Throwing Natalist Benefits At Women Won’t Fix Low Fertility Rates

WEIRD countries have a fertility problem. An ideal fertility rate – the replacement rate, where every individual in a society is replaced by one child – is 2.1 children per woman. Not too crazy.

And yet – the fertility rate of the United States is 1.9. Ditto the United Kingdom. France: 2.0. Canada: 1.6. Bulgaria: 1.5. Germany: 1.4. Hungary: 1.3. Bosnia and Herzegovina: 1.3. Hong Kong: 1.1, at the bottom of the list.

Any fertility rate below 2.1 puts a society on an inevitable long-term path to disappearance. WEIRD countries have high incomes, good education, generally safe societies and all the opportunities a parent could want for a child. Strangely, war-torn Iraq manages a fertility rate of 4.0. Afghanistan, which has been mired in war since the 1970s, has a fertility rate of 5.1. Even North Korea, where the Dear Leader prioritizes his Western movie collection over feeding his citizens, manages 2.0, substantially higher than a number of supposedly superior countries.

In Denmark, TV ad campaigns exhort you to “do it for Denmark.” Denmark’s fertility rate: 1.7.

In Poland, the government gives couples 1000 PLN (about 250 USD) 12 months after the birth of a child. Abortion is illegal. Poland’s fertility rate: 1.3. In Hungary, a new policy will grant 10 million HUF (about 35,000 USD) to young couples that buy a home and agree to have 3 kids within 10 years. Hungary, again: 1.3.

Russia’s government instituted a national holiday for conception and offers various natalist schemes: $9200 for women who give birth to an additional child, more maternity leave, more benefits, 40% of previous salary if a mother leaves work to take care of children, etc. Russia: 1.6. Singapore dropped a previous anti-natalist policy to begin promoting childbirth with various catchy slogans, free cruises and other gimmicky ad campaigns. They also instituted some “baby benefits” for mothers. Singapore: 1.3.

I recently spoke with a young Polish man and his girlfriend, both preparing to begin university in England. I asked them if they planned to have kids, how many if so, and whether they viewed developed countries’ fertility problems with concern. They said they did and immediately offered that governments should provide more maternity leave, more maternal benefits, more financial incentives to have kids, etc. They seemed to think this would alleviate the problem. I told them that lots of countries have natalist policies, but that they didn’t seem to be any closer to solving the problem. This didn’t phase my Poles, and they countered that clearly there simply weren’t enough benefits on offer.

“The government should allow at least two years of maternity leave for new mothers,” said the Polish girl.

“How long do you think a mother should be with her kids to raise them properly?” I inquired.

She mulled the question over and answered: “Until the kids are 13 or 14 and hit puberty.”

“Then what kind of crazy country only allows mothers less than one-tenth of the time they need to be with their kids?”

This got them thinking. Suppose some nasty humans stole a Panda bear’s cub a week after birth and raised it elsewhere away from its natural parents. This would be animal abuse – an outrage! How could we be so heartless to callously separate a mother and child? Yet the same norm is enshrined and essentially unquestioned in our own human societies. Working mothers and mandatory public schooling are extremely recent inventions, less than 200-years-old. Is it too presumptuous to ask whether, in light of the dismal fertility numbers in countries practicing these norms, these norms will not survive another 200 years? And is it too presumptuous to point out these norms might take the people who practice them with them, permanently?

With the advent of Women’s Lib in the 1960s and 1970s, women across the West gained the legal and social privileges necessary to compete with men in the working world. Feminism has achieved all of its major goals: women outnumber men in the university system, they outperform men in the educational system, and they are at least one half of employed persons. The feminist crusade to end the “wage gap,” “microaggressions,” and other minor issues of WL are just mop-up operations in a victorious battle against the Patriarchy that ended decades ago. There are no institutional or social barriers (and in fact, quite a number of institutional and social advantages) left to prevent women from advancing economically. Whatever actual patriarchal oppression that’s left is conducted privately and furtively, not publicly and triumphantly.

