Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fertility Day

Once upon a time China had a one-child policy. By government edict couples were only allowed to have one offspring. The policy was designed to solve the problem of overpopulation. And also the problem of mass starvation and poverty.

Apparently, the policy has worked so well that, as of last year, it was being changed to a two-child policy.

Europe, and not just Europe, is facing a different problem. Underpopulation. Young Europeans are not reproducing at a sufficiently high rate to maintain the population. They are reproducing below what is called the replacement rate. Over time this means that ethnic Europeans will die out and their nations will be taken over by peoples who are reproducing at much higher rates.

Quartz offered this sobering assessment:

The average fertility rate in the EU was 2.4 children per woman in 1970, but dropped to 1.5 in 2013, according to the OECD. The OECD says a rate of 2.1 is required to ensure a stable population, so rates below this are bad for countries with aging populations, generous social services, and sclerotic economies. (In other words, for Italy.)

And Jonathan Last explained it this way:

The fertility rate is the number of children an average woman bears over the course of her life. The replacement rate is 2.1. If the average woman has more children than that, population grows. Fewer, and it contracts. Today, America's total fertility rate is 1.93, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; it hasn't been above the replacement rate in a sustained way since the early 1970s.

The nation's falling fertility rate underlies many of our most difficult problems. Once a country's fertility rate falls consistently below replacement, its age profile begins to shift. You get more old people than young people. And eventually, as the bloated cohort of old people dies off, population begins to contract. This dual problem—a population that is disproportionately old and shrinking overall—has enormous economic, political and cultural consequences.

When fewer young people pay into the social welfare system a nation might need to import young people from the outside. Otherwise the system will go bust or the elderly will see their benefits cut. Of course, this requires refugees to go to work and to earn their way. If refugees go on welfare, it compounds the problem.

In Italy, the Health Minister recently tried to solve the problem by declaring something she called a “Fertility Day.” She might have used the old standby—“be fruitful and multiply”—but she did not. Whereas the Biblical injunction was addressed to a couple, the Italian Health Minister addressed herself to women, in particular to women who had been postponing marriage and family. Similar programs had been known some success in Denmark and Russia.

It sounds absurd to proclaim a national day celebrating procreative sexuality, but, like it or not, it has come to this. Of course, the Minister notwithstanding, it is not merely a woman’s problem.

The Italian Ministry of Health is in hot water after launching a campaign for a Fertility Day, which is exactly what it sounds like.

The country, which faces a declining birth rate that’s putting its economy in danger, is urging anyone who can make a baby to do so on Sept. 22. “Fertility is a common good,” the campaign urges.

The outcry was swift and vehement. How dare the health minister remind women of their biological clocks?

The New York Post continues:

The Ministry has since removed the initiative’s Web site (, but the bizarre and even offensive images created for the campaign live on. One ad urges, “Beauty knows no age. Fertility does.” Another reads: “Young parents. The best way to be creative.” With the unemployment rate at 42 percent for Italians ages of 15 to 24, writer Giulia Blasi points out that there may be better ways to get creative than popping out a kid you can’t afford. She argues that Italy’s efforts would be better spent making it easier for women to balance motherhood and work.

As one might expect many feminists want the government to solve the problem. But, then again, if the problem reflects a stagnant economy and an absurdly high youth unemployment rate, then perhaps free market reforms will be more effective.

Think about this: how many young Italian men are sufficiently solvent to want to marry and start a family? Rumor has it that many young Italian men are still living at home, cared for by mothers who are perfectly happy to feed them, to clean up after them and to do their laundry. Why trade that in for diaper duty and Mr. Mom?

One imagines that the problem has something to do with the fact that pregnancy has become the modern version of what used to be called “the curse.” For many feminists pregnancy has become a patriarchal plot designed to keep women chained to their homes and out of the workforce.

And yet, the problem of a low replacement rate extends to places like Iran and Japan and Russia… so it is difficult to pin it entirely on Western feminism.

