Saturday, January 24, 2009

Educational gender parity and the paralyzation of the womb

Considering the inverse relationship between intelligence and fertility, Dennis Mangan excerpts from the abstract of a presentation on the subject:

Path models with length of marriage up to age 39, educational attainment, log-transformed family income, religious attendance and gender attitudes as intermediate variables show that the IQ effect is mainly indirect. IQ leads to higher education and income. High education reduces fertility in the female samples. Also high income reduces fertility independently except for black males. Another finding is a robust positive effect of IQ on liberal gender role attitudes in all demographic categories, which in turn reduce the number of children significantly for white females.
The connection between the liberalization of gender roles and fertility is of great interest. The assumption that gender parity in all things is inconducive to sustainable propagation arrives at the footstep of the ideas in Steve Sailer's article "The Return of Patriarchy?". Nearly seven years ago, Sailer wrote:

As physicist turned evolutionary theorist Gregory M. Cochran keeps pointing out, there's no particular reason to assume that post-modern cultures will ever get back to replacement-level reproduction. That doesn't mean the human race will go extinct. As Jim Chapin of UPI has pointed out, post-modern cultures might well be eventually pushed aside by whichever groups of religious fundamentalists - Mormons, Orthodox Jews, Wahhabi Islamists - best succeed in motivating their followers to have lots of children.
I'll be rooting for the first of those groups. But I would be plenty contented by knowledge that the whiterpeople who created the World Economic Forum's 2007 report on the Global Gender Gap (GGG) were motivating the women who putatively have it all to actually have it all, children included. Unfortunately, the women most deprived of what these whiterpeople consider fundamental hu(wo)man rights are the women who are reproducing most vigorously.

The WEF assigned a GGG ranking for 128 countries across the globe (pg 15), based on a host of gender-related measures, with a score of 1 representing perfect equality and a score of 0 representing perfect inequality. The correlation between a country's GGG score and its total fertility rate for women is an inverse .53 (p=0).

I bolded the sentence on the prohibitive effect of education on fertility from Mangan's excerpt for a reason. The WEF breaks its total index into four subindexes; economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment, and health and survival. Subindex scores for each country are also made available.

Looking at each subindex independently reveals that the relationship between the GGG and fecundity is driven primarily by the gender gap in educational attainment. The inverse correlations of each with the total fertility rate, by country:

Economic participation and opportunity: .22 (p=.01)
Educational attainment: .75 (p=.00)
Political empowerment: .22 (p=.01)
Health and survival: .01 (p=.89)

The acceptance of women in the workplace or the idea that women should be paid comparably for comparable work tracks weakly with fecundity. The relative number of women in elected offices is similarly only weakly related. Discrepancies in life expectancy or the gender ratio do not matter at all.

The strong bond with fecundity exists in education*. One-fifth of the educational attainment score comes from the gender literacy gap, the other four-fifths comes from the enrollment gap (in primary, secondary, and tertiary schools). The more time women spend in classrooms relative to the time their men spend there, the less likely they are to make babies. Buchanan has called oral contraceptives the suicide pills of the West. Well then, educational romanticism is its Depo-Provera.

We need accelerated educational paths (video recorded lectures, grade-level and course-level pre-testing, the removal of all electives from mandatory completion requirements, etc) so that a bright woman headed for graduate work does not have to be in her mid-twenties at the earliest before she finally starts working. At that point, even if it is in her future, she is unlikely to have yet attained financial security and must still put in long hours to establish herself in her field. It will not be until sometime in her mid-thirties that she'll be interested in starting a family, a point at which it will be difficult for her to do so for a number of reasons: She'll be well past her peak years of physical attractiveness, the chances of running into complications during pregnancy and the chances of having children with defects are increased, and the number of conceptions she'll be able to have are limited by the specter of menopause just over the horizon (meaning the question of family size--not including pets--will be winnowed down to whether it should remain at two or be expanded to three).

Also, fewer people in the US should go to college. Charles Murray makes the case in Real Education that only 10%-20% of the population enjoys the level of intelligence necessary to cope with genuine college-level material (and not all of these people will benefit or enjoy that material just because they are able to make sense of it). The other 30%-40% of each high school graduating class that heads off to a four year university is doing so not because the degree aspired for represents real productive value added to its holder, but because said degree has artificial societal value placed on it. The students are being rational in presuming that all else equal, a BA is going to increase their earning power. But at the societal level, it is irrational--or at least inefficient--to place so much value on a piece of paper that proxies for what a 30-minute IQ test and a few days on the job just as well reveals.

Because the college years are also a woman's most nubile ones, those who are smart enough to survive the contemporary college curriculum but who are unlikely to receive much real value in doing so (roughly the 100-115 IQ range) are the people who hurt society the most by squandering four or five years and, with opportunity costs considered, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in an utterly unrealistic setting that critically postpones their entry into the real world.

Data are here.

* The correlation might have been even stronger if the top 'equality' value did not max out at 1 for 15 countries. Since the index scores are based on female characteristics relative to male characteristics, it is not that these 15 countries experience perfect gender equality--it's that in all of them, women are outperforming men. A naif might presume that gender inequality, irrespective of which gender had the edge, would cause the WEF team alarm. That presumption, however, would be wrong. Just as whites cannot conceivably be the victims of racism, men cannot conceivably be the victims of sexism.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

post-modern cultures might well be eventually pushed aside by whichever groups of religious fundamentalists - Mormons, Orthodox Jews, Wahhabi Islamists - best succeed in motivating their followers to have lots of children.

I'm a non-religious conservative, and I find these trends extremely troubling.

This just underscores the fact that all groups in a society should have identical fertility rates. Otherwise, the group with low fertility rates will get pushed out.

Or maybe this is just another way in which diversity is bad. Diverse groups have diverse fertility rates.

