Why the current unmarried birth rate for black women has declined nearly every year for the last decade.

Massive drop in teen pregnancy each year and small increase in married births some years.

Teen births still represent about 1 in 11 births for non-Hispanic black mothers, which has brought them in most recent full data to about 1 in 8 unmarried births.  The very most recent couple years of data, including the preliminary stuff for 2016 show that the decline in unmarried childbearing has reached into the 20-24 age group.

As far as black birth goes, there’s still some room for teen births to continue their steep decline.  The question after that is whether the increases in unwed childbearing among older mothers (25+) will keep the overall unwed birth percentage around 65% or whether they too will decline.

Native black Americans have become like Native Americans.

A back of the old envelope shows that once you’ve accounted for first generation foreign-born mothers and mothers who had children with non-black fathers and label them black, from the maternal side at least, married non-Hispanic black birth is about 50-60% native-born.  This means that the 80%+ unwed numbers I’ve seen thrown around in some black parts of the interwebs have some anchor in reality.  That is in fact pretty close to the native-black unmarried birth percentage.   Immigrants have a 40% out of wedlock birth rate, which necessarily means the non-immigrant out of wedlock birth rate must be higher than 70%.  Hispanic black birth is 65% or so unmarried, and so doesn’t shift the native rate that much.

Without the substantial and parallel increases in outmarriage and immigration keeping births relatively stable year to year, the native-born black TFR is somewhere down in the dumps like the Native American one, about 1.4 or 1.5.

This explains a lot.

The black teen pregnancy rate dropped nearly 50% in 5 years.

In 2010 it was just over 15% of all (non-Hispanic) black births. By 2015, the most recent complete data available, it was 8.6%.

There are several reasons this could be the case. It could be people leaving high-crime urban areas, which are where the bulk of black teen pregnancy is concentrated. It could be part of the increase in older, more educated foreign-born and second-generation non-Hispanic black immigrant mothers making up a bigger share of black births. It could be both, or some other factors. It’s not an increase in abortions, though.

For perspective, here’s a chart with rough estimates since 1970 and percent changes.

% teen pregnancy % change
1970 31 N/A
1975 33 2
1980 26.5 -6.5
1985 23 -3
1990 23 0
1995 23 0
2000 21.5 -1.5
2005 17 -4.5
2010 15.2 -1.8
2015 8.6 -6.6

The 1970s were pretty bad, as were the 1980s, but the last decade has seen a significant and major turnaround in teen pregnancy.  Teen pregnancy for black Americans specifically is particularly “bad” because it’s skewed unmarried for much longer than was the case with white teen pregnancies, starting with under 15 pregnancies being mostly unmarried ones in the 1950s when that wasn’t the case with white pregnancies under 15.  In 1966, not long after the famous Moynihan Report, black teen pregnancies to mothers aged 15-19 crossed 50% unmarried.

Through the 1960s and 1970s, teen pregnancy became completely decoupled from marriage for black teen mothers and heavily decoupled for black mothers in their early 20s, culminating in 1978.  Five years after Roe V. Wade, black births to mothers in their early 20s were now majority unwed and teen births were 80-97% unwed, depending on age.  However, teen births were only about 25% of total births, during the 1960s.  The table shows how things shifted after the collapse in married black motherhood during the 1970s and 1980s.

All birth data used for rough percentages comes from Monthly Vital Statistics Reports or National Vital Statistics Reports.

The College Funnel and fertility hysteria on the American right.

The right does a tolerable job beefing about and critiquing the problems with left/liberal hysteria about “too much” fertility. But they conflate two issues into one and thus come out unsuccessful in their rhetorical quest to get married women to pop out more babies.

The fact is that American white fertility has been clustered around 2-4 children (with 5-6 the acceptable fringe due to Catholic and Mormon influences) since basically we had free black people and free white people (so, since 1870 or so). American black fertility has been more like 2-6 children until the 1970s, when they pretty much went to the same pattern as whites. There were also extended periods where both black and white women had 20% or so rates of no children.

So fixating on 1950s style fertility, with its unusually low rate of childlessness among the women of both races, is historically inaccurate. The excessive and vigorous rhetoric on even the mainstream right regarding family size is not very successful because it’s going up against long-standing American norms about family size being relatively small even when there wasn’t much or any modern birth control.

And it causes the right to make that conflation error I led with. They look at small family sizes through a 1950s, historically wrong lens, and declare, repeatedly, that college education is responsible, whether it’s simply attending at all (non-mainstream right) or liberal indoctrination while attending plus too many people attending (mainstream right).

Which brings us to the College Funnel. The College Funnel is the process by which married childbearing increasingly requires women to climb into the College Funnel and squeeze their way through to a degree. Some, quite a few, fall out at various points, but even that much makes getting married before the kids come a whole lot more likely.

With whites, the College Funnel has clearly increased births for women attending and especially completing college. But the births for white women without college attendance have plunged dramatically. With blacks, the College Funnel is at least partly another way to describe married black birth becoming the province of educated immigrants and/or mixed marriages (racially or ethnically, as in marrying a black immigrant) at higher and higher rates since the 1980s. What you have left over in both white and black cases is a small hard core of annual unwed births that combined were around 400k in 1970 and are now around 900k-1m annually since 1990. Sharp rise, then flattened out.

