Mitty Romney is hyper-typical for a Mormon

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The Audacious Epigone crunches the Pew Religion Survey and comes up with some more insights….

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22 Comments

  1. I was struck by this: The two variables inversely correlate at a firm .44. That is, by religious affiliation, as income increases, the number of children decreases. 
     
    That’s a pretty succinct expression of the fact that economic competition and biological competition (competition of genes) are not only two different things, but that there’s a big tension between them. 
     
    The genotype wants one thing, but the revealed preferences of many phenotypes is for something else. And economic competition is “culture” rather than “nature”, even though there must be some genetic substrate making the choice of economic competition instead of genetic competition possible. This in turn lends plausibility at least to ideas of some sort of group or two-level selection. 
     
    A natalist cultural conservative will argue that low fertility shows that our culture is decadent and will die a horrible death do to depopulation. There’s a lot wrong with this, though. The “culture” here is not pornography, homosexuality, and free love, but education and ambition. A sexually conservative family which chooses to raise one or two kids and educate them well, or a puritanical man who chooses to be childless while he accumulates billions of dollars, both would be cases of culture dominating nature.  
     
    Natalist (gene-maximizing) cultures are both a cause and an effect of the Malthusian trap. My guess is that Bangla Desh, Egypt, and Bali have strong family values and fertile women, but they are enormous losers in the cultural / economic / political competition. 
     
    This should give market conservatives a lot to think about. For them competition is a prime value and hierarchy formed by fair competition is a good thing. But sometimes they assimilate one kind of competition to the other, essentially unaware that the two kinds of competition are not opnly distinguishable, but significantly in conflict.

  2. Natalist (gene-maximizing) cultures are both a cause and an effect of the Malthusian trap. My guess is that Bangla Desh, Egypt, and Bali have strong family values and fertile women, but they are enormous losers in the cultural / economic / political competition. 
     
    A recent New York Times article reported that Egypt’s TFR is down to 2.73, so it doesn’t seem as if Egypt is doing a particularly good job of gene-maximizing any longer :)

  3. A natalist cultural conservative will argue that low fertility shows that our culture is decadent and will die a horrible death do to depopulation. There’s a lot wrong with this, though. The “culture” here is not pornography, homosexuality, and free love, but education and ambition. A sexually conservative family which chooses to raise one or two kids and educate them well, or a puritanical man who chooses to be childless while he accumulates billions of dollars, both would be cases of culture dominating nature.  
     
    As a gay man who is concerned about the low fertility rates of western peoples (especially Italians, my own “tribe”) but is put off by the tendency of people who share my concerns to respond to the prospect of depopulation with knee-jerk demonizing of all the usual suspects (e.g. gays, feminists, liberals, secularists, etc…) instead of actually examining the problem, I appreciated this paragraph. It needed to be said.  
     
    Interesting fact: Mark Steyn, who is now nearing fifty and, unless he remarries or his wife is MUCH younger, is probably done reproducing, has three kids. From someone who hypes demography to the extent that he does I would have expected at least four, maybe five.

  4. Does that $50k represent household income? It would seem that there should be some sort of difference between income levels where both parents (including I guess zero child ‘families’) work and ones where only one (usually the husband, though not always) works outside the house. 
     
    I’d think that where John Emerson says ‘family values’ above, a better description is ‘what a well lived (female) life looks like’. It seems to me what is described as ‘market values’ is more like a cultural attitude that a well lived female life is… bourgeois? That the left seems to hold this attitude more than the right seems rather odd, though that does seem to be the case. It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World I suppose.

  5. Interesting fact: Mark Steyn, who is now nearing fifty and, unless he remarries or his wife is MUCH younger, is probably done reproducing, has three kids. From someone who hypes demography to the extent that he does I would have expected at least four, maybe five. 
     
    A recent New York Times article reported that Egypt’s TFR is down to 2.73, so it doesn’t seem as if Egypt is doing a particularly good job of gene-maximizing any longer :)
     
     
    It seems Mark Steyn is beating the average Egyptian woman.

  6. Historically cities (where cultural and economic progress was centered) tended both to have low fertility and high morality, and were dependent on replenishment from the countryside. To a degree the developed world has become a “world city” in this sense, not because of high mortality but because of low fertility.  
     
    The relationship between biological and cultural evolution is a tricky one. I think that natalists tend to be unaware of the degree to which high fertility impedes cultural (including scientific and economic) progress — by taking talented women out of the work force, by producing more children than can be educated, and by forcing men to dedicate themselves to wage-earning and the pursuit of security at a very early age. (How often can a science PhD reasonably start a family before age 35, for example?)

  7. “mortality”. Jesus.

  8. I think that natalists tend to be unaware of the degree to which high fertility impedes cultural (including scientific and economic) progress — by taking talented women out of the work force, by producing more children than can be educated, and by forcing men to dedicate themselves to wage-earning and the pursuit of security at a very early age. 
     
