The gist of the article is that the U.S. is now beginning to follow the pattern in Europe of having below replacement levels of fertility. The authors seem to recognise that liberalism is spawning a postfamilial culture in which the creative classes in the big cities are beginning to choose solo living over a commitment to family.
Amid this shift, the childless and even the partnerless life has gained something of a cultural cachet, with some suggesting they represent not just a legitimate choice but a superior one. It’s a burgeoning movement that’s joined cultural tastemakers, academics, neo-Malthusians, greens, feminists, Democratic politicians, urban planners, and big developers. Unlike families, whose members, after all, are often stuck with one another, University of Santa Barbara psychology professor Bella De Paulo praises singles as enjoying “intentional communities” and being more likely “to think about human connectedness in a way that is far-reaching and less predictable.”That's hardly surprising. If you buy into liberal ideology, you'll believe that the primary good in life is individual autonomy. And if you want to maximise your autonomy then you won't want to commit to fixed relationships and responsibilities that come with marriage and children; nor will you want to make individual sacrifices to uphold the larger traditions you belong to; nor will you want to follow a "pre-ordained" path of family and children rather than your own unique, self-determining lifestyle.
In his provocative 2012 book Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, Eric Klinenberg writes that for the hip urban professionals who make up the so-called creative class, living alone represents a “more desirable state,” even “a sign of success and a mark of distinction, a way to gain freedom and experience the anonymity that can make city life so exhilarating.” Certainly, the number of singletons has skyrocketed: more than half of all adults today are single (a group that includes divorcées and widows and widowers), up from about one in five in 1950.
You can see such thoughts in various comments in the article. For instance, the psychology professor quoted above praises singles as creating "intentional communities" and "less predictable" forms of connection with each other. The implication is that those who marry and have children are just following a predetermined script (and therefore lose status as autonomous beings), in contrast to the deliberate, consciously made relationships made by singles.
Similarly, one of the single women rejected the idea of pregnancy because she didn't want to relinquish "sole ownership of one’s own body." Another one reacted badly to her friends marrying and moving to the suburbs because it seemed too much like a set, pre-ordained life path: “It’s very orderly, like if you put them in different clothes, it could be the 1950s.”
The authors do note that this single woman constituency is a good thing for leftist politics in the sense that it creates a voting bloc for the Democrats. But they worry that if fertility rates fall that the U.S. will be stuck in the same position as the European countries, in having a welfare state saddled with higher costs and a smaller tax base. They also worry that by not having children liberals will be a declining force in the U.S.:
But if singletons are swelling as a voting bloc and interest group now, the demographics of childlessness mean that they’re likely to lose out in the long term...I suspect that the real reason why the liberal writers of the article are hesitant to take the leap into a postfamilial culture is the argument I bolded - they understand at some level that such a culture has no future. But what can they do about it? They mostly propose more liberalism as a solution to a problem created by liberalism in the first place. If they were serious about the issue they would have to rethink aspects of liberal ideology and culture. As The Elusive Wapiti puts it:
In the long run, notes Eric Kaufmann, the author of Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, high birthrates among such conservative, religious populations as Mormons and evangelical Christians will slant our politics against the secular young, childless voting bloc as well. Even among generally liberal groups like Jews, the most religious are vastly out-birthing their secular counterparts; by some estimates roughly two in five New York Jews are Orthodox—as are three in four of the city’s Jewish children. If these trends continue, and if these children share their parents’ politics—two big ifs, to be sure—even the Democratic stronghold of Gotham will be pulled rightward.
This prospect would pose dangers to our society as a whole, and singletons in particular, including a potential reversion to a more rigidly traditionalist worldview. But perhaps most damaging would be declining markets and a hobbled economy in which governments are forced to tax the shrinking workforce to pay for the soaring retirement and health expenses of an increasingly doddering population
...In the coming decades, success will accrue to those cultures that preserve the family’s place, not as the exclusive social unit but as one that is truly indispensable. It’s a case we need to make as a society, rather than counting on nature to take its course.
The problem lays in the attitudes of the millions of men and women who share Ms. Jordan's attitudes. Attitudes that produce billions of perfectly rational self-interested choices subsequent to those attitudes. Try as they may, liberalists cannot deny the effects of dynamiting the family, erasing gender differences, consecrating individual autonomy as the acme of human values, and making children a fashion accessory (that are permitted to enter into this world unmurdered only if they're wanted). As a result, we have a society where "family" and "marriage" are defined so broadly as to be near-meaningless, "men" and "women" are legally interchangeable, sub-replacement fertility, and acting as though "it's all about me" isn't the acme of narcissism but a commonly accepted social norm.