The College Funnel is fairly raceless, with more racial and ethnic intermarriage, which probably muddies the numbers some too.

So you have this problem where people of a certain level of brains are having the married kids and in the case of whites and Asians, it’s most of their kids on top. You have this different problem where people who might or might not have that level of brains, but don’t get into the College Funnel basically can’t have kids except in a handful of “wheeee feckless pride” areas, mostly urban. And the second problem is real, and worth discussing. But combining it with the college thing and declaring college renders anyone who stands next to one sterile is incorrect and not a solid way to get to solutions to let those second-problem people get to have children, much less children mostly in wedlock, again.

The numbers are from data in the National Center for Health Statistics Vital Statistics Reports’ various pdfs.

ETA 7/14/17: And right after I make this blog post, Ace of Spaces pushes a user comment to the top that is the very hysteria I was lamenting.

Maria Montessori welded Rousseau, Nietzsche and the medieval Catholics.

I’ve been reading up on Montessori because personal reasons, and reading Maria Montessori’s own words on her methods has been truly a fascinating journey I’ve only just begun.

Her methods appear to work with very little boys who were the children of muggers and prostitutes, and they also have a robustness that worked when she was able to work with children from more ordinary backgrounds.

She took the naturalism of Rousseau and Nietzsche and interpreted them in a context of Christian liberty rather than pagan liberty. She admitted to rather desiring a world where nobody was a servant or had servants, she preferred an employee/employer model of two equals negotiating in good faith.

How all this relates to teaching 2-7yos (she had the occasional kid under 3, though she tried to work with 3-7) is that she wanted an open exploratory environment for the children so that they could learn self-mastery and to replicate correct behavior and discontinue incorrect behavior, in both the moral and physical senses. She also had a commune-style model, with the parents and the directress living in the same apartment building centered around the school, with live-in doctors as well. She talks in her pedagogy (method discussion) of essentially seeking a balance between the mother directing her own children at home and the directress reinforcing that in the Montessori school setting by consulting and talking with each mother weekly or so.

She wanted children to understand the proper form of things so that they would recognize them when they were older. She was very clear that her methods were not something that was the One True Way of Learning, but that she thought she’d gathered together the genius of men before her to find a path in which young children might be most optimally prepared for more formal education in the teen and adult years.

She felt that children discovering on their own would be better able to grasp introductory moral lessons in context. It’s a very radical and fascinating educational approach.

In America, it was literally dismissed by jealous nerdy men because it didn’t match up that well with their pen and paper test mania (although the children did get very good test performance, she wasn’t focused on maxing that particular stat). Interestingly Montessori’s methods and pedagogy were revived during the postwar era, particularly around the time the youngest Boomers were being born in the middle 1950s and early 1960s.

President Trump is a normal President, not an unPresidential one.

He’s the first President to fully exist in a 24/7 insta-news world, and this means that once again, as during the campaign, people are trapped in presentism regarding his demeanor, actions and general P. They are also trapped in the emotional firestorm of the media, where it being everywhere means that many people hear it, tune out the specific content, but absorb the negative feelings around Trump that really do emanate from all those CNN airport screens and MSNBC gym screens.

So even people who should know better mindlessly repeat the idea that Trump should go hat in hand to the media in order to get Congressional Republicans to vote for his stuff when the very idea that a President is supposed to do that is unhistorical and would actually be unPresidential. Or they repeat other demonstrably false ideas from the general negative pool of media tripe, like “Trump isn’t getting anything done, he’s too busy tweeting”, “Trump doesn’t know how to negotiate with politicians”, “Trump is childish”, etc, etc, etc.

When you fly up into the air of overall Presidential history and take a slightly less insta-news view, it becomes clear that Trump’s firmly within historical norms for both snark and general Presidentin’ even this early in his Presidency.

People see what they want to see and people who want to see Trump as a buffoon who can’t get it together have plenty of places to have that feeeeeeeeelllllllliiiinnnnnnnggggggg reinforced, supported, backed up by babbling heads on endless tv screens. Those of us who live lives where we just happen to not have media ranting as background noise and only read a little of it in passing have a different view of the President because we’re somewhat more insulated from the sheer emotional weight of the angry, legitimately childish and maddened media. He’s doing a lot of pretty ordinary Presidential things. One can debate whether what Presidents do normally is good or ill, certainly, but he’s not showing any signs of incompetence by historical standards.

The previous President did some very historically questionable things, like the rhetoric that led to police being shot, using a sexual slur to describe Tea Party supporters, to pick just two. But the media didn’t have negative emotional energy about that stuff, because they liked it, so their neutral-to-positive emotional feels made anyone tuning in feel that he was dignified and suave while stirring discord and being even more gross in public speech than Mrs. “Deplorables” and “right-wing conspiracy” Clinton. He also had a long list of tweets that could easily be labeled short-sighted and petty as well, though more in the historical norms for snarking. In this respect, the media’s influence in the emotional realm, where identical behavior is interpreted in opposing ways because emotiomal stirring-up is impossible to fully resist without conscious effort, remains massive and powerful.

They’re working on that one, though. Kinda hope they succeed in undermining that emotional punch skill they still have, it could only be better for us all.