Imagine a woman living in a post-patriarchal society. She graduates high school with stellar grades at 18, gets admitted to a fancy university, and graduates with stellar grades from there at 22. Suppose she works until retirement age, around 65. Assuming a low-ball estimate salary of $50,000 a year, this hypothetical woman will earn $2.15 million over her lifetime. Perhaps more importantly, she also gets the social status that comes from a successful career and prestigious credentials. She never has to have kids. She can support herself without trouble for her entire life and participate in polite society.

Now suppose you found this woman at age 25 after she’s already earned about $150,000 and is ready to spend the rest of her life comfortable, well-fed, and secure on her own dime. Suppose you shouted a slogan about “doing it for your country,” played her a funny YouTube video about sex and nicely asked her to quit working and raise children. What are the chances she’d do it?

Suppose you pitched her a deal: if she quits working and raises a child, you’ll pay her $250 12 months after birth. Do you think she’d accept? Well, alright.

Round three: you offer her $35,000 to quit working and raise 3 children in 10 years, after buying a house. Does this sound any more likely? Alright, alright.

Round four: you’ll pay her $9200 for each child she has and will provide her 40% of her $50,000 salary for the rest of her life. And yet, if she has three kids, the grand total still only comes out to about $880,000. Not a bad deal for a woman who already wants children – but, are we living in modern cultures where fecundity, family values and community are lionized, or do the values of free love, individualism, consumerism, and hedonism predominate? Be honest.

OK, you’ve been bested. You pull out the big guns now: you offer her a life-time stipend of approximately $70,000 a year if she quits working forever and devotes her life to having and raising children. This stipend will come out to approximately $3 million by the time she reaches the age of 65. Essentially, you offer to make her a millionaire. Does this sound like it would be more successful at getting women to quit working and raising children (say, until the children were 13 or 14 and had hit puberty) than the previous schemes? $3 million is around the point where my hindbrain stops connotating natalist handout schemes with “hopefully this’ll work” and “there are probably hypothetical individuals out there somewhere who would do this, right?” to “I can see this working on people I know.”

Natalist policies are not enacted in poor and undeveloped countries where the average woman produces 4 or 5 kids over her lifetime. Natalist policies are only enacted in industrialized societies where people have semi-given up on reproducing.

These same societies are without exception also democratic, consumerist, and feminist societies – the spread on their intensities is wide, but they are hopelessly progressive compared to their pre-1960s counterparts. These natalist policies are far, far too optimistic. A woman empowered by feminism is essentially offered a >$2.15 million incentive not to reproduce. To get these women reproducing would require either (a) giving out multi-million dollar fortunes to women as incentives to quit work and raise children, or (b) abolishing feminism and resetting the incentive arithmetic to $0, with perhaps some minor $250-$35,000 incentives in favor of family and childbirth. As far as I know, neither options (a) nor (b) have been enacted by any modern societies, and, as far as I know, no modern society has gone from abysmal fertility rates back to over-2.1 territory.

Getting down to brass tacks and making difficult decisions has become very unfashionable nowadays, especially when it comes to governance and politically sensitive topics. Unfortunately, until natalists –and, frankly, anybody who would like to figure out how to create a stable and rewarding work-family balance for the masses of people living in WEIRD societies – quit focusing on the minutiae of various monetary incentive schemes and begin thinking an extremely unfashionable distance outside the box, there will be no rise in fertility rates.

Mark Yuray is verified on Gab. Follow him there and on Twitter.

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38 Comments

  1. Thanks, Mark.

    It’s very probable that this post will appear as a prophecy in the coming decades. Especially since all of your hypothetical schemes do not involve a traditional family, rather only a female.

    Add that if the government is paying for the services of a female’s womb, it logically follows the seed inside it can be chosen by the entity requesting the service (at least until tech no longer needs biological females’ wombs). And feminists will champion the birthing of an engineered slave class as a legitimate use of their “sacred” bodies.

    1. You’re about a week behind the curve:

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/scientists-claim-can-create-babies-7441572?ICID=FB_mirror_main

      The Chinese have created synthetic sperm. Ova will be harder, but not massively. No more “doners” necessary, all product designed to perfection beforehand.

      On the tech alone, an artificial womb has looked doable for a decade, tho its very “incorrect.”