Non-religious people should have insisted (made it a law or something) that everyone lower their fertility rates and raise the age at which they first have children.

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.

agnostic said...

The Demographic Transition has nothing to do with education per se, as it began in the 1700s in France, a little later in England.

Female access to education only covaries with the true cause(s) here and now.

a_c said...

One possible solution to this dilemma is that Western civilization, with all its goods and bads, may prove more attractive to people in non-Western cultures. Thus, even with declining birthrates, migration from non-Western countries can more than replenish the population. Alternatively, Western ideals can spread across the globe, as they have already begun to do in many places.

Just as cities may be genetic black holes but continue to thrive, unfecund cultures can survive and flourish with sufficient immigration.

BGC said...

Fascinating post.

I suspect education should *not* be regarded as the prime cause of low fertility - because if high IQ women really _wanted_ to get married/ start large families before their mid twenties but instead were forced (against thier wishes) to attend prestigious colleges and graduate schools and then climb up the ladder in high-powered professions - well, I think we would have heard about it by now...;=)

In other words, even if the educational process were shortened (which I would favour) I doubt if it would have much effect on the increasing the fertility of high IQ women; since it looks as if they are not seeking high fertility.

The pattern of revealed preferences suggests that the intrinsic urge to reproduce is weak in humans. I think we should probably assume that the behaviour of the most intelligent women pretty much reflects their priorities.

Low fertility is what happens when people seek to optimize their pleasure/ happiness in life.

To put it another way (and in a generalization which includes men) a hedonistic life - a life of enlightened pursuit of satisfaction - will lead to extinction under modern conditions (although presumably under ancestral conditions pleasure-seeking would also have been fertility-enhancing on average).

High fertility in women who are able to control their reproduction is therefore not primarily seeking pleasure but is likely to be conforming to group pressure and/or to transcendental beliefs.

So, intelligent women will on average (seemingly) only have above-replacement numbers of children when there is powerful and effective community pressure to do so - as with Mormons and Orthodox Jews.

Audacious Epigone said...

Anon,

Practically though, how is that going to be pulled off? Ovarian tissue banking (something Randall Parker has written about on several occasions at Futurepundit) and possibly selection for a desire to procreate--if that is somehow separable from the desire to simply fornicate--might tick the TFR upwards again for secular Westerners, but it's difficult to see how it'll be enough, especially in really unfecund places like Spain or Japan.

Undiscovered,

Great thoughts, thanks. Birth rates don't capture the effect of delaying childbirth on population size. If a woman who is 20 and a woman who is 40 each have a child, and their children respectively follow their mothers' birthing age, 40 years down the road, the 20 yo (now 60) mother is about to be a great-grandmother, while the 40 yo (now 80) is finally just becoming a grandmother.

Agnostic,

Why does fertility inversely track so firmly with educational attainment, even among women of comparable intelligence? Is it more than simply having lots of options to further oneself, of which education is one obvious avenue among many, that contemporary personally ambitious (and unfecund) women take advantage of?

AC,

But we seemed to think that would be the case in the Middle East. And it doesn't seem to be the case with North African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian immigrants to Europe. And I would like my ethnic line to be continued, not just my Western values.

BGC,

The 'solution', then, must be to get opinion makers in Western societies to celebrate having children. My impression is that the celebrity magazines have moved in that direction over the last few years (or celebrities, more precisely, have). That's something Agnostic could look into, incidentally, were he so inclined...

Anonymous said...

No, Audacious, I meant that everyone should be badgered into having the same *low* fertility rates.

There is nothing wrong with Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Italy having very low birth rates, so long as *everyone* in those societies has low birth rates.

But these societies are letting in Islamic people or religious Catholics are breeding away, then that is a serious problem, as those societies will gradually become more Islamic or filled with more hyper religious types.

As for policy, I'm in favor of:

Free sterilization to lower the birth rate.

Free IUDs/Depo Provera to young underclass girls to help raise the age of first birth.

Clark Goble said...

Mormons are religious fundamentalists? We have more kids than the typical family but I'd have a hard time calling us fundamentalists.

Audacious Epigone said...

Anon,

I'm sympathetic with the idea of subsidized contraceptives, especially if the benefits are regressive as income increases. Are you concerned about the consequences of a top-heavy demography? Gen X was, I believe, the first generation in US history to be smaller than the generation preceding it. The coming generational storm seems to me to be one of the most significant demographic crises the US faces.

Clark,

I think Steve's point was that religiosity and fertility correlate, both at the national level and at the individual level. It might be more precise to say something to the effect of "whichever groups best succeed in motivating their followers to have children. Fundamentalists look to have the inside track."

For my part, I'll just call people like yourself the fundamental hope for Western Civilization!

Revlok said...

I am in favor of giving all people who want to reduce the human population of Earth the effective means to commit suicide. I encourage them to do so at the earliest possible time. They are clearly too miserable in the company of humans to be allowed to suffer any longer.

Jason Malloy said...

Buchanan greatly exaggerates the role of the pill in fertility trends. Japan has an even lower birthrate than other developed nations and the pill didn't even reach the country until 2000! Barely any women there use it; an educated Japanese woman I had a conversation with overseas even had no idea what was I talking about when I mentioned the birth control pill!

It's also really shallow, cynical, and naive of Buchanan to treat Western civilization as if it was predicated on women having unwanted children. The pill didn't make children unwanted, but helped prevent unwanted children.

****

The religious have more children, but the cultural environment gets ever-more secular due to economic and technological forces.

Generational differences in secular values (representing environmental changes) swamp the same value differences between religious and nonreligious people.

In this sense genetic differences probably won't make society more religious anytime soon, despite the fact that religious people are making the babies.

An example might be Jews, who are mostly replenished by Orthodox fertility, but who keep becoming secular anyway.

