The numbers are from factfinder.census.gov, and I will probably put together a different one to show number of kids, which is nearly the same, while the number of women in either category slightly favors high school dropouts due to demographic lag. In short, PhD moms have more children per woman and we also now have about as many giving birth in a given year as women who don’t finish high school.
The data brief is here.
Has some interesting info. Is a pdf, but a small one. Might do more about it later but spent half the day in the woods, so I’m pretty tired.
The latest provisional birth data is out and the results are an ongoing decline in total births at all but the oldest ages (mostly 40+, which is barely any of the total babies).
I have no idea when I can get around to it in more detail but Gen X (my “generation”) beat the spread and had more babies than their initial TFR predicted, which is pretty interesting. Also cohort analysis shows some specific cohorts within Gen X and older-Millennial are having more higher-order births (3, 4, 5th, etc) than their fellow cohort-sisters.
So on the one hand a few small groups that someone eventually should look at more closely are having more children than expected. On the other hand, the big-picture of fertility is ongoing declines in baby-having at every stage of fertile-life.
So what is this ongoing decline in new life worth? What is it worth to the ever-shrinking pool of married parents? And what’s making a handful of people double down and have marginal additional children at all?
This was a draft I started a while back and you can see why it never got finished, lol. The washing machine is ok, though! And the kitchen is shard-free! We stopped buying jam (and pb) entirely and switched to deli meat.
Not only is there an actual (but mild) storm meaning our planned outdoor time was reduced to about 15 minutes, but this has been my day so far:
- One child dropped a glass jar of jam on the floor
- At the same time I found out one of the laundry loads was covered in yellow paper which turned out to be cardboard from a lightbulb package (lightbulb did not make it into the machine though).
- So I went back and forth shaking out every single piece of clothing and then cleaning up the whole thing between closing the kitchen door and getting up the shards and jam.
One of the kids thought it would be a great idea to dump oats into the sugar jar since I said they could have a little sugar with their oatmeal. Then there were tears since it came up mostly sugar.
I thought I would have to toss it all, but then I remembered something I used to see my own sainted mother do when baking, which was use a sifter. I didn’t have to use a sifter, I just shook the sugar-oats out with a regular strainer into a mixing bowl. The oats were greatly reduced in sugar content and had maybe 1tsp a serving, while the sugar just had some oat powder left behind. Breakfast was salvaged for another few days (my children eat like the war horses at the local stable) and now I have a new kitchen task to train them on.
But the sugar jar is no longer in kid-reach.
The story of the transformation of the”housewife” into the “stay at home mother” providing “mother-care, not DAYCARE” in American society in the wake of the Pill and Roe v. Wade is an interesting one and there’s not much information on the internet about it because the idea that there was a transition (and that this transition destroyed a substantial amount of soft power among married women) is not compatible with either right wing or left wing narratives about the topic.
We didn’t really have the term before motherhood could be conceivably viewed as entirely intentional/optional, even within marriage. And nobody seems to ask why it bloomed so suddenly and took over, when by its nature it explicitly separates motherhood from marriage, while housewife emphasizes, well, property benefits of marriage for women foremost. Homemaker, it’s worth noting, has begun to turn up as a transition away from stay at home mother, but it lacks that wilful connecting of property with marriage and in fact shifts the domestic world to something a woman must make/build, rather than something she is inherently part of and maintaining/managing.
Since this is just thinky thoughts, I will close with the little data point that over half of American SAHMs use center-based daycare for children aged 0-4 and that we hit that point about 10 years ago and this is in every region of the country, not concentrated in one place, it’s about half everywhere. Employed or not, it’s 80% for BA or higher-possessing mothers.
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.