Facts about families

According to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, the probability of marriage before age 50 has been plummeting for European women and men, while the chance of divorce for those who do marry has been soaring. In Belgium—the birth-land of the scholars who initially detected this Second Transition—the likelihood of a first marriage for a woman of reproductive age is now down to 40%, and the likelihood of divorce is over 50%. This means that in Belgium the odds of getting married and staying married are under one in five. A number of other European countries have similar or even lower odds.

Europe has also seen a surge in “child-free” adults—voluntary childlessness. The proportion of childless 40-something women is one in five for Sweden and Switzerland, and one in four for Italy. In Berlin and in the German city-state of Hamburg, it’s nearly one in three, and rising swiftly. Europe’s most rapidly growing family type is the one-person household: the home not only child-free, but partner- and relative-free as well. In Western Europe, nearly one home in three (32%) is already a one-person unit, while in autonomy-prizing Denmark the number exceeds 45%. The rise of the one-person home coincides with population aging. But it is not primarily driven by the graying of European society, at least thus far: Over twice as many Danes under 65 are living alone as those over 65.

…Given recent trajectories, demographers Miho Iwasawa and Ryuichi Kaneko project that a Japanese woman born in 1990 stands less than even odds of getting married and staying married to age 50.

That is from Nicholas Eberstadt, hat tip goes to Philip Wallach.


What about the probability of marriage after age 50? In the Philippines, to a girl less than half you age? hehhehheh

How many times did you "reproduce" today, Ray?

Ok, but don't ask him about the goats. I hope he never confuses the two.

Well, the goats are certainly well under half Ray's age.

People are generally satisfied with their lives & don't want to make sacrifices. Decline in religion, marriage and child-bearing fundamentally derive from same source: Laziness.

People perceive that many sacrifices are ultimately futile. They saw their parents devoting lots of time and effort to a man who turns into bread (or vice versa) and marriages that end in divorce (or verce visa) and decide that such institutions are worth less than is thought by the kind of people who believe uncritically in "American exceptionalism".

Pretty soon all the people who think like that will be dead.

I remember marveling to my wife a year ago about how few of our kid's friend's parents were divorced. We talked about how there's still plenty of divorced people, there just aren't many per kid, as most of the kids come from three- or four- child families with two parents. There's the odd kid among their peers with divorced parents, but he usually has no siblings.

This is an anecdote, I don't mean it to be taken as data.

yeah, but ... where did all the "people who think like that" come from, in the first place?

An era before the pill and abortion. That ship has sailed.


I think it's becoming abundantly clear that a decent modern society where women have the same opportunities as men a has a below replacement birth rate. It's why we see birth rates of new immigrants plunge as they are integrated into modern society.

There's nothing particularly shocking or terrible about this. There's no rule that ethical societies must have a birth rate above 2.1. After all, society exists to serve us, not the other way around.

"There’s no rule that ethical societies must have a birth rate above 2.1. "

I'm pretty sure that Charles Darwin would think that it's directly related to the fitness of the species. My guess is that those individuals with a high propensity to have more children will replace those that don't in the long run.

As a parent, I love my children and wouldn't trade them for the world (of course, I *would* believe that...). But it would be utterly dishonest of me to pretend that my preferences do or ought to extend to others. Simply put, for most people that I observe (educated, middle-class), the choice of the joys, heartbreaks, and sacrifice of children are not the path to maximal happiness. The opportunity cost of children have grown, the social rewards have fallen, and as we become wealthier, the financial necessity of children has decreased.

To my mind the analogy is trying to get smart, talented men to join the military. 100 years ago, it was a smart idea. Now, the payoff just doesn't match what the rest of society now offers.

It's possible that evolution may eventually win out. And mankind won't be dying out in the next 20,000 years due to low reproduction rates. But I don't see that as a major factor in the next several hundred years. Especially since many of the characteristics that accompany a woman wanting a large family are likely antithetical to the high productivity needed for success in contemporary society.

Basically contemporary society doesn't want women who want to have children to have children and wants women who are not inclined towards having children to have children.

It's impossible for people to imagine how much they would love the kids they never had. The "educated, middle-class*" people that you observe are achieving "maximal happiness" in an imaginary world of generic children. I sincerely feel sorry for them.

* Probably upper class, top 5-10%. I hate how everyone between a homeless person and Bill Gates is described as "middle class."

I've seen enough marriages founder under the stress of small children to realize that the benefits I got from parenting were not universally shared (or at least not to the same extent). For many (most) others, the joys they got were not so large, and the sacrifices made were felt far more keenly (especially for the women, whose sacrifice is almost always far larger).

Perhaps I feel sorry that they don't share my utility function, but given theirs, I honestly think that children aren't utility maximizing for them. Giving up career, social interaction, spousal closeness, social approval, material goods, especially over the first few years of each child's life is really, really tough for most.

And yes, my observed peers are probably the 80-95th percentile, which I'd consider comfortably middle-class. I've interacted with the upper-class on occasion, and until then I didn't realize the abyss between upper-middle class and upper-class (and very little had to do with income). There's far more in common between lower and upper middle class than between upper-middle class and upper class (at least in Canada).

Where do women actually have equal opportunity to men??