****

I'm not one to care very much about the birth rate. I'd like the world population much lower than it is now for a variety of reasons. And we would probably be a happier (and more conservative/family oriented and politically libertarian) nation if there was plenty of cheap land for everybody.

But most important to me is that people are able to have the amount of children, and have the opportunities to lead the lives, that make them happiest.

Here I am conflicted, because I want to believe maximum human freedom in the form of liberaltarian ideals like secular outlook, sexual freedom, and truthful enlightenment are what makes people happiest.

But what the evidence seems to show is that men and especially women are happiest under traditional religious community pressures (On average, when women are more free, they appear to make choices that make them less happy).

So the dilemma is should I prefer political arrangements where humans are more free and less happy or more happy and less free? Or is there a way to make the two more congruent?

Anonymous said...

Jason: "So the dilemma is should I prefer political arrangements where humans are more free and less happy or more happy and less free? Or is there a way to make the two more congruent?"

Well, you could insist that all women must have exactly 2 children and that they must have them according to schedule, at the ages of 25 and 28. Then you could have the low fertility and the communal compulsion together.

I've often thought that if all women were forced to stay at home or if all women were forced to go to work, or if all women were forced to stay at home for exactly x number years when their children were small, we, as a gender, would be much happier.

It's the fact that we have to choose that leads to so much unhappiness. There's so much vicious sniping that goes on with regards to other women's choices.

Anonymous said...

Jason: "It's also really shallow, cynical, and naive of Buchanan to treat Western civilization as if it was predicated on women having unwanted children. The pill didn't make children unwanted, but helped prevent unwanted children."

I think he's worried about differential birth rates. Because some groups in our society have high birthrates, he wants his favored groups to have a higher birth rate as well, so that they won't be outnumbered.

Since he's Catholic, he can't abide by the idea of going the other way instead, with the high birthrate groups being strongly encouraged to lower their birthrates.

BGC said...

Jason Malloy said: "So the dilemma is should I prefer political arrangements where humans are more free and less happy or more happy and less free? Or is there a way to make the two more congruent?"

It looks to me that Jason's clear and honest analysis is itself demonstrative of why the future will be religious - since the secular viewpoint is stuck with this kind of paradox.

Essentially the secular perspective is about maximizing happiness, and freedom is a means to that end.

If maximizing happiness/ minimizing suffering is the ultimate aspiration (i.e. hedonism, or utilitarianism when the aspitation is applied to the group) then pursuit of one's own short term happiness tends to become compelling - since long term happiness is discounted, other people's happiness is hard to predict or know about, and other people's long term happiness is hoplessly uncertain and probably impossible to calculate.

So under a secular perspective there is a constant pressure towards short-termist, selfish hedonism. This is destructive of society, and of the conditions necessary to enable effective pursuit of short termist, selfish hedonism.

Hence secularism is self-destructive of society - like a cancer that grows fast but in a selfish way that destroys its host.

Secularism grew because 1. people are spontaneously hedonistic, and 2. traditional religions were anti-modernization and opposed science and capitalism.

However, a modern religion, like Mormon Christianity, that supports and approves science and capitalism does not share the problem of past religions - and is not undercut by paradoxes of short term versus long term, or the indidividual versus the community.

Happiness and freedom become 'congruent' only when they are both subordinated to a higher, transcendental value.

Transcendental values do not always entail religion - but so far it looks as if revealed religion (eg. Judaism, Chritianity, Islam) may be necessary for a sustained and coherent long term community devotion to transcendental values.

From this line of argument, I agree with Steve Sailer that the future will be religious - and (because Jews do not go in for recruiting) the future will likely be either Christian (I include Mormons) or Islamic. Decide.

Jason Malloy said...

So under a secular perspective there is a constant pressure towards short-termist, selfish hedonism.

Hmm, I disagree with this. And in many ways I think the opposite is more true. The most secular groups and people are characterized by higher future-time orientation. I don't think there is anything short-term or hedonist about going to college until you are 28, and paying off student loans until you are 40, just to have a successful career for the second-half of your life.

Remember the simple trade-off underlying the whole issue is between motherhood and education (males have little to do with it), and I don't think either choice clearly represents short-term preference, hedonism, or selfishness.

What we can say, I think, is simply that religion (which requires untruths and community pressures) tends to lead to the former choice, and secularism (which is transparent and uncoercive) tends to lead to the latter choice.

Yet that women appear somewhat (not incredibly, but somewhat) happier under the religious framework, as opposed to the secular one.



"Hence secularism is self-destructive of society - like a cancer that grows fast but in a selfish way that destroys its host."



This could be true, but I don't think the likelihood is high at all.

First, I think 'self-destructive', places way too much emphasis on fertility for the survival of societies. I don't in any way think societies need to go on expanding in population forever, in order to survive, or even remain strong.

Obviously they can't disappear entirely, but it's not obvious some indeterminate large size is a necessary strength or requisite for cultural survival. Small family size, in fact, increases national power in some important ways, such as boosting national average IQ.

(Exceptions are probably nations like Israel where there is a real demographic war going on, with state-exterminationist elements. I don't believe this really applies to the US or most developed countries. Islamo and Hispanic-panic aside, if they manage their immigration better, fertility competition over culture and power loses importance.)


Second, it assumes there is no equilibrium. That secular women will have sub-replacement fertility until everyone just disappears. But this is probably not likely. Eventually land and housing prices would fall to such a point where secular people could acquire homes cheaply and early in life, and the probable outcome of that is some sort of reverse or equilibrium in fertility.


Third, that secularism and fertility are functionally (as opposed to historically) at odds is not obviously true.

If secularism really is about hedonism, as you say, and given that motherhood makes women happier than education, isn't it probable that the there are secular-hedonistic routes to fertility?

What if parents and educators started to emphasize that mothers were happier than pink-collar office workers or mathematicians and engineers instead of the opposite?

If religion successfully directs female behavior through community pressure and transcendent motivation, I can see how a secular society could do that as well.

