Spawning: A Job Americans Will Do

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In the current issue of The American Interest, Nicholas Eberstadt muses on "American Demographic Exceptionalism":

America's limited but unmistakable fertility upsurge over the past generation marks a striking departure from trends for almost every other developed society. In the first half of this decade, according to UN Population Division projections, America's [total fertility rates] and [net replacement rates] were fully 50 percent higher than Japan's and about 45 percent higher than averages for Europe as a whole. Europe's overall fertility levels, to be sure, may currently be depressed by the post-communist demographic shocks that some former Soviet bloc countries (most notably Russia) in eastern Europe continue to experience. But even compared with the amalgam of west European societies, the U.S.-European fertility gap now looks like a yawning chasm. America's recent fertility trends have even opened a divide between the United States and Canada, countries that have long been regarded as demographic "twins."

U.S. fertility rates can't be ascribed to fecund teenagers, whose birth rates plunged by a third between 1990 and 2004, or to minorities, whose birth rates are mostly converging with the Anglo majority. (Hispanic American fertility levels remain relatively high, but not high enough to explain the gap between the U.S. and other developed nations.) Nor can we thank pro-natalist government policies; as Eberstadt points out, "The United States has none."

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  1. It’s all the porn. It gets Americans keyed up sexually to the point where they have procreative sex. While eating Big Macs.

  2. “Nor can we thank pro-natalist government policies; as Eberstadt points out, ‘The United States has none.'”

    I would argue that the Republican party and everything for which it stands are geared towards one goal: having more non-bastard children.

  3. Pro Libertate

    I put my hand over my heart as I read that thread

  4. I agree with Lamar. The religious right are breeding Christian soldiers.

  5. I think it’s a backlash against the don’t have any kids the world’s overpopulated crap from the 70s. Being a kid in the 70s hearing that stuff, the natural reaction is to breed as a “no, fuck you” sort of gesture.

    Plus trying to keep the idiocracy at bay for another generation.

  6. You’d think otherwise with all the abortion, birth control, delayed reproduction due to immaturity/career pursuing/whatever. Unfortunately, the majority of these large families are being produced by ignorant parasites and producing more of same.

    (An overeducated pagan female (I refuse to say woman) once told me it was our duty as smart people to outbreed the stupid. Ignoring the collectivization and falsely assumed obligation, I will only note that she was one of the many who see herself as superior to the average person when they themselves are, in fact, not only painfully average in most respects, but inferior in many — most particularly, their supposed “tolerance” which breaks down at the drop of a hat when confronted with anything outside their own worldview.)

  7. I don’t know what the reason is, but someone will ultimately suggest that it’s related to our greater degree of income inequality.

    The assertion will be made that it was never really “minorities” per se that were more fecund – it was just poor people. We still have a lot of poverty, so our birth rates are still chugging along.

    I don’t know if this is true either, but count on it being offered as an argument.

  8. “I refuse to say woman”

    Isn’t this what got Imus in trouble? 8)

  9. Channeling Bastait, the lack of a pro-natalist policy may be the best pro-natalist policy there is. In most European countries, subsidies to couples with children are transfer payments at the expense of mainly young, childless single people. At the margin, this expense makes young people less financially secure, with the result that the delay marriage and starting their own family. At the other margin, the subsidy is not that big of a factor in the decision to have children — most people with children want them whether or not they have the subsidy. If this analysis is correct, the result is fewer children.

  10. Take home income is a factor in how many kids families have. When you combine the lower tax rate and higher income between the US and Europe, US parents can affort to feed and house larger families.

  11. It seems like they may be overlooking the obvious answer: America is the most affluent of the industrialized world. We, on average, can afford to have more kids (even if most of the US parents “afford” their kids by assuming some amount of debt).

  12. We like children… So what? Europeans prefer to own dogs than children. Screw them, they are going down the tubes anyway.

  13. @NAL: That’s not the obvious answer. America may be more affluent than, say, France, but France is still more affluent than Niger.

  14. or to minorities, whose birth rates are mostly converging with the Anglo majority. (Hispanic American fertility levels remain relatively high, but not high enough to explain the gap between the U.S. and other developed nations.)

    This isn’t exactly true. The article says that the difference lies in the high fertility of recent immigrants and their progeny, particularly Hispanics.

  15. ChrisO,

    There is a high intermarriage rate among hispanics and whites, unlike between whites and blacks. I wonder how many of those Hispanic births are half white and on their way to being unrecognizable Americans, much to La Raza’s disgust?

  16. I wonder if someone is breeding a horde of clones? Could that explain things?

  17. No.

    Now get to the rehearsal.

  18. John-

    Intermarriage would probably freak Lonewacko out just as much: Now he won’t even be able to tell which kids he’s supposed to hate!

  19. The Earned Income Credit is a “pro-natalist government policy.”

    another point:

    Because raising a kid costs everything you have, societies tend to have fewer children the richer their rank and file get, not more.

    Rich peoples’ kids cost much more to raise than poor peoples’ kids do.

    I think Fluffy pegged this one. It’s the poor people.

  20. Nor can we thank pro-natalist government policies; as Eberstadt points out, “The United States has none.”

    Is the EITC a pro-natalist policy?

    mobile,

    A lot of European nations credit France’s “pro-natalist” policies with the dramatic uptick in births in France since the late 1990s.

