December 3, 2013

Pisa Day: Test fever causes low Asian fertility

In the Telegraph:
OECD educational report: Pisa fever is causing east Asia's demographic collapse 
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Politics and society Last updated: December 3rd, 2013 
Britain's poor scores in the Pisa education league are of course shameful. We should be doing as well as the Netherlands, our close cultural kin. 
But before we all flagellate ourselves – let alone think of copying the Shanghai success formula – just remember one thing. There is a body of scholarship showing that the collapse of the fertility rate to dangerously low levels across east Asia is the direct consequence of school cramming and "education fever".
This is well-known to demographers and those who follow the Far East closely, but less known in the West. This paper for example on Korea: 
In this paper we argue that East Asia’s ultra-low fertility rates can be partially explained by the steadfast parental drive to have competitive and successful children… 
Obsession with education in Korea has become an integral part of contemporary Korean culture and affects all aspects of social life. Deeply rooted Confucian values stress education as the best way for achieving high social status and economic prosperity. A collapse of the hierarchical social class system coupled with egalitarian ideas from the West have created the notion that any Korean child can achieve personal advancement, economic prosperity, and social mobility through education. Korean parents widely recognise this and see it as their duty to provide their children with the proper educational resources and support in order to produce successful and competitive children. In the mid-1970s as part of their family planning project, even the Korean government adopted the notion of “quality over quantity” with colourful and creative “population propaganda” exclaiming: “Daughter or son, let's not think about which. Just have two and raise them well”. 
The CIA World FactBook says fertility rates have fallen to: Hong Kong (1.04), Singapore (1.10), Taiwan (1.15), Japan (1.20), Korea (1.22). These figures may be a little too low. Japan and Singapore have seen a small bounce lately.

... Since Asia's demographic crisis is a much bigger threat to economic development and social stability than a few points here or there on the Pisa rankings, you really have to wonder whether we should be worshipping at this altar. I strongly suspect that the whole Pisa initiative will be discredited over the next decade, and may perhaps be viewed as extremely foolish.

Now, if we could just induce a Quality Over Quantity mindset in Mali ...

For more postings devoted to analyzing PISA scores, click the Labels: PISA below. 

24 comments:

Bert said...

I disagree totally with this article.

The main cause of this lower fertility is the absurdly high cost of living in those countries.

Anonymous said...

OT: not much race/gender variation at all in the self-reported SAT scores of Harvard's freshman class...

http://features.thecrimson.com/2013/frosh-survey/admissions.html

Anonymous said...

Deeply rooted Confucian values stress education as the best way for achieving high social status and economic prosperity.

Yeah, cause Confucianism is the very first place that anyone in his right mind would go to look for some guidance on living a positive, upbeat, cheerful, happy, productive, fulfilling life.

Anonymous said...

Dumb Koreans are losing quality as well as quantity.

To favor quality over quantity, they should have smart people have more kids.
Instead, Korean society has even smart people having fewer kids.

agnostic said...

Here's another blinding effect of HBD -- a good share of its fans believe that East Asia, unencumbered by politically correct dogma, will prove to be the way forward for the science of genetic influences on human outcomes.

Did any of them ever hear the phrase "Tiger Mother"? Or read The Geography of Thought? (For Asians, environmental forces trump inner-nature forces.)

Or notice all of this blank slate psychosis about how to optimally engineer your kid's upbringing to get them into a Good School? Or reflect on how Communist-friendly that whole area tends to be, and how averse to genetics they are?

But, don't bother noticing patterns like that. East Asians have higher IQs and lower crime rates, the opposite of higher-crime and lower-IQ blacks. And we all know Rushton's Rule -- Europeans are between blacks and Asians. Ergo, Asians are the way forward.

Why bother noticing patterns when you can spin baseless cobwebs of reasoning?

Anonymous said...

I don't think it has much to do with testing as Greece, Spain, and Italy has seen similar declines.

It's really due to more choice for women and more freedom for boys to remain boys addicted to video games.

Anonymous said...

So, Asian guys assuming the role of geeks has lowered Asian fertility. Roissy? Roissy?

