". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  19. Beaugé, Florence (2 February 2016). "'Get back to your washing machine': Iran's ambitious women". Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  20. Dov Friedlander (2002). "Fertility in Israel: Is the Transition to Replacement Level in Sight?
    Part of: Completing the Fertility Transition."
    (PDF). United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division.
  21. Paul Morland (April 7, 2014). "Israeli women do it by the numbers". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  22. Goldstein, Melvyn; Cynthia, Beall (March 1991). "China's Birth Control Policy in the Tibet Autonomous Region". Asian Survey. 31 (3): 285–303. doi:10.1525/as.1991.31.3.00p0043x.
  23. Barkin, Gareth; Childs, Geoff (2006-03-30). "Reproducing Identity: Using Images to Promote Pronatalism and Sexual Endogamy among Tibetan Exiles in South Asia". Visual Anthropology. doi:10.1525/var.2006.22.2.34.
  24. Brooks, David (2004-12-07), "The New Red-Diaper Babies", The New York Times, retrieved 21 Jan 2006.
  25. Joyce, Kathryn (27 November 2006), "'Arrows for the War'", The Nation, retrieved 10 March 2015.
  26. Seung Min Kim (15 January 2012). "Santorum: More babies, please!". Politico.
  27. "Modern Protestant Natalism". Dialog. Wiley. 2010. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6385.2010.00517.x.
  28. "US, Turkey: abortion" (article). Reuters. 2012-06-03.
  29. E. M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born
  30. Zapffe, Peter Wessel "The Last Messiah"
  31. Benatar, David (2006). Better Never to Have Been. Oxford University Press, USA. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296422.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-929642-2.

External links

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