The College Funnel and fertility hysteria on the American right.

The right does a tolerable job beefing about and critiquing the problems with left/liberal hysteria about “too much” fertility. But they conflate two issues into one and thus come out unsuccessful in their rhetorical quest to get married women to pop out more babies.

The fact is that American white fertility has been clustered around 2-4 children (with 5-6 the acceptable fringe due to Catholic and Mormon influences) since basically we had free black people and free white people (so, since 1870 or so). American black fertility has been more like 2-6 children until the 1970s, when they pretty much went to the same pattern as whites. There were also extended periods where both black and white women had 20% or so rates of no children.

So fixating on 1950s style fertility, with its unusually low rate of childlessness among the women of both races, is historically inaccurate. The excessive and vigorous rhetoric on even the mainstream right regarding family size is not very successful because it’s going up against long-standing American norms about family size being relatively small even when there wasn’t much or any modern birth control.

And it causes the right to make that conflation error I led with. They look at small family sizes through a 1950s, historically wrong lens, and declare, repeatedly, that college education is responsible, whether it’s simply attending at all (non-mainstream right) or liberal indoctrination while attending plus too many people attending (mainstream right).

Which brings us to the College Funnel. The College Funnel is the process by which married childbearing increasingly requires women to climb into the College Funnel and squeeze their way through to a degree. Some, quite a few, fall out at various points, but even that much makes getting married before the kids come a whole lot more likely.

With whites, the College Funnel has clearly increased births for women attending and especially completing college. But the births for white women without college attendance have plunged dramatically. With blacks, the College Funnel is at least partly another way to describe married black birth becoming the province of educated immigrants and/or mixed marriages (racially or ethnically, as in marrying a black immigrant) at higher and higher rates since the 1980s. What you have left over in both white and black cases is a small hard core of annual unwed births that combined were around 400k in 1970 and are now around 900k-1m annually since 1990. Sharp rise, then flattened out.

The College Funnel is fairly raceless, with more racial and ethnic intermarriage, which probably muddies the numbers some too.

So you have this problem where people of a certain level of brains are having the married kids and in the case of whites and Asians, it’s most of their kids on top. You have this different problem where people who might or might not have that level of brains, but don’t get into the College Funnel basically can’t have kids except in a handful of “wheeee feckless pride” areas, mostly urban. And the second problem is real, and worth discussing. But combining it with the college thing and declaring college renders anyone who stands next to one sterile is incorrect and not a solid way to get to solutions to let those second-problem people get to have children, much less children mostly in wedlock, again.

The numbers are from data in the National Center for Health Statistics Vital Statistics Reports’ various pdfs.

ETA 7/14/17: And right after I make this blog post, Ace of Spaces pushes a user comment to the top that is the very hysteria I was lamenting.

President Trump is a normal President, not an unPresidential one.

He’s the first President to fully exist in a 24/7 insta-news world, and this means that once again, as during the campaign, people are trapped in presentism regarding his demeanor, actions and general P. They are also trapped in the emotional firestorm of the media, where it being everywhere means that many people hear it, tune out the specific content, but absorb the negative feelings around Trump that really do emanate from all those CNN airport screens and MSNBC gym screens.

So even people who should know better mindlessly repeat the idea that Trump should go hat in hand to the media in order to get Congressional Republicans to vote for his stuff when the very idea that a President is supposed to do that is unhistorical and would actually be unPresidential. Or they repeat other demonstrably false ideas from the general negative pool of media tripe, like “Trump isn’t getting anything done, he’s too busy tweeting”, “Trump doesn’t know how to negotiate with politicians”, “Trump is childish”, etc, etc, etc.

When you fly up into the air of overall Presidential history and take a slightly less insta-news view, it becomes clear that Trump’s firmly within historical norms for both snark and general Presidentin’ even this early in his Presidency.

People see what they want to see and people who want to see Trump as a buffoon who can’t get it together have plenty of places to have that feeeeeeeeelllllllliiiinnnnnnnggggggg reinforced, supported, backed up by babbling heads on endless tv screens. Those of us who live lives where we just happen to not have media ranting as background noise and only read a little of it in passing have a different view of the President because we’re somewhat more insulated from the sheer emotional weight of the angry, legitimately childish and maddened media. He’s doing a lot of pretty ordinary Presidential things. One can debate whether what Presidents do normally is good or ill, certainly, but he’s not showing any signs of incompetence by historical standards.

The previous President did some very historically questionable things, like the rhetoric that led to police being shot, using a sexual slur to describe Tea Party supporters, to pick just two. But the media didn’t have negative emotional energy about that stuff, because they liked it, so their neutral-to-positive emotional feels made anyone tuning in feel that he was dignified and suave while stirring discord and being even more gross in public speech than Mrs. “Deplorables” and “right-wing conspiracy” Clinton. He also had a long list of tweets that could easily be labeled short-sighted and petty as well, though more in the historical norms for snarking. In this respect, the media’s influence in the emotional realm, where identical behavior is interpreted in opposing ways because emotiomal stirring-up is impossible to fully resist without conscious effort, remains massive and powerful.

