French more fecund than the Irish?

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Walker’s World: French births soar:

The second development to note is that INED, France’s National Institute of Demographic Studies, has done some detailed research and concluded that France’s immigrant population is responsible for only 5 percent of the rise in the birthrate and that France’s population would be rising anyway even without the immigrant population.

In fact in France, like everywhere else in Europe, the birthrate among immigrant mothers drops quickly toward the local norm in less than two generations. The measure most commonly used in international statistics is the Total Fertility Rate, which seeks to measure the number of children born to the average woman in her fertile years…

In France, the TFR has risen from 1.66 in 1993 to 2.0 in 2003 and 2.1 last year. If maintained, that means the population of France will rise from 60.7 million today to 70 million sometime before 2050.

The birthrates of Muslim women in Europe have been falling significantly for some time. In the Netherlands, for example, the TFR among Dutch-born women rose between 1990 and 2005 from 1.6 to 1.7. In the same period for Moroccan-born women in Holland it fell from 4.9 to 2.9, and for Turkish-born women in Holland from 3.2 to 1.9.

In Austria, the TFR of Muslim women fell from 3.1 to 2.3 from 1981 to 2001. In 1970 Turkish-born women in Germany had on average two children more than German-born women. By 1996 the difference had fallen to one child and has now dropped to 0.5….


A few points. First, even if there is convergence differentials still do matter. One thing I noted when surveying data on Mormon fertility is that though it has converged with non-Mormon fertility, the “floor” still usually remains higher than that of local non-Mormons. I’m not worried about a Mormon future of course because it is also a religion with a relatively high defection rate, but long term persistence of small differences do matter. Second, projecting to the year 2100 as many do today is very problematic. In the late 19th century some bureaucrats in the Ottoman government were relieved as the Christian Balkan provinces fell away through independence or assimilation into the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The reason being the fact that Christians had higher fertility than Muslims; something most Muslims and Christians today would find a very peculiar worry. In After Tamerlane there is a reference to a racial triumphalist demographer writing in 1900 about the “fact” that in the year 2000 there will be 1.5 billion whites and only 400 million Han Chinese. Finally, variance matters. Note:

Germany is something of an oddity in this. In most countries with low fertility, young women have their first child late, and stop at one. In Germany, women with children often have two or three. But many have none at all.

Italy and Germany might both have low expectations in regards to the number of children a woman may have in her lifetime, but the shape of the distribution may matter a great deal if fertility is heritable to any extent (straight out of Genetical Theory here). Heritability need not be physiological; rather, it might be cultural and psychological propensities transmitted to the next generation. But if the data above hold one might expect German fertility to bounce back faster than Italian because a subset of the German population exhibit pro-natalist sentiments.

(H/T Talk Islam)

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44 Comments

  1. But if the data above hold one might expect German fertility to bounce back faster than Italian because a subset of the German population exhibit pro-natalism sentiments 
     
    In the short term we are going to see German fertility bounce back more so than Italian fertility simply because the (female-led) German government is treating the low birth rate as a serious issue and instituting policies to allow women to reconcile work and family life, whereas the (idiot-led) Italian government is ignoring the issue. Alot of those German women without any children are going to jump at the chance to squeeze one out in their late 30s if they can, once Merkel’s policies come into force. Add that to the subset of women who already have two, three or four and the tfr should bounce back. It’s already gone from 1.33 to 1.45 from 06-07, whereas Italy’s is stagnant. 
     
    After Tamerlane there is a reference to a racial triumphalist demographer writing in 1900 about the “fact” that in the year 2000 there will be 1.5 billion whites and only 400 million Han Chinese.  
     
    Speaking of long-term demographic predictions that are fun, if unreliable… if current trends hold over the next (ahem) two hundred years, we can expect to see 204 million Amish people on the planet by 2208. We may beat the Han Chinese yet! :)

  2. Also, any speculation on whether the rise in the French fertility rate may be at least partially due to previous decades of selection? IIRC, French fertility plummeted after the French Revolution, so much so that the French were terrified of being overtaken by the Germans. IF the variance in France during that time was similar to the variance in Germany today, maybe genes predisposing men and women to procreation got selected for in France more so than in other European countries, which still had healthy fertility rates.

  3. IIRC, French fertility plummeted after the French Revolution, so much so that the French were terrified of being overtaken by the Germans.  
     
    well, they *were* overtaken demographically :-) (by the english as well as the germans) in any case, remember a substantial proportion of the native white french are descended from southern and eastern europeans who settled in france in the 19th century when the demographic transition was in high gear….

