Monday, May 28, 2007

What is the Cause of Low Birth Rates?

The Fjordman Report

The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.

What causes low birth rates? I have debated this issue at some length with blogger Conservative Swede. Among the reasons frequently cited are the welfare state, feminism and secularism. However, if you look closely at the statistics from various countries, the picture gets quite complex, and there doesn’t appear to be an automatic correlation between low birth rates and any one of these factors.

The United States has the highest birth rates in the West, but this is largely due to ethnic minorities. If you compare white Americans to white Europeans, the American birth rate is somewhat higher than those of the Scandinavian nanny states, but still lower than replacement level. Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden do have elaborate welfare states, high degrees of feminism and are not very religious, yet have some of the highest birth rates in the Western world (though still below replacement level.) They are certainly much higher than those in Catholic Poland, perhaps the most conservative religious country in Europe. And they are much higher than those of South Korea, which has more traditional sex roles and where Christianity is booming these days.

The gap between the Western world and the Islamic world in birth rates is clearly caused by religious factors, but the differences between industrialized nations are far more difficult to explain. If the cause is not welfarism, feminism or secularism, then what is it?

Making moms: Can we feed the need to breed? Canada has a baby deficit. Will paying women to have more kids help?

How strange, then, that just as the mommy industry is booming, we’re in the grips of a baby bust. Canada’s fertility rate has been in a free fall for decades. In recent years, though, it has hovered at an all-time low of roughly 1.5 children per woman (we need 2.1 if we’re going to replace ourselves). Social analysts pin it on some jumble of female education and fiscal autonomy, secularization, birth control, Sex and the City, a heightened desire for personal freedom, and increasing uncertainty about bringing a child into a world plagued by terrorism, global warming and Lindsay Lohan. In a hyper-individualistic, ultra-commodified culture like ours, motherhood, for better and worse, is less a fact of life than just another lifestyle choice.

All over the developed world, the same pattern is apparent. Russia, Britain, Ireland, Australia, Spain, Italy and dozens of other countries are contending with fertility rates well below replacement levels. Forty per cent of female university graduates in Germany are childless. In Japan, where the birth rate has sunk to a record low of 1.26, family planning groups are blaming the Internet, charging that fertile men and women are spending too much time online, and not enough having sex.

Making Kids Worthless: Social Security’s Contribution to the Fertility Crisis

Many people nowadays find it hard to see why anyone would have children for the sake of old-age security. Surely, they think, people have children just because they like it. Still, they often hear people say they would like to have more children, but they cannot afford it. Moreover, people in less developed countries seem to afford large families, even though their real incomes barely reach subsistence levels.

What can account for these seemingly conflicting observations? The fact that in the absence of social security, the extended family is an informal social insurance mechanism that renders childbearing economically beneficial. But in countries with large social security systems, people no longer have an old-age security motive for fertility, precisely because social security has made fertility economically unwise.

Of course, social security is not the only reason for declining fertility rates. For one thing, the welfare state undermines the family in many other ways too, such as compulsory public education that seeks to replace family loyalty with allegiance to the state. Moreover, the old-age security motive for fertility should become weaker when other ways of providing for old age become available…

One can also look at differences among the developed Western countries. Among these countries, there are practically no differences in infant mortality rates, female labor force participation rates, and other standard explanations of the fertility decline. Yet total fertility rates differ widely — and exactly in the way predicted by the size of social security systems. The United States has a fertility rate of 2.09, whereas the European Union has an average of 1.47.

Also within Europe, where social security benefits are dangerously generous, there are differences among countries. Some of the most generous schemes are found in Germany, France, and the Mediterranean countries — as are the lowest fertility rates in the region. On the surface, it is surprising to find this in countries that used to be family-oriented and fervently Catholic. However, economic incentives shape behavior, and behavior shapes culture…

The best solution is also the simplest: get the state out of the way.

Death by secularism: Some statistical evidence

Infertility is killing off the secular world, a number of writers have observed, including Phillip Longman, whose 1994 book The Empty Cradle I reviewed last year. In the former Soviet empire, where atheism reigned as state policy for generations, the United Nations forecasts extreme declines in population by 2050, ranging from 22% for the Russian Federation to nearly 50% for the Ukraine. Secular western Europe will lose 4% to 12% of its population, while the population of the churchgoing United States continues to grow. Is secularism at fault? The numbers do not suggest otherwise.

Humankind cannot abide the terror of mortality without the promise of immortality, I have argue in the past. In the absence of religion human society sinks into depressive torpor. Secular society therefore is an oxymoron, for the death of religion leads quickly enough to the death of society itself.

Why Europe chooses extinction
- - - - - - - - - -
Demographics is destiny. Never in recorded history have prosperous and peaceful nations chosen to disappear from the face of the earth. Yet that is what the Europeans have chosen to do. Back in 1348 Europe suffered the Black Death, a combination of bubonic plague and likely a form of mad cow disease, observes American Enterprise Institute scholar Ben Wattenberg. “The plague reduced the estimated European population by about a third. In the next 50 years, Europe’s population will relive — in slow motion — that plague demography, losing about a fifth of its population by 2050 and more as the decades roll on.”

