Saturday, April 28, 2012

Marital status and fertility

In a chapter of the Meaning of Marriage, Roger Scruton claims that the move away from marriage reduces fertility below replacement level. Using GSS data since 2000, I calculated the mean number of offspring for white women ages 40-59 by marital status. If Scruton is right, married women will have the most kids, never-married will have the least, and separated/divorced women should be in the middle. Let's look at less and more educated women separately:

Mean number of offspring

Women with less than four-year degree (sample size = 1,759)
Married 2.23
Separated/Divorced 2.14
Never-Married .46*

Women with four-year degree or more (sample size = 866)
Married 1.88
Separated/Divorced 1.63
Never-Married .15*

*significantly lower than corresponding married or separated/divorced groups

Never-married women have fewer kids than married or separated/divorced women whether they are more or less educated. Educated single women have hardly any children at all. A society made up of these type of women would pretty much disappear in a historically short period of time. Next, I'll look at black women.


  1. Figures like these raise disturbing questions. The most disturbing of which is - can the human species survive birth control?

    Marc Steyn writes often and well about the lesser question. Can Western Civilization survive birth control?

    The jury is out on both of these questions.

    Consider an intelligent salmon. Salmon are born in a fresh water stream but soon swim into the great waters of the oceans where they prosper. Salmon grow large - and delicious. Then at some time determined by their internal clock they feel the need to swim back up that stream to spawn and die.

    If you were a salmon who understood and appreciated that going back up that stream would mean no more eating and death, many wouldn't make the journey. Personally you would be better off staying in the ocean. You as an individual would benefit but your species would die.

    Before birth control human women knew that delivery was painful, they knew that children are expensive, and they knew that they gave you stretch marks. But in large part they had no choice. They were compelled to have sex which they enjoyed and that meant child birth. Break that connection with birth control and like the intelligent salmon, the interests of the individual conflict with the interests of the species.

    The differential birth rate of peoples by education and IQ is what we may call the eugenics issue. The differential birth rate of Muslims versus the West is the Marc Steyn issue. Both of these issues seem important because they seem to promise that we - the advanced people - will be swamped by dummies and/or fanatics.

    I think it's worse than that. Muslims and the poor may be just late in reacting to the new reality. They breed as if they haven't gotten the word yet. They also tend to suppress the options other than motherhood for women. Liberated women by definition are those who make choices and they choose careers that are good for them individually but disastrous for the species.

    Muslims and the poor at some point may modernize and give women better lives. If they follow the pattern of the West their birth rates too will fall. So it may get worse.

    It can happen. There is a precedent. The Shakers thought sex was bad. Today no more Shakers.


  2. Would be interesting, too, after you do the same for blacks, to look at if/how these rates have changed over time, especially if they end up not having changed much, thus suggesting that the breakdown of the nuclear family really is a primary reason that the West is dying.

  3. Anonymous5:44 PM

    Does "married" mean legally married, or are you including so-called common-law marriages? If it's the first, the rates for never-married women are shockingly low.

  4. Anonymous2:31 PM

    So...when are they going to start paying those of us with extremely high IQ's to breed their daughters like stud dogs?

  5. realmatt4:46 PM

    All of this has happened before. And it will all happen again




  6. Anonymous8:02 PM

    My wife and I are both college-educated professionals (MA and JD) who have six kids. We just hit 60 and now have 12 grandchildren and expect to have more. The trick is living in--and raising your kids in--a culture that loves children. Do that and you'll have no problems preserving the human race, birth control or no birth control.

  7. FWIW, the CIA World Factbook has Algerian, Tunisian, and Iranian TFR at around 1.7 or so, or at least did a few years back. I have not checked recently.

    Those places are not known for feminism, still have nuclear families intact. They are richer, with more female literacy though, compared to places like Yemen (TRF around 8).

  8. The implications are clear, but I am not about to change my lifestyle because of it. I enjoy being single, and have no desire to get married or have children. I am not willing to sacrifice my own happiness for the sake of abstract goals like the long-term future of civilization or somesuch.

    If our species does become extinct, it will not occur until long after I am dead, and I just don't care what happens then. In the meantime, I plan to keep on partying.

    Yeah, I'm part of the problem. Oh, well.

  9. its already happened dummie, youre living in a dystopia, you just dont know what normal means anymore

  10. Tireless5:32 AM

    Well then LBK, perhaps society will change in a way that throws leeches like yourself into the fire to burn while the productive part of society watches with no pity. And you're dreaming if you think it has to happen "long after you're dead", because however old and decrepit you are, you're still alive, and it might not be that long until it happens.

    You're basically saying "I'd like to freeload". Okay, how about this - "Since you would have no qualms about the death of your species, your species has no qualms about your death." Sounds good?

  11. Anonymous2:02 PM

    Young devout religious Christians have adapted and still have above-replacement rates. It's the older cohort of the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches that are far more feminist and atheist.

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