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.


In which Dalrock and Deep Strength reject the reality of the College Funnel
These two posts are actually interesting because they’re close, but their own ideological blinders make them miss that the cognitive sort has led to *most kids being the children of smart people*. As well as *the elites totally care about marriage, because now simply being married is a marker of economic separation*.

Class in America has changed and has different division lines. Married people are the new upper middle class. That wasn’t true before the 1960s, but it has become true since wages stagnated in the 1970s.

A substantial minority of people dealt with the wage stagnation by partnership marriages where mom got more and more higher education and could be a much bigger backup/co-earner than in the past.  This allowed that group to capture, over time, some of the productivity gains in real income and married people began to break away as a distinct class by the 1980s.  Once you adjust for what was available to buy in the 1970s and 1980s, it’s clear that the upper middle class rapidly became the married class within less than a generation.

Technological advances also allowed a cognitively unusual slice of the population to have significantly more economic success and consequently marital and reproductive success.

This is just something the right has to deal with.  Marriage is not by default the province of hardworking poorish people.  This is a common right-wing trope/meme/narrative, but it hasn’t been true for a long time, including when many of the people spreading it were newly married.  And it leads conservatives and generically right wing married people into weird and not-useful places by denying that there’s been a big shift upwards for the “average” married couple, particularly those with children under 18.

As I already posted, there are 21-22 million married couples out of 57 million who have six-figure household incomes.  This is not an “elite”.  At the 75k level that is effectively six-figure in many parts of the country, that’s another 9 million households.  30/57 is more than half of married households making 6500 dollars a month or more.

There’s only 125 million households in America.

Also, while the numbers are sadly still high, unwed childbearing is decreasing steadily.  Married childbearing is on the increase at the higher birth orders, astonishingly.

All the “stuff” that goes into raising kids today is not frivolous once you look at the actual conditions we’ve all let happen for various reasons.  And wrapping oneself up in an illusion that nothing’s really changed in terms of what’s needed to be a functional married family is part of why the list of stuff is so long.

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.