Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Delusional fertility hopes of young women?

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A fascinating snippet from a survey of a couple of hundred mostly 18 year old women students that I recently supervised is that most of them intend to have 3 (or 2) children, and only 3 percent intend to have zero children.

Yet the expectation of what will actually happen, based on the equivalent cohort from a generation ago, is that about 33 percent will have zero children, and the average fertility will be more like 1.

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A general finding of this study comparing educational intentions with fertility intentions was unrealistic expectations - for example, some answered such that they intended to start a family at the same time as they were intending to be engaged in doctoral level training.

Also, those who intended to do postgraduate education - and therefore in practice delay fertility by an extra several years - actually had a higher intended fertility than those who did not - whereas numerous studies have shown that postgraduate education among women is strongly associated with smaller families.

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I conclude that these young female university students showed a surprisingly strong, indeed almost universal, desire to have families; yet this was apparently combined with a lack of realism about priorities and the need for tough choices which verged on the delusional.

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Alternatively, this cohort might possibly be the first signs of a turn-around in fertility among the most intelligent and educated women - and such a turn round is likely at some point.

These girls are, after all, mostly the children of that section of the previous generation of intelligent women who did have families despite all alternative inducements - and they will presumably (on average) have inherited something of their mother's disposition; as well as perhaps having been reared in a family with somewhat counter-cultural ideas of the importance of children.

And this process has been going on for several generations already - with the least family orientated women choosing behaviours that over time will tend to eliminate their own characteristics from the gene pool.

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But on the whole, I'm afraid I see these young womens' expectations and intentions as most plausibly just plain incoherent, verging on delusional - the product of a mass media which tells them that if they want things hard enough then they will get them.

A mass media which tells them: you can 'have it all', even when 'all' contains incompatible - albeit not impossible - elements.

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17 comments:

Al said...

The other tendencies will be towards: 1. increasingly coercive outsourcing child-rearing to the state and its politically correct agencies; 2. lots of policies to get men to be good egalitarians in the home and workplace and ensure that motherhood doesn't produce any pay gap.

Samson J. said...

Alternatively, this cohort might possibly be the first signs of a turn-around in fertility among the most intelligent and educated women - and such a turn round is likely at some point.

These girls are, after all, mostly the children of that section of the previous generation of intelligent women who did have families despite all alternative inducements - and they will presumably (on average) have inherited something of their mother's disposition


Yet it's all for naught if they remain predominately secular. In fact I'd rather not see any "turnaround" in fertility unless there's also a corresponding turnaround in religiosity - after all, isn't differential fertility one of the few hopes we have left?

George Goerlich said...

Al - You are right, thought it appears the tendency is to simply not have the father in the home. No strong masculine influence at all. The "authority" influence is strictly the state's systematic secular leftist education from Kindergarten to Bachelor level, with the benefit of all education outside the school controlled on the Mass Media level and corresponding peer pressure.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SJ - "Yet it's all for naught if they remain predominately secular."

My reading of the literature is that the *only* factor which is able (on average) to bring the *chosen* fertility of intelligent women above replacement in the past 40 years has been traditional orthodox religion - so the long term demography will be driven by that (but, until the economy collapses, *mostly* driven, I suspect, by the greater fertility of the lower in intelligence, the more impulsive/ feckless/ irresponsible and criminal - since virtually all births now survive to reproductive age (raised using resources confiscated by the state), so there is no reproductive penalty for being what used to be called a 'bad parent').

Alat said...

isn't differential fertility one of the few hopes we have left?

Of course not. The Enemy doesn't need to produce children to thrive, he can steal ours. If differential fertility mattered in this regard, the Roman Empire would not have Christianized (since early Christianity was urban religion and cities were population sinks), and France would still be the Eldest Daughter of the Church (if you saw the statistics of early 19th century France, you'd conclude the Revolution was doomed and that the Catholic peasantry would replenish the country), &c. &c. &c. . . .

Differential fertility didn't work then, and I see no reason for it to work now.

Brett Stevens said...

