Sarah Perry on the Economic Value of Children

Sarah Perry argues that children have been nationalized, have become property of the state and ceased to be the property of their parents, so have become a cost to their parents and a profit to the state, so parents decline to produce so many.

Makes sense, certainly part of the story, but not what I seem to observe, not the main story.

What I seem to see happening is that the major cost deterring people from children is not economic, but rather loss of female sexual autonomy.  If a woman has children during her fertile years, then she is not longer able to respond promptly to a midnight booty call from Jeremy Meeks.

Your feelings differ from mine?  Let us look at Augustan Rome.

The Augustan reforms made children the property of their parents, but the wife even less the property of her husband than in the modern west.  Fertility continued to collapse, to levels that may well have been substantially lower than modern western levels.

On the other hand, the Pauline reforms, which were that a man and his wife were one person, and that person the husband, that the wife was part of the husband, did help substantially with fertility.

Further, I don’t think the nationalization of children is really separable from feminism.  Women really cannot look after themselves.  They will either attach to their fathers, their husbands, or Uncle Sam the big Pimp.  Thus feminism, in practice, means that children become the children of Uncle Sam the big Pimp.   If you denationalized children, women would spontaneously submit to patriarchy.  Conversely, if you enforce patriarchy, the patriarchs will claim their children.  To maximize fertility, need that form of patriarchy in which women attach to their husbands, rather than their fathers, and females are rationed out at only one wife per male, so that as many males as possible have incentive to attach to society, to work, and to invest in posterity.

59 Responses to “Sarah Perry on the Economic Value of Children”

  1. Matthew says:

    There’s a much easier interpretation for “become one flesh” than “become one person”. Literally, man and woman become one flesh in their progeny.

    • jim says:

      Jesus:

      For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
      And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
      What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

      Paul:

      Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
      For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
      Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
      Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
      That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
      That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
      So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
      For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
      For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
      For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

      • Matthew says:

        God hath joined them together in the embryo, a new life.

        • jim says:

          Makes little sense in the context of the use of the phrase by Jesus, and even less sense in the context of the use of the phrase by Paul.

          Paul says that the husband will not mistreat the wife because “she is his own flesh”.

          He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

          Of course he is not going to mistreat his child because the child is his own flesh, that goes without saying.

        • Jamal_the_Honorable_Black_Gentleman says:

          And how would you separate the child (or embryo)?

          Jesus implies man is able to separate the “one flesh”.

      • Matthew says:

        Reductionism uber alles.

      • Matthew says:

        “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”

        This is racial talk. The Anointeds are of the same race as The Anointed.

  2. spandrell says:

    This whole economic explanation for low fertility is so stupid.

    Even if children on average never paid back the investment done on them; what was a man supposed to do? Be a lone peasant all his life? Marry a woman and be a childless couple forever?

    Once you marry, you are stuck forever with a boring woman who isn’t getting any hotter. Might as well make a bunch of children to keep the woman busy and get you some company.

    And there’s also the lottery psychology thing: most children didn’t pay off, but once in a while you heard of a neighbor who had an awesome kid and took the family out of poverty. The chances are small, but better than most gambling; and that never stopped people from gambling.

    • Red says:

      You’d be surprised at the number of guys who are opting for the Dink life style. I’ve got 2 formerly close friends who are living the life of almost little sex and no children so they can buy nice things and live a “rich” life.

      • spandrell says:

        Yes, I know the type, but they’re a small minority.

        And in my experience the lack of kids is either a medical issue; or the guy is a herb which is stuck with an unloving wife but can’t face up the situation.

        • peppermint says:

          The unloving wife is a social problem. The medical issues are also a social problem.

          There have always been some impotent and barren and unloving men and women, but not this many.

      • James James says:

        It’s important not to confuse a person’s conscious desires and their genes’ “desires”. James Goulding wrote a magisterial essay refuting Frank Salter’s conflation of our interests with our genetic interests.

        In evolution, the pay-off is not to you. It is to your genes. The parents invest in their children when you create their bodies, and feed them to grow them from embryos to adults. From an evolutionary point of view, there is no point in the children returning the favour and spending resources to maintain the parents’ bodies. Your parents are just as related to you as your children, but they will die sooner. So resources flow from parents to children to grandchildren, not the other way round. The investment does not get “paid back”.