Secular community pressure can be just as powerful as any religious community pressure (see racism taboos), and transcendent motivations, I think, can easily take political forms (There is a lot of transcendent Obamaism out there).

Certainly, politically transcendent fertility took an incalculable hit with the Nazis, but there is no reason to think that such stigmas should last forever.

BGC said...

If I might just focus on what I think is the crux of the matter:

JM said: "isn't it probable that the there are secular-hedonistic routes to fertility? What if parents and educators started to emphasize that mothers were happier than pink-collar office workers or mathematicians and engineers instead of the opposite?"

My point about secularism being hedonistic is that all the moral arguments about what people 'ought' to do are underpinned by the justification of causing more pleasure or reducing pain.

The reason that high IQ people more often defer satisfaction (eg by going to college) is that they are more long-termist in their pleasure seeking. But the underlying rationale is still hedonistic.

Since the most intelligent, freest and most secular women have the least children; I am assuming that this is their revealed preference. I think we should assume that zero or few children is what they want (on average), and that overall this makes them happiest - or perhaps avoids the worst risks to their happiness.

This is what I meant by short termism - even if it was believed that having a large family was a route to happiness - there are so many, many things that can go wrong on the way to fulfilling this plan, and it is so strongly discounted by its long-termism, that I doubt whether it would be adopted on happiness maximizing grounds.

There is such a large fertility gap to be bridged before even replacment levels are reached, that I doubt whether little encouragements and tweaks to incentives by parents, educators and politicins could ever come near to making enough difference.

I am strongly influenced by the (apparent) fact that there is only one group of high IQ moderns in the whole world which exceed replacement fertility - devout US Mormons. (Maybe there are some groups of Orthodox but otherwise modern Jews who also do this - I am not sure).

So, on current evidence, I doubt whether a secular society could ever get people freely to choose high fertility. On what compelling grounds would they encourage this choice, given the huge losses of freedom etc which having children entails, and which apprently deters so many intelligent people from having large families?

The only possibility of chosen secular fertility would seem to be some kind of transhuman future, in which the costs of reproduction are drastically reduced, and the whole process becomes technologized.

Indeed I think a rigorous secularism points to transhumanism - and transhumanism is, I think, the only intellectually- and morally-coherent alternative to the (more probable) religious future.

Audacious Epigone said...

Revlok,

Heh, I make the same tongue-in-cheek remarks to whiterpeople I know on a regular basis.

Jason,

That Barna study isn't longitudinal--wouldn't it also show that the younger generation is more politically liberal than the 'busters'? Yet would it be reasonable to assume that the political landscape is going to shift an amount equivalent to the difference between the younger generation and the busters in the next several decades? That's doubtful, since people tend to become more conservative as they age.

I don't interpret Buchanan's comparison of oral contraceptives to suicide pills to mean that the if contraceptives were removed, the birthrate would explode. I understand it as a cultural criticism of the contemporary West for actively seeking out a way to stop itself from propagating. But maybe he meant it less symbolically and more literally than I thought, and I'm just unaware.

I wonder if religiosity is correlated with lower time preference for people of equal intelligence. I'm going to use the GSS to look at several social attributes and behaviors across the theistic spectrum by Wordsum score to see if it provides any insight.

That secular women will have sub-replacement fertility until everyone just disappears. But this is probably not likely. Eventually land and housing prices would fall to such a point where secular people could acquire homes cheaply and early in life, and the probable outcome of that is some sort of reverse or equilibrium in fertility.

Do you expect the US material standard of living to increase or decrease in the next several decades? If the dependency pool at the far end of the age spectrum keeps growing, isn't it going to become less likely that people, especially those who feel no religious or moral compulsion to have children, will want to have more than their parents did? Also, do you expect, then, a sharp uptick in US fertility rates in the next several years due to the decline in housing prices?

What if parents and educators started to emphasize that mothers were happier than pink-collar office workers or mathematicians and engineers instead of the opposite?

BGC's argument, if I'm construing it correctly, is that such a shift is very unlikely among secular opinion makers. Wouldn't it require an overturning of five decades of cultural stare decisis? Even if there was a shift in parental and educational emphasis, wouldn't the religious also receive the same change in message, and thus see their fertility shift similarly? If so, differential birth rates will remain.

Also, religiosity does appear to be determined at least partially genetically, and like other factors it becomes more so after adolescence. That suggests that it is heriditary. Though technological progress leads to more secular influence via environment, will it sustainably overcome a genetic 'slide' back towards greater religiosity? Also, if top-heavy demographies lead to lower standard of livings in the developed world in the next several generations, I presume that will lessen the secular environmental influence.

Thanks for the input. Man, I feel like I should post as Demea rather than AE when I 'challenge' you.

kurt9 said...

I see a lot of these discussions about modernity, fertility, and future demographics. What seems to be completely lacking in these discussions is the possibility of radical life extension, SENS-style or something like it. Would not radical life extension result is radical changes in demography?

Jason Malloy said...

AE,

Thanks.

Perhaps comparing cohorts in the GSS would be worthwhile RE: the magnitude of secular changes.

I certainly don't dispute a significant genetic element to religiosity, but I see secular social evolution outpacing the slow genetic changes of the population.

Religiosity could also very well decouple from reproduction, Christianity, and conservatism. My opinion is that the increase of religious alleles doesn't necessarily give us a whole lot of insight into the future.


"Do you expect the US material standard of living to increase or decrease in the next several decades? If the dependency pool at the far end of the age spectrum keeps growing, isn't it going to become less likely..."

Keep in mind I was arguing an equilibrium in birth rates would likely come somewhere before extinction, not necessarily before precipitous decline. I did not argue birth rates will rise anytime soon. They will probably go down.

