Almost everyone notices that religious couples tend to have more children then secular couples. Among American Jews the trend is pronounced. American Jews fall into two categories, religious and secular. I define religious as those who believe that God gave His message to mankind through Moses on Mount Sinai about 3,300 years ago and who regard that message, the Torah, as the constitution of Judaism. Only about 20% of Jewish Americans are religious. In the United States, where the national average is 1.8 births per woman, secular Jewish women average about 1.6 births per woman. The figure for religious Jewish women is just over 4.8. During our family excursions, Susan and I were always amused when strangers, noting our seven children, would nod knowingly and, leaning in conspiratorially, whisper to us, “Catholic, right?”
It was not hard to discover that many doctoral dissertations in many universities have been written attempting to explain the correlation between religiosity and large families. They range from fatuous to foolish and from pedantic to perplexing. They assume religious couples know no better or are backwards and unable to accept modern science. Almost without exception, they ignore the positive effects of religion on family formation. I would like to suggest three benefits.