What determines fertility?

Here are some thoughts:

So there would seem to be two models for achieving higher fertility:
the neosocialist Scandinavian system and the laissez-faire American
one. Aassve put it to me this way: “You might say that in order to
promote fertility, your society needs to be generous or flexible. The
U.S. isn’t very generous, but it is flexible. Italy is not generous in
terms of social services and it’s not flexible. There is also a social
stigma in countries like Italy, where it is seen as less socially
accepted for women with children to work. In the U.S., that is very

By this logic, the worst sort of system is one that
partly buys into the modern world – expanding educational and
employment opportunities for women – but keeps its traditional
mind-set. This would seem to define the demographic crisis that Italy,
Spain and Greece find themselves in – and, perhaps, Japan, South Korea,
Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of the world. Indeed, demographers
have been surprised to find rapid fertility changes in the third world,
as more and more women work and modern birth-control methods become
standard options. “The earlier distinct fertility regimes, ‘developed’
and ‘developing,’ are increasingly disappearing in global comparisons
of fertility levels,” according to Edward Jow-Ching Tu…the birthrate in 25 developing countries – including Cuba, Costa Rica,
Iran, Sri Lanka and China – now stands at or below the replacement



Don't people frequently overestimate the extent of socialism in Scandinavian nations relative to the US?

china will peak out soon but india still cranks and is on pace to pass china. virility speaks well of a man but vasectomies must be promoted vigorously: ultrasounds are sold @ convenience stores everywhere you turn. pay em to keep kids in school; incentivisation helps out. on the flip side pay em to have kids (tax credit)where they need em, adopt em where they don't.

Don't people frequently overestimate the extent of socialism in Scandinavian nations relative to the US?

Answer: Yes. Especially US media people.

Hong Kong has the world's lowest birthrate (lower than 1), followed by Macau, Singapore and Taiwan. In fact, they have lower birth rates than China, in spite of not having one-child policies.

My hypothesis is that it's related to the incompatibility between economic development levels and informal institutions in non-mainland Chinese soceties. They are economically devloped, but the mindset is surprisingly traditional. Here in Taiwan, most women - especially outside Taipei City - are still expected to live with their parents until they marry, and then quit working when they get children. Also, if their husbands are first-born sons, they are expected to live with their in-laws. Add to that a competitive education system, where average performance causes parents to lose face (relative position is what counts), and parents face social pressure to spend lots of money on cram schools in order to raise the likelihood of getting into a respectable college. Is it then any wonder that lots of young women (on average better-educated than young men) tend to be quite skeptical of marriage+ children. Interestingly, lots of men with a low education (something like 20% of all new marriages) are between Taiwanese men and primarily rural women from mainland China or Vietnam. This latter group actually makes the birthrate higher than it would otherwise be. In a local interview survey, most men who married non-Taiwanese spouses gave "desire to have children" and "greater willingness to do household chores" as their main reasons for arranging marriages with non-Taiwanese women. Another study found that Taiwanese women spend an average of 4 hours per day on household chores, while the corresponding average for Vietnamese spouses was 8 hours.

Italian women spend a lot more effort on their looks than Swedish women, too.

75 kids in a classroom in rural india; neither parent speaks english nor has the resources to get a tutor; who succeeds? what are job opportunities for uneducated unskilled in an industrial or information economy? bodyguards needed, learn to kill

The work of demographer Eric Kaufmann, for example:


suggests that religiousness is a major determinant of fertility.

Since the religious (including both religious natives, and immigrants) are substantially-out reproducing agnostics and atheists; and since religiousness is transmitted between generations (both by cultural and genetic mechanisms) - this implies that there will be a demographically-driven religious revival/ takeover in developed societies.

Incidentally, Kaufmann finds that religious belief is associated with increased fertility even without church membership, and even after applying controls for educational level.

"Italian women spend a lot more effort on their looks than Swedish women, too."

So do Taiwanese women, althogh they prefer artifically pale to artificially brown (generally, Chinese men here [in rural southern Taiwan] are light brown while women are as far from light brown as money can buy).

So I guess we can conclude that East Asian and southern Europeans still favor traditional family values, while Americans and northern Europeans are more into gender-equality family values.

Religion? Actually, according to the WVS, Amerins are more religious than Italians/Spanish/Taiwanese and - especially - the Japanese. Also, religious southern Europeans (Catholics) and east Asians (mixture of Buddhism and Taoism) do not have (or comply with, in some cases) the extreme behavioral prohibitions of US fundamentalist protestants (which make up about 27% of the US population).

Alternate answer: No they don't... especially Scandinavians who underestimate the value of their own
welfare state but who would really not want to swap neosocialism for the type of lassiez faire system
found in anglo countries like the US, UK and Australia...

