Small update on the black demographic transition

I am not going on a quest for my binder full of (black) women birth statistics right now, but about 10% of black births in recent years are multiracial (that is, black is one of the races listed, but not the only one).  So they’ve started breaking that out and putting it in the “black” birth total.  But since this is births from black moms, this is also a measure of interracial marriage and birth for black women.  Anyway, that number is currently something like 55/45 or 60/40 wed/unwed.  It’s also getting close to parity with black men fathering children interracially. Interracial birth is converging more rapidly than overall interracial marriage among black men and black women because married black women have more children with nonblack husbands.

And foreign-born black moms represent 1 in 6 black births these days and are on track to represent 1 in 5 by as early as 2018.

I was going to add more, but I can’t remember it right now since I’m also trying to supervise cleanup (“I don’t know who did it!”) of a mysterious cucumber soda spill.

 

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Why teen birth in general has declined so much this decade.

In no particular order, not least because correlations are hard to tease out and frankly, the reasons aren’t all that great from a Christian perspective.

  • Less sex and thus less pregnancy
  • Morning after pill use tripling since 2002
  • Condoms everywhere
  • Less driving

Teens increasingly stay home and look sexy at each other instead of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (which was fairly realistic for the time and correspondingly ugly and depressing).  When they do manage to fornicate, they try really hard to remember to use their STD/birth control and if they forget, they race for the morning after pill.

 

During the 70s and 80s, that was when abortion was the big thing causing (mild) decreases in teen pregnancy, but that hasn’t been a major factor in the recent declines.

 

Why the current unmarried birth rate for black women has declined nearly every year for the last decade.

Massive drop in teen pregnancy each year and small increase in married births some years.

Teen births still represent about 1 in 11 births for non-Hispanic black mothers, which has brought them in most recent full data to about 1 in 8 unmarried births.  The very most recent couple years of data, including the preliminary stuff for 2016 show that the decline in unmarried childbearing has reached into the 20-24 age group.

As far as black birth goes, there’s still some room for teen births to continue their steep decline.  The question after that is whether the increases in unwed childbearing among older mothers (25+) will keep the overall unwed birth percentage around 65% or whether they too will decline.

Native black Americans have become like Native Americans.

A back of the old envelope shows that once you’ve accounted for first generation foreign-born mothers and mothers who had children with non-black fathers and label them black, from the maternal side at least, married non-Hispanic black birth is about 50-60% native-born.  This means that the 80%+ unwed numbers I’ve seen thrown around in some black parts of the interwebs have some anchor in reality.  That is in fact pretty close to the native-black unmarried birth percentage.   Immigrants have a 40% out of wedlock birth rate, which necessarily means the non-immigrant out of wedlock birth rate must be higher than 70%.  Hispanic black birth is 65% or so unmarried, and so doesn’t shift the native rate that much.

Without the substantial and parallel increases in outmarriage and immigration keeping births relatively stable year to year, the native-born black TFR is somewhere down in the dumps like the Native American one, about 1.4 or 1.5.

This explains a lot.

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.

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.