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July 12, 2013 / JayMan

Who’s Having the Babies?

Continuing my ongoing investigation into fertility, I wanted to take another look at who’s having children. This post will look at fertility from a different angle: the spread in fertility by sex, IQ, political orientation, and education.

I was prompted to this by a recent article describing parenthood in Norway. It found that a fifth to a quarter of men from the Boom generation and the generation following had no children.

This finding is highly similar to what I found previously for the U.S.

The Norwegian study found that for high-IQ couples, it was often the husband who wished to delay procreation:

“My wife wanted a child sooner, and I wanted to wait. Hence, we married first. Maybe we then would decide to have children. It was my wife being very eager to have children.”

“To this man marriage was a strategy in order to put children off till later. Among the interviewees belonging to the upper middle class the desire to wait was prominent, especially among men. Many had been in a relationship for 10-12 years and were still childless. Their reason for not having children was that ‘the timing hadn’t been right’. In some cases this involved years of negotiations, mostly because the man wanted to wait,” says Jensen.


When having children was discussed among couples, the topic was normally brought up by the woman. This was a common feature for both classes. According to Jensen, an explanation to the fact that women are more in a hurry than men is that women have a biological time limit for having children, whereas men can produce children for a longer period of time.

By contrast, for low-IQ men, the pattern was different:

“Many of the childless men belonging to the working class were single. Their reason for not having children was primarily that they had not yet met the right partner. And in cases where men from the upper middle class had waited and carefully timed when to become fathers, the fathers among the working class had not given the timing much thought in advance. Having children was a natural part of life, and it happened when it happened,” says the researcher.

All of which sounds about right, and eerily familiar:

The article also notes that a genuine desire for childlessness is uncommon, which would be in agreement with a previous finding of mine.

Overall, my investigations have shown that between 10-25% of people failed to leave descendants, depending on the era. It was around 20% for White Americans for most time periods over the previous century, become lower for a time during the Baby Boom:

And of course, we know of the distinct IQ, sex, and political skew here:

But now, let’s look at it another way: at the discrete frequency breakdowns:

This is the number of children had by non-Hispanic White men, age 45-60, broken down by WORDSUM score (verbal IQ) and stated political orientation, taken from the 2000-2012 General Social Survey (GSS) data.

And below is the same, from men age 35-44. I had to take my data from the 1995-2012 GSS to increase sample size:

Now, while sample sizes across the board are generally small, we see an interesting pattern. As the previous data breaking down fertility by IQ and by sex show, fertility is dysgenic for women and roughly neutral for men by IQ. However, here we see that there is finer pattern behind this when you break it down. What is actually happening is that fertility is highly dysgenic by IQ for liberal men (for whom indeed, the smartest category of such men here – roughly IQ 115+ – about 50% leave no descendants); is slightly dysgenic for moderate men; and is slightly eugenic for conservative men.

And now, for women. These are non-Hispanic White women, age 45-60, broken down by WORDSUM score and stated political orientation, taken from the 2000-2012 GSS data:

And White women, age 35-44, from the 1995-2012 GSS data:

We see a similar pattern as we do with men, but a distinct one. Fertility is dysgenic for liberal women, but not nearly to the degree it appears to be for liberal men. The smartest moderate women however do appear quite unfecund. But, I seem to have uncovered another interesting phenomenon, one which I’ll call the Michele Bachmann/Sarah Palin Effect.

While fertility for conservative White women appears to be slightly eugenic, it is not because the smartest women are having most of the children. Rather, it’s the ones with only somewhat above average intelligence – the Sarah Palins and Michele Bachmanns of the country – who are having the most children, with 10% having 4 or more. Since among conservative men, it is the smartest ones who are having most of the children, this suggests that these men are married to women who are quite a bit less intelligent than their husbands (albeit, still above average in intelligence).

Maybe there is some truth to the notion that Palin and Bachmann attained popularity because they represented an ideal for conservative men: the pretty, dumb (or at least, not terribly smart), subordinate housewife.

