The Women Quietly Defying the Birth Dearth
A portrait of America's most interesting yet overlooked women.
In the midst of a historic "birth dearth," why do some 5 percent of American women choose to defy the demographic norm by bearing five or more children? Hannah’s Children is a compelling portrait of these overlooked but fascinating mothers who, like the biblical Hannah, see their children as their purpose, their contribution, and their greatest blessing.
The social scientist Catherine Pakaluk, herself the mother of eight, traveled across the United States and interviewed fifty-five college-educated women who were raising five or more children. Through open-ended questions, she sought to understand who these women are, why and when they chose to have a large family, and what this choice means for them, their families, and the nation.
Hannah’s Children is more than interesting stories of extraordinary women. It presents information that is urgently relevant for the future of American prosperity. Many countries have experimented with aggressively pro-natalist public policies, and all of them have failed. Pakaluk finds that the quantitative methods to which the social sciences limit themselves overlook important questions of meaning and identity in their inquiries into fertility rates. Her book is a pathbreaking foray into questions of purpose, religion, transcendence, healing, and growth—questions that ought to inform economic inquiry in the future.
Published: March, 2024