This post has been updated since originally published
So I’m finally going to make good on my brash statement in Parts 1 & 2 that I would research every Expert and Funder of Demographic Winter.
It took a really long time! With really intriguing results. I will do a Part 4 on online media coverage of the documentary. I wish I had looked at more online reviews before I watched… much of my response to DW was presaged by others. I guess that makes me feel that my conclusions aren’t too far off base. Though I haven’t seen a single person anywhere doubt the fact of white fertility decline, many people online also recoiled at the solutions offered by the film, and detected the hidden racism that I sensed. So, more on that in the future.
The trends I noticed while researching those behind the film are as follows: though a good chunk of the academics, writers, sociologists and economists interviewed in Demographic Winter are indeed conservative, but not all of them as rabidly as I expected. A few could be described as Christian fundies. In the information below, I tried to include facts that were relevant to the claims I’m making, whether supporting my claims or contradicting them.
A few experts in the film, and all of the funders, can be traced to hard-right Christian organizations, and unexpectedly, the funding seems to be coming from Mormon-run organizations. Who woulda thunk it? The fact that this was not disclosed during the film, and that instead the makers allowed the mostly non-hard-right-Christian academics to be the “face” of the film, is deeply dishonest. The makers of the film in fact had a social-religious agenda and used a real social issue and honest academics to push it on unsuspecting viewers. Icky.
So here’s what I found by canvassing the interwebs:
Harry S. Dent, Harvard MBA
Mr. Dent is an American writer and economist. He is known for his ideas about changing individual spending patterns across a lifetime, and using these ideas to forecast economic growth and slowdowns.
Norval Glenn PhD, Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin
Mr. Glenn is an American sociologist who focuses his research on marriage and family. His research has shown that children whose parents had amicable divorces have less successful marriages later in life than children whose parents had bad divorces. He has published prolifically, including such articles as “The Utility of Education and Attractiveness for Females’ Status Attainment through Marriage” and “Spiritual but Not Religious: The Impact of Parental Divorce on the Religious and Spiritual Identities of Young Adults in the United States.”
Nicholas Eberstadt PhD Harvard, American Enterprise Institute
From the AEI: “Eberstadt researches demographics, foreign aid, poverty, infant mortality, health disparities, and economic development. He has written extensively on Korea, East Asia, and countries of the former Soviet Union.”
From RightWeb: “Eberstadt spoke at an October 2006 AEI event on “Religion and the American Future.” The event’s description stated, “The meek, it has been said, shall inherit the earth—but increasingly it appears that the future belongs not so much to the meek as to the devout. As fertility rates plummet across the globe, religious believers seem to be uniquely protected against the 21st century’s looming demographic implosion”.”
Alan Viard PhD Harvard Economics, American Enterprise Institute
Mr. Viard is an American economist at the AEI, a non-partisan institute that exists to “defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism.” He has written articles about taxes and entitlement programs.
From Right Web: “The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), based in Washington D.C., has been a leading member of the neoconservative advocacy community for nearly three decades and is one of the more prominent U.S. policy institutions.”
Lola Velarde PhD, President of the European Network Institute for Family Policies
Ms. Velarde is the coordinator of the World Congress on Families, a “a global gathering of social conservatives … and European Christians,” which is attended my many of the experts and funders in the film and is supported by the Family First Foundation, which employs the funders and some of the experts, and itself was a major funder of DW.
She supports “prenatal rights” for fetuses. There is no information available in English on the internet for the “European Network Institute for Family Policies.”
Viktor Medkov PhD, Professor of Sociology, Lomonossov Moscow State University, Russia
Mr. Medkov has researched Russia’s declining fertility rates. He has participated in events sponsored by the World Family Policy Center, a project of Brigham Young University, which “seeks to provide balanced, solidly researched, pro-family education to … the United Nations System, … in order to protect and preserve the place of the family as the fundamental unit of society.”
In the film, it is Medkov who says, “Economic solutions won’t fix these problems.”
David Popenoe PhD, Professor of Sociology Rutgers University
Mr. Popenoe is an urban planner turned sociologist of marriage. He has been a vocal proponent of “traditional” marriage, and his ideas are admired by the religious right, though he himself is a Democrat. His “Top 10 Myths of Marriage” is often reproduced.