  21. We have a society that stigmatizes anyone middle class or wealthier for not completely living their lives through their children and providing junior with every gold plated consumer good known to man. The more you have, the more it takes to raise a kid. It shouldn’t be that way but it is.

  22. ChrisO,

    I was referring to fertility rates, not population growth. Eberstadt argues: “The single most important factor in explaining America’s high fertility level these days is the birth rate of the country’s Anglo majority, who still account for roughly 55 percent of U.S. births. “

  23. I would argue that the Republican party and everything for which it stands are geared towards one goal: having more non-bastard children.

    Well, one way to increase the proportion of non-bastards would be to allow/encourage unwed mothers to “prevent them from being born”. And that’s something the Republicans, at least rhetorically, tend to oppose.

    Of course, the fundamental reality is that the Republicans, like the Democrats, are geared toward a different goal: gaining, holding onto, and expanding their power. Everything else is just a means to that end.

  24. Of course, the fundamental reality is that the Republicans, like the Democrats, are geared toward a different goal: gaining, holding onto, and expanding their power. Everything else is just a means to that end.

    I used to think that. After the Iraq war, I’m not so sure.

    During the run up to the war, I was wondering how — if Karl Rove really ran the political decisions of the White House — the war in Iraq could ever happen. It could only muck up what was a super-popular president coasting to a 2004 reelection. There’s no way starting a war in Iraq could have provided long-term improvement of his political power. Surely the term of the first Bush was enough evidence of that.

    Evidently the Republicans in the White House weren’t happy enough to simply hold the executive, legislative, and — eventually — judicial branches. They thought that the power was the means to some other end.

    Frankly, I prefer the Republicans and Democrats who simply want power to those who actually want to use it…

  25. Frankly, I prefer the Republicans and Democrats who simply want power to those who actually want to use it…

    No such thing. Nobody but a libertarian would want to hold a powerful office and then do nothing with it.

  26. It’s all the porn. It gets Americans keyed up sexually to the point where they have procreative sex. While eating Big Macs.

    [insert “special sauce” joke here]

  27. A scatter plot of Gross National Income per person vs birth rate for the 50 richest countries shows a decrease in fertility with higher income, but this platues at around $25,000 per person. Restricting this sample to OECD members in the top 50 gives a person correlation of -0.15, meaning a higher income has a very slight correlation with lower fertility. If you exlcude Mexico, which had a particularly high birth rate, this correlation becomes +0.14. It is in the other direction, but still slight.

    (Data from nation masters, analysis on excell)

  28. The US has lots of open space. Is that the answer??

  29. Ahh, nationmaster.com nice. I’ve posted more than my share of WTFs there.

  30. America to Europe:

    You got spwned!

  31. We have a society that stigmatizes anyone middle class or wealthier for not completely living their lives through their children..

    If by living through our children you mean breeding the next generation of freedom loving voters then I say YES! Go forth and multiply!

  32. John

    it doesn’t necessarily cost more to have a child if you have higher income; people with higher incomes spend more on their children simply b/c they can afford to spoil their kids. The same trend applies to most goods, e.g. healthcare.

  33. Nor can we thank pro-natalist government policies; as Eberstadt points out, “The United States has none.”

    Well, other than the Earned Income Tax Credit and the $3300/kid you get to knock off your gross income at tax time and the deductions and credits for childcare and education expenses…yeah, I suppose so.

    I never understood those perks BTW…if you’re making more people aren’t you consuming more government resources, and yet…paying less? This is more offensive in some ways than France or Germany’s baby stipends which at least have the decency to expose their externalities.

  34. if you’re making more people aren’t you consuming more government resources, and yet…paying less?

    That would be true if each person were simply another mouth to feed. However, by making new people, you’re providing the State with future generations of workers to tax, send to war, etc.

  35. I have a few friends in England, none of whom have more than one kid, while over here, all my friends have at least two, and a non-trivial number have three. We’re all liberal, middle and upper-middle professionals. I’m the only one who’s particularly religious either. (I have two sons.) My observation, and it’s not in any way scientific, is that even though we don’t have any “pro-natalist” policies over here, it actually costs less over a lifetime for a woman to be a mother in the US (and a little less in Canada, too) than it does in Europe, in the sense that we’re a whole lot more open to mothers coming back into the workforce. It’s still not a great career move in the really elite levels of executive pay, but it’s not completely unheard-of. In Europe, taking maternity leave means being permanently shuffled off into filing forever. Also, American men are better at filling in on the domestic front, and the younger they are the better they get, so it’s not like having a kid dooms a woman to laundry eternally.

    Again, and this is just my observation, I think this disdain for domestic work is a legacy of Europe’s aristocratic past. Aristos didn’t raise their own children; they had peasants for that stuff. Domestic work still means losing status. (For that matter, work at all means losing status, but that’s for another thread.) Remember, being in “trade” was still a bad thing in Europe up until about WWII. (See “Herrenvolk” for an interesting gloss on this.) Over here, work has always, correctly in my view, been a source of pride to the worker. Thus, while some jobs aren’t really glamorous, it’s not like we think only subhumans do those things. This is a very old cultural artifact, and it will take a long time to change it.

  36. I understand that practicing Christians are thought to have a higher fertility rate (at least in the US) than non-Christians.

    America is thought to be more religous than Europe.

    After you control for that, is there still a difference between the US and Europe/ Canada?

    After all, Christians object to divorce, which should make religous marriages more stable, and people less reluctant to undertake the 18 year investment of raising a child.

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