  4. wanna take any bets on how long before someone chimes in that this is mostly due to high fertility among immigrants?

  5. wanna take any bets on how long before someone chimes in that this is mostly due to high fertility among immigrants? 
     
    yeah, well, i bolded that part just in case now….

  6. France’s demographic history has been incredibly atypical of a European nation. At the time of the French Revolution, France’s population was 25 million. For some comparison, England’s population was just 7 million. It wasn’t because of some incredible long-forgotten martial prowess that the French were able to take on the whole of Europe in the wars of the Revolution and Napoleon’s Empire, it was because it was actually a pretty even fight in numerical terms. During the course of the 19th century, however, while the rest of western Europe saw an enormous growth in population and the USA saw a growth in population unprecedented in human history, France’s population stagnated. It became one of the most sparsely populated nations in Europe, which is one reason why the French countryside today has so much scenic forestry and grazing land. In 1930, England’s population was 35 million, five times its size in 1790. France’s was 41 million, less than twice its size in 1790. After the Second World War, France experienced the baby boom to end all baby booms, and, although the sixties hit fertility as they did everywhere in Europe, the modest rebound in recent years has been enough to keep it as the most fertile country in the EU – although it’s still one the most sparsely populated of all the four great Western European powers. 
     
    Inscrutable bunch, the French.

  7. It wasn’t because of some incredible long-forgotten martial prowess that the French were able to take on the whole of Europe in the wars of the Revolution and Napoleon’s Empire 
     
    yeah, conscription. saw some surveys of the revolutionary wars and the best predictor of french victory was the greater size of the french armies. the revolution mobilized the whole population (well, those who weren’t rebelling against, as in the vende), which other european states had to do to catch up…. (frederick the great’s prussia prefigured this somewhat)

  8. The part about variance and heritability is why I believe in the Return of Patriarchy. I don’t think it will be pleasant (something along the lines of Idiocracy), but hopefully I won’t be around by then.

  9. TGGP: 
    That “Return of Patriarchy” (Foreign Policy Magazine), is a story that is easy to tell, but is not supported by the facts. For instance, in today’s Europe, the TFR’s are quite good particularly in liberal countries that do the most to make it easy for women to reconcile work and family. TFR is lowest in Italy and eastern Europe where support is the worst. 
     
    The logic comes from the pill. It is the women who ultimately decide the number of kids. Either society (practically men) make work-life balance easy for women (more kids), or difficult (less kids, but with higher variance). 
     
    The pill actually makes it more likely that the power of women in society grows. But there should be now worries. In Eurobarometer survey EB65.1, MEN in EU-15 report their ideal family size to be 1.86 kids, while WOMEN wish for 2.23! See table 8 at 
     
    http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_253_en.pdf

  10. Inscrutable bunch, the French. 
    Apparently not. Looking at the bump in TFR, they seem to be very scrutable, surmountable and very pregnable. :)

  11. very pregnable. 
     
    rite. type “french women” into google images. seriously.

  12. Economist, 
     
    Even the most supportive socities in Europe don’t have tfrs above replacement level. Assuming zero immigration, in modern societies where women have the freedom to control reproduction the possible long-term outcomes right now appear to be population stability and population decline.  
     
    Patriarchy, on the other hand, allows for (but doesn’t guarantee) strong population growth, so it’s conceivable that if a patriarchal subculture were to successfully insulate itself against the wider society’s influence regarding matters of gender equality, it could grow to the point that sheer numbers would translate into real political power.  
     
    Obviously, I don’t see this happening in Europe or America anytime soon. But I could see something like this happening in Israel, with its relatively small population and its booming numbers of Orthodox Jews.

  13. there needs to be a more fine-grained classifications of societies. saudi arabia is very patriarchal and has a high TFR. much of sub-saharan african is patriarchal and has a high TFR. but the former is patrifocal and patrilineal, while the latter is often matrifocal and even matrilineal. where i’ve spent a lot of my life in the USA two groups have lots of kids; very conservative religious types, and “counter-culture” types who have opted-out of the middle class rat-race.

  14. I think this is great news, also for muslim-European relations. 
     
    Most anti-muslim sentiment in Europe is rooted in the fear tha muslims will take over someday. If European populations start to stabilise (or even grow) and Muslim populations adopt to the European norm, that will greatly increase trust and understanding. 
     
    I’m however interested how this sudden surge of French is explained. Are births increasing throughout the entire French population, or just in certain groups, i.e. orthodox Catholics, Basques, people from non-Urban areas? 
     
