Thursday, July 20, 2017

Birth rates by state

This week I am reading Jane Mayer's remarkable book, Dark Money, on the ultraconservative billionaires who have orchestrated the rise of the modern right wing, including Charles and David Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, and John Olin.  It is an extraordinarily researched book with enormous implications for the crisis that the nation is going through, and I will eventually discuss it here at some length.  But meanwhile, I'm going to share some interesting demographic data that I turned up some months ago that also has implications for our political future.  It breaks down our fertility rate by state.

The fertility rate is generally  defined as the number of births per thousand women aged 15 to 44.  Recent stories stress that our overall fertility rate is at an all time low--but that is only part of the story.  Like so much else in our society, fertility rates have become a cultural characteristic, and culture is highly correlated with politics.  Red states, to put it bluntly, are reproducing at substantially higher rates that blue ones.

My data comes from a recent year, but I must apologize that I didn't note what the year was when I found it and haven't been able to find the table quickly just now.  The fertility rate in the 21 states that voted for Hillary Clinton ranges from a high of 69.3 per thousand in Hawaii, through 62.4 for California (where half a million children were born in the year under review), and more than 60 in Minnesota, New Mexico, Washington state, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Delaware, and Colorado.  The lowest fertility rates in the nation--under 55 per 1000--are in the six New England states and the District of Columbia, all of which, of course, voted for Clinton.  All told in this particular year there were 1.67 million births in Clinton's states--and 1.01 million deaths.

The Trump states show a different pattern.  Utah, not surprisingly, leads the country with a rate of 80 births per thousand women of child bearing age, followed by the Dakotas, Alaska, Nebraska, Idaho, Texas, and Kansas.  All these states of a fertility rate of at least 70, that is, higher than any Clinton state.  After that, the entire South, except Florida, has rates in the 60s (Louisiana and Arkansas, surprisingly, are the highest), and only Florida and Pennsylvania among Trump states have rates as low as 59.  The Trump states had more deaths than the Clintons, 1.25 million to 1.01--presumably because they include to may retirees.  But they had about 33% more births, 2.32 million to 1.67 million.  That is a large part of the reason that the red states are expected to gain yet more Congressional seats in the new census.

I am not going to include any racial breakdowns here, because the only convenient table that I have found, from teh Kaiser Foundation (no relation), combines whites and hispanics, which surely gives a misleading picture.  But I have before me a table showing the household income level of women giving birth in 2014, which is rather remarkable as well.  The median household income in that year was about $53,000, and from the table it would appear that more than half of the women giving birth were above that level.  Only 38% of birthing women lived in households with incomes of less than $50,000, while 56.4% of their households earned $75,000 or less. 

Based on my own personal experience, the lowest birth rates in the country seem to come from my own demographic--well-off, well-educated people in the blue states.  Among my close friends and relatives I know only two people who have more grandchildren than children.  Late in the second year I spent teaching at Williams, in 2012-13, I suggested to some students that they might consider having kids in their 20s, and the idea was not well received.  The problem of left wing politics today, I think, is their moral certitude, their sense that what they know to be right simply must come to pass.  But the blue states are losing the demographic battle, and that is just one of many trends working against liberals today.  I should be discussing a much bigger one next week.


PJ Cats said...

Dear Prof. Kaiser, there was an interesting article in The Guardian just the other day. Written by George Monbiot, it's about the book by history professor Nancy MacLean, 'Democracy in Chains, The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.' This adds well to the 'Dark Money'-book. Here's the article:

ed boyle said...

Education, bad job market, debt delays family formation. Export of factories and hi tech jobs reduces potential families. Rural or inland areas tend to more traditional views, more marriage and children, less education, simpler lifestyles. Coasts, big cities more progressive, modern, decadent(all loaded, biased terms). The higher educated flock to blue areas even in red states, get loaded down with debt, marry late if at all and have fewer children. Optimum educational length in a career oriented area reduces debt burden, optimizes life work time and family time. High cost degrees with little value in job market like liberal arts, social sciences burden with debt, give no market value and often indoctrinate against family values, thereby creating a negative downward spiral in demographics in blue areas. A young man taking a two year course in repairing air conditioning systems or similar at little cost and getting to work has few cobwebs in his brain about gender, feminism, and just wants to get on with life. He can learn poetry later watching the sunset while barbecuing on 4th july with his kids and wife. The blue staters would still be arguing ideology till mid 30s and suppressing natural instincts or living them out in more modern forms of sexuality, gay, parallel partnerships, etc. to correspond with anticonservative, antipatriarchal political bias. Leftwing ideology would therefore seem to be self defeating. 60s sexual freedom is a dead end. If 50s repression was a dead end why was it standard model for thousands of years. Many women would love to be free of drudge of working for somebody else if a man could earn enough to support a family alone, which the economy has rigged to make impossible. So the economy was rigged to doble workforce and ideology of feminism reinforced this option to change culture. Women became more assertive, even physically stronger, better at math, etc while males have become physically weaker, perhaps more verbal, intuitive, better with baby care. Roles have blurred definitely. Obviously this encourages sexual experimentation as sexuality is less black and white issue than before. That takes more time to establish individual identity as stereotypical behaviour gives fewer guideposts. In red states that is less of a problem so birth rate is higher. Creativity is perhaps also lower where people struggle less with sexual identity. Creativity is important in growth, technology areas. So there is good and bad. Energy can go into families or arts, sciences and new tech depending on what an individual focuses on. With balance one can have family and be creative genius. This is optimum point in civilizational development. Below this point one is conservative neanderthal (Bush jr.)beyond that point one is a decadent wastrel, living egistically for arts sake or like steve jobs, tech god. Often a society as a whole has to pull back into conservatism for a pause before it can experience a blossoming of experimentation, therefore the cyclical theory. We are now pulling back.

Bozon said...

Now I am on the edge of my seat regarding upcoming posts!
Anyway here are a few remarks, not all quite on point, but around the topic.

I think it's fine and good to discuss domestic party politics, red states blue states, and how ultra conservative wealth has taken over the Republicans and now runs the country, in what I call the waning Age of Liberalism.

Yet Democrats, Jeffersonians if you will, had a very large hand in, joined in and inspired, this liberal, world revolution, transformation.

But domestic politics, voting rights and vital statistics, of course, is not what has really driven domestic politics, for a long time now, if ever, since 1776.

The main time it seems to me was a really really big one, which resulted, starting in 1868, when the radical Republicans by fiat forced freed negro suffrage onto Southern states as a condition of readmission to the quote Union, in order to further clinch their hold on power.

What then has really driven domestic politics, at the top (not the lower level politicians' scrounging for votes, the domestic muckraking, the corruption) ?

Foreign affairs, affairs of state, ideologies that have crossed, and increasingly negated, national borders, and national and local concerns for 250 years. Ideologies like liberalism itself, for example.

Decolonializing, democratizing, and then ever greater appeasing of, the Rest by the Western liberal establishment has ultimately worked the relative undoing of the West and it nation states against the Rest.

Oh, of course, there are so called reasons, excuses, for this obvious and pathetic slide: the need to combat Communism.., the very thing the West itself had allowed to grow and flourish in the West, and then ebe xported unhindered to Russia....

Anyway, enough of all this.

All the best