Monday, June 04, 2012

Education, religiosity, and fecundity

++Addition++Heartiste speculates that differences in the joy children bring people correlates inversely with intelligence, especially among men. On the one hand, there's not much in the way of a relationship between intelligence and fecundity among men, with the pronounced dysgenic trend happening primarily on the female side. Yet my own personal experience is similar to Heartiste's--around children they are unrelated to, the more intelligent a person is, the less he tends to be interested in or care about the kids. Parenthetically, the opposite seems to happen when the objects of attention are pets.


Dan poses an interesting question
Have you looked at they effect of religiosity on fertility when intelligence is held constant? 
This strikes me as a very important question. It is well-established, I think, that religiosity is positively correlated with fertility. But what is the specific impact of religiosity on the fertility of the really smarts, averages and dumb specifically? 
The significance of intelligence in predicting fecundity vanishes when education is controlled for. In the US, high IQ people have fewer children than those of more modest intelligence do, but it's a consequence of the fact that more intelligent people spend more time in school than less intelligent people do. Smart people who don't go to college have nearly the same fertility rates as dull people who don't, and low IQ folks who pursue post-secondary education don't have more children than high IQ people who do so end up having.

What, though, of the relationship between fecundity and religiosity when educational attainment is taken into account? Before delving into the data, it needs to be noted that the measure of religiosity I'm employing is frequency of attendance at a house of worship, which doesn't necessarily shed light on how fervently or literally respondents adhere to the precepts of their religions or the levels of credulity they display towards their faiths.

Marx's famous labeling of religion as the "opiate of the masses" aside, as Charles Murray points out in Coming Apart, the more intelligent and well-educated people are, the more likely they are to go to church (an assertion that the GSS affirms). At first blush, this may appear to present a conundrum: Religious worship and educational attainment are positively correlated, religious worship and fertility rates are also positively correlated, but educational attainment and fertility rates are negatively correlated. For those of some acquaintance with statistics, of course, we'd only necessarily be trying to square a circle here if all three of the aforementioned correlations were perfect, which they are not.

The following graph shows how religiosity and fecundity are related among those with similar levels of educational attainment. For purposes of contemporary relevance, avoiding racial confounding, and allowing time for family formation to occur, data are from 1990 onward, the respondent pool is limited to whites, and those under the age of 35 are excluded:

At each level of education, the trend is one of religiosity and fecundity moving in the same direction, even as fecundity drops among all cohorts as educational attainment increases. The only irreligious people out-procreating the Russ Johnsons and Inductivists of the world are high school dropouts.

From eyeballing the graph, it is difficult to ascertain whether education or religiosity is the stronger predictor of fertility rates. That's because they're about equally predictive. When it comes to predicting fecundity, the OLS standardized regression coefficients (with IQ included for purposes of reiteration) are as follows:

Educational attainment -- (.19)*
Worship attendance -- .15*
Wordsum score -- .00

* Statistically significant

As far as I'm aware, it appears that educational attainment and religiosity are the two strongest predictors of fecundity in the US (and the rest of the Western world?) today.

GSS variables used: CHILDS, EDUC(0-11)(12)(13-15)(16-17)(18-20), YEAR(1990-2010), BORN(1), RACE(1), AGE(35-89), WORDSUM, ATTEND(0)(1-3)(4-6)(7-8)6370726

++Addition++A reader asks:
What happens to the relationship between church attendance and fertility when you hold wordsum constant instead of education?
That would give the clearest picture of all as to whether religious attendance is eugenic...
Here's the graph:

It looks pretty similar to what we get with the education graph in the body of the post, but the association between fecundity and and religiosity is less pronounced, as the regression coefficients mentioned above predict to be the case.


Zorro said...

Do you even know what the Willful Suspension of Disbelief is?

Religion is self-serving egomania. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting... thank you for looking at this.

Frequent religious attendance is associated with a 50% fertility boost vs. nonattenders among the smarter folks (some college, college grads, post-graduates), a 25% fertility boost among the less smart folks (high school grads) and a 0% fertility boost among the dumbs (high school dropouts).

This suggests that religious attendance may be very strongly eugenic, in America anyway.

This data suggests to me that strong religion is damn near essential for high civilization, since the arrival birth control anyway. Without it, smarts don't reproduce and civilization is in big trouble.

HBDers who are so hostile to religion in America ought to realize that they are chipping away at one of the few pillars supporting intelligent civilization.

Anonymous said...

What happens to the relationship between church attendance and fertility when you hold wordsum constant instead of education?

That would give the clearest picture of all as to whether religious attendance is eugenic...

Dan said...

Thanks for the update!

To me the final chart that you just added says something very significant. In America church attendance is heavily associated with fertility among the really smarts (60% boost in fertility!)and has almost zero impact on the fertility of the really dumbs.

Among the pretty dumbs and normals, religious attendance is associated with a 20% boost in fertility while among the pretty smarts religious attendance is associated with a 35% boost in fertility.

For those who think it would be helpful for there to be smart people around in the future, religious attendance seems to be very helpful toward that end, in America.

If you want to hasten dystopia, encourage smart people to stay away from church!

Noah172 said...

FWIW, my personal experience:

I am a weekly church-attender, and most of the folks at my church are regulars (I should know -- I see their faces every week!). My church is conservative Presbyterian (Calvinist), a stream of Christianity historically known for appealing to the literate and economically productive (Puritans, Dutch, Scots, lately Koreans). My congregation is middle- and upper-class, lot of white-collar professionals. It is bursting at the seams with children. Families of 3+ children are very common, and there is even a 10-kid family (dad nuke engineer).

Audacious Epigone said...


Is there any aspect of your personal life that doesn't illustrate everything that is right and good in America? I'm completely serious. I know you're not going for creating that perception, you're just relaying your experiences. And they happen to be admirable and inspiring. Thanks!

James A. Donald said...

Surely this depends on the religion - notoriously high reproduction rates among orthodox Jews and Mormons, notoriously low reproduction rates among reform Jews and Episcopalians.

My expectation is that religions that endorse and socially enforce patriarchy will have high reproduction rates, and those that subvert patriarchy will have very low reproduction rates.

And that educational institutions are merely more religious institutions - a religion that undermines patriarchy.

Jay Dee said...

One might observe that Zorro is the classic illustration of his hypothesis because his belief in the non-existence of God is an article of his faith. Yes, atheism is a religion; The U.S. Supreme Court has declared it so in a decision involving Madalyn Murray O'Hair; nothing rest her soul. The Department of Defense provides grave markers with atheist symbology. Well, Zorro, I admire your faith.