    (I’m not talking about immigrant groups, so I’m not living up to Agnostic’s challenge. ;))

  15. remember a substantial proportion of the native white french are descended from southern and eastern europeans who settled in france in the 19th century when the demographic transition was in high gear 
     
    what? i don’t remember this! first I’ve heard actually but i’m intrigued. how big is substantial?

  16. thinking about it further, french people do have a slavic air to them. beautiful, stylish women without latherings of oompa-loompa makeup, men are dicks etc. East europe in a nutshell! i jest, i jest.

  17. In the UK, most of the older ‘immigrant’ groups now have fertility similar to the white British majority, but Muslim groups (Pakistani and Bangladeshi) remain substantially higher. Connected with this (chicken, egg, or both?) is the low rate of Muslim women’s participation in the workforce (i.e. paid employment).

  18. It seems to be quite difficult for any group to ‘insulate’ itself from the trends of the surrounding world.  
     
    Small religious groups have a high defection rate. According to Human Development report, the TFR of Arab states has declined from 6.7 in 1970-75 to 3.7 in 2000-05. Saudi Arabia in particular has gone from 7.3 to 4.1. 
     
    It has been slower in sub-saharan Africa (from 6.8 to 5.5), but the point is that the demographic bust is happening everywhere.  
     
    I believe the real question to be, what societies adapt best to the ‘post-pill equilibrium’, if you like. France seems to be doing the best, according to the original post.

  19. Well, there are sheer numbers of births, and then there is the question of who is having the babies. 
     
    Women are the key, and about one third of women college graduates are having zero children in Germany and the UK  
     
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/ 
    world/2006/jan/27/germany.lukeharding 
     
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ 
    uknews/1549297/ 
    Third-of-graduate-women-will-be-childless.html 
     
    I’ve checked the primary data for the UK article, and it is correct. The inverse correlation between IQ and fertility seems to be pretty well established : 
     
    http://www.eugenics.net/papers/evidence.html 
     
    This probably-’dysgenic’ trend is one that it would be very difficult to ‘bounce back’ from.

  20. Disclaimer: I’m a Frenchman with an Italian name. That puts me among the 40+% of French people with at least one foreign grandparent (a statistic that appears here and there, though I didn’t find a formal source). 
     
    Over the last two centuries, France has integrated more migrants than any other large European country. Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards, Poles, Africans, Central Europeans (cf. our beloved president), you name it. Until quite recently, it also assimilated them more efficiently than any other host nation (the strong school system and the dominance of large, labour-intensive industries contributed to this). No “Italian-French” or “Latin-French” nonsense. The founding ideal of the Republic (equality of all citizens, independently of their background) was fully implemented, at least for ethnic considerations. 
     
    The problems with the current batch of African migrants (both Blacks and North Africans) are only partly related to cultural distance: their ancestors used to integrate quite well. Changed social conditions (urban “ghettoisation”, mass unemployment), as well as sheer numbers, are mostly responsible.

  21. BTW this demographic panic is nothing new and this isn’t the first time fertility has dropped under replacement. Since we’re talking about France, see 
     
    http://www.insee.fr/fr/ppp/ir/accueil.asp?page=SD2004/dd/SD2004_fecondite.htm 
     
    and graph G4.1. That’s the completed fertility rate for French women born in a given year. Note that the bust for women born slightly over a century ago was “worse” than the present one. There was a huge demographic panic in the 1920s and 1930s in many European countries blaming the fertility bust on emancipation of women. 
     
    BGC: Women are the key, and about one third of women college graduates are having zero children 
     
    Jesus! It takes two to have a baby! Men’s child count goes up with education. Yet nearly every time you see people (well, men) speaking of dysgenic fertility, they’re heaping scorn on women as if the father’s genes have magically stopped counting. And every time you see people speaking about low fertility, they’re heaping scorn on women while it’s painfully obvious from both data and everyone’s experience that what’s stopping women from having the families that they certainly want is the reluctance of modern *men*. 
     
    Women are, indeed, the key, but that’s because women are the choosers in mating and they are not choosing stupid men. In fact, one reason why high IQ women have trouble finding spouses is that they’re doing exactly that: trying to find a higher IQ man.

  22. Continuing on Jaakkeli’s rant, it appears to be the case (sorry no referece now) that high divorce rate could be making a ‘eugenic’ impact, because highly educated men have a lot better ‘second-hand value’ than less educated men. And typically, a new marriage is solidified by having kids. 
     
    I’d sometimes like to ask these dysgenics folks, do they think that if suddenly everyone started to look for as stupid and ugly partners as possible (ie. opposite what they now do), would we then suddenly flip from dysgenic to a eugenic trend?