Bring back that Old Time Religion

[S]ecularism promotes a more short term and hedonistic attitude towards life. Since secular people have little faith in God or an after life, the tendency is for them to adopt the attitude of “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. Of course, not all secular people are like that. But in general, secularism promotes such attitudes.

Their time horizon is therefore their own lifetime. Religious people on the other hand are more long term. Their eyes are on eternity. If you go to Europe, you will come across many Cathedrals that took centuries to build. For example, Cologne Cathedral took more than 300 years to complete.

Why did the Medieval Christians start a project that none of them would live to see its completion? The answer is that they look to the hereafter. Their desire was to please God and go to heaven. They say that faith can move mountains. Here a mountain of stone was literally moved to build the great Cathedrals of Europe.

But what of the secular people in now post-Christian Europe? What are the economic consequences of people whose time frame is simply the rest of their lives?

For a start, they (in general) want to enjoy their lives to the hilt. For some, this could mean early retirement with loss of still productive workers to the economy. For others, it could mean fewer or no children for children means responsibility and a tax on their resources which could be used to indulge themselves. Statistics from America have shown that regular church goers tend to have more children than those that seldom attend church.


Anonymous said...

"Moreover, people in less developed countries seem to afford large families, even though their real incomes barely reach subsistence levels."

True, but building a mud hut doesn't cost much, and living in mud huts isn't generally allowed (or accepted) in Western nations where the cost of living has exploded over the same time that the birth rate has collapsed.

For example, my parents here in the UK bought a house for about four times my father's annual income while he worked in a factory. My mother stayed at home with the kids and would do odd part-time jobs if they needed more cash.

To buy the same house today after decades of house price inflation exceeding wage inflation, you'd need a couple both earning nearly twice the average wage for the area, paying much of their income to the bank, and if one of them lost their job or chose to quit work to have kids, they'd be unable to pay for the house. Worse than that, my parents lived through a period of high inflation where wage rises reduced the cost of their mortgage to a small fraction of their income over the first few years, while today's young couple are facing a future of low wage inflation, if any. They'll be paying much of their income to the bank for life.

How can a typical middle-class couple afford to have kids if much of their combined income is already going just to pay for a house? Even if they get pay rises over time that allow them to afford time off work later in life, by their mid-30s female fertility will have dropped significantly and they may not be able to have any.

It's also worth remembering that the numbers may really be far worse than they appear. While the middle class in the UK can't afford to have kids, the government pay the feral underclass to have them with free apartments and more welfare for every baby they pump out. A sizable fraction of the non-Muslim births in the UK are from feral underclass mothers, and will join the feral underclass themselves, contributing nothing to society other than massive social and economic costs.

Snake Oil Baron said...

I heard of a survey (sorry, can't remember where) of European women over the normal child bearing years and they were asked how many children they had versus how many they had wished they had had. If the survey was truly representative and being interpreted correctly it was concluded that if women had had the number of children they had wanted there would be no demographic shrinkage. It seems that desire for more kids is not the problem but time and money (whether that is a perceived problem or actual one, is not my call).

So the question becomes: do we demands on individuals and possibly restrict individual liberty to encourage breeding (since incentives do not seem to work) or start breeding in artificial wombs and contract the parenting out to a new population industry? Or should we go back to third world conditions and values to increase fertility rates?

X said...

snb, what sort of incentives are we talking about? State-funded incentives are always aimed at specific groupings - single mothers, minorities etc - in lower wage bands, whilst those in higher bands are discouraged because of high taxes, high cost of living and the like. Even when you get things like working families taqx credits (the system here in the UK) you end up paying more overall tax for various reasons. I agree with the articles in this article get the state out of the way. Tax-cuts across the board, not 'targeted' cuts aimed at specific groups, will encourage more births.

Part of the problem is working women. I'm not against it. I'm all for it in fact. The thing is, there's a lot of women who want to have kids but can't because they'd reduce their income without reducing their outgoings, which is now increasingly a result of taxes and interest payments. So they work, and reason that they can have kids at a later age, not realising that the statistics for fertility after the age of 30 look dire at best.

If these women have a cast-iron guarantee that they will be able to actually afford to have children you can bet they'd be at home pushing them out like ants, and the only way to reach that point is to get a serious reductioin in costs. The solution to interest payments is less clear, but an immediate benefit would be seen from reduction and simplification of taxes.

Ypp said...

Our culture is not children-friendly. Too much accent on prosperity, education and safety. Giving birth means bringing to life another uneducated, unsafe, vulnerable creature. He will need his own bedroom and private school, who cannot be left at home alone e.t.c. Actually, all those child-protecting laws are protecting a child from being born, which is probably the greatest danger for him.

Ypp said...

YPP to himself

However, that argument is also wrong, because countries, which used to have the safest environments, highest prosperity and perfect public education, like Sweden, die out as fast as others, even faster.

There is some unfriendliness spread around in the air. As if repeating soundlessly: you people better disappear, diappear, disapper...

A Jacksonian said...

This is not just a European phenomena, but one in Japan, also. There the population is growing rapidly older and they have been below the replacement level for some time. Women entering the workforce, particularly young women, now have freedom to go as they will, money to spend and a love of travel. Those three things have made the 18-25 female demographic the most mobile and least interested to marry or have children.