Steve Nock PhD, Professor of Sociology & Director of Marriage Matters Project, University of Virginia
American author and sociologist Steve Nock recently passed away. He wrote about changes in the American family and researched covenant marriage. The Marriage Matters Project: “Over the course of the last half-century, three social revolutions–the family revolution, the gender revolution, and the secular revolution–have profoundly reshaped the character, quality, and stability of marriage in the West….the Marriage Matters (MM) Project aims to assess the enduring consequences of these revolutions for the institution of marriage by considering the role that four values-unconditional love, generativity, gender complementarity, and spirituality-now play in shaping the quality and stability of contemporary marriage in the West.”
Bradford Wilcox PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia
Mr. Wilcox worked with Mr. Nock on the Marriage Matters Project. He is an American writer and sociologist who studies family, marriage and religion. He authored the book Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands. According to his article “The Ring Thing,” he believes the media glorifies single-parenting and sperm donation to the detriment of children. Along with Mr. Nock, he wrote about how egalitarianism in marriage is not beneficial.
Kay Hymowitz, Manhattan Institute fellow
Ms. Hymowitz is an American conservative pundit and former teach of English at the college level. She has written in a variety of newspapers about her anti-feminism, the immaturity of men, and how single parents raise their children poorly, as well as other related topics. She is a proponent of traditional marriage.
Linda Waite PhD, Professor of Urban Sociology, University of Chicago
Ms. Waite is an American sociologist who studies aging, family, religion and marriage. She is a proponent of traditional marriage and has written about the negative effects of cohabitation. She co-authored a book with Maggie Gallagher called “The Case for Marriage,” where she explains that married sex is superior to non-married sex. She describes herself as liberal and pro-gay marriage.
Gary Becker PhD, Nobel Prize in Economics 1992, University of Chicago
The conservative American economist Gary Becker has accomplishments in four areas of economics: human capital, household behavior and work distribution, crime and punishment, and discrimination in the market. His achievements include a long list of awards, honorary degrees, and appointments.
Maria Sophia Aguirre PhD, Associate Professor of Business, Catholic University of America
Ms. Aguirre is an Argentine-American economist with a PhD from Notre Dame. She has written about family, women and economics. She served on the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
Alban d’Entremont PhD, Professor of Economics, University of Navarra, Spain
Mr. d’Entremont is a Canadian geographer, economist and professor living in Spain. He has written three books on population, economic geography and demographics, as well as many articles on these and related topics.
Mark Regnerus PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin
Mr. Regnerus is an American professor of Sociology and Religious Studies. He has written books and articles about religion and sex, including the book Forbidden Fruit, Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers and the article, “How Corrosive is College to Religious Faith and Practice?”
Robert Michael PhD, Professor of Public Policy, University of Chicago
Mr. Michael’s expertise lies in child and family social policy, familial economics, and the study of sexual practices, among other subjects. He assisted in America’s first scientific study of sexual practices in 1994. He has also done research on poverty.
Dr. Jianguo Liu, Director of Sustainability, Michigan State University
From the Population Studies Center at MSU: “Dr. Liu’s research interests include conservation ecology, human-environment interactions, systems modeling and simulation, and impacts of human population and activity on spatio-temporal dynamics of endangered species. He is keenly interested in integrating ecology with socioeconomics as well as human demography and behavior.”
Patrick Fagan, Psychologist, Family Research Council
The Irish-American Mr. Fagan is a former employee of the Heritage Foundation, a deeply conservative think tank. He was also formerly a Deputy Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary. He has written some articles, including “Virgins Make the Best Valentines.” From the Family Research Council: “Patrick F. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Family and Religion, where he examines the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America’s social problems as illustrated in the social sciences research data.” The Family Research Council “champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.” Mr. Fagan is also on the Board of the Family First Foundation.
Phil Longman, New America Foundation Fellow
From the New American review of DW: “Phillip Longman, a man self-described as “not churched” and part of a “progressive, secular think tank,” prescribes a rather “unprogressive” cure. The facts demand, he suggests, a return to tradition, to a system that persuaded both men and women to have children and take care of them. He calls it “patriarchy, properly understood.”
