Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Declining Demographics in the U.S.

The latest statistics indicate that the U.S. is following Europe down the road to demographic decline. The New American reports:
The birth rate in the United States reached an all-time low last year, while over 40 percent of all babies born in 2011 were born to unmarried women, according to a report issued last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the overall birth rate dropped to a record low, the birth rates for women in the 35-to-39 and 40-to-44 age brackets actually spiked from 2010 to 2011.
. . . Among all women in the United States (including those as young as 10 and as old as 54), the birth rate declined from 64.1 per 100,000 in 2010 to 63.2 per 100,000 in 2011. Among women 10 to 14 years old, it held steady at 0.4 per 100,000. Among women 15-19 years old, it declined from 34.2 to 31.3. Among women 20-24 years old, it declined from 90.0 to 85.3. Among women 25-29, it declined from 108.3 to 107.2. And among women 30-34 years old, it held steady at 96.5.
... While the share of babies born to unmarried women was steepest among teenagers, the portion of newborns delivered by adult unmarried women also rose from 2010 to 2011.

A falling birth rate is a relatively new anomaly in the United States, as the U.S. birth rate had been consistently rising since the late 1990s, and reaching an all-time high of over 4.3 million in 2007. But fewer than 4 million births were documented last year, the smallest number since 1998.
Contrary to what the mass media portrays, and even what I hear from some unwed mothers, fathers are critical to successful, well-adjusted children. A rise in unwed mothers just means more children that grow up in poverty, are less educated, and more likely to end up using drugs or going to jail.

Why are fathers so important? As I've discussed before, it is because fathers inculcate skills and discipline in their children that mothers, single or not, don't.
As noted sociologist David Popenoe explains,
Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers – especially biological fathers – bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.
Fathers bring good, essential things to the lives of children. Children are impoverished developmentally when they are deprived of their father’s love.
The Review of General Psychology concludes:
Many studies conclude that children with highly involved fathers, in relation to children with less involved fathers, tend to be more cognitively and socially competent, less inclined toward gender stereotyping, more empathetic, and psychologically better adjusted.
(Footnotes omitted). (See also this article). And, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood. Infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers (e.g., babies whose fathers respond quickly to their cries and who play together) are more securely attached; that is, they can explore their environment comfortably when a parent is nearby and can readily accept comfort from their parent after a brief separation. A number of studies suggest they also are more sociable and popular with other children throughout early childhood.

The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child's emotional and social development. Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions. Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self-control and pro-social behavior.

One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior.
This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem. In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.

In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. A caseworker who understands the important contributions fathers make to their children's development and how to effectively involve fathers in the case planning process will find additional and valuable allies in the mission to create a permanent and safe environment for children.
(Footnotes omitted). The Daily Mail reported earlier this year on a study on the impact a father has on his children, writing:
A father's love is as important to a child’s emotional development as a mother’s, a large-scale study has confirmed.

Examining the cases of more than 10,000 sons and daughters revealed how a cold or distant father can damage a child’s life, sometimes for decades to come.

The review of 36 studies from around the world concluded that his love is at least as important to youngsters as that of their mothers.

Researcher Professor Ronald Rohner said that fatherly love is key to development and hopes his findings will motivate more men to become involved in caring for their offspring.

‘In the US, Great Britain and Europe, we have assumed for the past 300 years that all children need for normal healthy development is a loving relationship with their mother,’ he said.

‘And that dads are there as support for the mother and to support the family financially but are not required for the healthy development of the children.

‘But that belief is fundamentally wrong. We have to start getting away from that idea and realise the dad’s influence is as great, and sometimes greater, than the mother’s.’
The decline of men has consequences for women, as well. One trend that I believe is building is a general backlash against women. Not in violence, but in disinterest and disdain. The Alpha Game blog noted recently:
The problems Western societies in general, and American society in particular, are already beginning to face were no less predictable than the problems facing Chinese and Indian societies as a result of their massive slaughter of the unborn female population. These problems are significantly different, of course. Contra the feminist assumptions, (and by now it should be no surprise to observe that events have proven them to be wrong yet again), just as the slaughter of girls has raised the relative MMV of the surviving women in Chinese and Indian society by reducing their supply, the legal degradation and economic deterioration of men has raised the relative MMV of the smaller number of men still deemed marriageable by women.