Now lets look at this by education. These are the number of children had by non-Hispanic White men, age 45-60, broken down by highest degree attained and stated political orientation, taken from the 2000-2012 GSS data:

And the same, but aged 35-44, also from the 2000-2012 data:

As we can see, for most men, education appears to be roughly neutral on fertility, with the possible exception of liberal men who seem to take a fitness hit at higher levels of education (however, that this shows up only with younger men indicates that educated men may simply be having their children later).

And women (non-Hispanic Whites, age 45-60, 2000-2012 GSS):

And women age 35-44 (2000-2012 GSS):

Interestingly, as we can see, education is primarily a fitness hit for liberal women. It negatively impacts fertility for moderate and conservative women to a much lesser extent. But IQ doesn’t appear to be a huge fitness hit for conservative women, with the exception of the smartest. It seems that conservative women with a modicum of intelligence eschew education and opt for marriage and family, consistent with previous findings by myself and others.

But one thing is clear, even for liberals, the fitness hit of education is far stronger than the hit from IQ. This means that while breeding for liberal Whites selects against IQ, it much more strongly selects against education inclination. For women in particular, the interest in and/or ability for educational attainment is being selected out. This illustrates the finding of Marcus Jokela (discussed by me here) that it is not only the personality trait openness to experience (the hallmark of liberal-minded people) that is being selected out, but conscientiousness as well, at least for women. Because selection on men for this trait is roughly neutral, this trait is also declining in the White population.

Now, for certain of my educated liberal friends (you know who you are), you can see where this is going, and it’s not good. How many more of these reminders do I need to make before you do us all a favor – yourself very much included – and have children? Sooner rather than later, please. Think about it like doing your part to save the environment – or voting for your favorite candidate in an election. Don’t wait for the next guy to do it; you need to take matters into your own hands. Indeed, about saving the environment, having children is the best thing you can do for the future of humanity.

As it has been said, the future belongs to those who show up.  At this rate, those who show up will contain a higher fraction of individuals who aren’t exactly the best ones to have around for the best interests for mankind. Only you can do something about that…


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  1. Audacious Epigone / Jul 13 2013 1:30 AM

    As an addendum, educational attainment and fertility among women are strongly correlated at the international level as well, and the GSS shows that education is a much stronger predictor of total fertility than IQ (as measured by wordsum score) is. Not only do educational trajectories reveal behavioral tendencies, there is also more practical obstacles keeping the highly educated from being fruitful and multiplying, like being in college into the late twenties and then establishing oneself in a career and getting the accumulated debt under control seeing the highly educated into their mid-thirties before they even really get to thinking about it. Tough to get much more than two kids out of that sort of situation, especially among women.

    • JayMan / Jul 13 2013 1:37 AM

      Indeed. Thanks for the additional info!

  2. Yudi / Jul 13 2013 5:23 PM

    Like the poster above, I think issues of social power are not coming into this analysis enough. Why does everyone have to be educated these days? To please their employers. Why do women go to college? Because female-dominated jobs that don’t require a college degree are very low-paying (nannies, etc.). And yes, the debt burden that college graduates labor under is crushing, and not conducive to risk-taking of any kind.

    Furthermore, general economic and labor-market trends are terrible and don’t seem to be improving for most people. Many college graduates are stuck in menial labor and can hardly pay their debts as it is. It doesn’t take a genius to see that all of these things will put severe downward pressure on the fertility of high-IQ, highly conscientious people (but not that of low-IQ/unconscientious people, who have much more of a “what, happens, happens” outlook).

    The elites really have us by the balls. Not only have they successfully pushed multiculturalism and mass immigration on us, their financial polices and the inequality they have created are crushing the fertility of high-IQ people. Also, as a result of those policies, vastly more people are going to college and being exposed to Cathedral indoctrination with little to show for it. And there is no end in sight. I wonder if you could address this social power aspect of the problem in your “HBD and Society” series? It’s certainly one thing that a broad awareness of HBD might change.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 22 2013 1:40 AM

      Hi Yudi. What is this “Cathedral indoctrination” that you refer to? Papacy?

    • Hale / Sep 13 2013 5:03 PM

      “Cathedral indoctrination” means feminism/socialism/progressivism, I think.

