A reader writes:
Steinglass does make a shrewd point, but it's not entirely new, and there are some interesting nuances to consider. The first is that the Western European countries with higher proportions of working women (Finland, Norway, Denmark) also tend to have higher birthrates. Although the high-birthrate countries may be less repressive and more egalitarian, another more basic consideration is that they provide much better services to parents, thus reducing the cost - emotional, economic, and otherwise - of parenthood. The second is that the seemingly high birthrate in the U.S. is probably due to our large population of new immigrants, not to any special pleasure of being an American mom.
I'm pretty sure Steinglass' observations are correct, but his cause and effect is off. The US birthrate is higher than most/all of Europe and other industrialized countries because of higher immigration and the fact that immigrants have more children. The same goes for minorities, (though I can't tell you how much overlap there is between the two groups). I couldn't find a nice study in the five minutes I looked, but I did come across this article:
"Latinos have saved our country," [Ken Gronbach, author of "The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Growing Demographic Trend"] said. "They represent 14% of the population but 25% of the live births. The United States is the only western industrialized nation with a fertility rate above the 2.2% replacement rate." Growth of other minority groups is also outpacing that of the majority population. Asians, the second-fastest growing group, increased 2.7% year-over-year to 15.5 million. The African-American population rose 1.3% to 41.1 million.