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.

Another hidden cost of modern parenting–the Mom Commute

Before I had kids, I used to look around at the fatigued SAHMs and working mothers around me and I thought (if I thought about it at all) that a lot of the things they did were optional and not really necessary to the kid-raising life.

Well, I was wrong.

The Mom commute has a long history in American society, but it wasn’t as broadly required in the first half of the 20th century. And there were still ways to avoid the worst of it in the second half via carpooling and roping in still-available neighbors, relatives and friends. And also, for a short window of time, nannies. During peak working mother, around the late 1980s and early 1990s, the first wave of amnestied Hispanic women made a labor pool for domestic work that included doing a lot of the driving. And contrary to the story about them, during that window of time, the wages they were paid were decent and many received real benefits as well. Minimum wage was very low and so (for that brief window of time), paying twice minimum wage was hard, but not completely brutalizing the old finances and the freshly amnestied immigrants were happy to get comparatively generous wages for the work. Things changed with the dotcom era, of course, but a roughly ten year window of being able to pay generously for childcare and still have a lot of money left over distorted perspective later.

Anyway, while a bit of a digression, the point is that now in the 21st century, all the social bonds and stuff have corroded and the mom commute is pretty much a requirement for all moms, even pretty rural ones. It’s not even about the dreaded activities, it’s that getting your kids around other kids and getting them the educational resources they’re supposed to have, even if they’re public schooled involves a lot of commuting (even if you can pop them on the bus in theory).

This is a pretty major fertility shredder and it’s also a reason a lot of married households want two very comfortable cars. They also need them because the Mom Commute tends to not be in the same directions as the Work Commute. The schools and kid stuff are in one part of the city/metro area/county, but the jobs (including mom’s if she works outside the home too) tend to be somewhere else. That includes teachers, who used to be able to easily work in the district their kids were in and now rarely can.

Giving up the Mom Commute really does mean for most married mothers agreeing to a truly astonishing level of isolation and dependence on mass media and social media for themselves and their children and hard limits on physical activity as well. But you never really hear about it, even though that much driving is health-damaging and poorly compatible with keeping the old figure in tiptop shape.

More college mom ruminations

This was some comments I made on Steve Sailer’s blog continuing to think about the college mom situation.

“In 1960 about 20% of first-time mothers were college attending or completing, which is striking given that less than 10% of women graduating high school were college attending then. You want to know why we have a college fixation, you might consider that aspect and that it was nearly 60 years ago. Currently a supermajority of first births are to college attending mothers, particularly white non-Hispanic ones. College since the postwar era was and is trade school with pretensions for men and marriage protection/guarantee for women and increasingly also trade school for them too.”

(in response to someone dusting off the “college women end up childless bitter spinsters” canard)
“Those college moms are rarely baby mamas and they send their sons to college. Christian colleges have a distinct lack of mattress girl or sjw type drama. Same for most colleges really. The system is working well for white college mothers since they have most of the white babies and have for decades now.”

(replying to a different someone dusting off the “college teaches nothing useful to anyone” canard)
“College is what women do to signal fitness for marriage and motherhood, among reasons that are obvious from data but go unmentioned. A system where women have to at least attempt college to be eligible for marriage and kids in that order is the one we have, even though it doesn’t work quite that strictly for men, which is one of the other reasons there’s a sex gap in admissions.

It also means the data showing lower income is misleading, since enough women taking 3-10 years out of the workforce or working very part time to have 2-4 kids would cause a pretty substantial drop without really devaluing the degree in the typically meant sense of the term.”

(same guy who also “wasn’t sure” it was true that the college mom plan was working outside the upper class)
“It’s more true than ever, most white babies are born to women with completed college and a supermajority are born to women who have attempted college and not completed a degree. The unwed motherhood for white women is concentrated among non-college attending women.

Attending and completing college, getting married and having kids in that order is not so much upper class (for whites) as the new norm among whites who have kids, plural. White single moms tend to have one child and no college coursework, while married white mothers are experiencing a relative increase in 3rd and higher children.

You can’t really get rid of the college bubble until you figure out how to change the incentive for the overwhelming majority of white mothers, for whom things are working fine and whose children will attend college, marry and have 2-4 kids same as they did. You can’t even throw the increase in unwed motherhood at them, since it’s concentrated in “Fishtown” and skews interracial anyway. And they don’t know those women in their social circles, except a smattering of…college educated ones with decent jobs or careers.”

Itty bitty teeny weeny post about Scandinavian birth patterns.