It is simple economic supply and demand at work, on both sides. The female demand for more education and financial success increases, thus raising the price of the desirable men. However, the male demand for women has significantly declined due to the increased legal risks and increasing age of women at first marriage, among other things, further reducing their supply. Anyone who has taken Econ 101 should be able to correctly calculate what the interaction of the moving supply and demand curves necessarily implies: women will find it harder and harder to find desirable men willing to marry them. In September, I pointed out that already, the math dictates "only one-third of women in college today can reasonably expect to marry a man who is as well-educated as they are." And that ratio is only going to continue falling as time goes on, barring massive social, economic, or political changes.

This change in marriage-related demographics is not the only, nor the primary, reason the West is in decline. But it is most definitely a powerful factor in speeding up the process of decline and fall... and trying to shame single men responding rationally to the changes in society into modifying their behavior is simply not a credible solution.
(Underline mine). (See here for a detailed explanation of female hypergamy).

Sadly, it is women who will ultimately suffer the most. The Alpha Game blog recently noted that "Sex and the City" turns into "Solitude and the City," citing this article from the Daily Mail. Although the article is by a woman in the U.K., I'm sure that it is representative (or soon will be) in the U.S. as well. The author writes:
At the age of 46, I accept that my opportunity to have a family has gone and the chances of meeting a decent man aren’t looking too rosy either.

Not exactly a cheery thought, but at least I can console myself with the knowledge that, in one sense at least, I will be far from alone — because today, in the UK, there are record numbers of us middle-aged singletons. Figures released last week by the Office of National Statistics showed that there are now 7.6 million people living alone in the UK.

And the fastest rising group of ‘aloners’ — 2.5 million — are people like me, who fall between the ages of 45 and 64 and live alone in our own properties with no spouse, partner or children.

The figure represents a mind-blowing 50 per cent increase since the mid-Nineties. Materially well-off but emotionally bereft, we represent the loneliest generation ever known — and as a member of this fast-growing club, I have to say, it’s not a membership I look forward to renewing annually.

For me, the single girl lifestyle that I embraced and celebrated with so much enthusiasm in the Eighties and Nineties has lost much of its gloss, and is starting to look a little hollow.

I was part of the Sex And The City generation — successful, feisty women who made their own money, answered to no one and lived life to the full.

When it came to men, our attitude to them was the same as it was towards the latest must-have handbag: only the best would do, no compromises should be made, and even then it would be quickly tired of and cast aside.

What none of us spent too long thinking about in our 20s and 30s was how our lifestyles would impact on us once we reached middle-age, when we didn’t want to go out and get sozzled on cocktails and had replaced our stilettos and skinny jeans with flat shoes and elasticated waists.

When I look around at all my single friends — and there are a lot of them — not one of them is truly happy being on her own. Suddenly, all those women we pitied for giving up their freedom for marriage and children are the ones feeling sorry for us.

Freedom is great when you can exploit it; but when you have so much that you don’t know what to do with it, then it all becomes a little pointless.
Even in their vanity, the loneliness pokes through. Consider this, from an op-ed in the New York Times by Dominique Browning, which begins:
ONE cold, misty autumn morning, I slipped and fell. I was on my way out to do errands, the mossy wooden deck on the north side of my house was slick with dew, I was in a hurry, I skidded, and both feet flew out from under me.

. . . I lay there for a minute or three, gasping in pain. Then the old control center kicked in: “Move.”

Like a computer running through settings during start-up, I wiggled my legs and my arms and moved my neck. Everything was working. Still, the pain in my tailbone was intense.

“You must get up,” I said to myself. But there was another voice in my head, the one cowering behind the control center.

