Child support quick post (2017 numbers)

According to the latest child support numbers that dropped today from the Census, there’s been an increase in custodial parents with support agreements receiving 0% of the child support they are due to be paid.  It looks rather as if over the last few years the partial paying group shifted to not paying at all, as the full-pay numbers are more stable for the same time while the partial-pay numbers went down.

Not an optimal shift.  It fits into the broader trend of the “unreceived child support” gap increasing over the last decade as received child support declined.

Custodial fathers have more volatility in receipt of full child support compared to custodial mothers when you look back over the decades but in the last couple of years are about as likely to receive it all as custodial mothers at around 43% receiving full payment compared to 46% of custodial mothers.  Custodial fathers still have a huge “no payment” gap, and this might be affecting the broader no payment trends of recent years.


Tubal Ligation is cheaper than babysitters and is the American way.

Apparently it was much more common during the post-WWI (yes, first one) era than I thought, being established as a mainstream medical procedure during the Depression about a dozen years later.  Estimates are not ideal to come by and I hope to update with a chart sometime next year, but easily 1/4 and up to 1/3 of native-born white women engaged in sterilization during the “good old days where mom had 9 kids and LOVED IT”.

There was also a very high rate of condom use, including among regular Mass-attending Catholics.  There doesn’t appear to have been much overlap, so there was a very high rate of using the most reliable contraception among all but the poorest white groups.  Black women also had a fairly high rate of sterilization, but it was much less likely to be done with their explicit permission and there was younger age of first pregnancy and extremely low condom use leaving them in a situation of much higher net fertility expression.

For effectively an entire century, American women have all too frequently preferred or been subjected to technical barriers to more children rather than having lots of other women around while they had many or some system of enforcing male continence to reduce family size.  However, up until the Baby Boomer women were adults, there were still quite a lot of other women and girls around due to generational and social lag, so American women frequently had relatively smaller families than their ancestresses of the 19th and 18th centuries but a lot of informal woman-to-woman support for those smaller families until approximately the birth of Generation X in the mid-60s.  So in a way, the very women who are now absent for so many American Gen X and Millennial aged mothers had their lower-family-size cake and got to eat it too.

Importing Hispanic and Asian women in (and increasingly African ones too), who prefer lots of other women around, sometimes even paid, doesn’t appear to have altered a lot of white and black historical-American women’s beliefs that solo mom care is highest and best and that daycare or someone not-grandma (and frequently even grandma) is “letting other people raise your child”.

Thing is, even in DIY frontier culture, sometimes not-mom helped out and the fallout of emphasizing solo, mother-only childcare has been leaving millions of American mothers with center-based daycare as the only alternative instead of flexible and resilient childcare approaches and options that might provide greater antifragility in the midst of global pandemics.


A sample of how liberal mothers create leisure for themselves.

This is not really a post about Trump, but about liberal mothers who hire au pairs.  Au pairs are a type of live-in childcare that costs about 20-30k a year and is considered a cultural exchange program.  In that post, a bunch of liberal mothers reveal they put a lot of energy into being shocked that outside the USA, approval of LBGT is rather lower than they expect of non-Americans (mostly young white European women).  Anyway the takeaway is that while conservative mothers at similar income levels have a long list of reasons why they can’t have any childcare, liberal mothers create the leisure and free time to sit around waiting for the very small number of au pairs who approve of LBGT*.

*The post excerpts a bunch of discussions on a web board and reveals that there are au pairs who are themselves LBG.


By 2025 a majority of all doctorates are projected to go to people under 30.

This is part of a larger ongoing battle between the desire of some college educated types to extend education further and further into the 20s and 30s and the desire of different college educated people to speedrun the system in order to enter the workforce and start making enough to have a family relatively quickly.  It’s more of a culture clash than a clash of the sexes (though there are some sex-linked aspects).

But it’s also in a strange way a return to pre-1970s standards, where time to PhD completion was a few years rather than a decade.  That increase in time happened during the 90s and has been sliding downwards back towards those older historical norms of around half a decade, driven mostly by the increase in STEM PhDs, which were frequently majority under-30 even back during the 90s and early 2000s.

In any case we’ve gone from perhaps 1 in 200 PhDs being awarded  to someone under 25 to about 1 in 100 (source: NSF) in the course of the last decade (closer to 1 in 50 with STEM).  And the shift is away from PhDs being awarded in the middle 30s and also away from midcareer late 40s PhDs (dominated by education majors).  And yes, without education majors getting those midcareer PhDs we would very likely already be seeing a bigger percentage of PhDs awarded to the youth because STEM PhDs are getting younger more swiftly than the other PhD categories and are taking up a hefty share of the total.

