The American Family and Fertility Project
From Charles Murray’s ‘super-zips’ to the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, and from Boston to Los Angeles, there are American women quietly raising families so large that they defy the norm in both number and kind. In the year 2019, we traveled to ten American regions and talked with women who were raising (or had raised) five or more children, to understand who they are and why they do what they do. Their stories have profound relevance for the canvas of domestic policy questions related to rapidly falling fertility rates, as well as for the deeper public dialogue about patterns of individualist lifestyles, rootedness and connectedness, addiction-as-loneliness, and our conceptions of political liberalism.
The academic monograph in process is a narrative account of the findings from the first phase of the American Family and Fertility Project, a multi-year, multi-phase research initiative based at The Catholic University of America that aims to sketch the contours of contemporary American fertility through a combination of in-depth qualitative interviews and nationally representative survey data.
The Project strives to be marked by an ethos that diverges from standard social-scientific treatments of fertility and childbearing. These standard treatments, we argue, have failed to explore the things that American women say are most relevant to their fertility choices, especially meaning and purpose, relationship and identity, and the visceral joy of childbearing.