The liberal phaseout
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This month's Foreign Policy has a downright provocative cover. "Why Men Rule and Conservatives Will Inherit the Earth." I'm a sucker for doom and gloom, so I bit. The argument in "The Return of Patriarchy" goes like this: Birthrates are falling below replacement levels in many countries because cultural and economic conditions are discouraging parenthood. Patriarchy will return. It's this final leap in logic that remains inadequately explained. But, there are some stats relating to the change in "national temperament" (read, phaseout of progressive/liberal ideology) that are of interest.
Phillip Longman writes that some 20 percent of women born in the late 1950s have chosen not to have children.
The greatly expanded childless segment of contemporary society, whose members are drawn disproportionately from the feminist and countercultural movements of the 1960s and 70s, will leave no genetic legacy. Nor will their emotional or psychological influence on the next generation compare with that of their parents.
Similarly, Longman argues that the social tendencies behind single-child families are on the out.
The 17.4 percent of baby boomer women who had only one child account for a mere 7.8 percent of children born in the next generation. By contrast, nearly a quarter of the children of baby boomers descend from the mere 11 percent of baby boomer women who had four or more children.
As further evidence of the correlation between politics and fertility, Longman notes that the states voting for Bush in 2004 had fertility rates 12 percent higher than those that voted for Kerry.
Crikey. Are we phasing ourselves out?
Also of interest: A recent study by economists finds that men who have three daughters vs. three sons are 12 percent more likely to vote for a left-wing party. And in times of stress, female births outnumber male births. Nature's got it all worked out.
Update: As my grandfather so eloquently pointed out, "Remember the truth is in the eye of the beholder. First truth -- Statisticians can proven anything. Second truth -- Economists can only do linear projections (they should all be required to wear pointed hats and carry wands)."
Words of wisdom, gramps.
For a closer analysis of Longman's argument, see Josh's post.
Onnesha Roychoudhuri is an editorial fellow at AlterNet.