And, yes, I do expect appreciable increases in first-world living standards over the next several generations. This is probably an unpopular time to say so, but let's all hope my optimism is prescient. :)

"... wouldn't the religious also receive the same change in message, and thus see their fertility shift similarly? If so, differential birth rates will remain."


Again, I was only disputing the idea that "... secularism is self-destructive of society - like a cancer that grows fast but in a selfish way that destroys its host.".


BGC,

The reason that high IQ people more often defer satisfaction (eg by going to college) is that they are more long-termist in their pleasure seeking. But the underlying rationale is still hedonistic.


Religious or secular, most people are just trying to lead satisfying lives.

Mormons aren't having more children because their leaders are telling them to suffer, rather they are told children are blessings and that family life is a rewarding life-style.

I think religious people do more often behave out of principle and duty, but this is nowhere close to absent from or contrary to secularism either.

It is not hard to find secular people taking life-paths based on causes (e.g. becoming surgeons to help people, working for low-pay environmentalist groups, humanitarian missions overseas, ahem, "community organizers", etc).

So I disagree that hedonism conceptually distinguishes the two.


Since the most intelligent, freest and most secular women have the least children; I am assuming that this is their revealed preference. I think we should assume that zero or few children is what they want (on average), and that overall this makes them happiest - or perhaps avoids the worst risks to their happiness.


Revealed preferences aren't necessarily what makes people happiest though, because people are bad about predicting what will make them happy.

To give an example, what if we took two identical high IQ, "feminist" genotypes and placed one in Manhattan and the other in Salt Lake City. The one in Manhattan may have the latitude to shape her own environment, sleep around, focus on career, and ultimately become miserable by middle age, because she wasn't able to accurately gauge how those choices would affect her long-term well-being.

The one in SLC, OTOH, may find it harder to make those choices (or become exposed to those ideas) without, e.g. losing tuition, community support, and end up with a good degree, a husband and kids by age 25.

Her limitations in choice are what eventually made her more satisfied.


An interesting question about the Mormon exception, is are the higher educated women with higher religiousness, and higher parity also less satisfied with their lives?

If so this would indicate the Mormon church is simply better at instilling a greater "sense of duty" among higher IQ women.

But if they also report being more satisfied with their lives, this indicates that they have in some sense been "saved from themselves" in the Mormon environment, and that the ideas they would nurture, and choices they would freely make for themselves, outside that environment would be destructive to their lives and well-being.

And this is what I meant above, saying that free choice and well-being may genuinely be at odds in many instances, giving us genuine political dilemmas.

BGC said...

Just a clarification.

JM rightly says: "It is not hard to find secular people taking life-paths based on causes ... So I disagree that hedonism conceptually distinguishes the two."

My point is not about observed behaviour, but about the ultimate moral underpinnings which justify behaviour. For the secular perspective the ultimate justification is happiness/ pain avoidance in this world. There is nothing deeper than this. And enlightened secular people would view hedonism in a long termist fashion, and often in a utilitarian calculus (the greatest happiness of the greatest number). But it is still about behaving such as to maximize subjective fulfillment as experienced in this world.

JM: "An interesting question about the Mormon exception, is are the higher educated women with higher religiousness, and higher parity also less satisfied with their lives?
If so this would indicate the Mormon church is simply better at instilling a greater "sense of duty" among higher IQ women."

It is not all about duty either. Duty is putting the group interest above the individual interest - and all groups of every kind impose this to some degree. In a secular perspective, duty is about maximizing the happiness/ minimizing suffering of the group even when this does not maximize one's own happiness.

But for a religious person, there is potentially an extra transcendental element beyond this. At one level this means that happiness is sought in this world AND the next. Happiness in a context of eternity is a very different thing from happiness over 85 years.

But also there is the role of revelation: the directly-communicated (albeit incomplete, imperfectly understood, and mis-interpretable) knowledge of life and its meanings transmitted via a church.

For those who believe in revelation there is an underpinning to behaviour, an ultimate justification, which is deeper and more compelling than either this-world hedonism or duty to existing institutions.

Jason Malloy said...

BGC,


I think the categorical distinctions you are attempting to make between the behavioral motivations of secular and religious people don't empirically exist.


"For the secular perspective the ultimate justification is happiness/ pain avoidance in this world. There is nothing deeper than this."


Jonathan Haidt actually identifies five universal dimensions of morality, three of which have nothing to do with happiness/pain avoidance: harm, fairness, group loyalty, authority and purity.

Both secular and religious people instinctively rely on all these moral motivational domains. What religious people do is more often prioritize authority-based morality over harm and fairness.

("Religiousness" itself, the heritable trait, is probably largely an enhanced animistic sense that there is "something there" -- a mind in the shadows. What organized religion probably does is endow this pressing instinctive perception with a narrative and an authority. Religiousness may also be a propensity toward the three "illogical" domains of morality, or perhaps even all five.)


In a secular perspective, duty is about maximizing the happiness/ minimizing suffering of the group even when this does not maximize one's own happiness.

I think this is secular rationale for duty-based behavior, and if you logically bully religious people, most will try to ultimately justify their behavior in this way too, just to ease the cognitive dissonance (e.g. "God Works in Mysterious Ways" is just another way of saying that something logically bad (like a tornado) is actually logically good, but that we are just too limited in our mental capacity and knowledge to figure out why).

But the truth at the level of actual behavior and moral intuition is that both religious and secular people many times behave in ways that show they have given moral credence to loyalty/duty/authority above the logical outcomes of those values. Secular people do rally around the leader, and as much as they will tell you "the leader works in mysterious ways" when called on their bad behavior, the truth is is that they didn't really care anymore than the religious people. Following the leader was the ultimate instinctive moral motivation, not the outcomes of that obedience.

It is a mistake to always take either secular or religious people at their word for their moral motivators. Secular motivations can often be more 'illogical', and religious motivations more 'logical', than what either tells you.