    That explains why Mormons are so poor and uneducated.

  9. Sorry to mock you, John, but you really should grapple with all the data. By any objective measure Utah is pretty successful, and fertile. It’s even a high-tech center.

  10. an economist friend of mine told me that mormon fertility has been crashing the past generation. bangladesh as gone from 6 to 3 TFR in one generation.

  11. an economist friend of mine told me that mormon fertility has been crashing the past generation 
     
    That’s interesting. I wonder what’s going on. 
     
    Nevertheless, Mormon high achievement (cultural and economic) was achieved by the generation that also achieved high fertility. I’m not claiming that there are no trade-offs, just saying it’s not either/or.

  12. Nevertheless, Mormon high achievement (cultural and economic) was achieved by the generation that also achieved high fertility. I’m not claiming that there are no trade-offs, just saying it’s not either/or. 
     
    right, it’s complicated. i would note though that utah was poor in the 1930s and has ascended to affluence only relatively recently. so one could posit a demographic transition as being important here; the productivity gains weren’t eaten up by as much population growth as earlier. i don’t really buy that model either, too simple…. i’d be interested in to see SES data and mormon fertility. i’ll look it up, but anecdotally my impression is that super-affluent mormons have fewer kids than the poorer ones (remember, my high school was half mormon).

  13. j mct, 
     
    Yes, the income figures are by household. So the Mormon income levels are not buoyed by DINK status. I suspect the percentage of Mormon homemakers is higher than that of most Protestant denominations, which makes the affluence/fecundity relationship all the more impressive.

  14. You’re right, David, or partly, but Utah is an outlier, as they say. (Like North Dakota). I’m aware of the Mormon educational level and often remind people of it. But most high-fertility groups are as I said. 
     
    And there are also a lot of poor, ignorant Mormons too. (Utah has the thirty-ninth highest per capita income in the United States of America, at $18,185 in 2000). A unique thing about the Mormon church is that the rich and poor tend to stay in the same church. This is partly true of Catholics and Lutherans, but generic Protestants tend to church-hop as they rise in status. 
     
    Some of my Mormon inlaws looked like they were developing “Reform Mormonism”, but the one I know best left the church. I’ve been told that ex-Mormons and Mormons both are a surprisingly big factor in science.

  15. Trivia from my Google search: Senator Chris Dodd has a Mormon wife and is tight with his Republican inlaws.

  16. Audacious: 
     
    I’m not sure if that’s correct. What I meant, is what would all that data look like if the wife working or not was figured in. I’d suspect, though I am not sure, that the more Morman households with an income of 70K would be husband works, wife doesn’t type households than for say Episcopalians. I’d think that if you broke the data set up into two taking that into account that the gap would narrow within each set, though I am possibly misinterpreting how you generated your statistic. 
     
    I’d bet that the income stat for Utah that John Emerson cites would go up if somehow stay at home wives were taken into account, the whole ‘stated GNP drops if I marry my cook/housekeeper’ thing, given that stay at home Moms work plenty, it’s just not paid labor outside the home and it doesn’t count in income stats.

  17. That kind of recalculation can be done for any third world country too. It’s a live issue in development economics and feminist economics, though regarding as pretty peripheral my most of the field (I think) except as a historical curiosity. Generally the adjustments made to take account of domestic production are small, since most domestic production (housekeeping, gardening, sewing) tends to be inefficient by industrial standards (low value per hour of labor).

  18. You’re right, David, or partly, but Utah is an outlier, as they say. (Like North Dakota). I’m aware of the Mormon educational level and often remind people of it. But most high-fertility groups are as I said. 
     
    John, you misunderstand me. I am not complaining about you pointing out the trend. I’m complaining about you jumping to the conclusion that “high fertility impedes cultural (including scientific and economic) progress”. One does not necessarily follow from the other.

  19. That is, a trend is not a proof of causality.

  20. You really don’t have much causality at all in human history, in the sense of single-factor necessary or sufficient causes.  
     
    I’d say that it’s fair to say that high fertility is causal in a contributing-cause way, which is by far the commonest kind of causality in history. And there are specific reasons why: Malthusian trap, opportunity cost for parents (who must take an immediately lucrative job), and the press on resources for education. So I’d call it causal.

  21. You really don’t have much causality at all in human history, in the sense of single-factor necessary or sufficient causes.  
     
    Perhaps that is why the reasons for economic hardship in Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Castro’s Cuba, Eastern Europe under the USSR, and Kim’s North Korea are not related.

  22. Bad things are more likely to have sufficient causes than good things, because doing things wrong is easy, whereas doing things right is hard. Note that I said “not much” necessary or sufficient causality. People have been looking for the necessary and sufficient causes for prosperity for centuries, but so far it’s almost entirely contributing causes. There are sufficient causes for poverty, including Communist government, but that’s not a necessary cause. There are poor and miserable non-Communist nations.

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