    • Blue / Dec 31 2014 9:07 PM

      You’ve got it Hudi. All these financial and education realities are making childbearing all but a pipe dream for ambitious, moral and achievement-oriented young people of the lower-middle and middle class. Those whose parents paid the costs of their education can have children and those who never went to college can have children. We really are becoming a bottom heavy society – all breeding done at the lowest levels with a bit at the top – and again, it is the middle class which suffers. Society does too.

  3. Staffan / Jul 14 2013 2:15 PM

    Also, many of these liberals are still blank slatists who believe that it doesn’t make any difference if they leave it to others to have children in their place. Some even think immigration is the solution. I think it would be easier to offer low-IQ people money for sterilization.

    • JayMan / Jul 14 2013 2:30 PM

      There certainly is that, which is most unfortunate.

    • LolKatzen (@LolKatzen) / Jul 16 2013 10:38 AM

      I’ve noticed too that the blank slate idea is ubiquitous, especially among more intelligent people. Just an anecdotal observation. They really believe mass immigration will make up for it. It is impossible to reason with them.

      Of the non-blank slatists who don’t want to have kids, I’ve often seen the idea that we should ban abortion–again, let someone else take up the slack.

      I’m not impressed with either idea. I did my bit (2 kids) and 3 grandkids so far. It really does change your lifestyle, not that I regret it at all.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 22 2013 1:43 AM

      Staffan, you can offer low IQ people money for sterilization, but that would not get the other demographic interested in having children. They just don’t want to. There is no way to force them, nor should they be forced to have children.

    • melendwyr / Mar 24 2014 5:22 PM

      Why should I bemoan the absence of children among blank-slatists? I don’t care what someone’s IQ is if their judgment is so poor that they adhere to such a ridiculous belief.

    • Staffan / Mar 24 2014 9:08 PM

      Those same people (or people among them) created the Enlightenment. Yes, they have their limitations but they are unique and valuable in terms of not only IQ but also creative and civic-minded thinking. Others may eventually take their place but that could take centuries, or not happen at all. Look at the world outside Northwest Europe and its descendants – that’s what you’d be left with if they left the gene pool. So let’s not throw out the baby (the WEIRD liberal) with the bathwater (the Blank Slate and similar flawed ideas).

  4. chrisdavies09 / Jul 15 2013 5:04 PM

    Here in the UK, among the native British population the underclass has a much higher fertility rate, and starts reproduction at a much earlier age than the educated middle class, for several (fairly obvious) reasons.
    Young girls with low levels of educational attainment and from unstable family backgrounds tend to see motherhood as their primary goal in life. They are presented with very few obstacles to becoming a mother early, and very few negative consequences for doing so. They will qualify for a range of welfare benefits, including free housing. They can avoid having to go out to work, they can abandon their education, they don’t need to be in a stable relationship or marriage, and they are doing something which they love and have always wanted to do. Once they are in this situation, they can have a boyfriend come over to stay with them on certain nights of the week as and when it suits either party, but not on a permanent basis so as not to risk losing their single mother benefits. With so much time on their hands, and unemployed boyfriends coming round to visit during the day or staying overnight, it is only a matter of time before their second, third, or eventually even fourth child is born.
    Contrast with educated middle class couples, who generally prefer to be in a stable, long-term relationship or marriage, both parties working full-time in well paid jobs, plenty of educational credentials, money in the bank, bought their own home, etc. before starting a family.
    It’s easy to see why there is such a difference in the fertility rate and age at first child between the two different social classes.
    I am 34 and recently got married, and don’t yet have any children. From the high school I attended, which selected on academic ability, barely one third of the men who were in my academic year have become fathers to date. There was one outlier who became a dad at 23, but everyone else was 29 or over and married.
    However among people I know from lower down the social scale, the majority of their peers have now become parents by their mid thirties, and several already have children in their teens.
    I think continental western European countries generally don’t have this kind of disparity among their native populations as seen in Britain, with most of them following the later parenthood route of the educated middle classes (eg Norway). My perception is that it is more immigrants in continental western European countries who become parents at younger ages and have larger families.