      1. You following the AlphaGo vs Sedol match?

        http://gbtimes.com/china/china-reacts-alphagos-victory-over-lee-sedol

        It’s not clear how indicative the sentiments of actual Chinese elites track the quotes in the article; but if so, impressive.

  2. The real insanity is Japan. They’ve gone to negative interest rates, yet say they want more births. Having children is a planning ahead sort of thing, and planning ahead works better if the money you save is worth more, rather than less nine months from now when you might need it.

    None of this stuff works, which is why I am not too enthused about the nationalist direction. It may work, if it is a prelude to a return of what came before nationalism, but these modern states take away the assets that used to be used for having and raising a strong new generation of children.

    1. If you are willing to be cynical…

      Which country fetishizes technology the most?

      You may want to consider that the decline in fertility is a feature, not a bug.

      Here is a post about Japan from the comments on xenosystems post entitled “Chaos Patch #42″ (parentheses mine)

      Kgaard: why don’t you propose some kind of bet that would test our disparate theories? (Kgaard was debating with Austrians about QE causing hyperflation)

      Different T: I would level the charge that you utilize incredibly compartmentalized thinking. In another post you discuss the breakdown of the nuclear family as being a prime economic cause of many “troubles.”

      The italicized line indicates your position is the correct mix of fiscal and monetary policy can “solve” what you perceive as something in need of fixing. This would appear to mean that you do not think the breakdown of the nuclear family (the relations among people) is of first importance, rather it can be corrected thru policy and your desired outcome can be maintained thru the correct prescription.

      As to your current discussion, Japan appears to be in a very unique, even “Goldilocks” scenario for monetary intervention. Japan is a high-trust, homogenous, and culturally domesticated society. They are an importer of energy which provides even more cover in the current environment. They are in a position to actually go “full helicopter” and give money directly to consumers (and this is part of the current policy).

      Do you think this is likely to increase traditional family formation? I think it will accelerate its destruction. Do you think this is likely to strengthen the “soul” of its people? I think it will weaken and destroy it. Do you think this will reverse “dysgenic” trends? I think it will accelerate and (once the technology catches up and the people are desperate enough) perfect and idealize these “dysgenic” trends.

      Kgaard: The right way to fix an uncompetitive economy (he was again arguing with Austrians about intervention in the economy)

      Different T: It is not clear why you still insist that “fixing” is the goal. I know you are familiar with the term “Neo-Feudalism.”

      1. This is entirely possible. Abe claims to want more children. I was assuming the monetary policy is mostly due to painting themselves into a corner plus not wanting to lose face, but the possibility of a politician just lying about his objectives is always high.

  3. Amish have a 7-8 fertility rate, doubling every 15 years.

    1. The Amish exist by suffrage and could be wiped out in a trifle if anyone wanted too.

      Also for all those greatly concerned with economics, for all their numbers, they don’t produce all that much. A couple of factory farms or a modern manufacturing facility could outproduce all of them.

  4. To clarify:

    From my perspective, Abe, Kuroda, etc. do not even comprehend what they are doing. That is why they hold those roles.

  5. The reality may be even worse. The number of mutations in the genome of the average child is around a hundred, most of which reduce their fitness. One of the ways that we’ve evolved to deal with this is to have lots of extra kids and let the weaker half of them die before reaching reproductive age. The 2.1 replacement rate is thus a temporary, dysgenic solution, one in which the gene pool will be in steady decline.

    There could be a tech fix for this: editing out bad genes before implantation. If we can reach, afford, and maintain that tech, then 2.1 could become a long term goal. Otherwise, you might want to double it.

    1. It’s very likely that CRISPR and large-scale GWAS will enable the editing out of bad genes, I’d guess in 15 years or so. See http://www.unz.com/akarlin/spellchecked-supermen/

  6. Stephen N Green March 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Yes. But in what respects do we need to see an ever climbing population, or even a stationary one?

    Absenting aliens from my country, I would be quite content for it to fall a bit.

    The usual answer, is the support ratio, the proportion of tax payers to tax takers in the population. This issue though might be overcome through various changes. Later working life. Starting self-ordered welfare practices earlier. And from a state POV, some of the credit creation ideas that have been circulating for a number of years.

