Are there signs of a Trump baby boom(let)?

Short answer: maybe.  Longer answer: only regionally at best, and there’s some evidence of a “Bernie birth boomlet” as well.

As far as sheer birth numbers, it’s all downhill in aggregate.  You only see increases in small subgroups and they are not big enough increases in big enough subgroups to bump the totals up.

I’ll put up a list of states that show birth increases for births from August-December 2017 (so conceptions around November 2016-March 2016) later tonight or tomorrow.

 

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Conservatives won’t attack the universities because universities are their baby factories.

This is something that is not immediately obvious to many conservative commentators, including far right ones, because the acceptable fringe subcultures who are anti-college but still married with kids are very loud and are in fact massively overrepresented in conservative media.  There’s also demographic lag, since the true culmination of college as guaranteed path to motherhood in the married class didn’t really hit until the internet era and there’s a lot of women who had babies in the 80s and 90s whose experiences 20+ years ago as non-college married mothers are also overrepresented.

Conservatives are in a real bind by relying on college as the baby factory, though.  The number of first births is declining year after year and is not in fact being offset by increases in third and higher births by women who are already mothers.  The conversion of middle class parenting and childrearing into a college-microcosm, where all interactions are mediated by a credentialed array of third parties (you don’t teach your kid domestic skills informally, they go to cooking and sweeping and mopping classes) and there is, simply, no organic social interaction (you have to join groups that meet at specific times for specific kinds of “play-based movement”) has been fertility inhibiting and it’s getting more and more so each year.

Even meal preparation has taken on college norms, consisting of carefully measured meal kits to be prepared according to precise and “scientific” instructions, or literal cafeteria-style eating in a upscale grocery store’s deli section.  Same chairs and tables and general set up as a college campus, only the food’s a little more expensive.

Obviously a lot of college moms love this brave new world where they never have to give up the mentality and practices of their college years once they graduate.  But it’s driving women who don’t want to live such a tightly structured life just to be moms away from motherhood entirely.

Liberals are in a bind, too, but progressive views don’t include a substantial pro-family ideological component, so the fertility shredding effects of motherhood turning more and more into the world’s longest advanced college degree don’t affect their group norms the same way.  Conservatives, though, do have that pro-family ideological aspect and if they don’t figure out how to baby factory some other way, then in the long run there will be a small, extremely rigid hard core having the same 2-4 kids, and this raises wider social questions about how we can ever hope to have normal sex roles when those people are completely pushed out of the reproductive race.

Notes about twin births

Some quick tidbits about twin birth because it’s yet another factor in the current birth trends and relative robustness of fertility in college moms.

  • Twin birth was around 10 per thousand births for white women and 12 per thousand for black women in 1940 and this was relatively unchanged through 1960. The relatively higher number for black women appears to be almost entirely from black women getting pregnant a lot more often.
  • Current twin births are more than triple those rates of a mere half-century ago.  But the “twin gap” has shrunk, with non-Hispanic whites at around 36 per thousand births and non-Hispanic blacks around 39 per thousand births.  This kind of puts a pin in the notion that it’s substantially genetic in black women.  Maybe, but the rapid changes and closing of the gap suggest environmental factors are the major driver.
  • As recently as 1985, the total twin rate for all races was around 20 per thousand births.
  • Twin births among (white, non-Hispanic) college moms are typically above the national average of around 3%.  They are more like 4-5% in many states, with a lot of it happening in regions where I found third children to be born above the national baseline for third births.
  • Twin births these days are more likely to be second births than first.  I don’t know if that would be the case pre-birth control and pre-ART, it’s hard to find birth order data because live twins were so much rarer until quite recently.

 

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%.