        • Steve says:

          The investment often used to get “paid back” before Social Security.

        • peppermint says:

          Think socially, not autistically.

          Your children help support your other children and make your way of life possible. Your way of life includes your parents, yourself, your children, and your grandchildren.

          Your capital is a bunch of land and buildings and some animals. You own it because your grandparents owned it and your grandchildren will inherit it.

          Yes, the pay-off is to your genes. Those genes survive because of the ecological niche they inhabit.

      • James James says:

        So of course a person might consciously choose not to have children. It’s in their interest, even if it’s not in their genes’ interest.

        Anyway, the point is that the naive economic explanation for infertility doesn’t work, because making a profit has never been the main reason for having children. Nothing’s changed with the economics, so the theory does not explain the change in fertility.

        • Red says:

          It’s brain washing, not economics. They gain status by getting married and acquiring SWPL items and experiences. It’s status for status sake alone and it’s a culture of death that so moderately intelligent people have embraced.

    • Jamal_the_Honorable_Black_Gentleman says:

      Marry a woman and be a childless couple forever?

      Have three children when you might have had six. Have one child, when you might have had three.

      Or, if you’re unsure about the whole child thing and might have had one or two, have none.

  3. peppermint says:

    I thought the timing was wrong and it was too easy for proggies to talk about.

    However, the fact that people are talking about a just-so story involving nationalization of slaves and consequent problems is encouraging.

  4. Orthodox says:

    Low fertility is only a problem if you have frakked up your intergenerational wealth transfers by severing the link between behavior and consequence. People didn’t save because the signals were distorted, that’s the bigger issue.

    If there is a direct consequence of not having any children and having a tough time in retirement, people will save more or have more children. If there is a direct consequence of grinding poverty for women who bear child after child out of wedlock, they will have fewer children. The entire social welfare system, from SS down to food stamps, is a massive dysgenic program.

    Remove all the welfare and I don’t think fertility would rise, it would fall lower as the poor reduced their fertility and stay low until the tipping point when traditional religious people grew to a sizable minority such that they dominated demographic trends.

    • jim says:

      Abolish welfare, would approximately double the supply of wives, of women willing to get married and stay married.

      The price of marriage is the age at which women get married, the amount of youth, beauty, and fertility they bring to the marriage. Doubling the supply of wives would change the price. Women would choose to get married younger, would be more chaste before marriage.

      That is bound to bring fertility up.

      • Michael says:

        Immigration anyone Jesus if massive third word immigration is driving down wages and driving up the costs of everything else then having children is a problem for species selected to require a modicum of status and security to breed.

  5. What is your source on Augustan reforms, which reaches the opposite conclusion from how they are normally presented. For example, I googled “Augustan reforms” and the top hit was http://www.ancient.eu.com/article/116/ which states:

    “Augustus’ goal in restoring public monuments and reviving religion was not simply to renew faith and pride in the Roman Empire. Rather, he hoped that these steps would restore moral standards in Rome. Augustus also enacted social reforms as a way to improve morality. He felt particularly strong about encouraging families to have children and discouraging adultery. As such, he politically and financially rewarded families with three or more children, especially sons. This incentive stemmed from his belief that there were too few legitimate children born from “proper marriages.” On the other hand, he penalized unmarried men older than 38 years old by imposing on them an additional tax that others did not have to pay. They were also debarred from receiving inheritances and attending public games. Furthermore, the Lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus prohibited celibacy and childless marriages, as well as made marriage compulsory.

    Augustus also amended divorce laws to make them much stricter. Prior to this, divorce had been fairly free and easy. In addition, after Augustus’ reforms, adultery became a civil crime instead of a personal crime under the Lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis. In other words, it became a crime against the state, which meant that the state (not just the husband) could take an adulterer to court if there was evidence of adultery. Penalties for adultery included banishment, or sometimes the husband or father of the adulterer could kill an adulterous wife. Augustus’ own daughter, Julia, was banished for adultery after this new legislation. She was exiled to a desolate island called Pandateria.”

    Does that sound more liberal than modern law?

    • Jamal_the_Honorable_Black_Gentleman says:

      I’m not disagreeing with the rest of your post but

      Does that sound more liberal than modern law?

      Is a terrible test. Modern technology has allowed us to radically alter our criminal justice system.

