Monthly Archives: March 2016

Lower Fertility Rate

OK, here’s the deal:  Recently Hurlock Shoahlmes had a post here, which references this post on Outside In, about fertility rates.

Basically, Hurlock and Nick Land disagree about the causes of the decline in fertility.  Hurlock thinks that fertility has declined because of the decline of traditional values, and Nick Land thinks the lower fertility rate is a byproduct of increasing economic growth, due to women entering the workforce.

A couple of things:  I’ve read before that the decline in fertility levels correlates to the spread of television.  Here’s a great piece on the subject from Martin Lewis at Geocurrents.

The linked post at Geocurrents shows that the television in India has a higher correlation with low birthrates than female literacy (this would be evidence against the mainstream theory that female education causes fertility to decline).   Also, the correlation with low birthrates was higher for television viewing than for GDP per capita.  However, they didn’t have any data for females in the workforce.  So, I decided to make some.

I found some numbers here for the percentage of women in the workforce for different regions of India.  I entered these into excel, then correlated them with the birthrate data from geocurrents.

There was a Pearson’s correlation coefficient of -0.37 between the percentage of women in the workforce in rural areas and a coefficient of -0.48 for the urban areas.  These are moderate correlations, and they are somewhat higher than the correlation with GDP per capita.  From these data, it’s possible that Nick Land is correct, and more women working leads to lower birthrates.

However, the correlation with TV ownership is much higher than the correlation with women in the workforce.  So TV ownership is a confounding variable — the relationship between working women and low birthrates.

TV viewing is a massively important factor in the lowering of birthrates.  But why?  In this post at Jim’s blog, Jim says that TV (and modern education, although I think education is less important) is spreading a memeplex which leads to lower fertility.  There could be some truth to this, but I wonder if the relationship is instead caused by some other factor of television viewing (like the constant stimulation).  If it is indeed a virulent memeplex spread by television, there should be a counter-example, a place where TV exists but it doesn’t spread the anti-fertility memeplex.

There may have been one.  In Hurlock’s earlier post, he says that in Spain fertility stayed above replacement under Franco, even though the economy was growing fast.  After some googling, I found this paper, which shows that television in Spain under Franco was a little different than the TV we’re used to.  There was only one channel (Televisión Española), and the programming was focused on religion and patriotism — not the sort of thing on most TV channels.  This suggests to me that Television is spreading a culture of antinatalism that’s reducing fertility pretty much everywhere.