    1. Nick B. Steves March 1, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      You want to have a steady or increasing supply of 25-40 year old sexually reproducing men. Statistically this demographic is the only (major) one that generates positive net value to the economy. Given current industrialized world life expectancies, and zero or negative population growth, there’s no way to prevent that productive cohort from shrinking as a percent of total population. At least, without intentionally offing the elderly. As a Catholic, I cannot countenance such an idea. But there’d be nothing wrong with encouraging widespread use of cigarettes, which might help do the trick. (And BTW increase almost everyone’s productivity because of nicotine’s cognitive effects.)

      1. Of course benefits won’t work, Having a child is an ongoing expense and commitment, minimum of 18 years @ a minimum of 5,000 US a year, closer to $10K , A one time bonus might shift when a child was born but that is about it.

        Also it comes at an opportunity cost. Also I think anyone not taking opportunity costs into account with family size is making a mistake, Not everyone finds having children enjoyable, heck many, maybe most do it because either they have sex to or its expected of them by the culture.

        These days we clearly have other choices and children basically take them away. Have a child and you will lose many things and while some folks gain enormously, this is not universal.

        I reminded of an old Reason magazine article that said basically “maybe people aren’t having kids because they don’t want actually want them.”

        Also economic is a huge part of why the developed world and parts of the developing world have low fertility.

        People with IQ’s I dunno 95 and above and any kind of long time preference are not going to have children if they can avoid it, aren’t heavily religious don’t have steady work. The smarter more driven ones also require a decent income. Our technology basically conspires to get rid of that and with it fertility.

        Its rather blind to fail to note wage arbitrage and underemployment and wonder why people aren’t having kids. 50% unemployment in part if Europe means no children for good stock , Its not complicated

        Just because people compliantly had kids did before the pill doesn’t mean they will after.

        We may not even get free social capital from religion either. Its perfectly possible the secular state may assimilate people faster. I’ve lost two LDS friends to it and the economy. They may have children someday but they are at an age when most Mormons are working on #2 and they have neither wife nor child,

        In any case people have began to behave exactly as they were expected too, as Homo Economicus the very thing the capitalist system was pushing, Sow – Reap

        This caused a freak out but honestly what did anyone expect? Children are not a rational choice in the modern urban world.

        You either like kids, plan to have them for cultural or status reasons or do it out of faith, Homo Economicus might have one,

        As for solutions, fix capitalism so that people have steady well paying work, automation be damned , end immigration, repatriate people and suppress feminism, easier said than done but that is your solution. It probably won’t go to much above replacement, the world is rather crowded but it could stabilize or even grow a bit

        No doubt the money junkies will push exo-wombs or something. If they work at all, it won’t be long before some B/tard with a grudge and a slightly outdated bio-printer with hacked software decides to do his rampage with gene driven mosquitoes or worse.

        If we get lucky, humanity survives.

  7. In order to stop the demographic suicide, the West (and the East) would have to do the unthinkable – end feminism and restore patriarchy. Ban abortion and birth control. Ban females from work and schooling. Ban divorce (except for proved adultery). Institute via legal mechanisms a “male supremacy,” like that which existed in Franco’s Spain.

    1. Jim, citing Unwin, has pointed out that no societies which “emancipated” females have recovered, just been conquered by societies that didn’t “emancipate” them. Scare quotes as my small part of the rectification of names; no need to mutilate the meaning “to become free” any more than the Left already has.

      1. Yup! There will be no recovery, only collapse ahead (though collapse is almost never the collapse, but almost always a decline, collapse Not with a bang but a whimper). Before the migrant crisis happened I used to expect for Europeans to start dying out until there was too few of them to manage the nation states, which would cause disintegration, and necessarily, restoration (given that some kind of elitist arrangement comes naturally – even political parties themselves are not democratic, paradoxically enough). Now I don’t know what to expect.

    2. In order to stop the demographic suicide, the West (and the East) would have to do the unthinkable – make motherhood valuable again and stop denigrating the essence of femininity, that is being a mother.
      Schooling should be absolutely segregated. The right intellectual pursuits should be encouraged (philosophy, history, music, painting, etc., as complements of religion and deportment) For that, women teachers are needed. Caring for the sick and the orphans is also a work for women.
      The Christian marriage should be the only accepted and indissoluble, of course.
      Male supremacy will be the natural order in the post-progressivist society.