Certainly there are many societies where women are forced to bear more responsibility than men, including the legal duty to work to pay for any children they have plus provide personal care for the children. Men who fail to work to provide care for the children they father are disqualified from being held responsible for providing personal care for children. I have never seen any conservative claim that men father more children just to get bigger welfare payments to be lazy and sit around not working staying at home with kids who spend most of the day in school; its always women who are the lazy ones who need to be forced to get jobs by cutting off welfare.

Women who leave kids unattended or sleeping in cars while they work will be arrested for child endangerment because mothers are supposed to personally supervise kids even when they don't earn enough to pay for childcare and the fathers abandoned the kids are refuses to pay for his children's needs, like paid childcare.

So, given the greater burden women have along with the lower wages women get that are justified based on the children they might have that might disrupt their career, so women will be preemptively denied careers equal to men because of children they never have. On the other hand, men will argue that married men need to be paid more so they can support the children married man traditionally have, even when they marry professional women who will not have children.

Where do women actually have equal opportunity to men?

Agreed. But we see a drop in the birth rate as soon as even a semblance of equal opportunity arises. I would imagine that in a fully equal society it would drop even farther.

What's a 'fully equal' society? If you fancy that's what we have in this country, you haven't been paying attention to the family court system or the schools.

Uhhhh....women are the one's who decide whether or not to have the child. As is usual with people like you, you want the power but not the responsibility.

Those who chose to stay child-free are sacrificing thousands in tax and SS benefits in order to make the planet cleaner, consume less energy, and maintain the few species we have left after millennia of pressure from wanton breeding. The real question is: why do gumint policies on tax, inheritance, and benefits so richly favor the breeding lifestyle?

Perhaps because, if I'm not mistaken jimbino, you come from a long line of breeders yourself. In fact, you sound like a self-hating breeder- the worst kind.

Because they vote. And (for inheritance) they lobby. Although inheritance laws don't favor the breeders - it can be to any heir. They favor the wealthy controlling the future with a 'dead hand' and to the sustenance of dynasties. But - kids are expensive to the individual, and instead of government providing services for all, they provide tax breaks that help out the wealthier a bit more (because again, those folks vote).

Wrong Agra, Intestacy laws favor the married and the breeders:

For the most part, states assume that the closer the familial relationship, the more likely the decedent would want the property to go to those persons when the decedent dies. In this way, intestate laws generally favor blood relations over other types of relationships.

In addition, regardless of whether there was a valid will or not, many states set aside an allowance for a surviving spouse and/or children. The allowance amount is free from any other claims against the estate or debts of the decedent. As such, the spouse and/or children receive a specific dollar amount of the estate before creditors, heirs, and other beneficiaries receive their shares of what remains. Depending on the state, the amount can differ widely. For example, the amount in In addition, regardless of whether there was a valid will or not, many states set aside an allowance for a surviving spouse and/or children. The allowance amount is free from any other claims against the estate or debts of the decedent. As such, the spouse and/or children receive a specific dollar amount of the estate before creditors, heirs, and other beneficiaries receive their shares of what remains. Depending on the state, the amount can differ widely. For example, the amount in California is set at $50,000 but is only $2,000 in Delaware.

If there is no will, many states also give the surviving spouse a definite financial interest in any real estate owned by the decedent, such as “one-half,” or a “life estate.”

Intestacy and Marital Property

The distribution of the estate of an intestate spouse depends to some extent on other laws governing marital property. For example, in states which recognize community property, spouses generally own equal rights to all marital property regardless who has actual title. There are currently nine community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Typically, in a community property state the decedent’s share of the community property owned at the time of death will pass automatically to the surviving spouse. Property that the decedent owned individually (e.g. premarital property) is usually divided between the surviving spouse and any children. The spouse usually takes one quarter of this individual property and the surviving children take the remaining three-quarters of the property. For individuals living in a community property state, the complexity of the intestacy and other probate laws make it is especially important to retain competent legal advice.

Typical Intestacy Distribution Methods

Below are four examples of some of the most common distribution methods under typical intestacy laws.

If the Intestate Decedent is Married and has Children. If the intestate decedent is married and has children most intestacy statutes distribute just one-third to one-half of the decedent’s property to the surviving spouse. The remainder is divided among the decedent’s surviving children, regardless of their ages.

- See more at: http://elderlaw.uslegal.com/intestacy/#sthash.7f3LiGu0.dpuf

If two people have a child and the three of them consume more energy than the two did, that doesn't mean that the two people are consuming more energy. There are now three people. We wouldn't say that the, as you call them, child-free, are consuming more energy whenever a child is born. What does the fact of closer biological relationship do to change that?

I think your understanding of tax and social security benefits is confused. The neutral position on taxes is to permit the assignment of income. That system treats every individual as such. Our tax system doesn't do anything of the sort. Rather, it treats children as partial adults, for no good reason.

We have a tax and benefit system that encourage childlessness, which is in part why we see an increase in childlessness. An avoidable tragedy.

I imagine governments subsidize parenting because the parents produce something incredibly valuable to the state: A future taxpayer. Without those, everything collapses.

Encouraging news if you want to bend the global population trend even more. Will be interesting see how this influences societal values. Particularly in Korea and Japan which are arguably more family-centric than West, or Europe at least.

