The decline of birth rates linked to secularisation
Declining fertility rates have a significant correlation with increased secularisation, according to Baylor University professor Philip Jenkins.
In a Regent College (Vancouver, British Columbia) live-stream titled “Fertility and Faith: A Conversation with Philip Jenkins,” the Baylor University professor of history and co-director of the programme on historical studies of religion, explained that demography derives from important changes in religious belief.
Much of modern Africa tends to be devoutly religious and they also happen to have high fertility rates, Jenkins explained. By contrast, the lower a population’s fertility rate the greater the likelihood it is for people to separate from faith communities and religious institutions. The fertility rate, then, serves as an insightful window into how societies around the world become more secularised.
Jenkins noted that if you told him the fertility rate of any given country it would be fairly easy to say whether that nation allows legal same-sex unions, surmise its attitudes toward faith and religion, and how strong its religious institutions are.
In the 1960s, the fertility rate in Denmark began to drop below replacement level as the country became more secular. Meanwhile, in the sub-Saharan African country of Uganda, the average woman had five children, and religious belief was strong. This pattern holds across the world with a few notable exceptions that seem to buck the trend.