Mika said...

Everyone likes to think extreme Asian competitiveness is an ancient phenomenon, but I think it's a distinctly modern response to the West. Of course Confucianism encourages education and of course China had it's mandarin system but the perfervid intensity of modern Asian education mania and the way it has come to characterize all sectors of society rather than remain confined to a narrow elite is in response to a feeling of threat, not least to one's self-image.

The element of leisure and relaxation - indeed, idleness - always featured large in Asian culture, alongside industriousness and complementing it, and that seems to have been largely lost. That's a modern phenomenon. What a shame.

Will it last? Does anything? Right now Asians are responding to a set of conditions in ways they feel their self-image demands of them - specifically, the fact of their civilizational eclipse. As those set of conditions change, as the West wanes, the relative stature of Asia will rise, and even if her absolute accomplishments never quite equal those of the West, this rise in relative stature will likely result in a cooling of the fever now gripping Asia.

Eric said...

When you need a masters degree to get a job in Mali the TFR will drop just like it has everywhere else. This has less to do with "test fever" than endless formal education.

Anonymous said...

Here's another blinding effect of HBD -- a good share of its fans believe that East Asia, unencumbered by politically correct dogma, will prove to be the way forward for the science of genetic influences on human outcomes.

....

Why bother noticing patterns when you can spin baseless cobwebs of reasoning?


That's because most fans of HBD aren't smart enough to see how these apparent differences might be consistent. They just latch onto simplistic models.

If "everything is genetic" as HBD fans like to assert, then it's also likely that susceptibility to environmental influence is also genetic and varies across individuals and population groups. But most HBD fans are too dense to see this. They just blindly assert that "everything is genetic" and think that this must mean that there can't even really be something like environmental influence.

Anonymous said...

I disagree totally with this article.

The main cause of this lower fertility is the absurdly high cost of living in those countries.


Raising kids is a part of the cost of living.

Anonymous said...

Asians need to cultivate more of a nonchalant lifestyle, if they are to ever achieve a level of happiness to match that of their accomplishment. Perhaps there is something they can learn from blacks. NSFW

Anonymous said...

Steve:

Now, if we could just induce a Quality Over Quantity mindset in Mali

No, what we really need is QUALITY and QUANTITY from Americans who are on the upper 20-30% of the scale. Most of them sure as heck could support 4 to 6 children, like me. They have no excuse.

As to Mali, its worth noting that the modern world came about because of an explosion of QUANTITY from places of QUALITY in Europe, especially Britain, France, Scandanavia, Germany, Russia, etc., not from limiting the Mali's of the world. They were self-limiting before the do-gooders showed up and created the problem.

Anonymous said...

Why would Korea, already one of the world's most densely populated countries, want to embrace a quantity over quality approach? Why would any country want to do this?

These pseudo intellectuals who can only foresee the survival of ever-expanding capitalism through the agency of burgeoning population are MAD.

England itself is fairly high on the list of most densely populated and still lets in immigrants. IDIOTS.

What's wrong with quality over quantity? Isn't that the Good Life? The point of the whole exercise?

Anonymous said...

As to Mali, its worth noting that the modern world came about because of an explosion of QUANTITY from places of QUALITY in Europe, especially Britain, France, Scandanavia, Germany, Russia, etc., not from limiting the Mali's of the world.

It was Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Italy played a huge role. Scandinavia and Russia did not play a big role in developing modernity.

Anonymous said...

"Why would Korea, already one of the world's most densely populated countries, want to embrace a quantity over quality approach? Why would any country want to do this?"

'Quality over quantity' is no problem. Rather, the Koreans misunderstand this principle and seem to think quantity can be turned into quality with lots of education, which is so much wasted time and energy. Also, by making every child feel that he or she can become smart and go to a good college, there's bound to be a lot of disappointed and disaffected young people who remain bitter for the rest of their lives for not being very good students.

sunbeam said...

Anonymous wrote:

'If "everything is genetic" as HBD fans like to assert, then it's also likely that susceptibility to environmental influence is also genetic and varies across individuals and population groups. But most HBD fans are too dense to see this. They just blindly assert that "everything is genetic" and think that this must mean that there can't even really be something like environmental influence.'