  23. Jaakkeli and Economist are making a self-righteous and moralizing issue out of a biological argument. It is disappointing to see this on GNXP – there are plenty of shrill, sermoning, political blogs for that sort of thing.

  24. It seems to be quite difficult for any group to ‘insulate’ itself from the trends of the surrounding world. 
     
    Difficult but not impossible. Refer to my previous point about the Haredim. As recently as 1996, they had a tfr of 8.5… Wikipedia says that this is estimated to be higher in 2006; I’ve seen articles (too lazy to look them up) that their tfr has recently come down a bit due to some changes (iirc) in Israeli policy regarding financial incentives for births, but the decrease wasn’t great, and it doesn’t change the overall picture. 
     
    Small religious groups have a high defection rate.  
     
    Some do and some don’t. The Amish are tiny in number (only around 230,000) but 90 percent of Amish kids get baptized into the church when they grow up. I don’t know what the defection rate is for the Haredim, but I doubt it’s sufficient to counterbalance their high fertility rate. 
     
    According to Human Development report, the TFR of Arab states has declined from 6.7 in 1970-75 to 3.7 in 2000-05. Saudi Arabia in particular has gone from 7.3 to 4.1… 
     
    It has been slower in sub-saharan Africa (from 6.8 to 5.5), but the point is that the demographic bust is happening everywhere.
     
     
    I agree that the general, global trend is away from what we think of as patriarchy and will remain as such for the foreseeable future. My point is that in some of those societies that have modernized and undergone the demographic transition, we may well see a rise in the proportion of people who belong to successfully self-insulating, patriarchal religious sects.  
     
    Again, you have to look at it in context. This country won’t be any different if the number of Amish people in it were to cross 1 million in 2050, as some predict, because there are 300 miillion people in this country right now and will be far more in 2050. But in Israel, there are some estimates that as many as 30% of Jewish children under 5 have ultra-Orthodox parents. When those children grow up, they are going to have a significant effect on Israeli culture.

  25. some people chill please. don’t want to close the thread :-) 
     
    one issue re: dysgenics and what not: assortative mating. i wonder if it might be a countervailing tendeny as males & females assort by IQ far more efficiently today.

  26. BGC, *we* are making it a moralizing issue? As everyone knows, women tend to want men who have at least the same IQ/education, but men don’t care that much about IQ/education. So, as everyone knows, lots of smart women have trouble finding a man, because they don’t want dumber men but the smart men chase attractive women while ignoring smarts. And that makes *women* the key to a dysgenic trend? If you can’t see how that comes across as pure moralizing, you’re beyond hope. 
     
    There’s the eugenic trend of women selecting for higher IQ mates and the dysgenic trend of high IQ women hoping for a higher IQ man who might not materialize. No one seems to know which one is winning. If you only look at the education level of mothers, you’re deciding the answer in advance (of course it shows the dysgenic part, amplified because education is only a correlate of IQ and already selects for women who’ve decided to not have babies).  
     
    As for the other moralizing issue, there will be no “return to patriarchy” because men do not want it. The average man in his twenties wants to fool around, play video games and drink beer. All the data supports this view: women consistently have much higher desire for families and the Western world is having far fewer babies than women want. Lot of women would be perfectly happy not to work and just have babies – it’s just that there are few *men* for them. If I’m “moralizing”, I’m definitely not “self-righteous”, as I’m one of those guys running away from women who keep talking about babies myself. I sure as hell am not going to go Mormon to save the West. 
     
    (One reason the northern European states have higher fertility is that even intentionally becoming an unemployed single mom makes sense to some. Some women I know have done just that.)

  27. As everyone knows, women tend to want men who have at least the same IQ/education, but men don’t care that much about IQ/education. So, as everyone knows, lots of smart women have trouble finding a man, because they don’t want dumber men but the smart men chase attractive women while ignoring smarts. 
     
    Male nerds frequently are well-educated with high I.Q.’s, yet you certainly don’t see too many women pursuing them.

  28. Peter, only a fraction of men are actively pursued and I never claimed that IQ is the only thing women want in a man. For a thought experiment, let’s take men with an IQ of 80 and men with an IQ of 120. Most men in either group do not have a harem, but which one of those groups has a higher proportion of men who are pursued by many women for marriage and children? Maybe some of those dumb guys happen to be star athletes or big in some other way that doesn’t take brains, but they’re the rare exception.  
     