Can't speak for Korea or Japan, but I'm familiar with the situation in Hong Kong. Basically there's too much noise to chalk anything up to low marriage or birth rates, but the older generations (roughly anyone above 50) are very family centric in part because they have large families that can support them throughout their lives. Typically you would rely on your parents when you're quite young, conquer the world with your siblings and cousins when you're middle-aged, and lean somewhat on your children when you're quite old. More and more people are coming into the workforce that don't have any depth in their family peer group to leverage them significantly - they might have one or no siblings, and few cousins. The extended family has always been important and now a key core of it is shrinking fast. Peer companionship and networking is now sought increasingly in the form of friends rather than relatives, diluting the family ethic visibly. Economics are still holding things together, since no one younger than 30 can afford to move out and get their own home, but things don't look positive.

Status quo as you describe is similar in Korea (my wife, the "China" is actually Korean but in Malawi, where we live, the average joe on the street doesn't get the distinction and simply calls her "a china.") I'd guess it will be quite awhile before economics starts losing its grip particularly in Korea (maybe same in Hong Kong) where it is still common practice for a large percentage of the wage's of unmarried children's wages are given back to the parents for safe-keeping/payback until they do get married.

As the number of children under a couple decrease, we could forecast the number of cousins in the next generatoin would also decrease... however family centric they are.

And when you mentioned HK, the most dominating factor to marriage rate, first marriage age and number of children is the cost of housing. I do think it would be the same as in other metropolis.

And as HK birth rate decrease, population from China mainland would immigrate, somehow causing social disturbance. This would somehow be an analogy to African/middle east/eastern European immigrating to western Europe where the birth rate is low.

People respond to incentives. Time for a natalist policy.

Government intervention to make poor people richer is a bad thing. Government intervention to make people who don't want to be parents into parents is a good thing. The usual MR line. It's banal.

I don't know of any single person who has espoused both views here.

Since present government intervention is wildly anti-natal, it's difficult to see how someone could.

You can't heavily tax everything people spend on something, and then give a little bit back in the form of a child tax credit, and call that "subsidy."

According to conservatives, people with kids are given massive tax funded subsidies, which the poor exploit too freely by having two or more kids, and according to Reagan et al, exploit by having six or more kids so they can drive caddies.

Before Roe v Wade and Republicans deciding to champion the whore of babylon cause, conservatives and Republicans advocated abortions for the poor and single women to reduce the burden of children on society. It is ironic to me that I grew up with conservatives being anti-Catholic because they were under the control of the Pope, eg electing JFK would make the US be under the control of the Pope and Rome, and now today, not one of the Supreme Court is Christian, but is instead either Jews or Catholic, with the conservatives all being Catholic.

And under the thumb of the Pope. Which is now creating massive outrage due to the sermons coming from the Pope on economic inequality and climate change and environmentalism, with opposition to abortion and family planning being lower in priority than these leftist sermons from Rome.

Mulp, your comments are offensive and bordering on deranged.

"make people who don’t want to be parents into parents"

No, the goal of Natalist policies is to make people who WANT to be parents... into parents. See Jonathan Last's book.

I have my issues with Last, but he's worth reading.

I think the idea is to persuade people who don't want to be parents that they should change their views.

The formulation I find most useful is, "You get more of what you subsidize." We've spent the last sixty years, in the West, subsidizing single parenthood and disconnected retirement. I'm not making a value judgment on those choices, just observing that we've been subsidizing things that used to be very costly. And now we have more of both.

In broad terms, we're extracting taxes from K-selected groups to subsidize r-selected reproduction. This is not a sustainable process.

"In broad terms, we’re extracting taxes from K-selected groups to subsidize r-selected reproduction. This is not a sustainable process."

I don't think sustainable is the correct word since it's really a transition process. At the end of the transition you'll end up with more of a r-selected reproduction process. So, eventually there will be a propensity to have mothers with many offspring, less parental care, and a shorter time until sexual maturity of the children.

It is admittedly inexact. The point is that the K-selected population either withdraws or shuts down.

Or disappears. I think they made a movie about that:


That high childlessness rate doesn't seem to have affected Swedish fertility too badly - their fertility rate is still above that of the US, and not far off from the replacement level. It doesn't seem to be affecting the social welfare of the children, either, that a majority of children are born to cohabiting couples who aren't married. Must be those "expensive, imperfect substitutes for family" that Eberstadt decries. Denmark's is lower, but still higher than Japan and not far off from the US.

The Germany and Japanese examples have one thing in common, which is that both societies until very recently tended to do a terrible job of supporting working mothers - in fact, mothers often stood to lose their jobs in both. They made it an "either-or" choice, and unsurprisingly a fair number of women resigned themselves to childlessness for the sake of work even if they would have had children while working.

I don't really see the problem. We'll have a lower worker-to-retiree ratio, but we've also got a ton of stuff in the pipeline to take advantage of abundant capital and boost productivity. Dean Baker's been making that point at CEPR for years.

Actually, subsidies for women having children are very generous in Germany, and have been for some time. It doesn't seem to have helped.