No-one who knows anything about the U.S., the U.K., or Australia could possibly mistake those countries for anything resembling Lassiez Faire. Nor is the Scandinavian welfare state that much larger than the U.S..

Here is some information gleaned from nationmaster:
Finland Social Spending as % of GDP: 25.6
Norway Social Spending as % of GDP: 25.1
Denmark Social Spending as % of GDP: 27.5
U.S. Social Spending as % of GDP: 23.4

Generally the Scandinavian welfare state works better than the U.S. welfare state due to historical reasons i.e. Europe got rich through imperialism and slavery, but externalized post-imperial social devastation (descendants of U.S. slaves and colonized territories are in U.S., descendants of European slaves and colonized territories are in 3rd world)... Scandinavian countries have smaller and more homogeneous populations... there are large supplies of exportable natural resources relative to small populations... etc., etc.

Scandinavians feel safer with their welfare state, in the same way Americans feel safer with their giant military. Geography and historical circumstance helped Scandinavian avoid certain social problems, the same way geography and historical circumstance helped keep the U.S. free from invaders. A Finnish welfare program probably doesn't improve the quality of life of Finns any more than a stealth bomber program improves the safety from foreign invasion of the U.S... However, in either place, such programs have so much cultural and ideological significance attached to them that any mainstream questioning of those programs are impossible.

It is very clear that most Spaniards no longer embrace a "traditional mind-set". A look at survey data, or even more telling, spending some time in Spain, will quickly reveal so.

Low fertility is caused by two factors:

(1) Money supply growth that drives prices of real estate faster than incomes of young families. Think Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, Estonia, Czech Republic and East Europe generally.

(2) Pay-as-you-go pension systems that undermine the traditional role of family in old age support. Poor and mostly rural countries without government-sponsored pensions have high birth rates. Think Africa, India and rural China.

@ Pavel Kohout:

Pay-as-you-go pension systems that undermine the traditional role of family in old age support

Sorry, but: No. Denmark and Sweden has a substantial element of payg in their pensions systems.

Oh, yes, and did you try to factor in the high birth rate of African and Middle-Eastern immigrants in Sweden?

Have you considered the immigrants in Germany? It seems to me that the German Turks must produce fewer children than their Swedish and Danish counterparts.

No, it is the other way round: Conservative systems which place a high cost on women (work or children) and have high entry levels to the labour market for the young are counter-productive - they neither sustain family building nor employment. At the same time we have a dual equilibrium with the North American and North European system(s) being stable.

Sorry, but: No. Denmark and Sweden has a substantial element of payg in their pensions systems.

Well, we could just argue back and forth that way. Or, we could look at the research. There's a substantial body of evidence showing at the very least a strong correlation between pay as you go systems and lower fertility. Denmark and Sweden are included in these studies, so they're hardly a counterexample. Of course, there could be other explanations, but it certainly requires addressing more than your comment, Jacob Christensen.

Conservative systems which place a high cost on women (work or children) and have high entry levels to the labour market for the young are counter-productive

For the young? Only if you consider a "conservative system" to be one with a high minimum wage or lots of union rules or what have you. In the US the "conservative system" is often described (positively or negatively) as one that has low barriers to labor for the young.

If the Scandinavian model is so successful, why is it not emulated or as successful anywhere else in Europe other than the Scandinavian region? It's not likely that Continental Western Europeans are raving fans of Anglo-American ideas.

Maybe it is the lack of population "scalability" and the "natural" growth of the complexity of government and regulations as being the reason for the lack of perfect emulation?

Did anyone ever consider a country's government/economy of 5-9 million people does not equate to a country of 80 million or 300 million people? And not to be snark, but I hear Iceland isn't doing too great either despite being a "neosocialist" Scandinavian government.

Related to this topic, it seems that the masculinity ratio in births was higher in China during periods when there was the least welfare protection.

Other than the US, all these countries we are discussing are significantly under the replacement level, and in many of them, the most fertile sectors of those societies are essentially foreigners to the presently dominant ethnic group. All of these countries are on a demographic suicide glide path, some are just further along the path than others. One can institute state support for parenthood, but even those countries that have gone the furthest in this regard are coming up short, and by doing so, leave their citizens even less to retire on, meaning future workers will eventually bear an increasing burden of elderly leaving even less for childrearing.

The demographic trap is probably irreversible without a significant advance in solving the problem of aging.

The number of women in a population. The frequency of unprotected sex without birthcontrol. The lack of availibility of abortion. I also hear stress increases the probability of girls being born, that will increase fretility.

all the things has their own reason to appear

thanks for all

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