That voice was whimpering and scolding. “This is what happens when you live alone,” it said. “You fall, and there is no one to help you up. If you don’t pick yourself up, you could lie here for three days, maybe even two weeks, before anyone finds you. Lucky you aren’t paralyzed.

“It is not good to live alone.”
While her premise was that it was good to be single and not have to put up with an "icky" man, the beginning of her story tells it all.

Consider also this  this November 2011 Atlantic piece by Kate Bolick titled "All the Single Ladies." (Link). Bolick writes:
Today I am 39, with too many ex-boyfriends to count and, I am told, two grim-seeming options to face down: either stay single or settle for a “good enough” mate. At this point, certainly, falling in love and getting married may be less a matter of choice than a stroke of wild great luck. A decade ago, luck didn’t even cross my mind. I’d been in love before, and I’d be in love again. This wasn’t hubris so much as naïveté; I’d had serious, long-term boyfriends since my freshman year of high school, and simply couldn’t envision my life any differently. Well, there was a lot I didn’t know 10 years ago. The decision to end a stable relationship for abstract rather than concrete reasons (“something was missing”), I see now, is in keeping with a post-Boomer ideology that values emotional fulfillment above all else.
There are other costs as well, such that because of the declining number of eligible bachelors for these liberated women, they have to compete by being more sexually promiscuous. (See this New York Post article on the declining "cost" of sex, and this National Review article on increased promiscuity of women in college).

Like many of our problems, however, the decline of men is ensconced in government policies and bias. Schools and universities have edged ever more into misandry, with the result that the education system has become hostile to boys and men. (Here are several articles on the K-12 discrimination against boys: Here and here and here). Thus, the number of men attending collage (as a percentage) is dropping. The legal system has also turned to misandry, punishing men in divorces, and raising the risks of getting married in the first place. Whether you agree with him or not, you should read this article from the Futurist concerning this issue. But the key driver to the increase of unwed births is that men have become increasingly irrelevant to families as the government has increasingly taken on the role of parent and provider. This trend has long been visible in the African-American community, as reported here. But it has moved more broadly into the white working class as well.

This article considers the long term consequences:
OK, so what happens when women get educated, achieve economic equality, etcetera? Their pool of eligible hypergamic targets shrinks; the princess marrying the swineherd is a fairytale precisely because it’s so rare. More women seeking hypergamy from a higher baseline means the competition for eligible males is more intense, and womens’ ability to withold sex vanishes even supposing they want to. Thus, college campuses today, and plunging marriages rate tomorrow.

The question becomes: what are we going to give up? Family formation? Sexual equality? Sexual liberty? (By sexual equality I mean the presumption that women should be legally, economically, and educationally equal to men. By sexual liberty I mean both an absence of formal legal sanctions and an absence of guilt and psychological repression.) It looks very much as through we can’t have all three of those sustainably, and (this is the thought that really disturbs me) we may not even get to have more than one.

If we give up family formation it’s game over; we’ll be outbred by cultures that don’t. So that’s off the table. Following out the logic, the demographic future will belong to cultures that give up either sexual liberty or sexual equality, or both.

But those options aren’t symmetrical. Because, remember, the problem with today’s sexual economics is not symmetrical. It’s not women who are bailing out of the marriage market in droves, it’s men. Accordingly (as the author of the NY Post recognizes) the odds of rolling back sexual liberty are close to nil. Men don’t have to play on those terms for fundamental bioenergetic reasons (release of semen is cheap), and women post-Pill are demonstrating an unwillingness to try to make them. Because, you know, more sex (see “miswiring”, above).

I am led to a conclusion I don’t like. That is: Sexual equality is unstable. If women can’t buy marriage with sex, they’ll have to bid submission instead. This tactic also combines well with hypergamic desire – if the mean social power of men is automatically higher than that of women, more potential pairings constitute marrying up.

I don’t have a submissive wife and never wanted one. I like strong and independent women. It therefore horrifies me to reach the conclusion that sexually repressive patriarchies may after all be a better deal for most womens’ reproductive success than the relative equality they have now is. But that’s where the logic leads.

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