Differences in fertility by class internationally

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Update: See below….

The World Values Survey has a lot of data broken down by subjective social class. One of these asks how many children an individual has. So I thought it might be of interested to inspect WVS 5, generally taken around 2005, and compare differences by class in term of children. Of course there might be differences in the age breakdowns of the different classes, so that controlling for age there might be greater differences than evident. But as a coarse I thought it would be of interest. Because the data is in proportions I added up the percentage with 3 or more children in class (above replacement). For a few selected nations I calculated the mean for each class (I used WVS 3 and 4 to supplement).*

I didn’t go into this with any particular hypothesis or expectation, but I’m going to explore particular questions in future posts….

Date below.

% Who have 3 or more children by class (WVS 5)
Upper middle Lower middle Working Lower
Italy 12.2 13.2 13.7 26.7
Spain 14.4 14.2 26 53.9
Canada 26.2 27.3 33 26.1
Japan 22 23.1 21.7 25.6
South Africa 23.2 26.3 29.3 34.9
Australia 28.8 35.5 35.6 51.6
Sweden 22.6 19.6 23.1 19.2
Argentina 15.2 24.6 35.4 49.7
Finland 24.1 26.2 24.3 23.2
South Korea 13.3 21.8 31.8 28.3
Poland 11 21.2 23.9 31.7
Chile 28 33.3 46.4 47.3
India 40.6 44.2 45.3 59.3
Bulgaria 6.9 4.7 7 22.8
Romania 11.4 15.3 21.6 36.4
China 17.3 22.4 26.7 30.9
Taiwan 24.3 28 43.2 64.5
Turkey 22.5 32 31.4 54.6
Ukraine 3.2 7.8 8 9.6
Peru 29.9 28.7 37.3 53.2
Ghana 21.9 28.1 30.5 41.5
Moldova 12.2 15 26.4 26.5
Georgia 10.9 16.7 24.8 26
Indonesia 29.7 31.1 32.8 43.4
Vietnam 32.9 31.9 34.5 38.4
Serbia 10.3 8.1 10.5 14.5
Egypt 43.9 52.4 57.7 61.8
Morocco 22.7 40.3 44.8 48
Jordan 68.8 71.9 63.5 61.8
Iraq 48.8 45.8 53.2 52.5
Trinidad 24.7 30.2 32 48
Malaysia 29.8 34.1 28.1 41.4
Burkina Faso 27.9 33.4 39.9 44.7
Ethiopia 16.7 10.7 18.7 17.8
Mali 50.3 45.7 57.7 62.5
Rwanda 31.8 42.7 43 44.3
Zambia 18.3 26.5 22.9 39.7
Germany 15.6 19.1 22.6 21.7
WVS 3 & 4
Finland 23.2 24.1 16.8 26.7
Norway 23.6 23.9 25 27.3
Sweden 20.3 19 23.3 24.7

Mean number of children by class

WVS 5 Upper middle Lower middle Working Lower
Sweden 1.58 1.55 1.62 1.56
Finland 1.76 1.64 1.6 1.53
Italy 1.12 1.3 1.25 1.69
Spain 1.23 1.27 1.89 2.57
Canada 1.7 1.74 2.07 1.88
Japan 1.55 1.72 1.59 1.05
South Korea 1.35 1.72 1.85 1.86
Argentina 1.23 1.61 2.24 2.61
WVS 3 & 4 Upper middle Lower middle Working Lower
Finland 1.44 2.45 1.72 1.79
Norway 1.64 1.66 1.73 1.65
Sweden 1.47 1.42 1.67 1.63
Spain 1.31 1.48 1.73 2.15
Argentina 1.29 1.81 2.35 2.77
Canada 1.66 2.01 1.97 1.87
Japan 1.41 1.69 1.59 1.59
United States 1.76 1.6 1.77 N < 50, omitted

Mean # of children USA from GSS, whites age 50 and over (year 2000 and after)

Graduate degre Bachelor Junior College High School Less than High School
1.95 2.12 2.41 2.48 3.07

Readers with insights about a specific nation (because you actually know something, not rank speculation) are welcome to clarify. I was struck by the differences between Scandinavia and southern Europe. Interestingly, both Chile and Argentina exhibit the southern European pattern.

Update: Mean fertility by subjective class isn’t too hard to calculate. But the formatting is kind of crappy, so I put the table here. All from WVS 5. Remember that the N’s for “Upper Class” are almost always very small, so I’d ignore those. I’m pretty sure that the survey sample for many Third World countries are of higher SES than the population median, so don’t get too trusting of the specific numbers, but rather how the rank orders relate to each other up and down the social ladder.

Note: CSV file.

* I should have calculated the mean for each nation, but it’s rather tedious.

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15 Comments

  1. Looks like there’s dysgenics going on around the modern world, outside of a few countries including in Scandinavia.  
     
    The percentage of Chinese in all classes, but particularly the lower 3 divisions used by the WVS, that report three or more children is surprising high given their one child law and I’d thought reputedly vigorous enforcement (except for some of the connected and rich).

  2. it’s (was?) vigorously enforced in the cities. not in the rural areas.

  3. I have said this before elsewhere. When I consider world population is about 6 billion, and the proportion of people distributed among the nations, and the mean IQ of the various nations, I kind of get the sense there are somewhere around 2 billion out of the 6 billion with an IQ over 100. 
     