    • JayMan / Jul 15 2013 5:26 PM

      Interesting. It seems you’re describing the difference between r- and K-selected individuals (aka, those with fast life history vs slow life history, respectively).

      I think continental western European countries generally don’t have this kind of disparity among their native populations as seen in Britain, with most of them following the later parenthood route of the educated middle classes (eg Norway).

      Don’t be so sure. It would be interesting to have data. Though what you said does appear to be the case in Denmark.

  5. chrisdavies09 / Jul 16 2013 6:52 AM

    Managed to find this report which looks at age of first time fathers in the Netherlands, but also compares with some other European countries:

    One in six first-time fathers over 40

    “The number of fathers over the age of 40 at childbirth is growing. One in six had passed the age of 40 last year. In recent years, the average age of first-time fathers was 32.4 years. First-time mothers are on average 3 years younger. Dutch parents are generally a bit older than parents in other European countries.”

  6. Sisyphean / Jul 16 2013 2:24 PM

    I did the exact opposite of most the guys in my cohort (as per usual) and got married and had kids right out of college despite having basically no career plan. Now I’m 35 and my kids are moving into the independent phase of their lives just as I am approaching my peak earning years. I’m looking forward to having an awesome time in my forties and fifties. That said, the whole: ‘she wants kids and he wants to wait’ discussion is exactly what happened with us, but I only wanted to wait a couple of years, not a decade. I score off the charts on openness to experience with a top 2% IQ and consider myself a libertarian socialist (but not anarchist), about -7, -7 on the compass.

    Seriously though, who wants an old man as a father? Plus there’s the risk of the lady’s older eggs causing problems in advanced age. If we were smart we’d be having programs where finishing Univ with a 3.0 or better resulted in child bearing incentives that expire after five years… I can hear the career women screaming now so I know why that can’t happen. Staffan is likely right that one and done or other disincentives at the bottom is likely the only workable solution but even that is probably politically impossible. It would be nice if a private endowment took up the cause but I just don’t see it happening given the prevalence of blank slate thinking in the elite circles these days. It’s the story of modern civilization though: treat the symptoms not the disease.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 22 2013 1:57 AM

      “Plus there’s the risk of the lady’s older eggs causing problems in advanced age.”

      Old sperm is linked to autism in offspring.

      Best for both mom and dad to be under 35.

  7. j3morecharacters / Jul 17 2013 1:00 AM

    It took you a long time to arrive to this conclusion, but you did it. Congratulations. Now think up some operative conclusion, since “do yourself a favor” or “do it for the environment” advise does not work.

    • JayMan / Jul 17 2013 1:08 AM

      It took you a long time to arrive to this conclusion, but you did it.

      Which conclusion was that?

    • imnobody00 / Jul 22 2013 4:28 AM

      This is exactly the problem. Nobody will take the huge responsibility of raising a child only for the environment. If he doesn’t want to have a kid, he will say: “The environment does not need more humans”. He will use every excuse or rationalization not to have a kid: immigration will take care of it, there are too much people in the world, etc. Even without the blank slate, new excuses will be created.

      You only have a kid for three reasons: you or your partner really want it, you do it because everybody else is doing it or it is your religious duty. This is why appeals to the common good are futile. As much as I like your blog, your crusade is dead on arrival, jayman

  8. panjoomby / Jul 18 2013 9:06 AM

    just generating motto options:) “where sacred cows go to be milked” “where sacred cows go to become delicious steak”

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 22 2013 1:44 AM

      From my perspective it would be “where sacred cows go to be worshipped” 😉

  9. Hindu Observer / Jul 22 2013 1:52 AM

    I’m a global citizen. Everywhere I go I see women from traditional, patriarchal cultures, when given the chance to make decisions about it, always choose to have less children but raise them with more quality than their grandmothers who had more children but raised with with less quality. I’m talking “quality” here in terms of resources, education, healthcare, etc, not “quality of love”.

    Women from poor regions with little or no access to quality heathcare will generally always opt to limit their offspring to just a few kids, if presented with the knowledge, resources and oppurtunity to do that. However they will not opt for no kids. Very, very few women and men would opt for that, no matter how poor. That is because they are culturally very family oriented.

