Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Birthrates Stories

I have been meaning to blog about birthrates again, but haven't had time to formulate my ideas properly. However, don't miss these recent news stories about birthrates.

Career Women in Japan Find a Blocked Path in the NYT. Link will expire in 4 days or so.
They [women’s rights advocates] point to studies showing that nations with greater workplace participation, like the United States, actually have higher fertility rates. Advocates say this is because working women in other countries start having children earlier in life, while many who leave the work force do not do so until their 30s.

“Birthrates here are declining because of a lack of equality for women,” said Ms. Inoguchi, the former minister. “The population shortage is forcing a change in attitudes.”
I wouldn't point to the US as a feminist utopia, but I have no argument with their statement that we have it better than women in Japan. Like I wrote in What do I tell her?, none of my female cousins in Japan with children are employed outside the home. None of my employed female cousins have children. None. Without exception.

NPR recently broadcasted a story about how the wealthy are having more children. Kids are the new luxury.

When people see a large family, "they just know that they have to be making serious, serious money."

"I am not working, this is what I do." Having more kids make them more comfortable with not working outside the home. "This is a full-time job."

This isn't a new phenomena. During the whole "remaking welfare" debate, some sociologists actually crunched the numbers. They found that mothers on welfare had only slightly more children than the average. In fact, the highest fertility in the US was among the ultra-wealthy. Billionaires had, on average 5 children. (This was more than a decade ago when there were fewer billionaires.)

That 1990's study found that two career families with slightly above average incomes, my peer group, had the lowest fertility. We tend to be concentrated in areas where wages are high, but the cost of living is even higher. I look around me and the one child family is as normal as the two child family.

Birthrates in the US are highest among immigrant women at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder and wives of the very rich. Those two groups do not enjoy the most egalitarian marriages. I have not seen convincing proof that egalitarian societies produce higher birthrates.

Links:
Economist story about European Birthrates
My birthrate blogging

1 comment:

  1. I read the same article and have been thinking a lot about it as well. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    ReplyDelete