One of the big difference in the Swedish example is they provide a strong incentive to have your second child within a short period after your first child. And that incentive scales with the income of the mother, i.e. the well off get more. So that turns a lot of one child UMC couples into two-three child UMC couples. It's not just enough to give the benefit, you have to demand fertility within a narrow time frame. No beating around the bush, these women age out of fertility too quickly.

Sure, as long as you didn't mind being insulted as a "Raven Mother" and decried for having abandoned your children because you weren't home to greet them when they got off from school every Wednesday afternoon, being a mother in Germany has been great.

But don't homeschool them, for God's sake!
From your statement, you'd think Germans would love home schooling.

Joey_33 beat me to it, but subsidies for child-bearing are not the same thing as assistance and support for women who choose to work while having children.

– their fertility rate is still above that of the US, and not far off from the replacement level.

No. Per the World Bank, their total fertility rate is the same as that of the U.S. The American total fertility rate fell slightly during the recession and has not yet recovered.

No, you have it wrong. If half the women aren't having children, the 6% of the population who are doubles in influence. If there is a difference in numbers of children, from the one designer kid to having three, that triples the influence again.

Hence the numbers of children named Mohammed.

Oops, responding to the wrong comment of yours.

Derek, mean total fertility for Europe is about 1.59. That for Sweden is 1.9. You fancy that's the result of substituting 2% of the whole for Muslim immigrants (keeping in mind that Muslims account for 6% of the population in Europe in general v. 8% in Sweden). ((1.9-1.59) / .02) + 1.59 =17.09

The future has already been born. If the majority of current infant births are non-European, as I have read, then the European nations are done. They may maintain the European nation-state forms, but they will acquire the character of their demographic majority.

Over the next 30 years, I would not expect African and Middle Eastern immigration to Europe to cease, or even slow down. Europe is probably finished absent some rather drastic or brutal measures.

If the majority of current infant births are non-European, as I have read,

They are not. About 20% of the births in France have a foreign born mother.

What does 'Europe is probably finished' even mean? You just said the nation-states will remain. They will change as all nations always have. You are just being the usual MR racist.

"What does ‘Europe is probably finished’ even mean?"

Agreed. Europe will still be there. It may be less secular,less tolerant of public criticism of Islam and of the presence of Jews. But I suspect the nation states will still be well defined.

About 20% of the births in France have a foreign born mother.

And all of those children will be "native born." See here:


Will Europe always be there? Isn't calling Europe it's own continent a little Eurocentric? Maybe they will rename it to a more appropriate name, how about "Northwestern AfroEurasia?"

It means, e.g., that France will not be French. It may still be the French state, but it will not be the French nation.

It will be rather ironic for this generation of immigrants fleeing the dysfunction and poverty of the Middle East and North Africa to end up with the same extant conditions in their host country.

It means, e.g., that France will not be French. It may still be the French state, but it will not be the French nation.

Just like England is not England (and English not English) since the Norman Conquest?

Just like England is not England (and English not English) since the Norman Conquest?

One group of Nordics conquering the other (and conquest it was) is a little different than what's going on now.

The "Mohammed" thing is just because it's an absurdly common name in Muslim societies - it'd be like if every 1 in 6 men was named "John".

More or less. The difference wasn't that big in the first place - the US's was 1.88, Sweden's 1.91 when I searched it. The World Bank rounds it to the nearest tenth.

1/5: a vision for America.

''That high childlessness rate doesn’t seem to have affected Swedish fertility too badly ''

Muslim fertility for the win. Allahu Akbar ;)

Per Pew, the muslim population of Europe amounts to 6% of the total. Sweden's is higher, at 8%. Unless you fancy that that increment of muslims are having about 15 kids a piece, that would not explain the difference between tfr in Sweden and the European mean. The modal feeder countries are Turkey and Iran, neither of which have a high tfr.

Europe is a large area with many countries. Surely you'd have to break that down to actual country level statistics to say anything meaningful. Or probably more correctly you could look at the actual birth statistics by religion.

This seems to indicate that Europe as a whole has a 2% population growth rate for Muslims and a -0.1% population growth for non-Muslims. It also projects around 10% Muslim population in France and Sweden within the next 15 years. That's still a relatively small minority. So, it's unclear what the cultural changes will be. However, it does appear that Europe is becoming more hostile to Jews and there has been some significant out-migration in the last few years.

Europe is a large area with many countries. Surely you’d have to break that down to actual country level statistics to say anything meaningful. -

The discussion concerns how Sweden differs from the background.

Why does the American Enterprise Institute care about a decidedly non-enterprise topic? Why does the American Enterprise Institute scaremonger about "autonomy" in the most important matters, when it is usually praised in trivial concerns, like people's "autonomy" to consume harmful alcohol, tobacco or other emissions-producing pollutants?

Perhaps "enterprise isn't about risk-taking".

There is no contradiction here. This is similar to the fallacy of appealing to "free speech" to deflect any criticism of one's words.

A belief in free speech doesn't mean everything anyone says is beyond criticism. And a belief in personal autonomy doesn't mean you aren't allowed to worry about the choices people make. All both mean is that you don't support government action to "correct" the situation.

Perhaps because a society without stable families inevitably looks to big government to fill in the gaps.

Since your lot believes every country has big government, that's begging the question.