They are, for the most part, very similar to American ones, but in a way I didn’t expect once I looked into the data.  They have nearly the same percentages of women having 3 or 4 kids as America does (so, about 25% or so combined).  They have a similar pattern of fewer women signing onto the motherhood project, but the ones that remain having 2-3 and a bit less often than in America 4 or more.  It’s not a sea of women having just one and grudgingly two at all.

I have run into a lot of references to having three kids in English-language articles about various Scandinavian countries and it turns out that is partly because a three child family is not actually that uncommon in those countries.

This is interesting.  I tried to see if this was true in non-Scandi Europe (France, Germany, UK), but the data wasn’t laid out for English speakers in a way that made this easy to find, so  I still have no idea if it’s true with them too.  It’s also pretty SWEET that Scandinavian countries put up some pretty elaborate birth data charts ‘n’ graphs in English.

College education and birth numbers, 2007-2015

The CDC has a birth database, wonder.cdc.gov, and it is pretty complete.  It’s where the numbers come from.

What I was talking about here  is a little more obvious once the percentages are there.  This is just for black and white non-Hispanic women, the groups you can go back to 1960 or earlier on.

Black women: 53% of births to women with high school completed or less, 47% of births to women with some college education, including completing bachelor’s and advanced degrees.  Nearly 4 million births for that timeframe.

White women: 32% of births to women with high school completed or less, 68% to women with college education.    Nearly 15 million births for them.

These numbers represent all births for this timeframe, first kid, second, fifth, whatever.

Now we look at the impact of education level on marital status for black women:

 

Race Education Level Percent Married at Birth Percent Unmarried at Birth
Black 8th grade or less 38.49% 61.51%
9-12 grade 9.63% 90.37%
Finished High School 18.30% 81.70%
Some college 27.68% 72.32%
AA degree 44.23% 55.77%
BA/BS 62.28% 37.72%
MA 76.47% 23.53%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 86.00% 14.00%

Though not ideal, the impact of more education is evident, women with even a little college education represent a substantially lower number of out of wedlock births.

Here’s the impact for white women:

Race Education Level Percent Married at Birth Percent Unmarried at Birth
White 8th grade or less 67.41% 32.59%
9-12 grade 30.05% 69.95%
Finished High School 50.39% 49.61%
Some college 63.35% 36.65%
AA degree 79.10% 20.90%
BA/BS 92.69% 7.31%
MA 95.74% 4.26%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 96.06% 3.94%

Amish births distort their 8th grade numbers in favor of marriage, but given the radically different structure of Amish society,  one could argue that this is a more education= more marriage situation too.  It is worth noting that the out of wedlock numbers for white women with BAs or more have remained in the single digits for decades now, despite the group itself being much larger a chunk of the mothers.

Having looked at basic out of wedlock differences by education we come to the question the natalist of any sort is most interested in: what percentage of BIRTHS do the higher-educated moms represent?

Let’s look at the numbers for black women first:

Race Education Level Percent of total married births Percent of total unmarried births
Black 8th grade or less 2.35% 1.48%
9-12 grade 6.04% 22.28%
Finished High School 21.68% 37.99%
Some college 26.26% 26.94%
AA degree 10.04% 4.97%
BA/BS 20.67% 4.92%
MA 10.38% 1.25%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 2.57% 0.16%

And the kicker, percentage of total births:

Race Education Level Percent of all births
Black 8th grade or less 1.72%
9-12 grade 17.70%
Finished High School 33.39%
Some college 26.75%
AA degree 6.40%
BA/BS 9.36%
MA 3.83%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 0.84%

As you can see, the ground gets pretty thin for black women with more education, but they still represent about 20% of total births at the AA+ level, and at that level a comfortable majority of births are in wedlock.  This means most of the 30% or so of black births born in wedlock these days are heavily drawn from that 20% group, despite their smaller separate percentages.  It also means that even including the “some college” group’s high OOW rate, black women have a majority of births in wedlock being born to college educated mothers.

But here’s something interesting with the data for white women:

Race Education Level Percent of total married births Percent of total unmarried births
White 8th grade or less 1.33% 1.54%
9-12 grade 3.41% 18.99%
Finished High School 16.11% 37.99%
Some college 19.53% 27.07%
AA degree 10.42% 6.60%
BA/BS 31.53% 5.96%
MA 13.94% 1.49%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 3.74% 0.37%

If you look at unmarried birth percentages, you see that they are nearly identical in distribution to the black percentages.  They are in fact identical at the “Finished High School” level, with that being the largest chunk of unwed mothers for black women and white women.  What we also see is that for white women, there are MORE college educated mothers having OOW births as a percentage, while they have a smaller group of births in the “Grade 9-12 only” category.

