Saturday, October 14, 2017

Childless women have poorest self-reported mental health

The percentages of people, by sex and number of biological children, who report having experienced poor mental health--defined as "stress, depression, and problems with emotions"--in the month prior to being surveyed. To avoid racial confounding, only non-Hispanic whites are considered. All responses are from 2002 onward (N = 6,961):


Whatever the cause and effect may be, if there is one at all, what these results suggest is that having children probably doesn't turn people into nervous, anxious wrecks. By providing purpose, and satisfying the biological imperative, it may even ameliorate mental health issues rather than accentuating them.

Living in accordance with one's nature may in fact be a better formula for human flourishing than trying to perpetually reconfigure, redefine, recalibrate, and even flat out remake that nature. There's a philosophical tradition in the West stretching back to antiquity that suspects as much.

GSS variables used: MNTLHLTH(0), SEX, CHILDS(0)(1)(2)(3-8), RACECEN1(1), HISPANIC(1)

21 comments:

JayMan said...

"By providing purpose, and satisfying the biological imperative, it may even ameliorate mental health issues rather than accentuating them."

Mental health problems are mental health problems because they reduce fitness. Generally, each disorder is associated with a lower number of descendants, at least in ancestral conditions.

akarlin said...

Tried further narrowing down by Wordsum(8-10), i.e. the high IQ, who should ideally be reproducing more.

Fascinating pattern which explains so much.

Men are least happy with one child (50.3% experience poor mental health), slightly happier as presumed bachelors (47.3%), happiest with 3-5 children (~35%).

Women, to the contrary are most happy with one child (50.1%). Although least happy with none (61.3%), having one is preferable to having two (56.1%), and slightly preferable to having 3-4 (~52%).

Jokah Macpherson said...

"Men are least happy with one child (50.3% experience poor mental health), slightly happier as presumed bachelors (47.3%), happiest with 3-5 children (~35%)."

Beneath Greg Cochran's grumpy facade lies one happy dude.

Audacious Epigone said...

Jayman,

So this new evolutionary environment may not be quite as unique in our evolutionary history as a species as many of us (me) assume.

Anatoly,

This rank amateur enthusiast's take:

Women need to nurture. Men want to spread the seed.

If women don't have children, they can't nurture (or they do some in fucked up ways, a la Angela Merkel). If they have even one, though, they get to nurture.

If men don't have children, they don't get to spread their seed. Men are more expendable, though, so it's not as crushing as it is for women not to nurture. They can enjoy themselves living poolside.

Once men start spreading, more is better. Just one means no poolside but also not much legacy. My guess is it's even more cutting if the only offspring is a daughter.

Jokah,

Probably right!

Not suffering fools doesn't mean being miserable or grumpy. I had the opportunity to meet Razib Khan this summer. He can come off as impatient and acerbic online, but he is very affable in person.

sykes.1 said...

So, 4 out of 10 men are crazy, and 5 out of 10 women are crazy. And democracy (demo-crazy) is supposed to be a good thing?

Anonymous said...

@audacious

Your post implies that if women had more kids, they would have better mental health. I disagree. You cannot cure schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, or any other neuroatypicality. You can treat many of them with medication, but none of them as far as I know can be cured.

People of both genders need to avoid marriage and procreation if they have any neuroatypicality. Anyone with anything in this guide: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSM-5 should avoid having kids. Look at how heritable mental ilnesses are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychiatric_genetics

Why would you want sociopaths, schizos, and bipolar people to marry and have children?

Audacious Epigone said...

Sykes,

Heh, well "crazy" might be a harsh reading. Emphasis on might be.

Anon,

Poor mental health in this context is far more liberally defined than any clinical definition of it is. We probably don't want half the population not reproducing even though half of respondents report what's being defined as poor mental health here.

The 'advocacy' is towards dissuading people from the idea that marriage and children bring misery with them. Most likely, they probably don't make that much difference--if you're already miserable, marriage and children very well may not change any of that. It may just replicate that misery in your offspring.

If you are unmarried and childless and happy as a clam, then getting married and having children probably won't change that, either, though. Those are the people I'm hoping to 'target' with my preferred interpretation.

Anonymous said...

@audacious

Only extreme liberals say that marriage makes everyone miserable...these people are like less than 5% of the population and I mostly tune them out when I'm not trolling them.

As for childbearing, it's different for every woman. Obviously men and women are both capable of changing diapers, bathing the child, dressing the child, trying to get it to stop crying, etc, but only women gestate and give birth. I think part of the reason why high IQ women have fewer kids than low IQ women is that high IQ women correctly anticipate the physical toll of pregnancy and childbirth. I remember watching on tv a news segment on teen pregnancy. It was a low IQ white girl from the South and her low IQ white boyfriend. She said after their kid was born that she didn't anticipate the stretchmarks, the morning sickness, the physical pain of childbirth, how her belly was all loose sagging skin, the sagging breasts from post-breastfeeding, and the stress of having to get up in the middle of the night for feeding and diaper changes. She said she only thought about the fun part of having a kid, like cuddles and taking your kid to the zoo, and teaching your kid how to play catch or to fly a kite, yada yada.