And among under 25s being awarded a PhD, everyone is pretty much the same.  There’s no conventional race gap among the different large-enough for reporting racial groups getting PhDs under age 25.

Anyhow, the long and short is that PhDs are taking less and less time to get, it’s not clear if we’ll keep seeing increases in the overall number (there’s been a lot of flattening out) and there’s definitely another subculture forming of extremely young but highly credentialed types, similar to what we got during the 1990s and 1970s.  History sometimes skips like a scratched CD.

The low-investment/high-return myth of education

While it’s extremely easy to immediately trip over examples all over the right, there is not a shortage of this myth being propagated by people who have kids and also lefty tendencies.  It’s the myth that if you just live in an 80%+ white, already-high scoring suburb or exurb, then you don’t have to do anything and you will immediately be provided with a pleasant environment for your kids to attend school in from K-12. The high levels of volunteering and the extensive fundraising habits of such districts are airily dismissed as women being too control-freakish when they “really don’t need to bother, it’s not a ‘diverse’ district!”  I have heard this from both self-proclaimed liberals/progressives and righties alike.

But fundamentally, there is no plug and play school world anymore because there’s no culture of acceptable educational “losses”– that is, a belief that it’s ok for some people’s kids to not finish high school or college because they can earn money instead of a more uncertain payoff from additional education.

However, that’s not what people who are getting ready to have kids continue to hear.  They hear that this world totally exists given the double elements of 1970 level white numbers (because certain immigrant groups “don’t relax much and are really SO SERIOUS about academics, gotta let the kids play man”) and 2019 level extremely high test scores.  When they find that it’s not true and their kids are under a very high level of academic pressure and parents are under similar pressure as well to “contribute”, by then they’ve already had a kid or two or three or even four and they just settle in to having “school stuff” be a second job for one of the parents (usually mom).


Why very low income and very high income SAHMs often treat frugality as a very part-time job

With the very low income, they have to because there’s no room for error and low enough on the income tree, it’s a real financial loss plus massive stressor to have two workers maxing out at 43k or so.

For the very high income (in W2 income terms anyhow), it’s related.  If your husband makes 400k, you get the same benefit spending 10 hours a week or even month finding an extra 25k in the budget as you would working a 50k/yr job because you only end up with a little more and you have to work 40 hours a week to get it.  You have to crack six figures yourself before the extra money is harder to find via frugality than just working a job for it.

This isn’t to say that frugality is pointless unless you only make under 40k or over 400k, but that at the extreme ends of wage income (as reflected in both extremes having the highest rates of SAHMs), it’s mostly going to be easier to conserve cash rather than earn marginally more cash.

The math is different closer to the median married income, which is partly why the median is rising.  The reason is that people who are willing to marry when both incomes are likely to be about even set up their finances differently and as a result losing one income doesn’t create the space to segue into conserving the remaining one.

Of course, another reason the median married income is rising is that if you weren’t taught household management and homemaking skills, which is a very large number of marriageable women these days, it is terrifying to figure out how to get along on a low income and marrying a higher earning man sounds like it will be safer/easier.

Quick notes on the value of a village and the value of a housewife.

The value of the village, of real community support where you can easily have someone come over is 100k per year.

The articles from years and years back about how a housewife’s labor is worth 250k a year missed the real implication, which is that the *husband* would need to make that much to cover all the value-adds this platonic-ideal housewife was providing.    But then, that is dangerously close to the actual situation with SAHMing in many married households.

Related to something else, instead of the poor choices of long commutes or telecommutopia or “no really if we keep spending billions on light rail everyone will take it to their green jobs”, we could have satellite offices for many desk-type jobs and make the 400k vice presidents actually earn that money making the rounds weekly or monthly to touch base.  It “splits the difference” with commuting by slashing it in many industries but also keeps local money more local because a lot of the “oh they’ll just buy everything with amazon” is from being exhausted from hours of driving. Cut that by 75% and you can have real stores and get better quality even without major price increase, since there’s been a race to the bottom with shipping costs and delivery of consumer goods.

Ultimately tens of millions of people are being shoved around by the whims of a few hundred thousand, and that is changeable.  Extremely so.