They’re working on that one, though. Kinda hope they succeed in undermining that emotional punch skill they still have, it could only be better for us all.

Angela Nagle vs. Thermidor, blind squirrel edition

T.W.O., who reads different parts of the reactionary right than I do, mentioned that the “neoreaction” “magazine” “Thermidor” decided to review some very silly book by a left-wing woman about the alt-right. The review is overlong and fretful, but this part was about the only interesting detail:

“In the opening of Rousseau’s pedagogical handbook, Emile, for example, Rousseau takes contemporary women to task for abandoning their motherly duties. He argues that the weakness and fragility of modern man is likely a result of mothers abrogating their duties to their children. He rails against the use of nurse maids and severely reprimands mothers for poisoning their new born children with the sickly air of the metropolis rather than face the horrors of confinement in the boring and uncomfortable countryside. This all sounds like it could easily have been lifted from some Red Pill forum post, but this in Nagle’s interpretation is one of the founders of the Equalitarian Feminist movement.”

Nagle was right, though, unfortunately for the reviewer. The Rousseau model, where the entire burden of motherhood is on individual mothers without the assistance of other women is explicitly one of the germs of expansion of economic and political power for women, particularly married women and married mothers. All those center-left free ranging mothers didn’t burst onto the scene in a vacuum.

Just how dysgenic is the college gap between men and women?

Vox Day feels that it is quite dysgenic, but I think that we kind of see the Grain of Truth thing going on.

The reality is that 70% of white, non-Hispanic (WNH) births each year for the last decade or so are to college educated women.  And still more reality is that a majority of WNH births have been to college educated mothers since sometime in the 80s, when they crossed 50%.  So for about 30 years now, a majority of white babies are being born to educated white mothers.  And by 1960, the percentage was already over 20%.

Now this is a different issue than raw baby count, but even there, white women had about 2 million babies (after minusing 50k or so Hispanic births, this was before they were a separate category) in 1970 (when college educated mothers were around 25% or so of the total) and in 2015, the most current year available, they also had 2 million babies.

People are having fewer children as a population proportion, that is true, sort of.  But the raw count of kids has been very stable for decades, with its structure changing.  The right wing having a big conversation about what it means that most white kids are born to college-moms would be more useful than asserting that such motherhood is definitely dysgenic.  Which is itself an open question.  Intelligence flows from mom, so is having bright women make up more of the moms (particularly the married moms) dysgenic?  Yeah, yeah “watered down curriculum”, but that means arguing that the ones who can’t complete coursework in even a watered down form are somehow smarter.  Which would be a hard sell.

Even among black women, a higher fraction of mothers who get married before the babies come are college educated.  That is, college educated black mothers are often married before the babies come and non-college black mothers are at scary 90% or so out of wedlock levels.  A majority of black mothers with a BA or greater are married before the kids come.

So we have a larger population with a static baby count and thus a lower birth rate, but the women left who are bothering to have babies, plural are majority college-attending and married.  And they have more higher-order births, they have supermajorities of the 3+ births.

One could make an interesting argument that it was mainly the vanguard of college educated women’s daughters who successfully reproduced.  And that also has pretty far reaching implications.


Poking at the large family myth bubble.

As anyone reading along in this blog or the broader American right wing knows, there is a loud contingent of people who assert that in America, large families used to be common as dirt and women loved having them too.

This is not, strictly speaking, accurate.

The Vital Statistics folks (originally at the Census, and now with the CDC) stopped making a new column for births past #17 in 1959. The next year, in 1960, while still in what came to be called the Baby Boom, they stopped doing new columns for births above #8. And the Vital Statistics people are very conservative about these things. They were cheerfully making columns for 312 16th births for years. But 312 out of 4 million or so births a year is a really tiny number and eventually even they just started mushing all those ten and twelfth and seventeenth births together.

The point being that thousands of double digit births can still be happening, but still also be not common as dirt. Pesky math.

The other poke at the bubble for now is that as soon as American women got birth control access, they mysteriously rushed as far away from double digit family sizes as they could. Eight was very much enough, thanks, and keeping births down to six or less was nicer still, as far as white American women were concerned. There is some amusing (for a personal value of amusing) commentary in many of the annual bulletins expressing statistician puzzlement at the plunge in 8 and up births among white women about twenty seconds after the first shipload of diaphragms washed ashore. And while access came decades later for black women, they behaved exactly the same and kablooey went the higher order black birth numbers too.

This is not the behavior of women who looooooved having ten or fifteen kids. It’s also not really much to do with feminists or feminism except that they felt the solution to male sexual incontinence was to have women end run around it with birth control of ever-increasing reliability.