I'm not sure I understand your point.

I think most of the people interested in HBD actually think that the genetics of the people in a population come into to play in producing the environment people live in, and hence "environmental influence."

My take on things is that people have been selected to best live in the environments their ancestors live in.

But it is not a one way street, because left to their own devices the culture they produce, with its "environmental influences" is going to be influenced by the genes of the people in that population.

Yeah, it's a chicken and egg argument. Obviously things can change, technology can utterly change the intricate societal arrangements for daily living, you can have mass emigration to a new are (say Western Hemisphere) that can produce a new living space with different environmental pressures and adaptations.

But I really don't get your point. Or rather I think it is pretty sophomoric.

I think your world view is one of people here lifting two tablets to heaven, with the words "I" on one and "Q" on the other, thundering the words "This is the Lord thy God, and thou shall have no other Gods before this Concept."

Rather I'd think most people here think about it pretty analytically, with it being just one variable. Some of us think of it like a set of linked differential equations.

Some of us seem to go in for "nasty" stuff like lots of statistics. Much more useful I'm sure, and closer to reality since this kind of thing is pretty complicated, but butt ugly.

I'm kind of getting the feel you are a black and white thinker.

And glumly for us all, it sure is looking like IQ Moses has the right idea, if you go for my imagery.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with quality over quantity? Isn't that the Good Life? The point of the whole exercise?

Amen. If you look around your Thanksgiving table and see an ugly, obese, reticent, sad, ill and underachieving group of specimens, you might be doing someone a favor by not sentencing him to join, or you could just hope for a genetic miracle.

There is no longer a need for ditch-diggers in this world.

Matthew said...

In both reading and math the gap between blacks and whites is about twice the gap between whites and Asians.

You can only test students who are actually in school. Dropout rates accelerate in 11th and 12th grades, but there are still a huge number of black students not even being tested, due to higher dropout rates, higher absentee rates, and higher likelihood of being entangled in the criminal justice system. So the scores probably suggest that blacks are doing better than they actually are. Same probably goes for Hispanics, too.

Anonymous said...

Anon:

It was Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Italy played a huge role. Scandinavia and Russia did not play a big role in developing modernity.

A standard view that ignores the civilizing reach of Russia across the wastes of Siberia and the Steppes, and the Scandanavian origins of the elites in England, Russia, and France, Scandanavian settlement of the American and Candian Great Plains, and Russian science, Nobel, Swedish industry, etc.

jody said...

how can studying 8 hours a day from age 8 to age 21 have any effect on what adults over age 21 are doing in bed?

east asian men would rather play video games and masturbate to porn than actually date women. work, video games, porn. no messy relationships, please.

sometimes i think they are onto something.

5371 said...

The "CIA World Factbook" is a fairytale and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is a clown. I can't imagine how this silly argument could qualify as a "body of scholarship", either. It's the observation of a correlation, so imperfect that an intelligent person immediately concludes no causation is involved.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, fertility rates amongst White, indigenous Britons, (ie descendants of the stock that inhabited the island prior to 1945), are a sight lower than typical Chinese fertility rates.
British fertility rates are elevated *wholly and solely* due to the effect of immigrants.

Secondly, Ambrose Evans Pritchard has made a little fetish about running down China. If you read his blog, you'll see that is virtually all he does all of the time - been doing it for years and years now. It seems more personal than journalism, like he's working out some sort of issue.

JayMan said...

East Asian countries are so crowded that low fertility isn't really a serious issue for them, at least for some time:

See:

Why sub-replacement fertility is not necessarily all that bad « JayMan's Blog

In general, population density serves to negatively impact fertility as it drives up cost of living:

Another Tale of Two Maps « JayMan's Blog

But people in Eastern and Southern Europe are so poor, relatively, that even with their fairly abundant land, children are costly:

A Tale of Three Maps | JayMan's Blog

If there are no immigrants coming in, and your population isn't on the verge of collapse, sub-replacement fertility is hardly a dire problem.