      1. Motherhood is looked down upon and low-status, but not just motherhood, fatherhood (and parenting in general) too. I’ve seen many a couple where both had successful careers in so-called marriage, and they were both bitter and miserable and didn’t understand why (this seems to be the case with many good people, people who have done everything society told them and feel miserable, even cheated – they are asking themselves “Why am I so unfulfilled when I’ve done all that I was told to?”).

        1. You know. The rise of feminism as we know it coincided with the dramatic rise in women’s literacy. In the 1800s. Why do you think that is?

          1. Notice the apparent lack of female revolutionaries. Women were “emancipated” by men. Literacy has nothing to do with it. Even now when women seemingly have more “institutional power” than men, it is only because of men. Women are no more capable of “liberating” anything, starting with themselves, than pigs are of flight.

  8. Good article.

    Lesson: Have sex without ABC, with the “must have kids” mentality not really in mind (just let the carnal urge in the driver’s seat), accept the natural consequence, get pregnant, don’t get an abortion and the country will, in one aspect, flourish — literally.

  9. Pseudo-chrysostom March 4, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Two rough nodes of thought here.

    A: If you control the flow foreign demographics into a country (ie, stop it entirely) then in the long run population changes become largely a non-issue beyond salutory jitterings of socioeconomic particulars.

    Population goes up, a new equilibrium forms as conditions change. Population goes down, a new equilibium forms as conditions change. The cycle continues, life goes on. This is largely why i dont really see japan as having a big problem, as long as they continue to hold their sensible casual racism.

    B: The number one natalist policy is female submission to male authority in all major areas of life.

  10. Pseudo-chrysostom March 4, 2016 at 2:00 am

    A-1: Presupposing your given population is ethnically homogenous to start with, of course. If not, best get to work on that in some way.

  11. We may be fearful of a (European) demographic decline but this isn’t the most dangerous, and if we take Europe as an example, there has always been times through history where the population would decline by a lot, and then come back up, like the economy. (Either by war, famine or even diseases like the plague.)
    And we have to take everything into consideration: Future wars, racial conflicts, technological evolution, there are many influences here.

    I do agree about the social-feminists aspect of the issue but this isn’t what scares me the most at the moment, because ultimately feminism will quickly disappear once the real catastrophes arrive, and that is, the complete invasion of Europe by Third-worlders, before we hit 2050.

  12. I’m a little late to replying here, but one question that struck me is, given the fact that most of us don’t have the power to change the overall societal situation, (at least in the near term) is there anything we *can* do as individuals?

    It’s not a perfect fix, but one thing that comes to mind is the following. Smart women tend to have fewer children… but it’s not because they’re smart – it’s because they’re highly educated: http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2012/05/education-iq-and-fertility.html

    So, in terms of things *you can actually influence*, I’d guess the main way to encourage your smart daughters (and their smart friends) to have more children is to discourage them from staying in school for too long.

    1. For individual solutions, the doctor would recommend the following:

      1. Mannerbund. Find your based male friends and relatives. Drink with them regularly and shit-talk progressives, women and the government. Go shooting once a week, perhaps after Church. Talk to each other about Thomas Carlyle.

      2. Nepotism within the Mannerbund. Marry off your daughters to good men.

      3. Homeschooling. The common “extreme” line on the dissident [that is, real] Right is that educating girls is a horrible idea. In fact, educating anybody in the contemporary sense is a horrible idea. Contemporary education is a relatively young Puritan invention designed to make human beings domesticable for the faceless mad institution-state Cathedral.

      If 1, 2 and 3 aren’t possible, move to a country where sanity is still high status. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Russia come highly recommended.

  13. Banning abortion won’t accomplish what you want (see Poland). Nor, frankly, would a return to the discriminatory sexist workplace norms of the 1950s and 60s (which are still prevalent in Japan). Development economists know that the #1 inverse correlate to TFR is female literacy. Therefore, one option would be to ban educating women, the way some states banned educating slaves. Alternatively, or in conjunction with this: It’s been widely observed that the United States spends too much on prisons, incarcerating people for minor offenses. Without any major increase in expenditures, therefore, we could empty some of these prisons and use them to incarcerate women of desirable genetic stock, who will be insemminated with donor sperm.

