Steven W. Mosher was a pro-choice atheist and Stanford University social researcher when the Chinese government invited him to mainland China in 1979. 

Mosher, the first American social scientist to visit China, went to study the Cultural Revolution’s political impact in the rural provinces. He had access to government documents and witnessed women being forced to have abortions under the country’s then-new “one-child policy.” 

Witnessing those abortions prompted him to rethink his positions, and eventually led him to become a pro-life, practicing Catholic. 

Steven W. Mosher

Mosher has gone on to publish several books, including “A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-Child Policy.” Today, he is president of the Population Research Institute, a nonprofit that argues that overpopulation is a myth. 

Mosher spoke with Our Sunday Visitor about the phenomenon of global aging, low fertility rates and how the Catholic faith influences his perspective. 

Our Sunday Visitor: How serious is global aging? 

Steven W. Mosher: The issue is huge. It affects all of us. You can see what happens to a country when it stops having children. (Take) a look across the Pacific, and (see) Japan decline. Its birth rate fell below replacement in 1964, 10 years after abortion there was legalized. They’ve been averaging 1.3 children for two generations. Their economy is limping along. They’ve lost a million people.  

The population is aging and dying at a great rate. They’re selling more adult diapers than they are baby diapers and making robots to mimic children so elderly Japanese can pretend to talk to the grandchildren they never had. It’s a sad commentary on all the real human grandchildren that are missing from the Japanese population. 

OSV: What role does urbanization play in this trend? 

Mosher: No city in the world has a birth rate above replacement. Urban populations die. Any city throughout human history has only been able to survive because of constant immigration from the countryside. People in the city don’t marry as often as those in the countryside do, and if they do, they do not have as many children. 

OSV: You say big government is a factor in demographic trends. Why is that? 

Mosher: I’m convinced the modern welfare state is a kind of suicide pact. Governments that try to do everything take away the rationale to have children and at the end of the day, they implode. And when they implode, it’s an accelerating process. It’s not a soft landing. You have populations that do not decrease geometrically. For example, you have Italy on pace to lose half of its population in the next 25 years. In another 100 years, there will be few Italians left. 

OSV: What can be done to reverse the aging trend and raise birth rates across the board? 

Mosher: I don’t think it’s possible to increase birth rates across the board. You can’t convince everybody to have significantly more children, but you can allow people who want to have kids to be able to have the number of kids they want. They will make up for those who are voluntarily childless. 

OSV: How does your Catholic faith inform your understanding of the population issue? 

Mosher: The Catholic faith is true on all levels, not only metaphysically but it can also be shown by reason to give us the proper light in which we can understand human behavior. 

We have an injunction, “Do not kill,” and to welcome new life into the world. We live in a society that each year rejects 1 million new lives after they have already been conceived, and in a society where marriage is denigrated and undermined and lasting unions becoming less common than what they were. 

When you reject life and reject the Sacrament of Marriage by attempting to redesign and redefine human beings to be whatever you want, then you get all sorts of problems. 

If you go against the operator’s manual that we’ve been given, you start having all these strange aberrations and permutations that shorten our lives, make us less happy and that generally do not bring more love into the world.