Not if every country also has low fertility rates.

Big government creates unstable families so they can fill in the gaps. It is the goal of big government of big government to create dependencies that only they can service.

Why does the American Enterprise Institute care about a decidedly non-enterprise topic?

Because the name was chosen in 1943 and does not reflect the variety of interests the Institute developed as it grew larger.

Then they should be enterprising and rebrand themselves the American Pundits Wearing Bow Ties Institute.

You should stop being a sorry pest.

(And, while we're at it, AEI is more professional than any prominent portside think tank other than Brookings. The real hacks work for the Century Foundation and the Institute for Policy Studies).

Israel is the one country where white people are reproducing themselves well above the replacement rate. It may have something to do with the government and media wanting them to.

It depends how you define "white people", doesn't it? It was ever thus. If people who have lived in North Africa for centuries count as more "white" than Argentines, "white" just means "people right-wing Americans like". Race is a fictive construct.

Race is not even remotely a fictive construct- your anti-science bias is showing. Furthermore "white" is not a race. But it is shorthand for European descent, which they have in both Israel and Argentina. And yes, in Israel people of European descent are reproducing well above replacement rate.

"You" are a fictive construct. - Buddha Vulture

How do you explain Japan's incredibly low fertility rate? The Japanese government actively promotes fertility without any success.

Israel is a perfect storm for fertility (large numbers of fundamentalists, fear of losing a child, competition with Arabs) which can't be easily replicated, and may not last. The only thing that appears to work is religiosity. Utah is doing fine.

If you want to promote Japanese fertility, you need to change Japanese corporate culture.

Let me know when they try. It looks to me like they aren't taking the problem very seriously, yet. There are other things that they value more.

People in professional-managerial employments amount to about 13% of the workforce. The company men cannot be driving Japan's fertility implosion. Mean annual working hours are about the same for workers in Japan as they are for workers in America. Something Edward Luttwak said half-a-generation ago applies here: "Mr. Tora is a common Japanese type".

That's interesting. Maybe I'm mistaken.

I would agree that it's not the corporate culture. Indeed, it seems more like an anti-sex culture. There seem to be a lot of young Japanese that don't have a strong drive to procreate. At least for the current generation. I still think this is a self-correcting problem, assuming, they can resist foreign encroachment. At some point, the Japanese that don't procreate will be replaced by the children of those who do.

Yes compared to the US and Europe there is an expectation of getting married and having kids before age 30 even among hipsters, except maybe among the hippest of hipsters in North Tel Aviv.

Remove the "ultra-Orthodox" and Israel looks like everywhere else.

The fertility rate of non ultra-Orthodox is still high, estimated at 2.6. The fertility rate of secular Jews is 2.3.

Roughly 8% of Israel's Jewish population is Haredi, so, no.

When did Israelis turn white? If Israelis are white, why do the White Nationalists hate jews so much? Last I checked, White Nationalists never considered Jews as white.

Genetically many are of European descent

Genetically they're white like Barack Obama is white.

Every white nationalist I've ever seen comment on it consider Jews white.

Reproducing is a lot of work, it really eats into your booze and idiot box time. In modern late capitalism, people need other motivations if the culture is to maintain a high fertility rate, they need to believe in something bigger than themselves. In America that mostly comes through fundamentalist religion. I wish it could come through a commitment to a common race or culture, one that was worth preserving, as it does in Israel.

Well boo hoo it can't so stop sneering at fundementalists.

I'm not sneering at them, I'm just not one of them. And I don't like the creationism..

"I wish it could come through a commitment to a common race or culture, one that was worth preserving,.."

I think your wrong about that, or at least for any reasonable definition of fundamentalist. Are we calling people who go to church every week fundamentalists now?

Maybe fundamentalist isn't the right word. Episcopalians and the like certainly aren't reproducing at high rates. .

"Episcopalians and the like certainly aren’t reproducing at high rates."

What are the reproduction rates for Episcopalians that attend church weekly? I suspect they are above replacement rate.

What are the reproduction rates for Episcopalians that attend church weekly?

I'm afraid close to nil, because most of them are geriatrics. In an inner city parish, you'll find some semi-vagrants who are attracted (at least initially) by the soup kitchen as well as a collecting pool of homosexual men who are attracted to the aesthetics.

Interestingly the salient characteristic of creationists is the preservation of the species and evolutionists the contrary.

Lot of work? Reproducing takes 5 minutes, tops.

That is the mentality of certain subsets of the American population.

Jews aren't white.

Jews aren’t white.

wir sind nicht ?!

Low fertility, if it continues, means near total extinction. In Europe, it just means Eurabia next century. Japan will be left to the robotic dogs, but who will attend their funerals?

Of course, fertility rates change, making long-term predictions difficult, but Europe is in grave danger.

Japan is pretty crowded, it's not going to be left to the dogs anytime soon. If it had 50 million people(an improbable decline), it would still be more crowded than California is today.

Spengler talked about this years ago: http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2014/09/according-to-oswald-spengler.html

How about we import some Mormons? All the religious fervor and fertility, without any of the annoying terrorism side-effects!

I'll take that as a compliment. Im a psychiatrist, and my fellow Mormon physicians in their early thirties have 3-4 kids, with most planning 4-5. My fiancée and I hope for four. Every single other physician from my residency is childless.