That was surprising.

Here’s the total birth percentages for white women by education level:

Race Education Level Percent of all births
White 8th grade or less 1.39%
9-12 grade 8.00%
Finished High School 22.55%
Some college 21.75%
AA degree 9.30%
BA/BS 24.00%
MA 10.28%
PhD or Professional Degree (MD, JD, etc.) 2.75%

 

Just like with black women, you get a shrinking of percent from some college to AA and then a strong bump for the BA, but it’s much more significant here.  So even if you don’t care about test scores and all that jazz, the basic cognitive sort is blindingly obvious in both black and white women.  Black women who marry before kids are heavily college attending, and white women in general, but ESPECIALLY those who marry are heavily college attending.

Anyway this post is just putting the numbers up.  These births, as noted in the title, are recent and span nearly a decade and are all births, not just first births.  So these children are almost entirely under 10 years old and this represents some completed families and siblings.  This has interesting implications for the future.

Just how dysgenic is the college gap between men and women?

Vox Day feels that it is quite dysgenic, but I think that we kind of see the Grain of Truth thing going on.

The reality is that 70% of white, non-Hispanic (WNH) births each year for the last decade or so are to college educated women.  And still more reality is that a majority of WNH births have been to college educated mothers since sometime in the 80s, when they crossed 50%.  So for about 30 years now, a majority of white babies are being born to educated white mothers.  And by 1960, the percentage was already over 20%.

Now this is a different issue than raw baby count, but even there, white women had about 2 million babies (after minusing 50k or so Hispanic births, this was before they were a separate category) in 1970 (when college educated mothers were around 25% or so of the total) and in 2015, the most current year available, they also had 2 million babies.

People are having fewer children as a population proportion, that is true, sort of.  But the raw count of kids has been very stable for decades, with its structure changing.  The right wing having a big conversation about what it means that most white kids are born to college-moms would be more useful than asserting that such motherhood is definitely dysgenic.  Which is itself an open question.  Intelligence flows from mom, so is having bright women make up more of the moms (particularly the married moms) dysgenic?  Yeah, yeah “watered down curriculum”, but that means arguing that the ones who can’t complete coursework in even a watered down form are somehow smarter.  Which would be a hard sell.

Even among black women, a higher fraction of mothers who get married before the babies come are college educated.  That is, college educated black mothers are often married before the babies come and non-college black mothers are at scary 90% or so out of wedlock levels.  A majority of black mothers with a BA or greater are married before the kids come.

So we have a larger population with a static baby count and thus a lower birth rate, but the women left who are bothering to have babies, plural are majority college-attending and married.  And they have more higher-order births, they have supermajorities of the 3+ births.

One could make an interesting argument that it was mainly the vanguard of college educated women’s daughters who successfully reproduced.  And that also has pretty far reaching implications.

 

Poking at the large family myth bubble.

As anyone reading along in this blog or the broader American right wing knows, there is a loud contingent of people who assert that in America, large families used to be common as dirt and women loved having them too.

This is not, strictly speaking, accurate.

The Vital Statistics folks (originally at the Census, and now with the CDC) stopped making a new column for births past #17 in 1959. The next year, in 1960, while still in what came to be called the Baby Boom, they stopped doing new columns for births above #8. And the Vital Statistics people are very conservative about these things. They were cheerfully making columns for 312 16th births for years. But 312 out of 4 million or so births a year is a really tiny number and eventually even they just started mushing all those ten and twelfth and seventeenth births together.

The point being that thousands of double digit births can still be happening, but still also be not common as dirt. Pesky math.

The other poke at the bubble for now is that as soon as American women got birth control access, they mysteriously rushed as far away from double digit family sizes as they could. Eight was very much enough, thanks, and keeping births down to six or less was nicer still, as far as white American women were concerned. There is some amusing (for a personal value of amusing) commentary in many of the annual bulletins expressing statistician puzzlement at the plunge in 8 and up births among white women about twenty seconds after the first shipload of diaphragms washed ashore. And while access came decades later for black women, they behaved exactly the same and kablooey went the higher order black birth numbers too.

This is not the behavior of women who looooooved having ten or fifteen kids. It’s also not really much to do with feminists or feminism except that they felt the solution to male sexual incontinence was to have women end run around it with birth control of ever-increasing reliability.