June 18, 2013

"Differential Fertility, Human Capital, and Development"

An economics paper:
Differential Fertility, Human Capital, and Development
Tom Vogl
Princeton University and NBER
March 2013

Discussions of cross-sectional fertility heterogeneity and its interaction with economic growth typically assume that the poor have more children than the rich. Micro-data from 48 developing countries [e.g., Mexico, Bangladesh, Indonesia] suggest that this phenomenon is very recent. Over the second half of the twentieth century, these countries saw the association of economic status with fertility and the association of the number of siblings with their education flip from generally positive to generally negative. Because large families switched from investing in more education to investing in less, heterogeneity in fertility across families initially increased but now largely decreases average educational attainment. While changes in GDP per capita, women’s work, sectoral composition, urbanization, and population health do not explain the reversal, roughly half of it can be attributed to the rising aggregate education levels of the parent generation. The results are most consistent with theories of the fertility transition based on changing preferences over the quality and quantity of children, and somewhat less so with theories that incorporate subsistence consumption constraints.

Basically, in quasi-Malthusians societies, well-off people had more surviving children, as Greg Clark demonstrated for England in A Farewell to Alms. Typically, rich people got married younger. Francis Galton noticed that the relationship was flipping toward the opposite direction in modernizing England. Vogl's studied shows the same process has happened for the Third World, just much more recently. 

Of the three countries he has the most data for, Mexico, Bangladesh, and India, Mexico had a tiny positive relationship between education and fertility in the 1940s, but it was quite negative by the 1970s. Uh oh ...

22 comments:

Rob said...

And the fertility is higher among Mexicans in the US than in their home country.

Silver said...

Of the three countries he has the most data for, Mexico, Bangladesh, and India, Mexico had a tiny positive relationship between education and fertility in the 1940s, but it was quite negative by the 1970s. Uh oh

The spiking homicide rates through the 1990s to today in so many Latin American countries are consistent with the data on dysgenic fertility.

If there's any bright light it's that Latin American fertility has reduced so much - from about 4.75 in the mid-70 to about 2.2 today. If the lowest IQ, least productive, most crime-prone segment is only having, say, 3 as opposed to 6 children, then the dysgenic effect on society will be somewhat muted.

Btw, America also entered a period of dysgenic decline some time in the 1970s. Up until that time IQ and fertility studies cited by Richard Lynn in his "Dysgenics" showed either slightly positive correlation between IQ and fertility or no relationship at all. By 1978, however, Daniel Vining found the lowest IQ American blacks were outbreeding the highest IQ American blacks by some 50% - in my view, owing in no small part to what is effectively a state supported dysgneics program. With just a bit of political will the incentive structure could be reversed: the poor could be financially rewarded for forgoing procreation. Win-win.

Anonymous said...

interesting paper with some over-sophisticated models,but would be better if it analyzed fertility among younger women.

Anonymous said...

Of course, to make things worse from our perspective, very little of the upper end of Mexico's bell curve makes it to the United States. For the simple reason that they have less reason to immigrate. Not exactly the most wonderful "founder's effect".

Anonymous said...

The only explanation is that medical intervention ie immunization, antibiotics etc, which really became universal and ubiquitous by the 1970s, saved the lives of an enormous number of poor children who otherwise would have died.

Anonymous said...

"- in my view, owing in no small part to what is effectively a state supported dysgneics program"

Yes!

Just to elaborate: low IQ folks can't make a living in modern society. But the more children they have, because "we do not want the children to suffer" the more money they receive. Especially if the father is absent. And if they can't make a living in another country because welfare is not so generous there, then it's in their rational interest to come to the United States. Can we deny them this opportunity? Wouldn't that be cruel?
Robert Hume

5371 said...

Greg Clark didn't demonstrate that about England, his book is feeble. Much less is there a basis for declaring a category of "quasi-Malthusian" countries, shoving anyone you like into it and declaring that the same thing went down there.
There is good evidence of the opposite setup, though, where fertility increases with declining income, as soon as any valuable data on the subject exists, from the early 19th century in several western countries.

RS said...

> If there's any bright light it's that Latin American fertility has reduced so much - from about 4.75 in the mid-70 to about 2.2 today. If the lowest IQ, least productive, most crime-prone segment is only having, say, 3 as opposed to 6 children, then the dysgenic effect on society will be somewhat muted.

Not really IMO. How is a TFR of 1.4 (or whatever) among fairly elite persons any less significant? Not having a 4.75 overall TFR is a very good thing, but it doesn't mean the dysgenesis is muted.



> Btw, America also entered a period of dysgenic decline some time in the 1970s. Up until that time IQ and fertility studies cited by Richard Lynn in his "Dysgenics" showed either slightly positive correlation between IQ and fertility or no relationship at all. By 1978, however, Daniel Vining found the lowest IQ American blacks were outbreeding the highest IQ American blacks by some 50% - in my view, owing in no small part to what is effectively a state supported dysgneics program. With just a bit of political will the incentive structure could be reversed: the poor could be financially rewarded for forgoing procreation. Win-win.

Well, "Dysgenics" (or at least a prior edition) is free online if anyone wants to check, but my recollection is it presents voluminous data by level of education, and little or no data by IQ. Dysgenesis by level of education is longstanding and rather pronounced in the USA. C is potentially being affected rather more than IQ.

