Historian Lucy Worsley caused a furore when she remarked last year that she had been 'educated out of the natural reproductive function'.Frankly, the idea that a woman is just too smart to have children is both dysgenic and utterly stupid. If she was really intelligent, and not just book-smart, she'd have at or above the requisite number of children to replace herself and propagate her tribe, her culture, and her country. Something else must be driving plummeting fertility worldwide, and sub-replacement fertility across the West. Possibilities include narcissistic individualism, materialism, careerism, environmental pollutants, or, as one of the studies mentioned in this article suggests, an increase in longevity from better sanitation and successful disease eradication:
Now it seems she might have had a point, after a new study has revealed a clear correlation between intelligence and childlessness - with cleverer women more likely to choose not to have a family. The study, which was conducted by Satoshi Kanazawa, a researcher at the London School of Economics, found that a woman's urge to have children decreases by a quarter for every 15 extra IQ points. When Kanazawa, who used data from the UK's National Child Development Study, added controls for economics and education, the results remained the same - the more intelligent the woman, the less likely she was to have children. Humble and co certainly aren't alone, with figures released by the Office of National Statistics revealing that the proportion of women without children has almost doubled since the 1990s.
One in five 45-year-olds is childless, while among those with degrees, the figure rises to 43 per cent, suggesting that Kanazawa's findings are sound.
An exciting convergence between demography and evolutionary theory is shedding considerable light on why people the world over are having fewer children. It turns out that the longer people can expect to live, the fewer children they have. In fact, if current fertility trends continue, world population could well top out in the middle of this century at between 8 and 9 billion, then begin to decline.I suspect it's all interrelated. Adoption of basic sanitation. Advances in technology that have suppressed disease and made childbirth less risky. The adoption of economic and social policies that increases luxos and boosts the quality of life. The result? A lowered survival pressure that lengthens lifespans and creates headroom for the remunerative employment of women outside the home, as well as dissolutive lifestyle choices such as homosexuality, an aversion to lifelong monogamy, and feminism. Malthusians should rejoice: All these factors not only increase longevity but also cause a population contraction.
A fascinating study by the University of Connecticut anthropologists Nicola Bulled and Richard Sosis looks at life expectancy and fertility rates in 193 countries. In the October 2010 issue of Human Nature, they report that “when life expectancy is high, educational attainment is also high, reproductive timing is delayed, and overall reproduction reduced.”
The University of Michigan ecologist Bobbi Low and her colleagues have found that once women can expect to live past age 60, they begin to have their first child later in life and have fewer children overall. Longer life expectancy is also correlated with more education for women.
Bulled and Sosis report a similar finding: Women who live in countries where life expectancy is below 50 years bear an average of 5.5 children. When life expectancy is between 50 and 60, they bear an average of 4.8 children. The big drop occurs when they can expect to live between 60 and 70 years, in which case women have about 2.5 children on average. The decline continues if women expect to live between 70 and 75 years to 2.2 children, and falls to just 1.75 children if they can expect to live older than 75.
The United Nations World Population Prospects 2010 Revision reported that world average life expectancy for women is now 70 years. Global average life expectancy in 1960 was 52 years and the total fertility rate was about 5 children per woman. As life expectancy keeps rising, average total fertility today has fallen to a world average of 2.36 children per woman, just slightly above the 2.1 replacement rate.
This leads to an interesting observation: When life sucks and survival is difficult, humanity expands in spite of the challenges. When life is swell, people stop doing the things they once did when things were harder, to include being bothered to reproduce. A similar dynamic is found with Christianity: When it is opposed, when it is suppressed and persecuted, Christianity flourishes. When it is comfortable, it decays and degrades, it's vitality is stunted, and Christianity recedes.
The takeaway lesson is instructive: You don't need a pill to get your soma-induced cultural torpor, you just need a couple of generations of high living. After that, human nature will do all the work for you.