Certainly, a stagnant economy demoralizes the population and produces a generalized feeling of depression.  As we know, this condition causes diminished libido.

And, in our modern age, procreation does not seem quite as urgent as it once did. Low infantile mortality rates and increased longevity have made it easier to defer and delay having children. Not too long ago people did not have a very long lifespan. High infantile mortality rates induced people to have more children. If you expect that some of your children will not live past childhood, you are more likely to want to have more children. If you expect that your male children will be sent off to war you are more likely to want to have more children. If you have a shorter lifespan you will be more likely to want to start having children earlier.

Also, if governments do not provide pension programs you are more likely to have more children… to take care of you in your old age.

And yet, reason, many young men are no longer capable of supporting families. Among the better educated this has produced a declining marriage rate and declining fertility. It is the responsible thing to do. But, the less educated and the less talented continue to reproduce at higher numbers.

Feminists believe that it will all be solved once we have more government policies that protect a woman’s right to be a working mother. Yet, what if women and men are on the same page. What if women are balking about having children because they do not want to work and be mothers at the same time? What if women would prefer to have the option of staying home with their children?

Men who are no longer breadwinners do not want to take on responsibilities they cannot meet. And women who cannot find husbands who can support them also do not want to take on responsibilities they cannot meet as they would wish.

We are not going to solve the problem tomorrow.


Ares Olympus said...

--> "Today, America's total fertility rate is 1.93, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; it hasn't been above the replacement rate in a sustained way since the early 1970s."

The data available is amazing, but also deceptive in ways.

Like the U.S. fertility rate has hovered just around 2.0 or slightly below since the 1970s but the U.S. population has risen from 205 to 320 million people, or about a 1% increase per year. I've read somewhere about half of that is from immigration, but how can a below 2 fertility rate add the rest?

Meanwhile China's population from 1978 to 2015 increased from 956 million to 1.371 billion, also a 1% growth rate per year. Their fertility rate bottomed at 1.5 in 2000, so the one-child policy clearly had exceptions or penalties that didn't stop too many. On the other hand, underground female abortion or infanticide is the only way to explain the male-female ratios, and now males have extra high pressure to compete for status to win the hearts and minds of the smaller numbers of women.

And democratic India is still in a higher growth period, but decreasing from 6 children per woman in 1960 to 2.5 children now, increasing from 449 million people in 1960 to 1.270 billion in 2015, averaging a 1.9% growth rate.

And if you look at a map, Africa is where the birth rates are still sky high, with only Afghanistan above 5 per woman outside Africa.

We can wonder where future immigrants will come from and you can see Mexico and western south American countries seem to be the domains for the surplus populations in the Americas, and many will be heading north to opportunity, however high Trump's wall is built.

I think its fair to say immigrants are generally hard workers, although surely crime is involved also in some of the underground migrations and trade, so they can keep our drug users supplied in their illegal activities.

Trigger Warning said...

Why would any young man today want to sign on to the absolute worst civil contract in America?

Look at the news aggregators. Article after article advising men how to listen to women, give them orgasms, do more work, become better "mommies" for their children, all while being ridiculed as overgrown, patronizing, monotasking, emotionally crippled, fat buffoons who "manspread" on the subway. If a man does sign on the bottom line and father children, he's at risk in a wildly gynophilic legal system for losing a chunk of his income, as well as half or more of his estate for no better reason than the womyn wants to focus on her "personal growth" or "authenticity".

Every man considering marriage should pay for a personal premarital consultation with a divorce lawyer.

Sam L. said...

My understanding is that the Chinese realized that the one-child rule resulted in selecting for a male child and abortion of females, and then realizing that was way worse an outcome.

Paul McLellan said...

No nation seems to have managed to educate its women without getting on a path to extinction. Yes, immigration can help from an economic point of view, but if over a couple of generations all the italians are replaced with africans, then it won't really be italy any more.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

When we have identity politics on such a massive and emotionally-unhinged scale, the message is that "reproductive health" is abortion. Yet abortion is not healthy, it is abortive... it terminates a perfectly healthy reproductive process that is underway.