    I recently saw a film, Bone Tomahawk, where the females of an indigenous population were blinded and their limbs amputated upon reaching sexual maturity, making them optimal incubators. So this is a third possibility, and not dissimilar in effect from the policies enacted by enviably-fecund sharia-law societies.

    1. LowQualityBait.jpg

    2. The problem with Poland is that in each neighboring country abortion is allowed, and so the ban on abortion in Poland is not effective. Polish women just go abroad… If abortion was banned in US and Canada, it would be much harder to get it as flight tickets are expensive.

  14. Sometimes my decision not to have kids, and instead pursue a $400k+/yr career, gives me pause for precisely this reason: we’re being overrun with Mexicans, Muslims et al. But so long as my decision spites the misogynists in these comments, I’m at peace with it. Plus I’ll be safe in Alphaville when the hordes arrive. Sucks for proles though.

    Perhaps this is humanity’s comeuppance for subjecting women for centuries to the painful, sickening and demeaning consequences of our reproductive biology: e.g., suppressing treatments that would cure menstruation, delaying development of artificial wombs. Femalehood has long been so undesirable that females are now opting out.

    There is a species of spider whose offspring eat the mother alive. If they evolved greater intelligence, perhaps those mothers would opt out, too.

    1. I understand that it can seem like a raw deal, but your line still does end with you if you don’t have children. The older I get, the more I view myself as one link in a very long chain… and as they say, the future belongs to those who show up.

    2. One of the most moronic and solipsistic comments I’ve ever read in my life.

    3. I’ve never seen anything undesirable with being a woman.

  15. There is only one antidote to sub-replacement fertility – religion.

    Specifically traditionalist, conservative and patriarchal religions – and of these all which have above replacement fertility are more or less rejecting of modern Western society (eg ultra-Orthodox Jews, the most devout Muslims, Amish, Hutterites etc — except for Mormons who have modestly above replacement fertility on average with a pattern of larger families among the wealthier and more-educated and more-devout – in a context of above average IQ and social class.

    But sub-fertility is biology’s verdict on secularism. No religion: you go extinct.

    If a delusion is defined as a maladaptive belief, and adaptiveness has the usual definition of ‘reproductive success’; then the rejection of religion is objectively a delusion.

    1. Good to have you commenting on SM, doctor. Religion, broadly, is the solution, so long as that religion is strictly patriarchal — which all the important ones are.

  16. Let’s go one step further, will ya? First a principle. Good governance, the “mandate of heaven” operates through a certain “wu wei”. It is something akin to what libertarians tend to formalize under small government, but it is actually more like governing via cutting with the grain, not against it. That good governance is something that comes very “natural”, like things falling into their places. For example, punishing criminals is a natural and with the grain act, because normal citizens would want to lynch them anyway.

    From this angle, we cannot simply just ban women from schools and jobs. This would not work. It is not cutting with the grain – if they are willing to work, and able to do the job, they will do it one way or another.

    In the past this was far easier because it was generally understood that the kind of jobs men did was actually difficult for women to do and they did not want it.

    Example:

    – mining coal, farming, heavy muscle work

    – being a politician with the possibility of being challenged to deadly duels by the opposition

    – being a CEO while knowing that unable to pay debts may socially require you to commit suicide in order to save your honor (see: The Count of Monte-Cristo)

    Most women did not want a job like that.

    So my point is, instead of trying to perhaps throw legislational obstacles on feminism or enforce rules than can be gamed, how to make women naturally not want to have a career.

    In other words how to make careers difficult, dangerous, and requiring a lot of testosterone to cope.

    Careers should be high risk and high payoff so that most women should naturally not want to do them the way they naturally don’t want to drive racecars: not enough testosterone. Every time a man goes to work his wife should see him as a hero who takes risks for the family, not as a random dude who does a boring job many women could do just as well.

  17. Fakefirst Fakelast October 16, 2016 at 5:52 am

    Possible problem with this essay: it kinda seems like the Denmark ads might have worked.

    https://www.rt.com/news/345499-denmark-baby-boom-sex/

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