Monday, February 09, 2009

A couple points about abortion and achievement: One argument made in the comment section of the last point is that smart, pregnant girls give up bright futures if they don't get an abortion. It is certainly true than teen motherhood makes it harder to have a successful career. Not impossible, but harder.

One currently popular belief is that if children are going to grow up to become well-adjusted adults, both mom and dad must devote every waking moment to their development. The best research tells us that this is simply not true. If kids were randomly assigned another pair of parents, they would turn out pretty much the same. Research also tells us that day care is not bad for children. So, to all you young women contemplating an abortion, it might be harder, but you don't have to kill your child to get ahead. You might have to give up spending as much time with the little guy, but trust me, if you're the ambitious type you'll enjoy your children more if you're not with them all day. Drop the idea that Junior needs you that much.

Another reader comment was that an intelligent, pregnant teen can always have kids later. While this is true, one demography truism is the longer you wait, the fewer the children you have. I looked at GSS data and found that a delay of ten years translates into one fewer kid for women with the highest IQ (WORDSUM) scores.

I'm not concerned about an overall lack of kids: I'm worried that we're having too many unintelligent kids and not enough smart ones. At the same time, it makes sense for a society to put its female talent to use. While there is tension there, challenging the notion that kids need mom 24/7 can help us achieve both goals.

14 comments:

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Science can solve the low high IQ woman fertility problem by using arificial reproductive technologies to extend the average woman's fertility from the late 30's to late 40's:

http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2009/01/educational-gender-parity-and.html

The Undiscovered Jew said...

You are correct to attribute the fall in white fertility to women delaying childbirth for a variety of reasons - one of which is the length of time it takes for high IQ women to enter her chosen career.

Look at page 44 of the below PDF:


http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_07.pdf

As you can see, since 1989 the decline in fertility among adult white women has occurred primarily in the 20-24 year old age group. For 25-29 year old women, the birth rate has held steady at about 110 births per 1000 white women since 1989. For women over 30 there has been a substantial increase in fertility since 1989. Unfortunately, the increase in fertility for those over 30 was not enough to compensate for the decline in births among the very fertile 20-24 age group.

The problem is that a woman's ability to get pregnant falls off a cliff after age 30.

The biological culprit here is a serious decline in the number and quality of oocytes women over 30 carry in their ovaries (generally the uterus itself does not seriously decline in childbearing quality until after age 50).

Fortunately there is good reason to believe reproductive technologies will push the white fertility rate much higher.

Improved methods of human egg extraction and donation along with ovarian tissue preservation are being developed. They should be perfected over the next ten years or so.

In Vitro Maturation will make it far simpler and cheaper to extract immature oocytes from a young egg donor and then implant the fertilized egg into an older mother.

Secondly, ovarian tissue banking will allow young career women to freeze slivers of their own ovarian tissue through vitrification. Years later they can have the tissue implanted back into their ovary and use their still young preserved eggs to get pregnant as easily as if they were in their 20's.

These new technologies will be used primarily by white women with good future time orientation. So we can expect technology to cause a substantial increase in fertility among women ages 30-45.


1/24/09 12:56 PM

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that doting over children is a child-rearing innovation of more recent vintage; practices employed in the 19th century, for instance, featured what must today seem like stunning neglect, a fact "traditionalists" might find hard to square with their exaltation of the 19th century citizen.

Anonymous said...

I think it all leads to blind consumerism. Many young mothers-to-be want to give their kids everything, which is understandable; what parent does NOT want to give their child what they can? But this "everything" may include non-essential crap. Teens and young adults remember their childhood, notice all the glitzy goods and super-safe accessories we have now, and think they somehow had a deprived childhood. And this is where the "Helicopter Parenting" comes in, which makes people into softies. I know this is going off on a tangent but here's an example: I'm a part-time returning student, and it kind of shocks me at the "low rudeness threshold" that many college-age people have. Certain things professors say, I find perfectly acceptable, but some of these kids' days are ruined. I just chuckle and say "Wait until you start the job market...." And it all leads to overprotective parenting. We're breeding dumb softies in the developed world.

Mark Wethman said...

I'm disappointed that you don't even mention adoption as an option, though perhaps not surprised, given the death of infant adoption in the U.S. (see here )

ironrailsironweights said...

My understanding is that doting over children is a child-rearing innovation of more recent vintage; practices employed in the 19th century, for instance, featured what must today seem like stunning neglect, a fact "traditionalists" might find hard to square with their exaltation of the 19th century citizen.

You don't even have to go back to the 19th Century to see very different attitudes. Overprotective parenting for the most part didn't start until the 1980's and didn't get really bad until about ten years ago.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Who are these guys who think women contribute all that much to the workplace anyways? I just don't see it. Men have done just fine in science for basically all of recorded history. Why do we all of a sudden need women to stop reproducing in order to solve the important science problems of today?

As far as women in normal jobs go, depending on how bad the economy gets, you will start to see the wind being taken out of those sails pretty quickly. There won't be much of a market for educrats and diversicrats, social workers, event coordinators, yoga instructors, publicists, and the myriad other fluff jobs that women love and have convinced themselves are more important and rewarding than raising a family.

RobertHume said...

A recent study, reported in the Washington Post, showed that children of older parents, female *and* male, have more genetic-related problems.

It's good to have your kids at 16, all else being equal. Might be a cause for the reverse-Flynn effect among UK whites recently discussed on iSteve.

Anonymous said...

Who are these guys who think women contribute all that much to the workplace anyways? I just don't see it. Men have done just fine in science for basically all of recorded history. Why do we all of a sudden need women to stop reproducing in order to solve the important science problems of today?


I don't know about the science problems of the day, but for many women the decision to work arises out of the necessity to pay the bills. It's not always the case that they want to, rather that they have to -- now that living in a "decent" aka "white" neighborhood is becoming increasingly expensive (thanks immigration, thanks Section 8s!).

Jim Bowery said...

Induce this:

"From 1949 to 1973, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that U.S. non-farm multifactor productivity grew at 1.9% per year. After 1973, multifactor productivity grew only 0.2% per year (table A). Despite a 20-year intensive research effort to find the cause, no convincing explanation of the post-1973 productivity slowdown exists.

What I want to know is why didn't the addition of all those wonderfully intelligent women around the time of women's lib prevent the precipitous drop-off of productivity?

SFG said...

It's a larger issue than abortion and pregnancy (though that is part of it). It's more expensive to raise children the further up the social ladder you go, so economic success usually leads to a low birthrate.

Anonymous said...

The link to John Hawks' blog in your blogroll is broken.

al fin said...

The expense of child raising falls largely on the middle class. The rich can afford the high expense. The poor rely on the state to pay. The middle class often try to emulate the child-raising practises of the rich, to their regret.

Jack said...

The only thing that can be done to solve the problem is a wholesale societal shift to counter the destruction of the last 40 years. More restrictions on abortion, more encouragement for marriage earlier, more shaming of promiscuous women, etc. You know, all the things that worked for hundreds of years.

Martin Regnen said...

Slate is proposing throwing more money at IVF as a way to get older women to have children... I like your idea much much more.

Then again, some of that may be self-interest. I'd much rather procreate with a 20-year-old than a 40-year-old.