Monday, August 28, 2006

Baby Gap (2)

So, a week after reading about it in the blogosphere, the MSM has now taken up the Baby Gap debate, and the subject grabs the cover of Newsweek.

Lifetime childlessness in western Germany has hit 30 percent among university-educated women, and is rapidly rising among lower-class men. In Britain, the number of women remaining childless has doubled in 20 years. In Japan, where the birthrate stands at a dismal 1.25 per woman, a record 56 percent of 30-year-old women are still childless, up from 24 percent in 1985.
While the jury is still out on exactly why this is happening, there seems to be a strong correlation with higher education and empoyment for women. I reckon that can be one of the answers to last week's big debate on HR: the baby gap between blue states and red states isn't caused by ideology near as much as it is caused by education and economy. (it's the economy, smarty pants!)

Most conservatives I know who have kids generally waited till they were done with at least an undergraduate degree (sometimes a Master's) and had a jobby job.

Primary and secondary education is also generally better across the 'blue states' than the 'red states,' and that allows people to end up in college at higher percentages. People in college generally put off having kids till after college.

With the economy warmer in the 'red states' than the 'blue states,' however, a lot of these recent grads may be moving to Southern states for economic reasons, and having their children there - bumping artificially the numbers for the red/blue baby gap.

I'm not willing to rule out ideology as a tertiary factor, but cultural factors also contribute more directly: the cultural pressure on folks, especially in the deep South, is to get married and have babies as soon as you're able. That permeates despite Southern Liberalism or Southern Conservatism. If you hit 30 and you don't have rugrats, total strangers begin to tell you that you need to get your rear end in the bedroom and get to work. I am dead serious. If your excuse is that "I got no partner for this partikkular crime," busybodies will often have a ready made list of 18-32 year olds & phone numbers (& sometmes pictures) that you "need to meet" in order to get you 'back on track,' and actual compatability matters much less than you might think.

These conversations are very odd to have, let me tell you.

But even wierder conversations than that (and ones relating to this thread in a tangential manner) are the ones where folks tell men to fear women who have jobs and educations. (Since that's the kind of lady I'm attracted to, I feel as if I've entered some parallel universe when these partikkular conversations kick up from strangers...) What's weirder than that? reading the 'fear women with money and brains' line in Forbes Magazine.

Culture war, continuing...

6 comments:

liberalandproud said...

I'm on a global warming/population explosion kick after seeing "An Inconvenient Truth." I love ankle biters as much as, if not more than, the average person (I work in the church nursery every Sunday to get my baby fix). Still, I don't see a problem with folks having fewer babies. I know, I know, if all the edumacated folks are remaining childless, we end up fearing for the gene pool. Still, population growth needs to slow down somehow. I also don't care if my education and job inspires fear in menfolk. I kinda like the idea of being feared ; )

Patrick Armstrong said...

You were educated at Tennesse, your email never works and you're an actress.

That's a real Axis of Fear you've got going on, iddnt it?

:D

Dante said...

"...the cultural pressure on folks, especially in the deep South, is to get married and have babies as soon as you're able. That permeates despite Southern Liberalism or Southern Conservatism. If you hit 30 and you don't have rugrats..."

30? 30 is hardly as soon as you're able. When my wife encountered kids she taught in middle school whose mothers were encouraging them to get pregnant so they could get on welfare, that is encouraging folks to have babies as soon as they are able. At 30, more likely than not, you've been able for half of your life unless you were a late bloomer.

Besides, pressure to have kids is not exclusive to the south. It's just better advertised here. Our northern bretheren get plenty of pressure in the frozen tundra of the northern US from their older and/or married friends and relatives.

petallic said...

See, I just turned 30 a week and a half ago, and no one pressures me to have kids. But then my whole family incorrectly thinks I'm a lesbian. It works out nicely in my favor.

Will comment more on the larger trend later.

liberalandproud said...

Patrick,
The only people having any trouble with my email are the Glynn County Dems. I don't get it. I will also remind you that my education did not begin or end with UT, not that there's anything wrong with that. My training may be in acting, but I am a tour planner, with a side line as a college instructor. Wow, I'm even scaring myself ; )

petallic said...

I thought I would have more to say about this, but strangely I don't.