These are heat maps of where people decide to have the marginal third child that breaks the “family of four” paradigm that is reflected even in consumer goods and packaging because it’s become such a core part of post-Vietnam American culture.
For all races, about 30% of births for 2014 were third kid or higher.
For whites, it was about 25%
A starting point for discussion is that while the coasts with good jobs where both parents can potentially earn 75-100k apiece are punching a little below the national average, they are nevertheless putting up third babies in the double digits in many high-cost counties.
For white non-Hispanics, a little over 600k births in 1992 were the third live baby or higher. This represented just under 1/4 of all births. Over 75% of all births for 1992 were first or second births.
The approximate distribution of the 600k higher birth orders (less than 100% due to rounding) was:
3rd order: 66%
4th order: 22%
5th order: 7%
6th order: 2.6%
7th order: 1%
8th order or higher: 1.1%
In 2014, there were over 50k fewer such births, a bit over 550k and that represented just OVER 25% of all births for that year.
The distribution of these 550k higher-order births over 20 years later was:
8th or higher: 2%
The total births for 1992 were around 2.5 million, while for 2014 they were around 2.1 million. So people were having fewer children overall, but the ones having many are chugging along pretty impressively. The problem is that there’s no filtering for how much of that chugging along is in little horse-powered buggies, so there’s that to keep in mind.
To put this distribution of higher-order births in context, here’s the “white” distribution for 1970, ten years after the Pill and IUDs were introduced.
Total white births: approx 3.1 million
Total third or higher order white births: approx 1 million
Percentage distribution of third and higher order births:
Admittedly this includes some Hispanics, but only about 4-5%, not enough to shift the overall pattern. This pattern from 1970 could be returning at the higher orders, but it’s too soon to tell.
They’re the ones having more than two kids, more often. Many of them are the women starting their baby-having in their 30s. Late marriage ages have not completely crashed birth rates because married party girl reverts are willing to have a third or fourth child despite starting in their 30s. And the ones who had a couple of kids in their 20s are having a few more in their late 30s once they have teenagers to help them out. They aren’t “red pill women” though, since nearly all of those mysteriously stop at two kids, if they have any. They aren’t the divorcers, they aren’t the childless careerists. They’re the ones rearing the next generation with great difficulty while childless conservative men sit around flapping their hands about reduced birth rates in America among the “right” people.
Brought to you courtesy of the world of vital statistics microdata. It’s a sick day at our house and this curiosity in the data charmed me.
I was looking around in old Census data the other month and stumbled upon a fairly shocking bit of demographic information–white American women have pretty much always been at the lower end of fertility. I am defining “American” here as “after 1776”. They were having only a couple kids per woman way back in the 1840s and such.
Regionalism is part of how the myth of fecund white women oppressed into sterility by “the libs” or “feminism” gained traction. In a few regions, white women did have huge families, 8-12 kids being quite usual. However, this was a single-digit percentage of all white women of childbearing age, and this has been the case almost from the very beginnings of America as a nation. White women in America have always tended towards having relatively few children, long before 1960s or even 1920s feminism. The Baby Boom years weren’t a bunch of white women feeling free to have five or six kids, they were a bunch of white women *who would have otherwise had none having one* being added to the overall pool of mothers. This is, needless to say, not part of the conservative happy 50s mythmaking.
American women have frequently throughout American history taken more personal freedom and economic power in exchange for the lack of genuine domestic support, on average. This is part of how childrearing in America has become so awful and health-damaging for women. Men bought our great grammas off with “freedom” and this was supposed to compensate for not having a feminine or domestic sphere. And there’s always been extreme subcultures having huge families to point to, even though they never represented much more than 15-20% of the total population themselves.
But I guess that’s also part of the secret history of domesticity in America–a typical American woman really wasn’t raising six kids alone while her husband worked all day or was gone for months. She was about as likely to be raising one or two in 1870 as 1970, which explains quite a bit.