Right wing activism vs left wing activism (PIRGs)

I have more things I want to write about than time to write about them, and some of those things I posted as comments over at Steve Sailer’s blog.  So I’ll bring some of them over until I get more free time/high spoon days or run out of relevant commentary.  First up are some comments I made about the difference between right wing and left wing activism, including the PIRGs (public interest research groups) as an example.

“There’s also a professional activist culture for Republicans, it’s just not as effective [as professional left-wing activism] because it’s oriented towards milking the base. HSLDA is a case in point. Doesn’t always start that way, but the right-wing activist stuff always seems to end up there, mysteriously.”

“…the left funds professional activists opaquely, with small fees that hit thousands or millions of people, where they skim off a portion (the PIRG system is a great case in point). It tries to not directly milk its base. The right, conversely, does nothing but overtly milk its base and avoids opaque funding mechanisms, favoring direct appeals, even if they have a con-artist sheen.”

“The PIRG money for student PIRGs, the main ones Americans hear about comes from the students, not the government. They also don’t tell students they can claw it back and the few students who figure it out have a major struggle to get a few hundred bucks back out of thousands spent per year. So it’s opaque funding, but not so much that people have a strong incentive to try to eliminate it. That structure is typical of liberal activist stuff. There’s other examples like obscure state level taxes that cost a few bucks a year per person, but in a state of millions, that’s real money.

The hijacking foundations is also a liberal special. Conservatives are fairly bad at working that angle, too. The Birchers in their prime were a good conservative activist alternative approach, but they relied on historical conditions that are unlikely to be replicable by conservatives these days.”

The context was something that is currently on alt-right and other conservative-ish minds, effective activism techniques.  Some people were doing the whole “Republicans HAVE JOBS LOL” thing that is standard when this comes up, but Democrats have jobs too, and not just activist-ing.

Relevant discussion from My Posting Career (naughty words galore warning), but mostly in this discussion they dismiss the successful right wing organizing that does exist (pro-life activism) and are unaware that right-wing women were the mainstays of previous successful right-wing activism before the degeneration into base-milking in the wake of the 1960s.

I’ll come back to the right-wing women thing over and over again, because smart right wing women were the backbone of pre-1960s conservative and Republican organization.  Then that energy mostly got diverted into homeschooling and other acceptable fringes.

Introducing civic natalism

“The early 20th century was the summit of civilization and human accomplishment.”

I think there is a good argument to be made for that statement. However, that is not quite what this post is about.

It’s about the worldview I’ve adopted as I’ve come to appreciate and learn more about that era of human history, a mere century or so ago. I discussed the idea that this blog was a way to work out an alternative to Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option, and now I think I’ve got a grasp on what that alternative is.

Civic natalism.

This post is just an introduction to the phrase as concept.  Civic natalism was what a surprising number of Americans had a century ago, but it was an effect.  We can look at what they had access to that we don’t have now and the goal is to find out how we can have those things in a modern society.  Theirs was atomized and global, too, they were the vanguard of globalism.  Natalism also is about more than just maxing your pregnancy numbers, it’s about making it possible for motherhood to be something fully human, so women don’t want to reject the natural outcome of marital intimacy.

They had the following:

  • Large casual labor pool, particularly of women.  This means that there were maids and nannies and cooks, but it means so much more than that.  It means that you could pay people to do a lot of normal things and lend occasional assistance.
  • No commuting. The commuting was, mostly, the long-distance travel type, which human societies have developed a lot of tools to deal with.  It typically wasn’t the hurry up and wait tension that daily commuting tends to put onto people.  It is very possible to reduce commuting, but a deeper analysis of commuting patterns with an eye towards family improvement and cohesion is needed.
  • Rational autonomy for children. This means society is structured so that children take as much responsibility for themselves as possible, appropriate to their age.
  • Advocacy for feminine leisure.  

Starts are always rocky, so I’ll just conclude with this.  I’ve finally secured enough readable copies of Gene Stratton-Porter’s non-fiction nature books and essays that I will resume a publishing order review of her work in the coming weeks. She was a fascinating example of civic natalism, even though she herself had only one child.  Her entire career as a housewife who wrote bestsellers and spent hours in nature studies that are a direct line to the Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan strain of environmentalism and farming is an Ur-example of what civic natalism can provide when “just” a side effect of wider social norms.  She was also an influential advocate for other women to have better homemaking conditions and society-wide support.

And yes, there will be some commentary about the politics of civic natalism.  They intersect with how the right wing in America used to have a pretty good deal for bright women to be housewives and how they threw it away.  But those same politics also intersect with radical feminist policy ideas about how to support motherhood.  To summarize those future posts, let’s just say Phyllis Schlafly was a radical feminist when it came to motherhood.

Blew my mind, too.