Saturday, August 22, 2009

For women, too, fewer partners means more babies

Nearly a year ago, I happily reported that among men the monogamists were outproducing the contemporary Genghis Khan's. The GSS shows that men who have had one lifetime partner procreate more than men who have had a few, who in turn make more babies than the Roissys of the world do. The trend holds across racial lines as well (excepting Asians, for which the sample sizes are too small to be determinative).

But devotion to a single mate might not have a bright future relative to more expansive sexual relationships if women who like to test the water by jumping in are outproducing those who prefer only dipping their toes. The following table shows the average number of children women have birthed by the number of male sexual partners they have had since the age of 18*. Like men, women who have had only one partner are the most fecund:

PartnersChildrenN
12.294363
21.971677
32.001333
41.86870
51.84853
61.86488
71.46251
81.45181
91.4674
101.55518
111.5024
121.29119
131.4626
141.6221
151.60179
16+1.42487

As the number of partners increases, the amount of procreation decreases. Taking the average number of chidren for each group of women (those who've had one partner, those who've had two partners, etc) and comparing it with the number of partners each group has had yields an inverse correlation of .79, (p=0), even stronger than the relationship of the two variables for men, which stands at .57 (p=.02).

A graphical representation of the data follow:


Green-on-up indicates replenishment or better. Seven in ten women who have been committed to a single man are sustaining themselves. Among women who have had been with seven or more guys, replenishment isn't even quite the norm, with fewer than half having at least two children. While only one of six monogamous women are barren, one in three women who've had at least seven partners are.

How does race play into this? The following tables show the average number of children had by women and by race, by the number of male sexual partners they have had since the age of 18. Ranges are employed where sample sizes for individual partner counts are deemed too small to stand alone:

Whites
PartnersChildrenN
12.171297
22.14496
31.92374
41.82296
51.84297
61.70161
71.4297
81.2870
91.5528
101.54210
11+1.34344

Blacks
PartnersChildrenN
12.29140
21.7794
32.13107
42.1648
52.4168
6-101.9471
11+1.7143

Hispanics
PartnersChildrenN
12.10158
22.0376
3-52.25128
6+1.5077

Asians
PartnersChildrenN
11.6675
2-51.3251
6+0.723

The pattern is strong among whites and appears to be so among Asians as well, although the Asian sample is prohibitively small to attach much certainty to it. There is a counterpoint in the data among black women, as those who report having five partners have the largest brood, although the advantage over the monogamous is slight. Similarly among Hispanics, those in the 3-5 range are the most fecund. Across all groups, the promiscuous do not tend to turn their love making into baby making.

Tangentially, the inspiration for originally looking at the question of how the number of children and number of partners a person has interact has long since gotten back together with the girl who broke up with him. On graduation night, he was relieved of the fear he might die a virgin. She wants kids in four years, and he wants to be with her forever. If all goes as planned, it couldn't happen to a better young man.

GSS variables used: NUMMEN, CHILDS, SEX(2), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10), HISPANIC(2-99)

* The GSS cuts off at eight children ("eight or more"). I treated men in this category as though they'd had exactly eight kids.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Religion.

The religious will marry sooner (fornication or pre-marital sex is a "sin" according to their beliefs), and have more reproductive years within their marriages than the secular, who usually put off marriage until they are a little older. The religious also believe that divorce for any other reason than adultry is a "sin", so they probably resist the urge to divorce, even when they aren't very happy, and thus stick together and make an extra kid (or two).



I know of one-former-feminist gal I once dated that "wasn't sure she ever wanted to have children" back in school. She turned into a Jesus-freak. She now has six kids. I couldn't believe it when a friend told me that, so I checked up on it, and it was true.


.

Jokah Macpherson said...

My initial gut reaction was the same as anon's but after playing around on the GSS I think the phenomenon is totally unrelated to religion. Although church attendance gives females an increasing reproductive boost up to about .7 kids from never attending to going multiple times a week, the monogamous or those close have the most children relative to their religiosity across the board.

Even the Internet's biggest proponent of fornication, Roissy, often argues that promiscuity reduces women's ability to bond with an eventual long-term mate (and apparently create a family as well). In that regard it could also be considered a secular sin instead of just a religious one.

Audacious, I'm happy for your friend, although a little jealous. I would caution that the status of his relationship is still a big "if" since people can change a lot from age 18 to their mid 20's. I knew three couples who dated throughout all four years of college only to break up for good their last semester. This is still preferable to getting stuck with a divorce, though.

Anonymous said...

"Although church attendance gives females an increasing reproductive boost up to about .7 kids from never attending to going multiple times a week,"


Jokah,

.7 kids is huge. 2.0 children per female is much less than 2.7 children per female.


If 200 adults, 100 men and women, average 2.7 children per female, you get 270 children.

At only 2.0 children per female, you get 200 children.


Our problem is we are having roughly 190 children for every 200 white females. If everyone could increase their stats by .7 children, we'd be having about 260 children per 200 females, and thus fertility wouldn't even be on our minds.



Unless that was a typo, that is a big difference.



Hispanics were around 3.1 last I saw, but Ive heard thats been going down but have not confirmed it. Whites had gotten up to 1.9, blacks were at 1.91, and Asians were lower than both, but I dont recall the exact numbers. "The elite" implicity tell whites there are too many kids every chance they get, suppressing their birthrate.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

The brilliant Peter Frost has a post that is somewhat related to your post, AE:

Where are the women?

Anonymous said...

Also a tangent. Women who delay the birth of their first baby till after age 20 have breast cancer rates that rise for every year of delay. However, I haven't seen any data connecting number of children. I don't know if there is any effect for more children. Obviously, it is hard to have 5+ children if you don't start till 30.

Have you written a post on this topic. I have only been reading since January and have not gone through your entire archive. If you have a post on this, please point me to it. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Has anyone commented previously on how strange it seems that the question specifies partners "since 18"? Is there some explanation for this?

Audacious Epigone said...

Anon,

The correlation with religiosity presents a chicken-and-egg question, but whether it is religion that grows into monogamy or the predisposition towards monogamy that leads to religiosity (however indirectly), the outcome remains.

Jokah,

Thanks for looking into that. I have to second anon, though, that .7 children is not inconsequential--it's nearly as large as the spread between the most monogamous and most promiscuous women.

Yes, they are only in their late teens, and much could potentially change. She still has another year of high school, but once she's graduated and out in the world, she's going to be receiving an enormous amount of attention. It was the first time for both of them, though, which I like to think mutually strengthens their bond.

Anon,

No, I am not aware of any data set that is detailed enough to address that. Are you?

Anon,

No, I am not sure why the question is structured in such a way, but it is consistent, so it shouldn't effect what's being observed here.

Audacious Epigone said...

TUJ,

Thanks for that in advance. I will read it tomorrow.

Bill said...

What do you do about controlling for age? Number of partners and number of kids both mean something different for a 20 y/o vs a 60 y/o. This has got to mess up the racial/ethnic comparisons, since, for example, hispanics are younger.

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