From the New America Foundation: “Phillip Longman is a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and Research Director of the Next Social Contract Initiative. He is the author of numerous articles and books on demographics, economics, and social change”
About the NAF: “The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States. New America emphasizes work that is responsive to the changing conditions and problems of our 21st Century information-age economy — an era shaped by transforming innovation and wealth creation, but also by shortened job tenures, longer life spans, mobile capital, financial imbalances and rising inequality.”
Alan Tapper PhD, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Edith Cowan University, Australia
Mr. Tapper wrote the book The Family in the Welfare State, a study on Australia’s family policy and has written articles about demographic decline. He does not believe that women bear the majority of the blame for fertility decline. His research includes eighteenth-century intellectual history and contemporary social issues.
Inese Slesere, Latvia Member of Parliament
Ms. Slesere has been a member of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy in the European Parliament. She is also a member of Latvian Parliament from Latvia’s First Party. She has advocated for child-care leave. She has attended the World Congress on Families, a “a global gathering of social conservatives … and European Christians.” She has been quoted as saying “As Christian values are promoted, our economic stability will be advanced.”
Mr. McLerran is the producer of DW through a company, SRB Documentary, for which there is no information listed online. He has been quoted as saying, “Far from dooming the planet, by encouraging people to have children, traditional religion is helping to save humanity.” He has participated in the World Congress for Families and is Executive Director of the Family First Foundation (more on FFF below).
Mr. Stout directed DW. He has said, “Besides a smattering of pro-family activists, interviewees addressed the crisis of falling birthrates from an academic perspective.” Besides being described as an “award-winning” director on Lifesite News, I cannot locate further information about his directorial accomplishments.
Mr. Smoot is the Executive Producer of DW. He is also President and Founder of the Family First Foundation.
Family First Foundation
FFF is located in Bountiful, UT. From the FFF website: “The natural family – founded upon an enduring marriage between a man and a woman which blossoms throughout the generations with children, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins – is the cornerstone of any successful civilization. Never before has more legal, historical and scientific evidence demonstrated the crucial importance of reinforcing, supporting and stabilizing the natural family. At the same time, never before has the natural family, as well as public opinion regarding its meaning and importance, been more fragile. This fragility is dangerous. Without concerted and effective action, the world’s most essential social structures – including marriage, parental responsibility, childhood innocence, respect for life and religious liberty – may erode beyond repair.”
“Almost every social ill can be directly traced to the disintegration of the natural family.”
FFF lists the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, World Congress of Families, the Heritage Foundation, the World Family Policy Center, and United Families International as organizations it supports. FFF and some of these organizations explicitly state that they want to limit marriage to heterosexuals.
The GFC Foundation, located in Orem, Utah, is led by Rachel Swim, a recent Brigham Young University graduate. It has no website. “[T]he foundation supports the American Heritage School, a 35-year-old K-8 school in American Fork, Utah, that integrates historical American moral values with a rigorous education.”
Audience Alliance Motion Picture Foundation
The AAMPF describes themselves as “We’re filmmakers and movie lovers with a passion for uplifting stories. The majority of movies being made these days have shown a significant decline in inspiring values.” They also say “Complaining, boycotting, lamenting and ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ by assailing Hollywood is NOT the way to win the battle in the war on culture and values.” And “Audience Alliance has no affiliation with or commitment to any political, religious, geographic or cultural bias other than the values described in our Virtues and Values Matrix™.” This matrix lists the values that the AAMPF applies to films. Included is “Breaking the laws of the land or the laws of God will never be rewarded and the consequences of bad choices will always be associated with failure, disappointment and unhappiness. Stories will resolve in a way that demonstrates that good choices are rewarded and bad choices ultimately bring sorrow, heartache and disappointment.”
As you can see, while the film chose some centrist and some conservative academics (and one liberal) as experts, certain religious and socially conservative organizations are what funded and nurtured this film. Particularly prominent is the Family First Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the World Congress for Families.
What are your impressions of this disjunct between the funders and the faces?
In this series:
Part 1 on my initial reactions to the documentary Demographic Winter
Part 2 digs deeper into the meaning of the film
Part 3 looks at who is in and behind the film
Part 4 examines partisan media coverage of DW