    People from Northern and Western European backgrounds however are not culturally family oriented. At least no where to the degree of everyone else. That is why you see in the US so many people opting out of having kids altogether.

    As mentioned by someone else before, biology may inform culture. If that is the case, then there is something in the very biology of Northern and Western European “stock” that is essentially anti-family.

    I have long sensed this in my travels around the world and dealings with people. I’m interested to see if science will ever verify my hypothesis that Northern and Western European stock folk just ain’t into family – from their core being.

    • JayMan / Jul 22 2013 2:19 AM

      People from Northern and Western European backgrounds however are not culturally family oriented. At least no where to the degree of everyone else. That is why you see in the US so many people opting out of having kids altogether.

      As mentioned by someone else before, biology may inform culture. If that is the case, then there is something in the very biology of Northern and Western European “stock” that is essentially anti-family.

      Culture is very much indeed a reflection of the underlying biology.

      However, NW Euro fertility is actually on the high side as developed nations go. Actually, the atomization of NW Euros is obliquely related to the crash in modern fertility rates. More kin-centric groups, such as Southern and Eastern Europeans and East Asians have considerably lower fertility rates.

      The fertility rate of the colonial Americans was very high, at nearly 10 children per childbearing woman.

    • Anonymous / Apr 3 2014 5:13 PM

      Women who have 2 children and work full time spend less one on one time with them than a woman with many children who stay at home.

  10. Staffan / Jul 22 2013 6:49 AM

    “Staffan, you can offer low IQ people money for sterilization, but that would not get the other demographic interested in having children. They just don’t want to. There is no way to force them, nor should they be forced to have children.”

    As a group, smart people aren’t having zero children, just too few, so sterilization will improve the overall intelligence. We don’t need the world’s population to increase; we only need it to stop dumbing down.

    • Hindu Observer / Jul 22 2013 6:16 PM

      “We don’t need the world’s population to increase; we only need it to stop dumbing down.”

      I agree. Quality over quantity. In South Asia sterilization of men in the highly educated bracket is increasing after they have already fathered the amount of children they can afford and desire. Amongst that demographic it would usually be 2 or 3.

      But they are doing this out of an informed choice, not force.

  11. John / Sep 11 2013 12:26 PM

    Interesting discussion. I am a male with high educational attainment (based on ACT and MCAT I qualify for MENSA – yippee!) with 6 children. We had kids before any education completion because we both enjoy children and I highly recommend it. The conventional wisdom on this seems odd, changing diapers in the middle of the night is no big deal when I need to show up for class or am in grad school. It is rather rough if I would have to do it in my 40s when I am teaching the classes.

    I think if people are interested in changing the dynamics of societal IQ (which its not clear to me is a worthwhile goal) you could make changes by the margin, and “Nudge” people simply by not subsidizing births by the poor. If the costs became significant for poor people to have children and resulted in impoverishing them overtime they would self select to have fewer children – at the margin. If I remember correctly, in Denmark teen births are NOT funded by the government while almost all others are. Easy access to birth control and strong disincentives to have children will likely result in enough of a change to achieve this “goal” of reducing low IQ births.

  12. brucecharlton / Dec 27 2013 2:50 AM

    Couple of points.

    1. Technical. I don’t think the survey methods (due to their biases and limitations) are capable of small scale resolution of fertility – indeed, I don’t think we ever can know this. In other words we cannot in practice confidently distinguish between mildly-eugenic, neutral and mildly-dysgenic fertility. This is exacerbated by the fact that these are changing pretty rapidly over time – so the current situation is always inaccessible. I think we can only be confident about extremes of positive and negative fertility.

    2. “Now, while sample sizes across the board are generally small, we see an interesting pattern. As the previous data breaking down fertility by IQ and by sex show, fertility is dysgenic for women and roughly neutral for men by IQ. ”

    Yes, at least wrt women – but overall if we look at human history there is underlying a strongly dysgenic pattern in reproductive success increasing over the past 200 years – which is partly differential fertility, and partly differential mortality: i.e. RS is a product of births and deaths.

