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.

http://blogs.harvard.edu/philg/2018/01/29/foreigners-can-rescue-us-from-our-undiplomatic-president

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.

 

What motherhood means to me, or why I keep trying to make art.

In my teenaged youth, I wanted to be married around 17-18 to a thirtysomething older, financially established man.  A major reason was that I thought that was what it would take to be allowed the time and space to be a working artist.

While the wanting to be married to a guy twice my age was a bit silly, the underlying reason was reasonable.  I’ve never viewed myself having marriage and motherhood without also being a working artist.  The three always just went together in my head, and I married a guy who can recognize that this isn’t an unreasonable view or expectation for a married mother to have.  I just managed to find an established older guy who wasn’t twice my age.

Unfortunately, while my husband recognizes this, I can’t say the same about society.  Though it’s always been a struggle for women to have all three, things have worsened, almost counterintuitively as women have gotten more overt financial power.

 

The college graduate, well-paid never-married single mother is now a thing.

There has arisen a growing class of never-married mothers who have bachelor’s degrees, make $50,000 per year or more, and who do represent a distinct class among college moms with somewhat different goals and desires than the broader married college moms.

For example, this group of mothers is perfectly fine with lots of socialist-type policies and government expansion, as their well-paid professional-managerial class jobs are overwhelmingly in nonprofit and government work.  That “equity coordinator” for the local Chamber of Commerce is likely to be such a mother.  Or a communications director with a school district.  Or a regional manager for a network of homeless shelters.  Or maybe the director of a small local one that caters specifically to teenage mothers.

The wages for all this sort of thing are almost never “six-figure”, but generally in the 25-35 dollars per hour range.  This is well-paying for two people.  These mothers overwhelmingly have one child out of wedlock and don’t have additional children via later marriage.  The broadly modal tendency is to have the child in their late 30s.

Women in this group absolutely have a massive investment in continuing the degree ratchet where more and more degrees are listed in job requirements for the same pay.  Such women also can’t afford private school and generally have a distaste for homeschooling even in areas where academic secular homeschooling is normalized (which is nearly anywhere slightly urban in much of the country).  So they have a strong tendency to support the general “how much more money for public schools? dunno, MORE MORE MORE” position that is not exactly uncommon on the Democrat-voting side of the political aisle.

Counterintuitively, many of these never-married college moms support massive amounts of gun control because they *don’t* live in dangerous gentrifying urban areas, but tend to live the exurb or semi-rural life.  It’s cheaper and since they tend towards government jobs anyway and are generally only supporting two people, they don’t even have to worry about commuting tradeoffs.  So since they tend to live in low crime small cities and towns, it’s all abstract for them.  It’s a very different context than urban, single, childless professional class women who support such things.

And of course, because these women have one child, they tend to support child-friendly things, but child-friendly frequently isn’t mother-friendly unless it’s a mother of one.  They don’t think of, for example, healthcare access in terms of logistics scheduling and wrangling multiple children (among married parents, if you went from bottom quartile to top quartile, the average number of kids would be something like 1/2/2/3) because relatively few of these college moms have 2 kids (and yes, it is usually twins if they do).  They tend to only see that debate in terms of costs and networks.

Anyway, there are a lot of interesting traits to this new self-supporting class of mothers who never marry and have college degrees.  But a major thing is that these women have a lot more free time to be on social media presenting various ideological concepts as normative for college moms in general when that, in fact, is not the case.

Women on the Pill had 20% more sex than women not on it.

There was a lot of research done on the Pill when it was first made available to American women on a mass scale in the early 1960s.  The big takeaway, relevant since use was primarily restricted to already-married women, is that women on the Pill had a higher “coital frequency” than women not on the Pill and that pre-Pill, women were in fact having less sex with their husbands over time to avoid pregnancy.   Marrying young was resulting in not as much sex after the first ten years, due to desire for limiting fertility rather than lack of interest according to separate surveys of husbands and wives.

But once the Pill was introduced, women who went on it had more sex and of course had fewer children.  It sure seemed like cake was being had and eaten too.  This is particularly interesting given that decades later research on women taking the Pill showed it to be heavily correlated with reduced sex interest in women and lower libido.  Thus we have the origin story for the mythical housewife who wasn’t that into it but just trying to keep her man satisfied.

The other thing I just remembered about this is that the Pill was the only contraceptive with a substantial increase in sex-having vs non-Pill users.  Sterilizations on either male or female side, condoms, jellies, and the like never showed people utilizing them to have more sex than people avoiding contraceptive use.

Unmarried first birth percentages for college moms, 2018

From PhD to “never finished”, women of all races, minus California which stopped breaking out marital status in 2017 (it doesn’t change the percentages, the pattern is the same there as well for earlier years).

PhD/Professional: ~7%

MA: ~9%

BA: ~17%

AA: ~33%

Some college without any degree completion: ~57%

For perspective, the level of college education for women of all races aged 25-29 is as follows:

AA or additional education beyond: ~52%

BA or additional education beyond: ~41%

MA or additional education beyond: ~11%

The Boomers’ mothers wanted smaller families.

A great many women who had children from 1955-1964 wanted exactly two children, but due to contraceptive inefficacy compared to the Pill, they ended up with 3+.  And women who wanted large families of 6+ found themselves having around 5-6 with a suspiciously high frequency.

Long story short, even without the Pill, the desire for contracepting into a smaller family was already baked into the postwar cake for American women.  It’s not clear that large family desire is particularly common to American women when they aren’t part of an intensely religious subculture.  Frontier women had large family sizes, but this is confounded by the frontier being a hotbed of highly religious subcultures.

Now the story of how more education for women went from being strongly correlated with fewer kids to…not is a different story, mostly still unwritten by any demographic researcher.