But for a religious person, there is potentially an extra transcendental element beyond this. At one level this means that happiness is sought in this world AND the next.


Religious people and different religions differ to the extent they accept and emphasize an afterlife, so I would like to see how much the strength of this belief alone influences behavior. Experiments show that behavior can be influenced by reminding religious people that "God is watching" when there is an opportunity for bad behavior. So at least this belief seems to make religious people "more moral" than secular people, by endowing their everyday decisions with an extra layer of consequences. (of course, there are probably also moral motivators that are more prevalent among secular people.)

I think you overestimate how much abstract distant future events motivate ordinary behavior. Everyone that smokes fully knows there will be dire consequences 20 and 30 years later, but few are moved by this. It is easy to doubt that afterlife belief plays an over-sized role in everyday human behavior.

A person who treated religion as real as the consequences demanded would be considered mentally ill by society. Few religious people treat it as if there was much real to it at all.

BGC said...

Jason

We agree that moral intuitions ('natural law') are pretty much universal - at least in their core features. We also both agree that there is a big overlap between religious and secular behaviour - even when the necessary controls are applied.

I return to the point about 'underpinnings' or ultimate validation for behaviours (including the moral intuitions). I would focus more on this ultimate level of moral justification than on more proximate motivations.

My sense is that modernizing societies have been experimenting (for the last several generations) with dispensing with transcendental values (truth, virtue, beauty) - and for a while inertia and generational overlap disguised the bad consequences (and we had good consequences especially in science and the economy).

For the last few decades I think we can now begin to see that there are some bad consequences too. Without truth, science is becoming ever more corrupted and there are no scientific geniuses. Without beauty, art has declined qualitatively and there are no more artistic geniuses.

And without underpinning from transcendental virtue I think we are seeing a moral drift into hedonic expediency which shows no clear sense of having a self-correcting quality.

Without a transcendental sense of the meaning of human life, we are even failing to fulfil our primary role of self perpetuation. It is blazingly obvious what needs to be done, but we don't do it; and have come to regard the avoidance as a sign of superior moral sensitivity.

I regard chosen mass sub-replacement fertility in Western societies by elites as conclusive evidence of a potentially fatal malaise; of profound decadence - probably due to a loss of the ability to see the fundamentals of existence and a relentless attention to second order considerations at the expense of first order matters.

My point is related to the argument of Alasdair MacIntyre in After Virtue - when he demonstrates that modern secular morality is intrinsically and unsolvably incoherent; and to the observations of Charles Murray in the conclusion of Human Accomplishment - where he stresses the need for transcendental values as necessary for the highest levels of achievement. As well as achievement in science and art, I would also include achievement of the highest levels of virtue.

Audacious Epigone said...

Jason,

How do you describe (or what do you speculate are the causes of) lower fertility among the more secular and more educated, both at the group and individual levels?

A person who treated religion as real as the consequences demanded would be considered mentally ill by society. Few religious people treat it as if there was much real to it at all.

The Protestant Reformation helped bring behaviors and consequences into unison (albeit largely by eliminating the latter). Nonetheless, as you say, it provides an extra layer--one that tends to have a greater relative effect on those with lower levels of intelligence.

Everyone that smokes fully knows there will be dire consequences 20 and 30 years later, but few are moved by this. It is easy to doubt that afterlife belief plays an over-sized role in everyday human behavior.

It is my sense that there are more than a few mothers out there who kicked the habit while pregnant (and also stopped drinking regularly, eating as much junkfood, etc) only to take it back up again after giving birth. And rarely in the direct presence of their offspring (even though the potential/disputed damaging effects of second-hand smoke would not manifest for decades).

Anonymous said...

Spain's fertility has been as low as 1.2.

Germany's as low as 1.3


Italy's has been about that low.


Blue State Whiterpeople fertility is something like 1.5.




A birthrate of 1.5 will half the size of a breeding generation in about 65 years according to Steve Sailer.

A birthrate of 1.0 cuts the size of the NEXT generation in HALF.



If you have a nation of 20 million people, and there are 10 million above 45 and 10 million below 45, and that group below 45 only has one child per female..............they only make 5 million kids.


The nation will eventually have 10 million over 45 and 5 million under 45.

If the second generation does this again and only makes 2.5 million children.................you can see where this goes.



Of course we have massive immigration of others into this nation, but those others typically have lower IQ's and tend to vote socialistic (Democratic). The ones of us who breed tend to be religious.

Truly secular people in the blue states probably have a fertility rate that is even UNDER 1.5. The rights to abortion and liberation that they are so concerned about are lost on the folks who do most of the breeding.


When the baby boomers enter the retirement homes in mass, and their cultural influence goes up in smoke (because post-boomers will be running newsrooms and entertainment companies at that time), I imagine the religous will have more sway here than they have had for some time.






For the first Anonymous..............Dream on, you will never see laws that restrict fertility. They would be labelled as "racist" and hence defeated. There is nothing you can do about it, except make MORE babies yourself and encourage other secular people to do likewise or prosetylize the religoius into secularity. What China has pulled off (one child policy) would be so politically unpopular here it would assure the end of the career of any candidate who raised the issue.

Jason Malloy said...

BGC,

Thank you for the dialogue. What you are saying appears to be romantic and maybe poetic, so I'm having trouble fully digesting it or finding it plausible on empirical grounds.

I would dispute that 'transcendental values' exist. I think values can be followed or justified on transcendental grounds, or experienced or processed in that framework, but what these values are are entirely unique to the ecology and society that co-opts the transcendental mind-set. Any possible value or idea can be 'transcendental'.

(See my explanation of religiosity above -- essentially religiosity, or animism, is a by-product of adaptive Type I errors. This animism is then co-opted by the cultural group to justify what are typically the values and behaviors that have resulted in the group's survival/persistence.)