The post-war homemaker, who thriftily invested her husband's earnings is disappearing. That was the underpinning of much of Japan's economic boom: female investors. Men had, essentially, jobs for life but were expected to work long hours and rarely be home. The outlook of the father as the 'tree' of the family was soon translated into 'dead wood' by the 1980's, with disaffected older men in dead-end jobs and no prospect for advancement and working long hours all made support of the family difficult.

Japan is highly interested in robotics to care for their rapidly growing elderly population as the next generation does not have the time to be with their parents. Add to that the high insularity of the Japanese population and the Nation is imploding on a population basis, even as it automates its manufacturing to leverage the skilled workforce.

From that we can see the basics of affluence and high investment in children with little or no long-term payback being a source of anomie within industrialized cultures. China faces this in spades as those that migrate to the cities cut their ties with rural culture and have *nothing* to replace it. That is a highly anarchic force in their society and one that is not much looked at. India, by trying spreading cultural changes to the rural population, is having an easier transition, but there the investment cost in children is still getting higher and family size is getting smaller. Wherever you see industrialization and manufacturing, the trend becomes clear: getting affluent enough to stay out of poverty requires time investment at skilled jobs that children cannot do. On-the-job training as seen in poor, rural cultures for children does not have an equivalent in the modern society. In fact, for the US at least, an individual may go through 3-6 different job professions in a lifetime, as opposed to 2 in the pre-1930's era.

The modern communications systems may help this and allow parents and children to have more virtual time together, but finding valuable things for children to do that allow them to know they are a vital part of a family beyond just learning will be difficult... even as children actually LEARN the modern era better than their parents and faster.

Perhaps it is time for parents to learn the technology from their children and teach their children the ethical use of it for themselves in society. That would teach the lesson that learning happens throughout life and is valuable at all ages... and must be used for a social and societal *good*. It does require that 'grown-ups' climb down off of the high horse of being a font of knowledge for technology and start to think of the technology they use and how it is used the way it is and *why*. That is *wisdom* and that only comes with *experience*. To go that route, however, does require a massive change in education, learning, communications and moving to an even *more* flexible concept of what work *is* and how it takes place. And if we don't figure that out, then how will the next generation ever be able to communicate with their children?

Yorkshireminer said...

The answer is quiet simple, the cost of having children is so high they have been priced out of the market. I read somewhere that it cost on average 80,000 pounds to bring up one child until he or she is of age. Who in there right mind especially the thinking middle class is going to go for a litter of brats, they go for ONE as that is all they can afford and with modern medical science there is a very good chance it will survive to adulthood. In the old days families need a big litter because the majority did not survive their fifth birthday. Have ten to rear three. As profligate a waste of resources as I have ever seen. It seems to be the norm throughout the world that population and birth rates grow as a country industrializes and tapers off when the country has industrialized and stabilized. In the 19th century the western industrializing counties had the fastest growing populations and birthrates while the underdeveloped world stagnated or rose only slowly. Great Britain one of the laggards in the birthrate stakes now, quadrupled its population from 11,000,000 shortly after the Napoleonic wars to 42,000,000 at the beginning of the first world war, a quadrupling. Not only that we accounted for 33% of all emigration from Europe. Japan went through exactly the same process, Japan is now shrinking at the rate of 30,000 a year and accelerating, no amount of exhortation, of bring back that old time religion and cut welfare will make any difference. The big difference between Japan and Europe is that the Japanese are not importing a vast army of illiterates to make up the shortfall, illiterates that wont integrate, wont work, and are parasitic, because that is what there religion has taught them. Japan restricts immigration and has invested more to improve productivity and in personal robotics. Europe could have done the same, we didn't, we chose the easy, cheap way out. Europe's woes are not yet over, the trickle of Black Africans that are coming into Europe through its soft underbelly will become a veritable flood in the next 5 to 15 years. The irony of it is that the only thing to come out of the west that the third world has embraced with open arm, apart from weapons, is medical science. The implementation of medical science tends to cut death rates, raise population growth which increases population movement. Aids might be aiding us more than we think.

Brendan said...

Analyses of demographic collapse so far has ignored what I believe is one critical factor: family law.

An attraction of marriage to half of those entering it - the male half - was the prospect, more likely than not, that fatherhood would follow.

Most men love their children, will sacrifice everything for them. And it is not the presence but the absence of biologial fathers that contributes to children development, welfare and life success.

After feminism and family law, marriage now offers men not the reliable prospect of children in their life. Instead marriage presents the very real prospect of a living death without their children.

We should not be surprised that, to so many men, the generative, evolutionary and live-enhancing prospect of fathering children is outweighed by fear: the fear that those children being taken from by by the family law system.

Anonymous said...

I was going to comment on crazed divorce law, but thought I'd leave that to a future post on my blog :).

I tend to agree with yorkshireminer's post that with medical technology increasing lifespan, and particularly effective lifespan in decent health, there's less of a need for population growth in any case; we're rapidly losing unskilled jobs and already have plenty of unskilled welfare cases who'll never work in their lives, and the only situation I can see where a large population would be a benefit is widespread war.