    The UN estimates that there will be about 9 billion people by 2050. We know that total fertility in countries with high average IQ is lower than in the ones with lower average IQ. Given the high average age in the the countries with average IQ at or above 100, it seems fairly possible that we could have only 1 billion people with IQ over 100 when we get to 9 billion. 
     
    I would love to have more accurate numbers and projections, preferably that would resoundingly disprove my suspicions.

  4. Very Good. This might be evidence that welfare state & social liberalism support ‘eugenic’ trends while the opposite does ‘dysgenic’. Two specific mechanisms: 
     
    (1) Tradeoffs between family and work are largest for high-SES women. Public/subsidised child care (and socially liberal values) ease the tradeoff. Note also that the overall higher birth rates of the Northern Europe may well be down to high-SES people having more kids than in the South. 
     
    (2) High divorce rate (again socially liberal values), leads to ‘recycling’ of high-SES men. They have a higher probability to remarry, and seal the new relationship with kids. This counteracts the general trend that high-SES women have less kids than low-SES, no matter what. 
     
    Still, most of the countries listed are going through a demographic transition, and tend to therefore show a ‘dysgenic’ pattern. But it’s the action in the stationary states that is most interesting, and arguably most OECD countries are stationary in this regard. Ie. there are no large factions of population without access to good incomes, health care and education. 
     
    This would be great research agenda, if the terms ‘eugenics’ and ‘dysgenics’ could be rebranded in some other framework/terminology.

  5. Any word on how representative these samples are? I’m scratching my head at the Ethiopian figures. Ethiopia has one of the highest tfrs in the world, but their numbers here are comparable across the board to those of Germany, which has one of the lowest…

  6. world population is about 6 billion 
     
    Much closer to 7 billion now (like 6.9 billion). 
     
    I kind of get the sense there are somewhere around 2 billion out of the 6 billion with an IQ over 100. 
     
    Sounds about right. 
     
    …it seems fairly possible that we could have only 1 billion people with IQ over 100 when we get to 9 billion. 
     
    I would love to have more accurate numbers and projections, preferably that would resoundingly disprove my suspicions. 
     
    Really? I want a pony. Luckily for you, your wish is more easily granted: the very first hit when I Google ‘mean world IQ’ is this: http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/IQ/1950-2050/ 
     
    This projection suggests a drop in mean world IQ from about 90 down to about 86 by 2050. Even with a naive estimate of the fraction (one that ignores substructure, leptokurtosis and all that) you still end up with nearly 2 billion people above 100 IQ, though.

  7. Razib, 
     
    There’s a similar posibility to split these numbers out at PRB.org. At (the) datafinder it’s possible to divide countries into fifths of fertility rates (FTR’s) per relative wealth level/ class — i.e. from poor to rich. Pretty illuminating stuff. Especially in the muslim world there’s lots of differentiation.

  8. I find the numbers for Bulgaria and Ukraine surprisingly low – do people in those countries mostly max out at two children voluntarily or is there some other factor in play there? 
     
    I was also surprised by the China numbers, but as pointed out above the one-child policy is not strictly enforced in rural areas.

  9. . I’m pretty sure that the survey sample for many Third World countries are of higher SES than the population median, so don’t get too trusting of the specific numbers, but rather how the rank orders relate to each other up and down the social ladder. 
     
    i said in the post: . I’m pretty sure that the survey sample for many Third World countries are of higher SES than the population median, so don’t get too trusting of the specific numbers, but rather how the rank orders relate to each other up and down the social ladder. 
     
    if you look at the educational data it looks to me that developed countries are way more representative of what i know than the non-developed ones, where there is a high SES skew. so look at the rank order for those.

  10. Maciano, THANK YOU! that’s worth 1,000 comments :-)

  11. also, re: dysgenics, please do keep in mind that the correlation between SES & IQ is very imperfect. likely more so in very poor countries where most of the population has not “sorted” yet.

  12. In the Latin American countries, SES correlates strongly with race. If race correlates with IQ, then the reproduction differentials may very well be dysgenic in the IQ sense. 
     
    I visited Rio recently, and was astounded at the miles and the miles of shantytowns between the airport and the downtown. Each year, they grow larger and larger. Meanwhile, the old European section of the city gradually crumbles. Graffiti covers the walls, windows get boarded up, paint chips away. 
     
    In my opinion, the primary problem of Latin America is dysgenics. The lower classes reproduce at too high of a level to guarantee their children the good life. They are still stuck in the malthusian world. The upper classes are gradually dying out. You get the sense, when visiting a city like Rio, that civilization is collapsing before your very eyes.

  13. In the Latin American countries, SES correlates strongly with race. If race correlates with IQ, then the reproduction differentials may very well be dysgenic in the IQ sense. 
     
    huh? IQ and fertility have a general relationship, race or no race, through SES. i thought everyone knew that. see here for the USA. though it looks like IQ’s correlation with *education* is the primary issue.

  14. bbartlog, 
     
    Sure is a relief to expect to go from a smart to slow ratio of 1:2 to only 1:4 instead of 1:9. 
     
    Thanks for the link. 
     
    Sorry I can’t reciprocate with a pony!

  15. Tell me if my bias affects my conclusion that those who are productive are being over-run by those who will be dependent. Consequently, individualism is dead to be replaced by stateism in order to keep the wealthy in power and the idiots in check.

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