Join social scientist, mother of eight, and author Dr. Catherine R. Pakaluk for the launch of her book, Hannah’s Children: The Women Quietly Defying the Birth Dearth. Dr. Pakaluk has crafted a fascinating portrait of America’s most interesting yet overlooked women—women who are raising families with five or more children. The book will be available for purchase at the CIC’s bookstore.
This event will be offered both in-person and virtually through YouTube. Please RSVP today.
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.
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“The birth dearth is the most important story of our time. Most analysts fail to explain the causes, and most politicians propose hopeless ‘solutions.’ That’s why Hannah’s Children is a crucial book. Combining the rigor of an economist with the insight of a mother, Catherine Pakaluk opens readers’ minds and hearts to the birth dearth’s real causes, and exactly why some women are inoculated against this cultural malady”
Timothy P. Carney
Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Family-Unfriendly: How Our Culture Made Raising Kids Much Harder Than It Needs to Be"
“The stories in this book are as beautiful as they are inspirational. Hannah’s Children: The Women Quietly Defying the Birth Dearth contains profound wisdom on how to live family life well, the blessings of children, the benefits of siblings, and how a renewal of family may get us out of our civilizational mess. My wife and I will be benefiting from this book in our parenting for years to come.”
Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D.
President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and author of "Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom"
“This is a very special book. It gives flesh and blood to people our culture tells us aren’t supposed to exist: women who are happy, healthy, interesting, real, and smart—and who have chosen to have large families. Catherine Pakaluk artfully weaves the lives of these mothers into a bright and insightful story one wants to just keep reading. The testimonies of these women reveal in a fresh way that motherhood is beautiful in all its sacrifice, wonder, tenderness, and joy.”
Carrie Gress, Ph.D.
Author of "The End of Woman," Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and Mother of five
“There’s a growing consensus—contrary to long worries about overpopulation—that developed countries are not even reproducing themselves. Policymakers, especially on the right, have started talking about what can be done about this coming demographic disaster. Yet few have asked the question: Why do some people still get married and have lots of children? Catherine Pakaluk asked that question and searched for the answer. If you’re concerned about our demographic future, and the state of the family in the twenty-first century, you must read Hannah’s Children. No public policy response and no campaign for cultural renewal that ignores Pakaluk’s findings in this book has a chance of succeeding.”
Jay Richards, Ph.D.
William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in Religious Liberty and Civil Society and Director, Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at the Heritage Foundation
“Economics usually doesn’t do much to help us understand our human condition. Hannah’s Children is the rare exception: it successfully focuses on an essential choice that is offered to almost all people, to be concretely open to the affirmation of the gift of life. This choice is unlike most other choices, and Hannah’s Children understands this choice in profound ways that situates it at the heart of any possible resolution to the problem that is modernity.”
Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College, Oxford University; Research Professor, Department of Economics, Johns Hopkins University
“Our world is unwilling to produce enough of the greatest resource of all: the human person. Yet some women defy that trend and continue to bring large numbers of children into that same world. In Hannah’s Children, the economist Catherine Ruth Pakaluk takes us into the dynamics that lead some families to make these radical choices, and shows us what can be done to save our civilization from the birth dearth that threatens to kill it. Read and learn.”
Samuel Gregg, Ph.D.
Author of "The Next American Economy," Distinguished Fellow in Political Economy and Senior Research Faculty, American Institute for Economic Research
“Catherine has greatly advanced our understanding of the decision to bear and raise children by sharing the beautiful stories of mothers who contradict the grim trend of declining global birth rates.”
Clara Piano, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Austin Peay State University
“Hannah’s Children is a powerful look into a countercultural movement being led by—of all people—mothers. But this is not another book touting girlboss culture or a sentimental tale about a woman who leaves her family to ‘find herself.’ No, the women in this book are bucking the status quo because they believe children (and large families) are blessings from God to be enjoyed, not the ‘consequences’ of casual sex to be overcome. In a world that often requires children to sacrifice in order for adults to fulfill their dreams, it is both refreshing and inspiring to read the stories of dedication and devotion Catherine Pakaluk brings to life in this book.”
Research Fellow, Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at the Heritage Foundation
“‘In a two-child world, an eight-child choice begs for an explanation.’ So begins Hannah’s Children, Catherine Ruth Pakaluk’s intrepid exploration of the reasons why some mothers of many are rejecting the temptation to limit their fertility to few. With exceptional sensitivity and clarity, she untangles the incentives behind a contraceptive culture that regards self-sacrifice as senseless at best. Hannah’s Children is a tour de force in qualitative economics, as rigorous as it is deeply moving.”
Author of Ladies’ Late Rome Journal on Substack and Host of the Girlboss, Interrupted podcast
“A beautiful celebration of motherhood showcasing the rich complexity—social, economic, and personal—of human love. Catherine Pakaluk makes the compelling case for having a large family in a modern context of adult autonomy and hyperindividualism. Informed by a multidisciplinary study canvasing economics, history, sociology, and philosophy, Hannah’s Children joins the slim ranks of other groundbreaking ethnographic studies on marriage, maternity, and demography. Within the narratives of human natality, Pakaluk reveals the possibility of greater gain within self-sacrifice, advantage in accepted opportunity costs, and expansion of self within the gestation, growth, and gift of other persons.”
Janice T. Chik Breidenbach, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Ave Maria University; Member of the Aquinas Institute, Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford; Senior Affiliate, Penn Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, University of Pennsylvania
Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, PhD, received her doctorate in economics from Harvard University and is an associate professor of social research and economic thought in the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She lives in Hyattsville, Maryland, with her husband and their eight children.
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