As mentioned, the real problem is the crazy idea in many Western nations that they should react to population decline by accepting millions of immigrants rather than by encouraging natives to breed or accepting that the decline is inevitable. That's what's lead to the 'demographic war' by non-Western immigrants against the West, which we're clearly losing. But there was no need for that war to be 'fought' in the first place.

History Snark said...

There are a lot of good points here in the comments, but nobody has really touched on what I think is a big factor: The cost of child-care.

Some years ago, I had a school friend that got married. Her husband had a pretty good job, enough for them to live on. She was a hard-worker, and wanted to get a job. However, though a university graduate, she had no "skills" for the modern workplace. So she would have been limited, at least initially, to a relatively low-paying job.

She once told me that she had figured it all out: She would bring in something like $100 a month net income, in return for spending 40 hours a week away from their son. (This figures in costs of child-care, let alone the potential costs in commuting, lunches, etc).

I only know of three families, among all my acquaintances, with more than kids.

Of course, among my four siblings and me (all of us well into our 40s or older), we have a grand total of two children, so I guess I can't say much.

History Snark said...

Oh, and Brendan is right: My brother was dragged thru Hell by his wife when he divorced her. After several years, he finally got it all put to rest, but then she just went to work on their two kids. Ultimately, she won there- he hasn't seen or spoken to them in over 10 years.

And I know a lot of men with similar tales from their circle of acquaintances.

Anonymous said...

Basically we've had decades of anti-family policies in almost every sphere from idiot leftists in government, so it's hardly surprising that family life is falling apart. Destroying the family has almost always been left-wing policy because once the family is gone you're just left with weak individuals and an almighty state.

Ypp said...

Commenters show the typical modern attitude - they are afraid of life. If somebody paid them, and took care for their children, and they would not loose any money, and their children were garanteed perfect education, then they would probably think about having the second child.

Anonymous said...

LOL. We're not 'afraid of life', we just see that the risk/reward ratio of having kids has been totally tilted against doing so.

Why put off having a life in order to have a kid who'll be so indoctrinated by anti-family leftists in the school system that they'll be a stranger to you by the time they graduate? What's the point?

Whiskey said...

Or the short version of all that stuff above?

Women determine the market for husbands. Their preferences have changed to status over other factors because their downside risks have been all but eliminated. They are not willing to accept the reality of limited fertility windows.

This, and this alone IMHO is the primary or largest factor in declining birth rates. And the implications are extra-ordinarily ugly beyond demographics, short term we will see a group of men block voting and other things that speak to their anger and IMHO resulting misogyny. Look at the Muslim nations where polygamy prices men out of the marriage market. Jihad?

Whiskey said...

Hmm ... looks like my comment did not go through, let's try again. Sorry for the length guys.

I think most commenters here are missing the telling factors.

From the CIA World Factbook, some selected Fertility Rates of Islamic Countries, which are religious, have not much of a welfare state, and little feminism nor anti-Family leftism.

Fertility rates:

Algeria, 1.86
Iran, 1.71
Tunisia, 1.73
Turkey, 1.89

What stands out as a common factor for all these nations is the rising literacy and education rate of women. Spengler at Asian Times has a graph showing almost a straight line regression for literacy rate among women and the fertility rate. Also rising incomes for women seem common factors.

I am not saying that feminism, anti-family policies, leftism, the welfare state are not factors. But they seem not to be the decisive factors here since they seem pretty absent in the above Muslim countries.

WHAT also stands out IMHO, and what people overlook, is women's preferences in men. There is a beauty arms race even in Iran, where the Mullahs are trying to again stamp out women throwing off the chador for beauty. In the West beauty, including diet stuff, cosmetics, fashion, and so on amount to trillion dollar businesses.

IMHO it's quite simple: women with rising incomes and status seek ever higher levels of status among husbands. Women IMHO didn't suddenly decide they didn't want kids or husbands. They simply wanted "better" ones commensurate with their status. And had the rising income to have them on their own if it came to that. Of course there are not by definition that many high status, A-Lister men. Which leads to the collapse of birth rates.

The other factor of course is birth control.

Before say 1968, women had less access to birth control, and had to be more selective about having sex with men. They also tended to trade off on preference curves, trading off quite self-mindedly for "agreeableness" i.e. faithfulness, loyalty, kindness, and so on away from high status to choose mates who would more reliably stick with them. Because low incomes for women required a man for child-rearing, abortion was unavailable or risky, and birth control an iffy proposition. If you were a woman and wanted sex an early courtship and marriage coincided with peak fertility (in your 20's).

NOW, of course women can compete for A-List men with little downsides. Easily avialable contraception means no inconvenient children. Abortion provides insurance on this matter and it's huge importance to feminists IMHO reveals the true motivation: the ability to pursue unfettered the A-Lister man. Abortion is of little interest to the lower class white and minority women in the West, only upper-class white women. Tellingly, there is no requirement to compromise on preference curves for status, as the beauty arms race preserves female attractiveness well into the late thirties.

Lower-class women, particularly black women of low income, have no hope of landing say the Richard Gere character in An Officer and a Gentlemen, so merely hop from one particularly macho man to another. Lower class white women can often exhibit the same pattern.

