Birth rates in South Korea are cratering. That country’s birth dearth demonstrates that men and women can lose the taste for family life, for one another, and for posterity. The sexual urge, a part of our natural makeup, has been deprioritized and detached from procreation. Instinct is no match for a culture of barrenness. And this culture, a novelty in the history of the human race, is likely to have extraordinary social and political consequences. What will life be like when a growing plurality of men and women have no children, not because of war or famine, but amid unprecedented material abundance?
The decline of marital love and the rise in childlessness that are occurring in South Korea can happen anywhere. In my lifetime, fertility has been falling almost everywhere in the industrialized world, though South Korea leads the way. Present analysis suggests that the average South Korean woman