Monday, October 08, 2007

Steve Sailer on Farewell to Alms   posted by Razib @ 10/08/2007 08:15:00 PM

Steve has a review of Farewell to Alms up (part I). Interesting stuff, but I think he misreads one section:
And despite their poverty, Malthusian-era English workers at least lived better than their counterparts in much more crowded China and Japan. That's in part because they practiced population control through self-discipline, postponing marriage until they could afford it. Women didn't marry on average until age 24 to 26, and a minority never married. (Illegitimate births only made up 3-4 percent of the total.) As Jane Austen's novels show, marriage was a serious business revolving around love and money.

In contrast, the Chinese tended to marry in their late teen years. So populations would rapidly ascend to the maximum that current farming techniques could support under good government, then crash during spells of bad government-most recently in the early 1960s, when tens of millions of Chinese starved to death following Mao's misbegotten Great Leap Forward.

On page 77 Greg Clark states:
These patterns imply that, despite early and nearly universal marriage, the average woman in China or Japan around 1800 gave birth to fewer than 5 children, less than the half the biological possibility, resulting in a birth rate similar to that for eighteenth-century Europe.

The English women who married had more children than the Chinese or Japanese women who married because they stayed in the game far longer. So the average worked out to be about the same, which is why Clark focuses on mortality rates to explain the population density differences. Search for the keywords "china number of children" on Amazon and check page 77 to see what I'm saying (page forward and backward to get full context). I remember this clearly because the similar birthrates surprised me.