Paradoxically, the freedom and better income that allows a more efficient workforce (women's equitable opportunities and income) also threatens it.

The downside beside demography is that there are a LOT of men forced out of the marriage market, lacking the status to attract a mate. IMHO this accounts for the huge amount of misogyny in popular culture, particularly the slasher films where the hero does NOT kill the monster and get the girl, rather the girl is slaughtered along with her attractive friends. Or the superhero can't even get the girl (if Superman is reduced in Superman Returns to watching Lois Lane be married with someone else and raising his kid, what hope for Joe Average?) Expect overt misogyny from men priced out of the marriage market. Who will they blame, themselves for lacking status or women?

Rather than look at nebulous factors, IMHO the best answer for the collapsing birthrate is looking at ads and TV shows aimed at women. Lots of Lifetime, CW Network, etc. Sex and the City is particularly instructive, the Chris Noth character doesn't even have a name, merely the apt nickname "Mr. Big." NYT Columnist Maureen Dowd has written extensively of the failure of her boyfriends Aaron Sorkin, Michael Douglas, and Warren Beatty to marry her. Well of course. When those aging lotharios marry they marry an Catherine Zeta Jones or Annette Benning. Women far more beautiful and significantly younger than their peer group. Again, look at Lifetime and the themes of older women in competition with younger ones for the A-Lister men. The USA Network "Starter Wife" movie is also IMHO instructive on how Hollywood panders to this issue.

The dynamic is this: middle and upper class women spend their twenties and thirties in a mostly fruitless pursuit of the A-Lister, who eventually marries a much younger woman. They "settle" in their mid-thirties for someone who is of lesser status, have only enough fertility for one child if that (and may need expensive IVF). Others may delay conception until it's almost too late, the recent NYT article on the upper class women in NYC seeking IVF was pathetic as illuminating.

Consider this: among men and women 18-34 in NYC, the gender balance is 55% women, only 45% men. About the same for non-elite Colleges. Yet men, of that age obsessed with women, are not flocking to either NYC or Colleges to seek women? Why? IMHO because they've figured out they are not high-status enough, not Mr. Big, and the whole effort is a waste in the first place.

And besides the demographic issue the question of what happens with men denied marriage and family, is a very troubling one. But I would not blame anything other than IMHO rampant consumerism and materialism among women's preferences for husbands.

History Snark said...


"Abortion is of little interest to the lower class white and minority women in the West, only upper-class white women."

Not sure about that. I'd be interested to see the data. It does fly counter to what I've seen over the years.


I do agree about women "pricing themselves" out of men's range. I used to work with a very attractive (married) woman, who told me about her (single) sister, an executive with some company. I half-jokingly suggested she should introduce us. Her reply? "Sorry. She doesn't date men that make less than she does. She's afraid that they would just be after her money."

I was surprised. Clearly, this woman hasn't a lick of sense. By extension, shouldn't a man that makes more than she does feel the same way?

Que sera, sera.


One little note, at the risk of sounding rude: Can you please limit the use of IMHO? It's kinda distracting, to me at least. Everything you write is your opinion, no?

Captain USpace said...

Great piece about this crucial issue. I read several months ago in the WSJ that Estonia has made generous increases in payments to families having children in an effort to increase their population.

Even if the Western and modern countries increase their birthrates they will never catch up with the Muslims. Therefore the effort must continue to be made to 'breed out' the violent world sharia jihad of future Muslims so that the moderates will be the stronger and stable majority.

In case it exists, who wants to be reincarnated into a Taliban Earth in a couple hundred years? Not I.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
plan jihad for longest term

outbreed the infidels
one day vote in sharia

comrade_tovarich said...

Yes, Japan is dwindling; the "fewer children change," 少子化, is proving difficult to reverse, although I feel that there is a concerted effort in the media here to promote children: more TV ads and (entertainment) programs/dramas featuring children and mothers, but more programs about single mothers, too. Of course, with fewer children, it might be that there is more money being spent per child, which increases the incentive to advertise to get those yen.

Rather than children, people are turning to pets. If Japanese TV is to be believed, there is a massive pet boom underway. Some TV shows have aired segments about people choosing to keep pets instead of children: lower investment, need less housing space, other reasons.

Some years back I saw statistics supporting the claim that mixed Japanese-foreign marriages were much more fecund than Japanese-only marriages, and that this would start having a noticeable effect in education about a decade down the road. Since the 2004 census says only 1.5% of Japanese residents are foreigners, it will take time to have a "real effect," whatever that means.

Japan does have immigrants, but often they are of Japanese ancestry, most frequently from Brazil. There are plenty of stories about trouble with Brazilian-Japanese who are culturally more the former than the latter. If TV coverage is credible, they create more crime, don't learn Japanese (thus unsettling the natives), don't usually look Japanese (thus further unsettling the natives), don't work hard, don't care what others think, are noisy and expressive. The quotes I read from the B-Js who work in (usually) low-wage factories occasionally support this, with the younger saying such things as, "Yeah, the Japanese don't like how we enjoy drinking late into the night with friends, dancing, listening to music." If you have lived in Japan, you would not be surprised by that statement.