That's rather unusual. The TFR in Utah is high for the US, but it's still only about 2.4. It's come down a lot from the 1960s.

All that said, the upper-middle-class, practicing Mormon families I know tend to have more kids than that. My mother's side is Mormon, and each of her aunt's seven children have at least four children each.

Utah is not as homogenous as it used to be. A significant portion of the Mormon population is secular. I wonder if this is what brings the average down. Anecdotally, I haven't come across too many upper middle class practicing Mormon families who have less than three kids.

Mormons are having fewer children these days: they can't afford large families either. My Mormon niece, now 29 y.o., has three children and they are stopping at that.

By the way Mormons are not all "upper middle class". There are very few poor Mormons (because the LDS runs a very generous and capable private welfare state and keeps its people out of poverty) but there are plenty of working class Mormons.

Religion is self-selection. If raising five kids doesn't appeal to you, you probably won't stay a Mormon.

Eberstadt is providing the statistical basis for public policies designed to encourage marriage and children, similar to the moral/religious arguments Douthat makes for public policies designed to encourage marriage and children, in both cases the underlying public policy choice that is being promoted is cuts in social programs (including social security) that provide support for children and the elderly. What they prefer is a return to the patriarchy that prevailed before the adoption of public social insurance. Are we going back? I don't think so. What's next on the agenda, a return to slavery?

"they prefer is a return to the patriarchy"

This isn't the slur you appear to hope it is, considered that guys like them come right out and write articles titled "The Return of Patriarchy: ... Like it or not, a growing proportion of the next generation will be born into families who believe that father knows best."

Hmmm. Good point.

Patriarchy gets a bad rap. Among other things, it demands and supports men to make decisions in light of their responsibilities toward their families and descendents. Our modern Western society has largely relieved men of this burden.

Silly! Those responsibilities included hitting women and children who "misbehaved". Definitions matter, people!

And yet, women in traditional relationships have better relationships and report higher life-satisfaction.

Duh. The women in those relationships are self-selected: they are women who like those relationships so of course they are happier.

in both cases the underlying public policy choice that is being promoted is cuts in social programs (including social security)

We get it. You don't understand what motivates social conservatives.

http://muslimtide.com/ (the myth thereof)

That book reminds me of the old Marx Bros. joke, " "Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?
Groucho Marx

These are some of my favorite Groucho Marx quotes:

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.

A man's only as old as the woman he feels.

I remember the first time I had sex - I kept the receipt.

I have the impression that demographers still did not move beyond the linear projection.

Nine months for a baby, with a woman who has reached an old enough age to menstruate - it does not get more linear than that. Or as pointed out in terms of the Mythical Man Month, nine pregnant women will not produce one baby in a month.

If geometrical trends continue, in a few generations America will by 45% Duggar with a booming population

The question answered.

What we are seeing is a large-scale real-world justification for many (no, Rayward, not all- many) traditions that were tossed aside.

My Orthodox Jewish friends are totally not worried about this. I don't talk too much with large-family Mormons or Evangelicals, but I guess that they are not worried about this, either. The ones who *are* worried are conservative, relatively secular people (like myself) who are deeply ensconced and affectionate towards mainstream society and thus have multiple reasons for it to perpetuate. The Left just doesn't care-- they'll offer pat aphorisms (things will work out, we have too many people anyway), but really they're just hoping to parasitically convert the children of traditional families. It won't work anymore. Thank You, Fox News and the Internet.
So mainstream society will hollow out, the Left has lost much of its grip on communications, and the Right will take over one baptism or circumcision at a time.

What we are seeing is a large-scale real-world justification for many ... traditions that were tossed aside.

The Orthodox Christian perspective is that these traditions are not merely prescriptive but ontological reality. The great delusion of the modern era is that technology has triumphed over reality.

No question the people who show up for the future will be more religious. I bet these guys show up for the future, for example: http://youtu.be/1RiJzV04UyE

As a friend observed, "Here's an image of the future: a smashed iPad lying in the dusty wake of this dance."

Might as well post this little Nassem Talib /Rupert Read paper: Rather light on math, but seems relevant.


I've danced like that in at many of my cousins' weddings (Jewish).

Pretty sure it would be fun to dance like that.

This book is good on the power of collective dance:


This comment is what happens when someone takes self-identified political affiliations way too seriously.

Not everyone is as tribal as you want them to be.

Plenty of people can't be bothered to care. People who care about the political system tend to be the ones who determine it. . .

...and the Right will take over one baptism or circumcision at a time."

You forgot to add abortion. Clearly the propensity of the Left to use abortion at a higher rate than the Right, guarantees more children will be raised in Right leaning households.

"The ones who *are* worried are conservative, relatively secular people (like myself) who are deeply ensconced and affectionate towards mainstream society and thus have multiple reasons for it to perpetuate."

Most Conservatives fit the description of "deeply ensconced and affectionate towards mainstream society". It's the Left where words and phrases like Patriot, Nationalist, American Values, Old Glory, Saluting the Flag, Capitalism, Tradition, "Don't Tread On Me", Independence, Self reliant are ridiculed.

