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Is It Worth It to Have Kids? A Conversation Between the Social Sciences and Theology

COLLIS Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture at Cornell University is pleased to announce, “Is It Worth It To Have Kids? A Conversation Between the Social Sciences and Theology,” 5:15-6:45pm on Thursday, April 11 in 700 Clark Hall or Via Zoom. Panelists: Nicholas Eberstadt (Demography, American Enterprise Institute)*, Abigail Jorgensen (Sociology, Saint Louis University), Karl Pillemer (Sociology and Gerontology, Cornell University), and Julie Hanlon Rubio (Theology, University of Santa Clara).  

*will participate via Zoom 

How are women and men in United States and Europe deciding whether or not to have children? What are current patterns of birthrate in the West and globally, and what might be some lifespan implications of these patterns? Why is the Catholic Church concerned by current patterns of birthrate, and how does Catholic theology conceptualize the value of children? This panel will facilitate a dialogue between three leading Catholic social scientists and a Catholic theologian on these questions with an aim of identifying potentially generative sites for interdisciplinary collaboration between the social sciences and theology.  


Nicholas Eberstadt holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he researches and writes extensively on demographics and economic development generally, and more specifically on international security in the Korean peninsula and Asia. Domestically, he focuses on poverty and social well-being. Dr. Eberstadt is also a senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). His many books and monographs include “Poverty in China” (IDI, 1979); “The Tyranny of Numbers” (AEI Press, 1995); “The End of North Korea” (AEI Press, 1999); “The Poverty of the Poverty Rate” (AEI Press, 2008); “Russia’s Peacetime Demographic Crisis” (NBR, 2010), and “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis” (Templeton Press, 2016). 

Abigail Jorgensen is a professor of sociology and health care ethics at Saint Louis University, specializing in family sociology and methods with foci in health, politics, and culture. Dr. Jorgensen is also birth and bereavement doula; her book, A Catholic Guide to Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss (Ave Maria Press) will be released in April 2024. 

Karl Pillemeris the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Psychology, Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, and Senior Associate Dean for Research and Outreach in the College of Human Ecology. Pillemer also directs the Cornell Legacy Project ( and is author of the book 30 Lessons for Living ( His major interests center on human development over the life course, with a special emphasis on family and social relationships in middle age and beyond. 

Julie Hanlon Rubio is the Shea-Heusaman Professor of Christian Social Ethics and Associate Dean at Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. Before coming to JST, she taught in the department of theological studies at St. Louis University for nearly two decades. Her research focuses on family, feminism, sex, and politics. She is the author of four books, including the award winning Hope for Common Ground: Mediating the Personal and the Political in a Divided Church (Georgetown, 2016) and Family Ethics: Practices for Christians (Georgetown, 2010). 

Start Date: April 11, 2024
Start Time: 5:15 pm
Location: Clark Hall