Not too long ago I watched a news segment on Filipina nurses. Robotics can help the semi-mobile elderly, but the fully bedridden or senile need human attendants, which are costly. Filipinas are cheaper, but quotas on them are low, resistance is middling to high (some elderly say they're fine, but others--faces blurred on TV for anonymity--don't like them because they can't speak Japanese (well). In visits to nursing schools in Manila, the Filipinas generallly rank Japan low anyway: Japanese is hard to learn, there's effectively no chance of getting citizenship in Japan, and wages are much better (and citizenship more viable) in Canada, the US, and Australia.

I am glad Japan is determined to stay largely homogeneous (and safe, largely open, hard-working, unique), but the future here looks, economically at least, rather grim. And that's without considering the national debt, the rumored approaching expiration of over-worked over-fertilized farmland, the aspiration of apparently 50% of college students to become public officials (simple servants?) or NGO/NPO workers, impressive public works scams, ostensibly internationally uncompetitive tertiary education, and more.

Recently there have been reports that roughly half of the people who have paid into the national pension scheme have had at least one payment record lost. Past news segments have reported how those who cannot prove they've paid into the national pension system lose credit for those payments, even when multiple years' worth of records were lost to fire in a government storage facility. Increasing numbers of young people simply aren't paying into the system, and the numbers of Japanese with no savings at all has been increasing for some years. For Social Security policy wonks, Japan will quite possibly serve as a grimly fascinating example of what the collapse of a national pension system will look like.

comrade_tovarich said...

On a brighter note, I believe there are currently only two mosques in Japan. Most Muslims I meet who are here to stay are Iranians or Turks who generally are not religious. However, if you happen to ask an Iranian about Israel, they tend to get a lot less secular in a hurry.

Whiskey said...

Gun toting -- what I find interesting is that political organization, and protests, and such like are limited to white upper class women when they perceive abortion rights threatened. Meaning, they feel it is quite important to them (maintaining easy access to it). While I never see minority or lower class white women protesting when it seems threatened.

Upace -- look at the numbers up at the top of the post. The selected Muslim countries are ALSO below replacement rates (in others, more rural, poor, with lower female literacy rates the rates are higher, of course). But the lesson is that even in MUSLIM nations the same effect is seen.

If Iran, Turkey, Tunisia, and Algeria all have around the same rate, 1.7x or so, the answer cannot be loss of religion (Iran is quite religious) nor feminism nor the welfare state since none of those exist in those nations. Something else, much more powerful, must be at work.

Anonymous said...

What is the cause of low birth rates?

Gotta look to biology, folks!

Low -- and high -- birth rates in all sorts of animals have been extensively studied in biology. Basically, there are two types of reproduction "strategists" -- the "r-strategists" and the "k-strategists" (most animals, including humans, are a bit of both -- this is a spectrum with populations often being closer to one end or the other).

This is what the good folks at have to say about this:

In population biology, the variable r is defined as the intrinsic rate of population growth, and defined as the difference between the birth and death rates of a population. r selection was well documented by Robert MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson (the famed author of Sociobiology) in their studies of island habitats and the cycles of plant and animal colonizations and extinctions.

MacArthur and Wilson noted that some species thrived in new, unpopulated environments, and were good at the colonization of virgin island habitats. These species had several common behavioral attributes that facilitated their survival advantage: they discovered new habitats quickly, they reproduced rapidly, and they dispersed quickly when their habitats became depleted. They were r strategists, and the tendency of a habitat to favor this strategy was r selection.

On the opposite end of these r strategists were the K strategists. In population biology, the variable K denotes the maximum population that can be sustained by a given habitat. K strategists are stable species, which maintain population levels at or near the carrying capacity of their habitats.

K strategists would reduce their reproductive rates to match the available supply of energy, which was in shorter supply in crowded habitats. They had the tendency to extend the life of the habitat, which was a premium on crowded islands. K strategists tend to live longer in these habitats, and also tend to have offspring at a later age. As we said before, if Liberal males had children, they tended to have them later in their life cycle than Conservative males.

K strategists in other species also tended to spread out their reproduction over a longer span of time than r strategists, which usually have their offspring over a shorter period of their life-span. K strategists also tend towards greater specialization within their habitats, as this relieves competitive pressures.

r/K Extinction and Altruistic Adaptations

Within a habitat, the greatest probability of population extinctions occur during two periods: during the initial phases of colonization, and, at the point in time when the habitat has reached its maximum carrying capacity. The former event is referred to as an r extinction, and the latter a K extinction.

To counter the danger of population extinction during these two periods, animals have evolved a variety of altruistic behaviors that improve the survival of the population in general. During the initial phases of colonization, animals will engage in mutual defense, cooperative nest building, and foraging.

When the population reaches its maximum for the habitat, opposite behaviors now prevail: animals begin to lower their energy utilization and reduce their birth rates, and the cooperative behaviors of the emerging colony are replaced with a sort of mutual "indifference", very much like that seen in any large human city.

However, some of this behavioral divergence is the result of the fact that small groups of r selected emigrants are more closely related than K selected populations.