You're not a woman, so it's easy for far-right people like you to say "waht wimmenz should have moar waht babies!" As much as I hate liberals, this is part of the reason why I also hate anyone who identifies as a wn, "alt-right", or "red pill". I think that these men seriously underestimate the fact that childbearing is just as bad for a woman's physical looks as meth addiction or obesity. Why would a young woman in the prime of her physical attractiveness willingly take a huge hit? You guys go on and on about how women's looks, and not their other attributes, are super important and then you try to get women to do exactly an action that would bring down their looks.

I wish I could have children without having stretch marks morning sickness, life-threatening complications, weight gain, displaced abdominal muscles, sagging breasts, loose belly skin, etc. If artificial wombs existed I would expect childbearing by high IQ women to skyrocket.

Audacious Epigone said...

Anon,

underestimate the fact that childbearing is just as bad for a woman's physical looks as meth addiction or obesity

Come on lass, that's pretty extreme hyperbole.

That's not to deny that it inflicts some damage--I'm married with two kids and a 27 yo wife so I know--but it's nothing like putting on 50 pounds (permanently) or having sunken skin and missing teeth.

Anonymous said...

@audacious

Even if it were to inflict half as much damage, you can still see why high IQ women avoid childbearing until their looks are already fading. There's a reason why high IQ SWPLs from elite coastal cities age better than low IQ West Virginians. Part of it is meth, part of it is obesity, but part of it is that we don't marry until age 25-30 and we don't have kids until age 28-35.

I'm the same age as your wife, and the physical part of pregnancy and childbirth terrifies me. I don't want to gain a single pound. I have the same exact figure as I have had from age 17 and I'm proud of that. I don't want a single stretch mark. I don't want my abdominal muscles to be displaced. I don't want loose belly skin. I don't want my breasts to sag even a millimetre.

One of the few tenets of "redpillism" that I agree with is that men value women's looks very highly, more so than other attributes. Why should I do anything to bring down my physical appearance?

Curious said...

@ Anon:

Really, I don't think that's a fair assessment. There are women who let themselves go after having a child, but I don't think this is in any way inevitable. Factoring that in is more telling of the neuroticism of high IQ women than a purely objective assessment. Everyone gets old, sags, and dies. Not everyone has a legacy or people who love and care for them until they pass on.

Anonymous said...

@Curious

Eating healthy food and exercising won't get rid of stretch marks. They won't fix a loose vagina, remove a c-section scar, or make post-breastfeeding boobs look pre-breastfeeding again.

If you read this blog or any blog written by a "red pill man" you know that men value women's looks very very very highly. I don't believe in 99% of redpill/wn/alt-right bullshit but the one thing I agree on is that men really really really would prefer their wives to look as young as possible for as long as possible. If your wife had an identical twin sister who never had kids, you would find the twin more attractive than your wife after 2 or 3 kids.

tl;dr Men value physical looks extremely highly. I wouldn't be so scared of having kids if this wasn't the case.

Audacious Epigone said...

Anon,

The destruction of the traditional middle American marriage has been bad for the majority of people of both sexes for reasons you articulate. Marriage provided men with a steward of the home, a mother of the children, and reliable sexual access. The trade off was that the sex was predictable and routine. Not fantastically exciting of course, but it beats masturbation.

Now the ubiquity of porn alone makes it tough for men to accept that deal.

But you're still fighting a losing battle. You may think you have the same body as you did a decade ago, but there's no way that's true no matter how well you take care of yourself. The only real exception to it would be if you were too heavy (or, theoretically, too thin) when you were 17 and have since found your ideal bodyweight. Even then, unless it's excessive poundage, that's unlikely.

As for what men think of you, in the case of most women that will pale in comparison to what you will think of your child(ren). The bond between mother and child is the strongest bond in human existence. Nothing else comes close.

Audacious Epigone said...

Curious,

Exactly.

The closest we get to immortality is procreation.

Anonymous said...

@audacious

Just because a woman puts her kids wants/needs before her husbands wants/needs doesn't mean his wants/needs aren't important.

I still think that it is imperative for married women to look as good as possible for their husbands. Unfortunately, having kids and looking as good as possible are mutually exclusive.

szopen said...

There might be quite a few single or divorced women who have one or two children. I guess next in the cycle should be contrasting single childless women to never-divorced, married women with only one sexual partner and at least one child.

Obviously, crazy women with many problems might simply have no chance to get a partner and be married, but still it would be interesting factoid to throw at clueless liberals :-D Most of them probably wouldn't understand that correlation is not causation anyway (repeating "correlation is not causation" mantra does not mean they actually understand it)

Audacious Epigone said...

Szopen,

Too good to pass up.

Dan said...

Anon at 1:14, I agree with you completely.

Just look at the abundance of catlady porn and the total lack of MILF porn.

Audacious Epigone said...

Dan,

Lol! Touche.

Audacious Epigone said...

Szopen,

40% to 61%.

Alliumnsk said...

This particular question is too loosely defined. Also it's very well known that women are more likely to exaggerate health problems and males to downplay. There's probably large in-sex variance as well.
So any implications are too premature.