CMP Review 2024-07-01

CMP Review 2024-07-01

July 1, 2024

Reflecting on the books I’ve read in the first half of 2024, one stands out and continues to resonate deeply with me: Hannah’s Children: The Women Quietly Defying the Birth Dearth by Catherine Pakaluk. An economist and mother of a large family, Dr. Pakaluk shares her insights on why some women choose to have many children despite global trends of falling fertility and birth rates.

Developed nations are facing demographic decline and governments are implementing various incentives to persuade couples to have more children; Pakaluk however, takes a unique approach. Rather than focusing on why these programs fail, she turns to the women who have chosen to have large families and asks them, “Why?”

Through interviews with women across the country, Pakaluk uncovers that these women did not have large families by accident or out of ignorance. They made deliberate choices because they value children immensely. They see their children as more valuable than the careers, financial stability, and personal freedoms they may have had to sacrifice.

Pakaluk applies the economist’s notion of “opportunity cost” to show that these mothers perceive the benefits of having many children as far outweighing the costs. Their stories offer insights into what it means to prioritize higher goods over economic gains.

Hannah’s Children has been a balm to my soul, offering encouragement as their stories lined up with and reaffirmed my own beliefs in prioritizing the higher goods over economic gains. Whether you’re a mother to many, a mother to few, not-yet-a-mother, or unsure if you want to be a mother, this book is a witness to the value of life and the human heart.

*There are a few curse words in the quoted interviews.