It's hard to say whether it's gotten worse in the US, because the distro of levels of education has changed each generation. For the same reason, it's hard to compare synchronically across races.

As for that political will, it's apt to be a long time coming. Some rather farsighted regime would be needed. I don't think mass suffrage representative democracy is very farsighted. It may be moderately so at best, but probably only in a high-IQ trad society like the old US or old Britain.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time people got a basic education and then started on the bottom rung of a business and worked their way up if they had the brains. Or perhaps they did some sort of quick, simple test that roughly measured their potential brainpower in a couple of hours.

Then came the academic accreditation scam explosion where access to the best paid jobs required years of study instead of proving yourself on the job - years of very expensive study.

Then years more expense as the accreditation scam started to require more years of post-graduate qualifications.

Parents ground down to pay the accreditation scammers for their kid's future when they could have started work at 18 and by 22 be up a rung or two already.

Get rid of the accreditation scam and smarter parents could afford more kids.

pat said...

In 'The Bartered Bride' Vasek - the tenor hero - sings of 'sleeping in the straw'. He was an iterant farm hand who wanted to get married but needed property and income. In those places and those times poverty meant celibacy. A lot of Ireland was like that until quite recently. If you couldn't earn a decent income you couldn't get married and you couldn't reproduce.

When the world got richer those strictures loosened and more breeding resulted - for a time. Then feminism kicked in.

Human women only have about 80 eggs in their whole life. Men can produced hundreds of millions of sperm a day endlessly. Men are better equipped for promiscuity.

Women bear almost all the biological burden of procreation and in most societies also most of the subsequent child rearing burden. Heretofore societies often restricted their women so as to assure that they bore those burdens. In the Middle East for example women were little better than chattel.

Women were everywhere oppressed but we did it 'for the children'.

So far it seems that liberated women avoid child bearing. It remains to be seen if the human race can survive feminism.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Silver, Central and South America has its own caste system.

Google "Mestizo Casta" or something, or just "Casta" and read it.

Don't confuse half-white Spanish-speaking Mestizos for pure Mexican Amerindians and pure Haitan blacks.

RS said...

> Not really IMO. How is a TFR of 1.4 (or whatever) among fairly elite persons any less significant? Not having a 4.75 overall TFR is a very good thing, but it doesn't mean the dysgenesis is muted.

...any less significant, I meant to say, than the fact that the fertility of the Latin underclass has also declined.

Overall TFR matters greatly, but doesn't matter directly in questions of eugenesis/dysgenesis.

Peter Johnson said...

The paper only measures the within-ethnic group change, but the biggest change has been the across-ethnic group change. Ethnic groups with the lowest incomes and lowest cognitive scores have grown in population relative to those ethnic groups with the highest incomes and highest cognitive scores, in recent decades.

Geoff Matthews said...



Human women only have about 80 eggs in their whole life.

Nonsense. 80/12 = 7.75. Women have more than 8 years of fertility in their life.

Yes, I'm assuming that women have a fertile period (hah!) each month.
This link claims there are 400.

http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/women-and-their-eggs-how-many-and-how-long

Steve Sailer said...

"The paper only measures the within-ethnic group change, but the biggest change has been the across-ethnic group change."

Right. Or just use national populations for easy comparisons, such as Nigeria's share of the global population in 1960 vs. 2010.

Anonymous said...

Nigeria should really be split up by Igbo and non-Igbo and Christian vs. Muslim lines.

Oliver W said...

'Key references include Althaus (1980), Dahan and Tsiddon (1998), Morand (1999), Galor and Moav (2002), Kremer
and Chen (2002), de la Croix and Doepke (2003), and Moav (2005)'

Obviously there has been a fair amount written about this.
Any chance of you writing anymore on developing countries and this issue? It's one I find very interesting.

Oliver W said...

Omer Moav's work seems interesting
http://atar.mscc.huji.ac.il/~economics/facultye/moav/cheap.pdf

Anonymous said...

It just boggles the mind, that citizens of toilet-deficient countries like Bangladesh would reproduce - sorry about the first world bias. Never borrow a cell phone from a Bangladeshi. Notice in the article how they mention that advertising for toilets is not intensive enough. I can't imagine how stupid, a person who needs to be hard-sold a toilet, could possibly be.

How can we send a subliminal message to the underclass to stop breeding? One clever tweeter suggested selling McDonald's and Starbucks uniforms at Toys-R-Us. Might want to add PlaySkool cleaning products and a maid's smock.

Malthus should be revered for exposing the horrors of Magical Thinking.

Anonymous said...

Where did you first hear of Malthus? The Singing Detective was my first encounter.

Anonymous said...

Given the massive increase in food surplus White people created since the end of WWII it's not surprising that most population groups have also massively increased. The question is why some groups didn't?

(And if White people go will that surplus remain?)

Anonymous said...

"(And if White people go will that surplus remain?)"

Don't worry I'm sure there are plenty of George Washington Carvers out there, ready to din their Superman capes when called upon, who will solve peak oil, peak food and peak water dilemmas. Whites are just too arrogant to make the call.