So it is important to stress that nothing, including truth, beauty, or reproduction have a fundamental association with transcendental cognition.

In the case of truth, at least, there is even an inherent conflict with transcendentalism, since transcendental values are justified on fictionalized grounds. And because of this, falsehood cannot be separated from religion, and religions always have inherently necessary self-protective norms or dictates at some level to restrict or obscure knowledge.

In the case of beauty, there can easily be transcendental opposition to beauty, as is the case with the Taliban and, e.g. banning music. This is also true for reproduction where there are many kinds of transcendental rules against reproduction, for either important or ascribed people (such as Catholic priests and nuns), or for the entire group (e.g. the Shakers; of course, this is more rare, since religious values are most often optimized for self-propagation, for a reason directly analogous to natural selection).


"For the last few decades I think we can now begin to see that there are some bad consequences too. Without truth, science is becoming ever more corrupted and there are no scientific geniuses. Without beauty, art has declined qualitatively and there are no more artistic geniuses."

It may not be wise to reject this entirely in an a priori way -- it is certainly possible that people with transcendental motivations are more energized or directed in their goals, etc -- but there are, I think, good reasons to be strongly skeptical of it.

For one, the strongest components of achievement are cognitive talents that appear to be either unrelated to or even inversely related to religiosity, such as intelligence, creativity, openness to experience.

If the theory is that transcendental values foster excellence in science and art, it seems rather damning (if not wholly dispositive) that the most successful scientists and artists have been almost entirely secular. In fact, in the last 100+ years at least, we have data that indicates the more accomplished the scientist, the lower the level of religiosity.

And this is the pattern we see both within and between societies. And seemingly across time as well. I have certainly met both scientists and artists who feel their talents are an extension of their religious being and purpose. There is no reason these shouldn't be the people in both contemporary and historical times who accomplish the most, if the transcendental theory is true. But they don't appear to be.


"Without a transcendental sense of the meaning of human life, we are even failing to fulfil our primary role of self perpetuation. It is blazingly obvious what needs to be done, but we don't do it... a loss of the ability to see the fundamentals of existence and a relentless attention to second order considerations at the expense of first order matters."


Bruce...... I don't think the logical, much less air-tight, case has been made here that having as many kids as possible is the best way to help anybody! (or that a logically superior morality should be concerned about anything else)

In fact, I think a much better case can be made that foregoing reproduction would benefit a lot of societies. Probably all of them. Especially in the long term. I don't really see Afghanistan and Mali as the nations at the forefront of helping themselves or mankind (as far ahead of European nations as they clearly are in their coherent transcendental morality :)).

BGC said...

Jason: I wouldn't recommend this as a course of action, but... if you were to trawl through my publications you would be able to find plenty of instances where I am arguing pretty much exactly the same points as you are arguing here. And not so long ago either!

What can I say? I have changed my mind. I would like to think it was on the basis of having discovered more evidence and accumulated more experience, but who knows...

Jason Malloy said...

"How do you describe (or what do you speculate are the causes of) lower fertility among the more secular and more educated, both at the group and individual levels?"


I suspect children just don't provide people with much utility, and people have weak instincts to reproduce. Mostly people had sex, and sex gave them babies. Babies looked cute, so they took care of babies. As far as evolution was concerned, the system worked.

The demographic transition does seem to be related to education of a sort, coinciding with the rise in female literacy. Education, literacy, secularism, economic integration, and contraception seemingly form the backbone of the effect -- all related to females.

One trait that will probably increasingly boost reproductive success in the wealthy modern world is status indifference.

Prior to women's liberation, status hunger was probably a reproductively beneficial trait for women, because it would push women to marry high status men. These men could, in turn, subsidize more children (which itself would make high numbers of children a status symbol). There were few other opportunities for status-conscious women to attain high status than to marry into it. And this incidentally led to more children -- a by-product of status consciousness.

But post-women's liberation, status consciousness would have the opposite effect. Now status conscious women have to marry well and participate in the workforce to achieve the same, or higher, standard of living as other women; an arms race that leaves little room for children. The time and expenses of children take away time that could be spent in education and in the labor force to keep up with the Joneses. And status conscious children cost $200,000 a piece, while status indifferent children cost about 1/4 that (status conscious children need the proper annual fashion, the right schools and neighborhoods, and a good college degree -- status indifferent children get hand-me-downs and go to trade school).

The one kid/two cars SWPL crowd of today, were the genetic breeders of yesterday!

Perhaps this is why the demographic transition started at the top of the socioeconomic ladder in late nineteenth century Europe/America (a little earlier in France), and then diffused down to the lower classes. As soon as a bunch of European rich women acquired the legal and social rights and education to figure out that they could do better things with their time than have a bunch of ingrate children, the whole edifice came tumbling down. Women in the lower classes with the same newly evolving rights, followed the status lead.

One recent study from Brazil suggests the same; status imitation drove their demographic transition. As soon as different areas in Brazil acquired access to Soap Operas (1960-2000) about small, middle-class Brazilian families, local birth rates would drop dramatically to the levels featured in the TV shows (from 6.3 to 2.3 children), and parents would name their children after the characters in those shows.

A similar effect on fertility followed cable television introduction in India.

In other words, as soon as women see higher class women adopt low fertility behaviors, they rapidly follow suit.


Perhaps of note, the introduction of foreign soap operas did not have the same effect on Brazilian regions. Foreign status markers were of no consequence.

This could explain why Mormon women have not been fully affected by the broader US culture. It isn't entirely "their" group, compared with other Mormon women.

The insulated religious culture works to make sure that status = children within the Mormon community. Thereby keeping birth rates high by working through both transendental (religion) and material (status) motives.

Audacious Epigone said...

Jason,

Thanks for that link on Type I adaptive errors. Great conversational fodder re: male overinference of female interest!