One of the major problems here: the world of dating is totally unpredictable, where humans are wired for the more sensible world of a small town, where marriage is part of life like a season is part of the year.

The more important question I suppose is who are those high-education women marrying? In my experience, the more education someone has, the less they can grasp organic reality, and so the more likely they are to fall for scam artists, disguised rapists, and men they choose because they can dominate them.

Educated people love to be "in control" after all.

Adam G. said...

Samson J.,
you might have the causal arrow reversed. When people have children, they may become more religious. So the religious revival you rightly desire may follow, not precede, a return to sound birthrates.

alcestiseshtemoa said...

The last 2 generations of Anglo UMC (Upper-Middle Class) secular women (those in their 40's to 60's right now) had 2-4 children in some sectors (Samson J. once commented on how he saw a couple of them in medicine), but it has taken a huge dip in the last 20 years and will probably continue this way for a longer time.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Alat "Differential fertility didn't work then, and I see no reason for it to work now. "

Do you know the work of Eric Kauffman or Rodney Stark? They suggest that high fertility - and retaining offspring within the faith - has been a very major reason for religions growing both in the past and now - Islam, for instance, has grown from 4 to about 24 percent of the world's population in about 120 years, mostly by differentially greater fertility.

But, of course, you are correct that children must be retained in the faith, and some religions and denominations do this much more effectively than others.

MC said...

"The Enemy doesn't need to produce children to thrive, he can steal ours."

Yup, secularization has increased even as the gap in fertility between the religious and non-religious has widened.

Religious parents need to wisen up and realize that their higher fertility won't mean much unless they train their kids to give a gigantic middle finger to the prevailing culture.

dearieme said...

"a lack of realism about priorities": that is probably a characteristic of most people who enter postgraduate studies.

asdf said...

"that is probably a characteristic of most people who enter postgraduate studies."

The greatest threat to most men is that they don't realize life gets much better for them after 30, and thus the constant beating down of society before that crushes them before they make it. The harsh reality of life for young men makes them more realistic.

However, for young women the greatest threat is that life is very easy for them before 35. There are many a young woman who do think they can have it all, and its only around age 35 that it starts to creep in that isn't the case.

Adam Noel said...

asdf -Yes, this is correct for sure. Marriage is the solution to both of these problems. I'd also argue for many women it starts after 25 and begins to form into crisis around 30.

kemp said...

Very accurate article.

Asdf, how does life get "much better" for men after 30? Are you presuming that the man has gotten married by that point? What generic benefits are there?

Thomas Fink said...

"Differential fertility didn't work then, and I see no reason for it to work now."
I think this point of view does not take into account the powerful impact of contraception (including legalized abortion) as a product of modernity. The spread of contraception makes it possible that certain milieus will completely vanish. That was not possible in older cultures. Before 100 years the consequence of sex was children. Not today anymore. When the baby boomers are gone, when their demographic predominance is broken in 15 to 20 years, progressivism looses its backbone and we will have a new situation.

asdf said...

kemp,

I'm assuming a certain increase in skills. At 23 every man is at the bottom of pretty much every totem pole. However, by 30 a man might be established in a career, a city, know who he is, etc.

At 23 life was very hard for me. It got a lot easier as I became more successful. Not just monetarily, but in a whole host of ways. Healthy men grow over time.

The most obvious, of course, is going to be between the sexes. All I can say is the late 20s through the late 30s is a real peak for male attractiveness and you'll probably do better at that point then any other in your life.

B.Shelley said...

@"Alat":
You said: " the Roman Empire would not have Christianized (since early Christianity was urban religion and cities were population sinks)"

This is overly simplistic (at best) , and completely ignorant of the situation in the U. S. S. R.. With the Soviet example, the atheist dogma of the Scientific Materialist religion called Communism darkened the entire country in a "population sink". However, since the system was unsustainable and especially life-denying, upon its collapse, the nation of Russia was forced to once again, smile benevolently on orthodox Christianity. And, I'm wondering if my response was more than your snarky commented warranted.