I agree about 'Most conservatives.' I did not mean to imply that Religious conservatives were not 'affectionate towards mainstream society'. I was simply stating that secular conservatives are.

LOL. Propagation of views by imposition on one's children is fine and non-worrying. Propagation of views by advocacy is "parasitic". Awful argument - please consult the nearest file titled "Enlightenment, The"!

There's no advocacy, it's indoctrination through stiff control over all the avenues of information, and silencing any opposition. Pretty sure that wasn't part of the Enlightenment.

We're living in an era of peak dysgenics. I don't think there's ever been an analogous time period in human history where so many intelligent, high quality human beings are having so few children, leaving the majority of the human species' child-bearing to the huddled low IQ third world masses. It's sad to behold.

Ever since the Industrial Revolution transformed children from economic assets into economic liabilities, anybody with a modicum of long-term planning capability/low personal future discount rates has thought hard about having kids. Oftentimes, the most intelligent people don't have kids at all. This fact is especially true for educated women whose hypergamous natures prevent them from finding men with lower social status sexually attractive/acceptable as a long term mates, which makes their dating pool quite small indeed. There is compelling evidence that dysgenics has already caused substantial damage to the quality of western man's genome:

See: http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2012/02/convincing-objective-and-direct.html

There are numerous proxies and trends that highlight this effect, and it becomes shockingly obvious once you realize what's going on. Compare presidential speeches from the early republic to presidential speeches today. Or maybe you're more musically inclined? Contrast beautiful, complex, subtle classical music pieces written prior to the Industrial Revolution with the drivel that is modern pop. Of course, reaction time is the most easily testable proxy of all, and it shows a beautifully steady decline in line with what one would expect from a populace undergoing dysgenic selection.

What about the Flynn effect? The Flynn effect is a product of modern education and training in abstract thought. Eventually (I expect within most of our lifetimes) we will see a reversal of it as biology overtakes culture and training.

Maybe we should all just become Mormons.

"This fact is especially true for educated women whose hypergamous natures prevent them from finding men with lower social status sexually attractive/acceptable as a long term mates, which makes their dating pool quite small indeed"

The mechanism that you cite is correct, but his is actually the opposite of what's happening. Marriage is increasing among wealthy women and decreasing among the poor and working classes.

Maybe this is news to you, but you don't actually need to get married to reproduce.

Marriage, Yes. Producing children, No.

We’re living in an era of peak dysgenics.

And yet, IQ scores are increasing from one generation to the next. I guess that's not the sort of thing people who pride themselves on 'noticing things' notice.

That's a ballyhooed comment. The "Flynn effect" is problematic, to say the least.

How often do you read the comments you reply to?

IQ is decreasing:


"And yet, IQ scores are increasing from one generation to the next."

He addressed that in his post. He might be wrong, but he certainly covered the point.

"I guess that’s not the sort of thing people who pride themselves on ‘noticing things’ notice."

Which means this point is somewhat embarrassing for you. Since ironically, he wasn't guilty of it, but clearly you were.

Which means this point is somewhat embarrassing for you.

Come again? I'm not the IQ obsessive.

I suspect presidential speeches have been dumbed down because:

1) People have more things to do, and can't listen to complicated language.
2) Polling and other political tools have found that simpler language gets you more votes. Notice that Romney won on everything but "likeability." This also shows why presidents now are comedians, and appear on talk shows, etc.

One big reason humans are having fewer children is because we can now be very certain that those we do have will survive to adulthood. As recently as the Civil War era that was not true: childhood mortality figures were often as high as 50% and in some eras even higher. Moreover by having fewer children, more resources can be concentrated on them: which is a highly successful evolutionary strategy.

I think this has less to do with the story than other explanations. I don't have the data on hand, but child mortality was far more likely to occur In the first year and then exponentially dropped off. Thus, big families were still a choice. Concentration of resources on one or two offspring is plausible as an evolutionary strategy, although most kids don't really benefit from private high school or traveling soccer teams in any material way.

Re: I don’t have the data on hand, but child mortality was far more likely to occur In the first year and then exponentially dropped off.

Actually, it's more like the first two years, then a drop off. (Of course the highest rate was in the first few weeks of life).
I am not sure what you mean about big families being a choice. Obviously a choice in the sense that people chose to get married and have procreative sex. But contraception was either non-existent, very poor, and generally morally (and legally) prohibited. It was very difficult to have normal marital relations and not end up with many pregnancies, unless there were medical impediments to fertility-- or death intervened for the woman as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, a horribly common occurrence even among the rich and powerful.

Re: most kids don’t really benefit from private high school or traveling soccer teams in any material way.

I am not just talking about material benefit. Much of what makes for success in life is non-material.

We tax people who have more money than others via a progressive tax system.

Why don't we tax those who have more leisure time, i.e. those who don't have kids?

We tax the rich to pay for a variety of things we think are important and they "have the money" - by the same logic the people who are blessed with excess leisure should have to pay "their fair share." After all, most governmental retirement schemes are intergenerational.

The simplest way to do this would be a tax on the single. 10 hours per week at a state day care center raising the children who will pay for your social security, who will develop the cure for cancer, who will wipe your bum when you are 80, should be easy peasy.