From what I understand, Rick Warren preaches what essentially amounts to status indifference (he ministers to a very affluent congregation). Parenthetically, he has three children. Part of BGC's argument is, if I am construing it correctly, that elite opinion puts great emphasis on status attainment (of the type whiterpeople strive for) of a sort that does not include room for traditional family norms, notably early and high fertility. To procreate is to inhibit the attainment of these various status markers. At present anyway, there seems to be no secular worldviews that celebrate fertility. It is only within the body of religious worldviews that such outlooks are found. Some of those religious worldviews are inimical to Western values (various strains of Islam, German pietists, etc), while others are not (like Mormonism). So, saving game-changers like radical life extension or ovarian tissue banking (or the combination of both), we'd better hope for/follow the Mormon-esque path, combining population replenishment with an appreciation of the attributes associated with progress that you point out (intelligence, creativity, openness to experience).

Jason Malloy said...

At present anyway, there seems to be no secular worldviews that celebrate fertility.

I really think there are. It's just that once you look outside of large, hierarchical top-down religions (like Catholicism), "worldviews" are a lot more obscure, uncategorized, chaotic, and fluid. The closest you'll get is political affiliation like 'Republican' or 'Democrat'. That's one of the reasons I think SWPL is such a hit in the Steveosphere. It isn't just a joke, but a surprisingly useful cultural taxonomy that we didn't have before. But it is a very fluid and decentralized cultural worldview.

Similarly, there appear to be a number of nameless regional US cultural enclaves where there is class-based status breeding.

I don't have statistics, but I know of such an enclave in the city where I live. The press has the periodical story on other enclaves. Listen to this NPR story on "competitive birthing" which mentions such a sub-culture on Connecticut's 'Gold Coast'. As the story indicates, there is some indication this has grown in the last 15 years:

"A February analysis of Current Population Survey data by the Council on Contemporary Families found that in the past 10 years, the top-earning 1.3 percent of the population has seen an uptick in families with three or more children. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 12 percent of upper-income women had three children or more in 2002, compared with only 3 percent in 1995."


I somewhat regret saying that there are no psychological drives towards reproduction. I haven't really found research to support such drives yet, but that doesn't mean such drives don't exist. And we should probably assume they exist.

Professional moms are now twice as likely to have kids as they were 30 years ago. I think that part of the reason is that more "average" women are now going to college and becoming professionals (more feminine, lower IQs), and so they retain more of the normal breeding drives than the more highly self-selected women who chose to compete professionally in the past.

In truth, while most developed nations are below replacement fertility, this is not what they say they want. Note the desired number of children reported in the following countries are all comfortably above replacement:

Desired (1999-2004)/Actual (2000)

Japan 2.68 / 1.41
Canada 2.67 / 1.52
US 2.62 / 2.06
Singapore 2.58 / 1.35
Sweden 2.57 / 1.67
Korea 2.45 / 1.24
Spain 2.28 / 1.29

People in these nations are apparently having one less child than they actually want. This shows the sub-replacement "birth rate problem" (if you want to call it that) is primarily due to something more than "moral decadence" (if you want to call it that).

Fertility problems could be a contributor here (which have certainly increased), but I think a bigger issue might just be a gentler way of saying status competition: I think the average person's notions of the morally adequate investment necessary for each child has grown to exceed the average person's ability to meet that investment. If the morally necessary investment per child is now understood to be $200,000+, then it simply comes down to the average person not being able to responsibly have the number of children they want: ... Having another kid on our household income would be like buying a German Shepard when you live in an apartment building with no yard.

(This is why Mexican immigrants have so many more kids on lower incomes; their psychologically internalized minimum standards for their children are much lower. Their reproductive budgets don't include piano lessons, 70 new toys a year, lot's of nutritious food, an ivy college education, etc. These are luxury minimum standards that Americans have internalized. In fact, nearly all standards are luxuries from the standpoint of how we all lived until about 200 years ago!)

In fact, the very rich and the very, very rich apparently do have relatively high birth rates, which are suspiciously similar to the "desired" number of children reported by US men and women, leading me to wonder if maybe our standards have just grown so much that we believe only super rich people can provide the environments morally adequate enough to meet our desired family size.

(Household incomes above $250,000 annually average 2.3 children, and those on the Forbes top 400 average 2.9 children).

Audacious Epigone said...

Jason,

Well, I certainly hope you're correct.

The competitive birthing story is encouraging. Reminds me of a Simpsons episode, when the family follows Homer's promotion away from Springfield and into a home that maintains itself, Marge falls into depression with nothing to do. If I'm going to be a homemaker, it better keep me busy--bring on the kids!

I'm currently working on a GSS post that deals with the question of ideal family size (which seems like a pretty good proxy for desired number of children). There is very little variation in the GSS numbers though--the desired number of children and actual number of children are nearly identical (that may be due to self-justification though, with women saying their actual completed family size is the ideal family size).

SellCivilizationShort said...

"From this line of argument, I agree with Steve Sailer that the future will be religious - and (because Jews do not go in for recruiting) the future will likely be either Christian (I include Mormons) or Islamic. Decide."

Point of fact: Jews always recruit -- sometimes aggressively, sometimes selectively.

In the world of academia, I've seen a lot of male converts to Judaism. Some come in before marriage and some by marriage to a Jewess.

Audacious Epigone said...

SCS,

According to a detailed analysis by Jack Wertheimer in Commentary, out-marriages usually do result in conversions--to non-Judaic affiliations:

"Not only does the birth rate among intermarried Jews tend to be even lower than among in-married ones, but nearly three-quarters of children raised in intermarried families go on to marry non-Jews themselves, and only 4 percent of these raise their own children as Jews. As for their links with Jewish life, only a minority of children raised by dual-religion parents identify themselves with Judaism or with the institutions of the Jewish community."

The US used to have the largest population of Jews in the world. No longer--a few years ago, that designation was taken by Israel.