We have declared women have a right to privacy, yet sexual relations today are much less private, and men have absolutely no say in the outcome of a pregnancy their contribution made possible. That's a lot of female power, portrayed as the dark curse of gestation (yet, definition ally, freely chosen)and motherhood. How odd. Yet she guarantees fatherhood as well. If the woman chooses to carry the child to term, the man is financially responsible, and has no say. Even if he wasn't the father. Curious. Sounds like the courts are saying men are contributors, protectors and providers. Yet we're told that's anachronistic. Bizarre, no?

We are daily immersed in a culture of sexual voyeurism, encouraging pleasure and experimentation, which results in "unwanted" pregnancies. "Unplanned" is the better descriptor, but where is responsibility here? All people are talking about here is statistical population replacement rate of birth vs. death. Here's a st artistic: Every year we have an abundance of children that can be carried to term and contribute to our civilization, but we abort them because we can't guarantee they'll be born to a perfect family like the (fictional) Huxtables. And if dad isn't an OB/GYN and mom isn't a lawyer, then those kids are doomed, aren't they? And enough with the phony "rape and life of the mother" exemption concerns. Most women are not brutally and violently raped like Dr. Melfi in "The Sopranos," and living through childbirth has never been more likely.

So what's all this really about? I'm sure Chinese families are thrilled at the thought of more offspring, while American white upper middle class young people seek to delay adulthood indefinitely, until it is more convenient... as if biology has pause, undo, or "save until later" buttons. Do newborns care about their parents' age?

Pardon me if I seem antiquated, but I don't see when this mysterious "planned" pregnancy is to take place, save steering clear of James Q. Wilson's "Poverty Formula." Wise, thoughtful people seem to be in short supply these days... they're so fuddy-duddy. They would have so much more fun if they were sterilized so they could have more inconsequential recreational orgasms. Fun!

Feminists have stolen the "reproductive health"conversation, and now we more often hear that it comes up too late for the really cool kids who make lots of money in their 20s and 30s. After all, we know how much adults women just love to live the single scene, with no desire for an eligible male who willmake a commitment to them. Yucky! Yeah, in the age of Burning Man, that stuff is just bullshit. Let's just #%$& and get it over with... there's a whole world of experiences out there. Whoa, man. Far out. Gnarly. Awesome. Word. Boom.

I doubt Steve Jobs would've been born today. Would the world have been better without him? Would it be what it is today without his influence? He was born to unwed parents in an impossible cultural circumstance, and became the only child of his adoptive parents. What might we do or recommend to his birth parents today? I suspect most would encourage Joanne Schiebele to follow her bliss and abort. After all, Colorado was the first state to decriminalize abortion... in 1967. And how might the Huxtables have fared back in those good ol' days?

We live in a very strange culture, where people are willing to make bold pronouncements about every issue, save the perpetuation of human existence... unless it involves fewer human beings. Not their children, of course, conceived and delivered into the world at the right time. After all, they planned ahead.

Dennis said...


And the Skelton that hides in the closet of much of this:
I am suggesting that the more educated, not necessarily more intelligent, woman would be more predisposed to believe in the goals of eugenics sans the name. Much of feminism is founded on Sanger and abortion of the unwanted or un needed. Is there any doubt that the feminists would run a Sanger for president if they could? Oh wait............. The verbiage may be different, but the underlying ideas are the same. Your comment on Steve Jobs is especially prescient.

Paul Mclellan,

One should not be surprised that many on the Left utilize this concept in hopes of removing the unwanted population. feminism, environmentalism, eugenics by whatever name, et al fit together nicely to create Social Darwinism.

I suspect it might be unintended, but extinction is one of the outcomes. The less different we are the easier it is for disease to run rampant through a population.

There must be a rule that states that the smart one thinks they are the "dumber" they really are.