Elon Musk recently spotlighted a critical issue in Rome - declining birthrates. He's not wrong; Italy’s fertility rate is a concerning 1.24, far below the needed 2.1. His solution? "Make more Italians." Simple, yet profound.
Enter Catherine Pakaluk, echoing Musk's concerns but with an interesting twist. Unlike the usual "throw-money-at-it" approach, she offers a unique perspective, one that's more about values than cash incentives.
Here’s a fun fact: Pakaluk, a Harvard alumna and current Catholic University professor, wasn't your typical bride. She married Michael, a widower with six kids, at 23. Fast-forward, and they've added eight more! Talk about living your message!
Pakaluk’s message is clear: if we want more babies, talk to women who buck the trend. Her research reveals these women value motherhood highly, often driven by religious convictions. It’s not about the perks or subsidies; it’s a deeper, value-driven choice.
Pakaluk challenges the narrative that career-focused women should sacrifice their ambitions for large families. Free-market solutions, she argues, are the key. Look at Israel, with a high fertility rate, not because of subsidies, but due to a higher proportion of religious individuals.
Pakaluk isn't advocating for everyone to have a football team’s worth of kids. Even a second or third child could make a difference. It's about challenging the rigid narrative on female success and acknowledging the possibility of prioritizing children without sacrificing modern economic participation.
We've come a long way from the 1968 doom-and-gloom of “The Population Bomb.” Today, we’re more worried about population decline leading to economic stagnation. Pakaluk suggests a society rich in religious institutions that support the value of motherhood could be a solution.
Next time Musk raises the population topic, he might want to have Pakaluk by his side. She’s not just an economist and a mother of 14; she’s a voice that articulates a powerful, often overlooked perspective in the fertility debate.