Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claims ‘burdens of capitalism’ keep Americans from having children

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) — who in 2019 questioned whether or not it is “okay to still have children” due to climate change and said she was considering freezing her eggs in order to continue to focus on her career — changed course last week to claim young Americans are not able to have children because of the “burdens of capitalism.”

She told her social media followers:

Because if you take a look at it, and it’s not just Japan and South Korea, but there are quite a few countries that are really struggling because young people — under the burdens of capitalism and living under a society that’s increasingly concentrating wealth among the rich — we’re not having kids. And, or we’re not having kids at the same rate and we actually need immigrant populations to help balance things out. We can’t continue to fund social security, medicare, all of this stuff without immigrants. And it’s always been that way. Don’t act like this is some new trend or anything like that. 

Yet, the birth rate has been trending downward in the United States over the last few generations, fueled by a variety of factors that more recently include an increased fixation on individualism and materialism. It isn’t necessarily a financial burden that is preventing people from having children, but desired financial prosperity that is causing a reprioritization of possessions over children.

Capitalism has reduced extreme poverty

It is capitalism, as opposed to socialism, that has lifted societies out of poverty and created prosperous nations. According to Forbes, in 1820, 94% of the world’s population was living in extreme poverty. By 1910, it had dropped to 82% and by 1950 to 72%. Then, between 1981 and 2015, the extreme poverty rate dropped from 44.3% to 9.6%. This is credited to the spread of capitalism and free markets.

Socialist nations, however, continue to suffer from starvation and violence. Venezuela, once one of the wealthiest nations in South America, has been destroyed by socialism.

Assuming that the alleged “burdens of capitalism” include couples not feeling as though their income is high enough to support children, her theory still doesn’t pan out. In fact, a Pew Research Center survey proves her theory wrong. That survey found that from 2018 to 2021, the number of non-parents who said they were “not likely” to have children increased — not because of finances but because they simply didn’t want to have children. Fifty-six percent of respondents listed “just don’t want to have children” as their reason for not becoming parents. Only 17% listed financial reasons.

Individualism and materialism

The United States continues to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world, thanks to capitalism. Along the way, it has also become a nation of consumers. The advent of social media elevated that consumer mindset as celebrities and wealthy “influencers” have set the bar of ‘success’ unrealistically high. American consumers tend to want the best of everything (thanks to marketing campaigns) — the best car, the biggest house, the trendiest clothes. And they brought their children along for the ride, filling their schedules with sports, extracurricular activities, and high expectations of college degrees. High financial status has gradually replaced children as the greatest blessing.

Making sacrifices is seen as weak — and since parents must sacrifice for their children, parenthood is now being compared to slavery. In the minds of many, children seem like obstacles standing in the way of adults’ dreams and desires.

Family size expectations

As Evita Duffy explained in a piece for The Federalist, when eugenicist Margaret Sanger founded what would become Planned Parenthood a century ago, her goal was to slow population growth. Sanger believed, “The creators of over-population are the women, who, while wringing their hands over each fresh horror, submit anew to their task of producing the multitudes who will bring about the next tragedy of civilization.” Sanger’s efforts helped to launch a cultural shift away from having children.

Duffy wrote:

Sanger claimed large families tend to produce “unwanted and undesired children” and perpetuate “poverty, misery, disease, overcrowding, congestion, child labor, infant mortality, [and] maternal mortality.” Ultimately, as Sanger wrote in “The Case For Birth Control,” it would be “[b]etter a single child properly reared by a happy contented mother than a dozen ill-fed, unkempt, dirty, vicious and half-baked hoodlums.” (emphasis added)

READ: ‘Stop Having Kids’ movement spreads across the US, calling for an end to human reproduction

With the push for wider use of birth control came the expectation that every woman and couple would use it and therefore have fewer children. Now, any family that has more than the expected two or three children is frequently treated with derision, with  families of four or more children met with disapproving looks and snarky comments at grocery stores.

They are treated, as Sanger eluded to so many years ago, as though it is impossible to properly care for more than a child or two — because “properly” caring for a child no longer means providing shelter, clothing, food, love, a faith tradition, and education. Instead, it has come to mean providing material items with specific labels, lessons, expensive sports teams, and lavish vacations.

The role of abortion

The idea that certain financial means must be achieved before having children escalated after the legalization of abortion; young adults were no longer delaying parenthood by using birth control but were now killing the babies they created because they weren’t “ready” for parenthood.

Financial status is one of the top reasons given for abortion-on-demand; women have testified that abortion businesses frequently use this concern to pressure them towards abortion. The abortion industry has successfully conditioned young Americans to believe that their babies are better off dead than being raised in a lower-income or middle-income family.


Sanger helped to create the Federal Birth Control Commission which became the Federal Population Bureau, and aimed “to diagnose the population problems confronting the Nation today, with the aim of formulating a Federal Population policy.” The idea was to convince women that large families were comprised of unwanted children — which would cause overcrowding and congestion. Sanger wasn’t worried about the environment, however. She was fixated on ensuring certain people deemed ‘undesirable’ were not producing children.

Today, population control advocates state a desire to protect the environment. The most recent high-profile example is that of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, who vowed to have only two children in order to fight climate change — even though climate scientist Kimberly Nicholas has said that the population size is “irrelevant to solving the climate crisis.” Interestingly, those with incomes in the top one percent are responsible for 15% of emissions, while the world’s poorest 50% are responsible for just seven percent of emissions. Yet population control efforts frequently focus on those in developing nations.

Lavish lifestyles are causing greater harm to the environment than children are, yet Americans are using environmentalism as an excuse to not have children.

The birth rate crisis

What AOC does get right is that the United States and the Western world are facing an underpopulation crisis as the birth rate declines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 2020 birth rates for the United States were at an all-time low, with 3.6 million babies born in the U.S. The U.S. fertility rate sits at about 1.6 births per woman, lower than the necessary replacement-level fertility rate of about 2.1 children per woman.

Elon Musk explained that this trend will lead to an economic crisis. “Most people think we have too many people on the planet, but actually this is an outdated view,” he said in 2019. “[…] I think the biggest problem the world will face in 20 years is population collapse. Collapse: I want to emphasize this. The biggest issue in 20 years will be population collapse, not explosion, collapse.”

Children have been pushed aside not because of financial struggles from capitalism as AOC claims, but because a self-centered lifestyle has been prioritized so highly over children that adults are willing to destroy them through abortion in order to reach a meaningless financial status in a nation destined for financial collapse without children.

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