This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

April 19, 2006

Demographics Driving Politics

People who are very religious tend to have larger families. In many cases, shunning birth control is even part of being a devout person. We see these results in predominantly Muslim and Catholic countries as well as in parts of the United States.

Comparing birthrates of the states, it is easy to forecast the political climate of the next five to 15 years. The states we characterize as "red", those that voted for George W. Bush have a significantly higher birthrate than those we characterize as "blue", having voted for John Kerry. The implications of these facts are fascinating.

First, these states will have increasing representation in the House of Representatives. Immigration and relocation aside, as the populations of these states grow, so will their proportion of the total population of the country.

According to Philip Longman, a fellow at the New American Foundation, "47 percent of people who attend church weekly say their ideal family size is three or more children", whereas only "27 percent of those who seldom attend church want that many kids".

We see the implications of this contrast best played out in Utah and Vermont. In Utah, the home of the Church of Latter Day Saints, over 60 percent of the population practices that religion. Mormons are traditionally highly patriarchal and believe that procreation is an expression of religious practice. In this state, every year 92 children are born for every 1000 women. Looking at the number of annual births in Vermont, we find only 49 newborns per 1000 women.

Children in Utah and other states with high fertility rates will be born into families that are religiously and politically conservative. Since, for the most part, children adopt the political views of their parents, we can readily forecast an increase in the power that conservative factions in the US will wield.

We see the opposite in effect in certain countries in Europe, notably the Germany, United Kingdom, and France where the birthrates have historically been 1.4, 1.7, and 1.8 respectively. Based on these data, it is understandable that more conservative factions have been less popular.

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