Conservatives, Liberals, r and K

Tightly organized religious groups are perfect models for emigration, which is why they are so prevalent in the history of colonization of the world. The high degree of cognitive coordination, group altruism, and mutual defense practiced by small religious groups is an evolutionary upgrade to similar behaviors practiced by the emigrants of other species. The Religious emigrants are particularly successful if they have members that remain in their population of origin and provide support for the colony.

On the other side, Liberalism is an excellent model for large urban populations, as it reduces both the energy requirements and reproductive stresses of dense populations. Their loose cognitive coordination and lower threat assessments towards strangers is perfect for the stability of large and genetically diverse populations.

In other words, immigrant groups by their very (biological) nature are going to have high birth rates -- older population that have been established in an area for a long time by their very (biological) nature are going to have low birth rates.

See also:

Profitsbeard said...

The mere Mathusian models are unimaginatively old-fashioned.

In vitro can already guarantee multiple births, so the brute demographics could change overnight with the will and desire on our side.

Plus, mere numbers may only provide bio-fodder for future pandemics, negating any apparent current "obvious advantage" of gross numerical babymaking (coupled with primitive sanitation codes, backward health traditions, poor education, self-defeating superstitions, over-stripped natural resources, etc.).

We're clever infidels, so don't count us out by the mere numbers.

Anonymous said...

In vitro can already guarantee multiple births, so the brute demographics could change overnight with the will and desire on our side.

Yes, the opportunities afforded by science/modern technology to increase population numbers are there, but how do you persuade a bunch of K-strategists to change their will overnight when they are almost 'biologically programmed' (gross, gross over-simplification, I know) to do the exact opposite??

The best strategy to my mind is to not have to compete with the r-strategists -- at least not so directly within one's own borders. In other words, STOP immigration ASAP!

Michiel said...

In Fjordman's question and reasoning about 'What is the cause of low birthrates', the answer 'common sense' is absent.

There are too many people on this planet. Way too many to keep things pleasant for all, feed them, heat or cool them, allow them to drive a car and enjoy an occasional walk in a nice forest at home or abroad. Whether the sky will fall down, as Gore tells us, or whether the oil runs out, our present and still growing numbers will bite us in the back side sooner or later. A peaceful and voluntary reduction in 'bubonic plague' numbers, can solve many of our problems. Certainly in Europe, which is pretty crowded.

Of course, if only westerners reduce their numbers, other problems arise. Some were pointed out. This is in my opinion not a good reason to promote 'counter production'. It is a bad solution to a bad problem.

Fjordman wrote:

-"Secularism promotes a more short term and hedonistic attitude towards life. Since secular people have little faith in God or an after life, the tendency is for them to adopt the attitude of “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. Of course, not all secular people are like that. But in general, secularism promotes such attitudes."-

I'm sorry but this is nonsense. No God doesn't in any way mean, “in general“, less morality. Ever heard of Humanism? On what evidence is this statement based dear Fjordman? The statistical evidence for US prison populations and divorce rates, show lower figures for atheists and agnostics. See e.g.

Anonymous said...

The commentator whiskey showed how the birth rates in some Muslim countries in now even lower than the United States.

In fact the lower birth rates reflect a reality that most people outside of Muslim countries are not aware off-a large portion of the female population in Muslim countries never marry because the men can not afford the required dowry. Also, the female marriage age is now quite high-in Algeria it is 29 years old.

The low marriage rate is actually related to the rate of urbanization more than anything else. Urban men have a high rate of unemployment, but are still required to come up with a dowry they can not afford.

Since it is still unacceptable to have children out of wedlock in Muslim societies, the end result is less children born.

Urban married Muslim women are also having only one or at most two children because they are getting married much later, lack adequate housing, have lower family incomes than their Western counterparts and live in countries where there is no welfare and no state funded child care. They are also burdened by the fact that they do not have the traditional extended family help for child care (unlike rural women).

Ironically, in Muslim countries it is religion (dowry system plus rejection of single motherhood) that is decreasing the birth rate to below replacement rates!

Ypp said...

The problem is that in liberal countries, where people are not forced to marry, a large percent of them will not marry or have children. Some are homosexual, some are strange, lazy or too busy. The remaining population, in order to maintain the population level must have at least 3-4 children as their target. However, secular society cannot bear those numbers - currently in Europe two children is considered to be a great success. Who of the readers of this blog is going to have 4 children? Guess nobody. Hence the result - Europe is dying out, complaining and inventing some theories why it is good to dye out.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey: I wonder how much of your theory is caused by the media - movies, tv, books. Which came first...the chicken or the egg? Another example of Hollywood's malign influence.

You focus on the "A-Listers", but I think it is more than that. Women are finding it harder and harder, in the present economy, to find just an average guy who can be a provider, where the man earns enough for a modest life while the wife can stay at home and mother the children. Most marriages I know of, BOTH *need* to work. A lot of women do not want to marry into such a life of drudgery, and hold out, ending up missing their window of fertility.

Our present economy of outsourcing and massive illegal immigration is emasculating our men.

Whiskey said...

Nimbus -- I would not argue that affordable family formation, i.e. being able to afford a house in the suburbs with safe neighborhoods and schools is an issue. Men at age 35 have on average 12% less real income than men that age in 1974, adjusted for inflation (seen on CNN, don't have the cite). That's a serious decline. Particularly since immigration drives up housing prices, first in the coastal areas, now in interior places. Since land is a limited resource, as are safe suburban neighborhoods near job centers like urban areas.