    There is a huge number of guys who aren’t getting pursued by many women. The woes of smart but otherwise hopeless nerds just get the press because some of them are bloggers and screenwriters while mateless 80 IQ guys are living under the bridge.

  29. i’m curious of the demographic profile of the pro-natalist subset of german women. do they follow a similar pattern to the american natalist subpopulation?

  30. @roissy 
     
    Germany is a special case in Europe, but that will change. Germans are very good organizers and obedient, so pro-natalist policies could very well work for them. 
     
    1) The lowest-low fertility of East-Germany after the fall of the wall and an emigration of talented young German women to the West, leaving the German men there alone.  
     
    2) Until very recently pro-natalist policies were equated with neo-fascism in Germany. You know, H*tl*r also pushed pro-natalist, ergo pro-natalist are..

  31. “In fact in France, like everywhere else in Europe, the birthrate among immigrant mothers drops quickly toward the local norm in less than two generations.” 
     
    I like how “less than two generations” is equated with “quickly.”

  32. For some perspective, in California, the total fertility rate of immigrant Latinas was 3.7, while the TFR of American-born Latinas was 2.2. The TFR of American born non-Hispanic white women in California was 1.6. The TFR of American-born Asians was 1.4.

  33. The often overlooked phenomenon of “demographic momentum” means that after two groups reach the same number of babies per woman, it takes about a half century for the formerly higher fertility group to stop growing.  
     
    Combine that with continuing immigration of higher fertility immigrants, and you have a perpetual motion machine.

  34. well, they *were* overtaken demographically :-) (by the english as well as the germans) in any case, remember a substantial proportion of the native white french are descended from southern and eastern europeans who settled in france in the 19th century when the demographic transition was in high gear…. 
     
    My family name — “Krempeaux” — has a French spelling. But it was originally a Polish name: “Kremposki”. (Not 100% sure on the spelling though.) 
     
    I wonder if that was the time they came over to France. 
     
    – Charles Iliya Krempeaux 
    http://changelog.ca/

  35. Razib wrote: 
    males & females assort by IQ far more efficiently today 
     
    I’ve seen this factoid often — is there a cite? Obviously, educational levels are more similar — but women’s access to education was more restricted in the past.

  36. I’ve seen this factoid often — is there a cite? Obviously, educational levels are more similar — but women’s access to education was more restricted in the past. 
     
    three points, 
     
    one data i’ve see is that 3/4 of female physics phds marry physics phds. that’s partly a function of sex ratio imbalance. 
     
    second, women were proxy judged for intelligence through their family in the past (the “quality of connections”). but the correlation across siblings is imperfect, so if you allow them to go through the gauntlet of education you get a more “honest” signal of their intelligence. 
     
    finally, there’s a fair amount of data of IQ sorting in universities which has increased a lot in the past 2 generations. since people often marry people they meet at higher education, then it seems likely that assortative mating is increasing. 
     
    but i’ll dig into this and post something if i find anything more.

  37. Inductivist used the GSS and didn’t find increased assortative mating for education level (a proxy for IQ) from the 1920s to present. If anything, maybe a tad less: 
     
    http://inductivist.blogspot.com/2006/10/no-trend-toward-assortative-mating-for.html

  38. thanks assman! duly corrected. come the idocracy!?!? the only hope i have is that averaging is missing some substructure.

  39. Well, the correlation is still 0.55, so no idiocracy through this way at least.

  40. agnostic, the Inductivist did a follow up post, due to my question in the comment section of the post you cited: 
     
    “Eductional level is now a poor measure of intelligence: Pjgoober wondered if the correlation between IQ and education has declined over the past few decades, which might explain why the association between educational levels of spouses has evidently not been rising. Indeed, according to the GSS, the correlation has fallen sharply in the past 30 years from .59 to .39. The overall trend held for both whites and blacks. One’s educational level is now a poor marker of intelligence.” 
    http://inductivist.blogspot.com/2006/10/eductional-level-is-now-poor-measure.html 
     
    (I now comment under the name scottynx instead of pjgoober because that name inexplicably attracted derision, lol. But i still use it as my gmail address.)

  41. The correlation of IQ between spouses *could* still have been going up in the last century. The fact that the correlation between IQ and education has dropped precipitously (.59 to .39!!!) makes that possibility potentially compatible with the reality of a stagnant correlation between spousal education levels.

  42. The grounds on which Razib’s “due correction” stands are nullified.

  43. razib and agnostic suck. i pwn. j/k. look at me!!look at me!! pay attention to me and my blindingly bright brillianceness!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. sir, 
     
    comport yourself as a gentleman! 
     
    yours truly, 
    c.v. snicker

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