College is the new bride price

The money doesn’t go to the parents, though.  But it’s the main path to the married class.  A fundamental error is the view that college is a net financial loss for middle class women.  But this dismisses the reality that the college “bride price” is how those women display their marriageability and secure marriage to a man who can lead them into firm footing in the married class.  The fringe notion that college is for harlotry is nearly the opposite of the reality that’s led to a supermajority of children being born to college-educated mothers and a majority being born to college-completing mothers (BA and beyond).

Women were taking 40% of the BAs in 1970.  Those women’s daughters have come to completely dominate married motherhood, so of course college for girls Just Makes Sense.  When your daughter is going to marry a guy who’s already graduated a couple years earlier and who’s already making 70k while she’s walking into 40k starting, suddenly the 15k or 25k in student loans doesn’t seem like such a big deal.


The Australian difference

I can’t get more deeply into this for a couple months unfortunately, because Australia’s natality data is not as granular as America and some of the other nations I have looked at.  But this is an interesting starting point.

American birth rates by age for 2015 (using 12 month-ending numbers from the CDC/NCHS)

Age Birth Rate
15-19 22.3
20-24 76.8
25-29 104.3
30-34 101.5
35-39 51.8
40-44 11
45+ 0.8

In Australia, things look more like this for 2015

Age Birth Rate
15-19 13.1
20-24 49.2
25-29 96.7
30-34 122.4
35-39 69.7
40-44 14.8
45+ 1

1 in 8 married couples with under-18 kids make 200k/yr or more, a doubling since 2006.

That is as of 2016, courtesy of the American Community Survey’s 1 year estimates.

1 in 10 make 150-199k per year.

Put it together and almost 1 in 4 married couples (about 22%) with under-18 kids makes $150,000 or more household income.

More tellingly, the largest single income group is $100-149,999 per year, with just under 5 million households and about 23% of the total.

Put 22 and 23 together and you get 45% of married couples with under-18 kids make 100k a year or more as a household in 2016.

A bit less than 7.5 million households bring in 50-99k per year (split about 50/50 from 50-74k and 75k-99k), which is almost exactly 33% of married folks with under-18 kids.

This means about 22% or almost 1 in 4 married couples with under-18 kids make 49k per year or less.  Not quite how the demographics of marriage are portrayed in a lot of circles, particularly on the right, where sub 50k is presented as firmly and comfortably middle class.

But in reality the true middle range for all the people married and raising kids right now is 100-150k.  This is true even in the lowest income region, the South,  at 41% above 100k.  For the Midwest and West it’s 45% and for the Northeast it’s 56%, or a clear majority.

What were things like 10 years ago in 2006?

200k- 6% nationally

150-199k- 6% nationally

100-149k- 18% nationally

75k-99k- 18% nationally (16% in 2016)

50-75k was the single largest group broken out nationally in 2006. It was 23% nationally.  It’s shrunk a lot since then and is about 17% for 2016.

So in 2006 the true middle range was more like 75k-100k, and nearly 30% of married couples with under-18 kids had sub 50k household income for the year.

In the last decade the bottom rungs are dropping out of the married with kids ladder.

Under 75k went from a slight majority of 52% of such households in 2006 to a clear minority in 2016 of 39%.

Or the other way around, in 2006 48% of married couples with kids made 75k per year or more.  In 2016, it’s 61%.


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.

A few notes from The Third Child

The Third Child is the second stage and second book of the study I mentioned here,and it reveals some interesting things about the parents of the Boomers.

The biggest is the strong pressure to pop out 2-4 children by age 30. This was a recurring theme, that women should complete their families (yep, including the Catholics) by age 30 and not have more kids after that. What’s interesting about this is that what we have now is the opposite, women are under strong pressure to pop out 2-4 kids *after* age 30. The difference, aside from the obvious, was that the Boomer’s moms could rely on a lot more other women around and were younger when their kids were teenagers.

The other interesting thing is the insane sex selection mania. Part of the baby boom was driven by wanting children of both sexes, and popping em out like pez until you got your boy or girl. One might note that Boomers were the first generation to have access to ultrasound that was useful for sex identification during their prime childbearing years.

Boomers were responding to a lot of less than perfect behavior from their parents and grandparents, which doesn’t make them saints, but it gives some perspective on where some of their self-centered tendencies might have come from other than a vacuum.

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.”