Your point is well taken, though of course the effect is negative for both sexes. Women miss out on marriage and children, and so do men, both with negative consequence. I do see a lot of misogyny that was absent even twenty years ago in popular culture.

Autism seems on the rise, and there have been suggestions that it's related to births from older women who seem to be more at risk.

I think Hollywood both shapes these outcomes negatively, being comprised of very elitist folks, with no understanding of ordinary life, and is in turn shaped by the relentless consumerism of every day life.

Certainly the idea that IVF carries risks for birth defects, is expensive and beyond the reach of most women, and that fertility closes rapidly, with increased risk of autism and other problems at the end of the window, is never discussed in the media environment, which caters to women (sponsors believe women make most buying decisions).

Consumerism is a strength, in that it offers a huge array of choices for people, but also a weakness in that it tends to funnel or restrict information. Fjordman's general indictment of Leftism might as well be directed at consumerism, which finds itself allied with it often enough (think Volvo, Apple Computer, Google, Starbucks, and other lifestyle brands denoting status and achievement and social place).

Dan said...

I have been wondering for some time if Social Security isn't doomed from its own inherent moral hazards. It appears to reduce the need for children to the individual because of the promised future benefits yet corporately needs a growing tax base to provide those promised future benefits.

Essentially socialism is an attempt to remove pain and create heaven on earth in the belief that there is no god and thus no heaven to look forward to. This is also what dooms it because pain is a powerful correcting mechanism that regulates our behavior. This is a fundamental problem with all socialism because seeing someone in distress is not just a call to action, but also a warning.

Anonymous said...

From Zenobia: The low marriage rate is actually related to the rate of urbanization more than anything else.

Exactly! It's the long(-er) established urban populations that have relatively lower birth-rates (i.e. the K-strategists) as compared to emigrant/immigrant populations (i.e. the r-strategists):

[r-strategists] discovered new habitats quickly, they reproduced rapidly, and they dispersed quickly when their habitats became depleted. They were r strategists, and the tendency of a habitat to favor this strategy was r selection.

On the opposite end of these r strategists were the K strategists. In population biology, the variable K denotes the maximum population that can be sustained by a given habitat. K strategists are stable species, which maintain population levels at or near the carrying capacity of their habitats.

K strategists would reduce their reproductive rates to match the available supply of energy, which was in shorter supply in crowded habitats....

Profitsbeard said...


Of course, immigration should ce controlled.

If you don'defend your borders you don't have a country.

I was being techno-ironic with suggesting a mere baby-war with backward expansionistic theocrats.

I think the world is overcrowded already (water tables will prove it morbidly), and would rather see the overpopulators (many doing it on the EU and US welfare euros/$'s) be sent back to their unsustaining homelands, where the natural resources would reign in their uterine explosion.

Butr, in a pinch, we can outproduce them in every way, if need be.

Traeh said...

There is one problem with Fjordman. In the fight against Islam, he should seek to make allies of the Left. Instead he unnecessarily alienates them, and history shows that Islam sometimes succeeds in dominating through divisions among non-Muslims.

More specifically, Fjordman, instead of always only attacking the bad side of multiculturalism, should point out to the Left that Islam should be scorned precisely because it is making multiculturalism unviable. He should enlist the Left to save what is good in multiculturalism by rejecting Islam.

This also concerns the approach to immigration control. Instead of saying multiculturalism is all bad and therefore we must stop immigration to the West, Fjordman should say to the Left: we need to reduce or stop immigration from Muslim countries, and increase it from non-Muslim countries, so we can save multiculturalism, which will be slowly destroyed by Islam. Thus the Right can unite with the Left, and with the economic pragmatists who see a need for new workers, to defeat Islam's takeover of Europe. Fjordman, though a brilliant contributor to the fight against Islam, also does damage by failing to see where he could ally with the Left. We cannot afford unnecessary divisions that only help the enemy.

Gallatin said...

To Jun:

The problem is whether:

1) any individual "privately owns" his own offspring, as well as the land and the fruits of his own labor necessary to support them;

or whether:

2) the offspring is "collectively reared" (through easy divorce, compulsory public schooling from the age of 3, free medical care and pay-as-you-go pension schemes) by the nation, and your land/house is owned by the state and 50% of the fruits of your labor are taxed in order to pay for the cost of such programs.

In case 1), the population density will always be optimal because no-one will be able to externalize to society the cost of over-producing or under-producing children. Note that this scenario implies the right to forcibly reject alien newcomers who may wish to settle on my privately owned land.

Scenario 2) leads to debacle in every way, shape and form. It is the nightmare we have been living in since the collectivist myths of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract started spreading through the Western mind over 200 years ago.

Brian H said...

Actually, the real explanation is the coming of the techno-Singularity. When it arrives, resources and lifespan will multiply exponentially, so there will be no particular shortages, but very few deaths will occur. A new stability will gradually arise, with average age of the population increasing at about .75 years per year.


koldfreeze said...

..... Right but your explanations are too long and too confusing.