If you are not suitable for such work, you may pay a fine based on your hourly wage level or work at alternative sites.

This is tongue in cheek proposal...but really its not. Why progressively tax people who earn more money, but not people who have "excess" leisure?

Before anyone jumps up to say the poor cannot work, I specifically came up with this idea when I saw college-educated, healthy peers who refuse to work. Look, I know being a childless DJ in the bay area is fun, but you're 45 and educated. Its especially galling when they tell you they have a $20/month health plan thanks to the ACA. Hmmm, I pay $1300 for my family. Would it kill you to get a real job? It doesn't kill me to pay a ton in taxes. You still want to be a DJ at age 45? OK...put in your 10 hours per week swabbing down the school cafeteria.

OK, that example does work because they don't have Medicaid, hyperbole, etc. etc.

So people who dont follow YOUR lifestyle should pay more taxes?? Does not sound that good...

Sounds a lot like a poor person voting for higher taxes on the rich.

How in the world does the American Enterprise Institute get away with writing about necessary "Self-Sacrafice" crap!?!?!? You don't hear that CEO wages so why should working families be any different?

My take is we live a competitive global economy. And having a family too early hurts the job flexibility that corporate American wants from their workers.

Government policy is currently anti-natalist in the extreme, but of course, the cultural component is even larger. People like having sex, and like status. Contraception removes the link between child-birth and the former, and, for the latter, larger families don't bestow any status, outside of the observant. It seems like religion is the only narrative capable of providing a compelling reason for children.

I'm gay, physically and mentally repulsed by women, and I have two children -- the natural way. If I can muster the wherewithal to perform my duty, TWICE, I think it's the least other people can do to have at least one child. Raising children is easy and rewarding as even the Bryan 'My Beautiful Bubble' Caplan has repeatedly pointed out.

Are you married to a woman? Why did you have children? I am interested in your story; I have heard similar from married gay friends, all upper middle class, all religious.

Yes -- married to a woman.

I had children because I wanted to have children. Tautological, but that is what it boils down to...

I am religious, but not spiritual (ha). Generally, I feel indifferent towards to all the ritual and so forth, but I suppose it is better to feel a bit weird and discomfited finitely than to be wrong infinitely.

Maybe not upper middle class. I consider myself middle class, but that definition is rather elastic and depends on the eye of the beholder...I'm a millennial, and I suppose if I play my cards right, I could wind up upper middle class by my 40s...

Does your wife know you are repulsed by her?

No, because she doesn't exist.

No, really. Does your wife know you're gay?

I sincerely hope she knew before she married you, for her sake and your children's.

"If I can muster the wherewithal to perform my duty, TWICE, I think it’s the least other people can do to have at least one child
Did you close your eyes and think of England?."

Apparently, religious people will inevitably genetically rule. Yet over a generation after the contraceptive pill, Western society is less religious than ever. It's fine to believe in divine revelation, but please also believe in testability of theories!

It's an exponential curve. One or two generations is still in the emerging phase. The exponential growth comes after.

The doomsayers' eternal caveat: 'It hasn't happened....YET'

Marriage is a cultural (=learned) behavior. It is not genetic.

I hope machines and robots can compensate the decreasing young.

No one can give the "right" population on Earth. 6 billion? 10 billion? 1 billion?

Interesting the part about divorce. In the US divorce rates have declined along with marriage rates, since the marriages that do happen tend to involve older, more settled people who are serious about each other, not just caught up in youthful passion. I would have thought the same dynamic would be playing out elsewhere too. I wonder what the cultural differences are?

Less competition for my offspring. Works for me.

Life in Europe is unbear-able.

Wow just wow.

And the Anabaptists (Amish Mennonites etc.) will inherit the earth (are the meek?).

Many people need to read Bryan Caplan.

My assumption is that the Amish still have an incentive to have lots of children (aside from faith, of course)---namely, their children are the ones expected to support them in their old age.

Children's marginal contribution to household income in industrialized, technologically advanced nations approaches zero. Investment in capital markets (for the prosperous) and welfare states (for the less prosperous) have replaced children as the bulk of most people's sources of support in old age. (The bank doesn't love you, no, but it's easier to sue, at least in principle, if it forgets to pay interest on deposits as agreed. On top of that, old people vote.)

In the meantime, the cost of raising children has skyrocketed. If the financial benefit of something drops to zero and the cost skyrockets, you get less of it.

Meanwhile, most women now have many more ways of supporting themselves than marrying men (who can mistreat them essentially with impunity because they know full well that their women have no other realistic options). No surprise marriage isn't as popular as it used to be, and that women pull the plug a lot more often. (What can I say? Life's too short. The less of it spent with a jerk the better.)

Given the option, people choose to spend as little time as possible with people they don't like. Frankly? Most people aren't all that likable. Expecting someone else to unconditionally put up with all their unpleasantness till the children marry and move out in 20 years or the husband dies in 50 (at minimum) is asking quite a lot, unless huge future benefits are involved. As those future benefits become more tenuous with each passing year, no wonder more and more people simply refuse to do it.

So I treat my wife like a princess, because I know she has precious little other reason to put up with my sorry ass :) Certainly not my looks.

Jeeze man, sounds like you should just kill.yourself.

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