A few months ago, Jayman put up a post entitled Idiocracy Can Wait?. He found what I'd found, and with a lot more evidence marshaled in the affirmative than I had assembled. Namely, past performance does not necessarily predict future results.
We reactionary curmudgeons often presume that things are deteriorating. The rot in our popular culture and our purpose (or lack thereof) for existing bleed through to saturate every organ of society. In short, we are doomed.
But when it comes to procreation, dysgenic trends look as though they may be a thing of the past, concerns for the 20th century, not this one. In the 21st, the story has become--among whites at least--more, ahem, nuanced, especially when it comes to men.
The following graphs show the average (mean) number of children among white, native-born adults aged 40-65 by sex who were surveyed in the 1980s, the 1990s, and the 2000s into the early 2010s.
Firstly, the 1980s:
Pronounced dysgenic trend among women; gentle dysgenic tilt among men. We appeared to be on the road to idiocracy.
Next, the 1990s:
Continued dysgenic trend among women, though the drop in fertility among those of the most modest intelligence to those of the most acute has become less precipitous. There now exists only a very slight dysgenic pattern among men.
Finally, the turn of the millennium through to the present:
Two decades prior the gap between the dullest wenches and the smartest shrews was 1.5 children. Over the last decade, it's narrowed to just half a kid between the top and the bottom. The dysgenic trend among women in the 2000s is similar to the dysgenic trend among men in the 1980s. Among men, the term "dysgenic"--if not retired altogether--can at least be sidelined for the time being. There now appears to be a modest eugenic trend occurring among men.
Immigration is a wild card here, of course. As non-Hispanic whites drop as a fraction of the US population (in rough tandem with their rate of decline among the globe's total human contingent), this moderately encouraging phenomenon could and probably will become negated by a corresponding increase in the size and proportion of the NAM population.
Tangentially, wise men say only fools rush in... to wordsum. They suggest educational attainment as a superior substitute for a 10-item vocabulary test as a means of assessing intelligence. Who am I to disagree? (Okay, I'll stop). Perhaps that is so, but educational attainment--independent of intelligence, or at least independent of wordsum scores--is far more vigorously inversely correlated with fertility than intelligence or wordsum scores are. Similarly, this is considerably more pronounced among women than it is among men, if it even characterizes men at all.
It's not at all difficult to comprehend why. Women spending their most reproductively viable years in school and then their increasingly marginally reproductive years establishing themselves in their careers leaves precious little time for making babies as their biological clocks approach midnight. It applies to unintelligent and intelligent women alike forsake the maternal imperative to pursue higher education.
From a tangent to a digression and back to the tangent again, the correlation between wordsum scores and educational attainment by decade of birth among all native-born Americans who have participated in the GSS:
Born prior to 1950: .536
Born in the 1950s: .507
Born in the 1960s: .469
Born in the 1970s: .419
Born in the 1980s: .373
Educational romanticism encourages everyone to seek formalized higher education, whatever the costs--economic, emotional, opportunity, and otherwise--irrespective of their stations and objectives in life. As more and more people do just that, educational attainment tells us less and less about a person's cognitive capacities.
GSS variables used: WORDSUM(0-3)(4-5)(6)(7-8)(9-10), RACE(1), SEX(1)(2), YEAR(1980-1989)(1990-1999)(2000-2012), BORN(1), AGE(40-65), COHORT(1900-1949)(1950-1959)(1960-1969)(1970-1979)(1980-1989)