    In the past (in complex agrarian societies) all classes and groups has positive fertility, but groups with the lowest intelligence and conscientiousness had nearly 100 percent child mortality.

    Now that child mortality has been functionally abolished (so low as to make little difference in most of the world, and so low as not to prevent population growth even in the very poorest parts of the world – such that the groups with the highest child mortality are also the groups with the highest reproductive success) there is a truly massive underlying dysgenic effect – with literally billions of deleterious-mutation-carrying children surviving to reproduce, who would have died before maturity in all previous societies.

    The load of deleterious mutations in the human gene pool *must* be increasing incrementally, generation upon generation.

    So change in differential fertility over the past 200 years is one cause of dysgenesis, but changes in differential child mortality over this period are likely to be even more important.

  13. esinke / Dec 27 2013 1:11 PM

    Very Interesting. I see it all the time, but I can give you my theory. Males always have to be attractive for females in order for there to be offspring. Before the advent of our technological era, physical strength meant protection from danger for women.The trade-off was having children. Most of these women (ultra-liberals) through-out the centuries were persuasive and very intelligent. They would disseminate gossip in order to get with the man that they wanted, in order to live a life of luxuries (whether a king, or a vassal, etc) Children came somewhat second, but it was instinct to take care of your children, who represent a part of you. Normal women on the other hand (the ones who really love men and company and a family and are not so interested in luxuries) were more plentiful in the past, since men would prefer to be with a woman such as this, than than with a smart woman who might actually plot against him in the future. None-the-less, at the beginning of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution begun, and our way of life began to really kick off, population began to explode, and this was a perfect breeding ground for intelligent women, in order for them to survive and attain luxuries (there were many more men who had new innovative manual jobs.) However, now came the technological era, in which women can now work and make their own money. There is no need for these women to have men, since all they really care about is luxury and their own well being. There is no more “children” trade off. We are living in the last centuries of these intelligent women, who will cease to exist in a mere 10 generations, since they compete with men (instead of working with them) in order to take care of themselves. The selective trait that will survive in the future, is that of the “conservative” (genetically) woman, or rather, women who instinctively need a man (or company) just to not kill themselves out of loneliness. We are not in an era where brute force is no longer necessary, Men always have to be a bit stronger (or better) than women, if the human race is to survive. Therefore, since brute strength is no longer a quality that matters, it is through intelligence that man kind will survive. Therefore, we need to figure out what the balance is. Whatever the balance was in terms of the work output of men vs women in the past (which we can measure economically now) in brute strength, we must now measure in mental ability… it is very likely that in the future, in order for humans to survive, women will have to be so dumb that they won’t even know how to set an alarm clock… since they will be impressed with the way that a man can set it, and therefore, have children with him. (Women ALWAYS need to be impressed with a man… never the opposite… that’s just science.)

    • esinke / Dec 27 2013 1:18 PM

      Sorry, a few typos. “We are IN an era where brute force is no longer necessary.”

  14. rob / Apr 3 2014 4:42 PM

    Interesting. I’ve recently become pretty fascinated by all this. What you don’t know is that Norway has a large libertarianist party with a bent towards professionals and smart craftspeople/small business and they breed like bunnies. They’re all for tolerance, drug legalization, LGBT and so on, but I find that typically they’re pretty straight-laced and common-sense personally.

    So I think you need to separate the libertarians out. They have a conscious goal to have more kids but are still an outlier so they confound these studies IMHO. For example, they value education AND having larger families of 3 or up, attract higher IQ while not attracting no low-end average IQ’s. Also, they’re now a world culture (most are in Asia) since their leader got them on track back in the early 70’s ( he has 4 kids, I think, and very high IQ; and his wife is very bright). They’re specifically dedicated to a robot-run economy of leisure ( See ) and are organizing the Highest IQ.

    I was recently at a conference and they were joking that they would prevail because ‘at this rate’ they’ll be the last ones left who could still read and had more kids.

    Also, 115 IQ isn’t low. It’s over the average and 5-7 points above the preferred minimum for college-level work.


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