      1.We keep people in prison for years, rather than execute them. And as a percentage of the population, I think we imprison a lot more than they imprisoned or executed.

      2.We use propaganda, instead of law. There is no law banning the KKK. But given our centralized, progressive media, it’s completely driven out of reputable society.

    • jim says:

      Under the Augustan reforms, not only was the wife’s property separate from her husband’s, but she could not even gift him her property, lest he pressure her. Under the Augustan reforms, a woman was under her father’s tutelage, but did not pass to her husband’s tutelage.

      Thus Augustan marriage was less a marriage than modern marriage. The Augustan husband was not head of household, but rather found two households under the same roof with conjugal visits.

      • This is interesting, but its not a citation or source. Do you have recommended background reading? These claims differ from the way it was portrayed in HBO’s Rome, as well as in the cites I’ve seen, but I don’t claim to be an expert.

        All sources also claim Augustus’s intent was to promote fertility and morality. Doesn’t mean he didn’t screw it up, my experience in legal interventions is they usually achieve the opposite of their intention, but nonetheless a source would be useful.

        • jim says:

          The only thing that ever works is lowering female status and raising the status of husbands. It does not matter what the intentions of Augustus were, he failed to do what Paul did, failed to make the husband master of his home.

    • peppermint says:

      Extra taxes on unmarried men? Good idea; in our world it’s phrased as reduced taxes on married couples because it’s easier to tell Peter that you’re cutting his taxes than tell Paul you’re raising his. But the extra taxes idea is great because it makes it clear that unmarried men are dhimmis.

      Disbarring childless people from inheritance is also a cool idea. I would disbar them from public office too (bye Barney Frank).

      Regarding celibacy, though? I think monasteries are the answer to the welfare problem.

  6. Sarah Perry says:

    Japan’s fertility started falling steeply by the 1940s, and by 1957 most of the drop was already accomplished. http://www.berlin-institut.org/en/online-handbookdemography/population-dynamics/japan.html Total fertility fell faster than marital fertility, but both plummeted. http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Values_and_Fertility_Change_in_Japan.pdf However, Japan seems to have controlled its women during that period pretty effectively. Taking divorce rate as a proxy, Japanese divorce falls steadily from a peak in 1899 to the 1940s, then stays stable until around the 1980s. http://www.glocom.org/special_topics/social_trends/20021007_trends_s10/ Age at first birth and age at marriage for women (and men) rise over time, but their increase during the period before the 1970s is small compared to the proportion of the fertility decline that occurs in that period. http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/handbook/c0117.htm When divorce, age at marriage, and age at first birth did rise later, fertility didn’t fall much in response. The war and occupation managed to suddenly and permanently depress birth rates without affecting divorce rates at all, and without much change in women’s age at marriage or first birth.

    Are there better measurable proxies for feminist influence?

    • Jamal_the_Honorable_Black_Gentleman says:

      Total fertility fell faster than marital fertility

      From what I understand, Concubines were a traditional component of Japanese society, and disappeared from 1900 to the present. Japans current illegitimacy rate is 2% (or was a couple years ago, when I checked the figures).

      Also, it’s worth noting that Chinese and Japanese have substantially lower fertility than Whites in the USA.

      • Sarah Perry says:

        Measuring total fertility separately from marital fertility is usually just to separate out the effects on fertility of fewer people marrying from the effects of married people having fewer children. In the case of Japan pre-1957, both fell sharply, though total fertility fell a little faster, indicating less marriage but not much less. Significant out-of-wedlock births could be a factor, but it seems to be mostly a reduction in higher-parity births within marriages.

        Amusingly, birth control pills were illegal in Japan until 1999 and hardly anyone uses them now that they are legal.

        • spandrell says:

          Yes, although condom use by even married couples is widespread.

          Japan had mass schooling since the 1880s, the curriculum has of course changed but it isn’t at all leftist; mixed schools aren’t a majority even today.

          So in Japan’s case the culprit must be urbanization and higher education for women, and increased preference for leisure among parents.

          • jim says:

            The occupation “changed the status of women”. And fertility collapsed. Also Japanese men changed in ways that suggest that testosterone levels amongst Japanese men collapsed. Looks like cause and effect to me.

          • jim says:

            So in Japan’s case the culprit must be urbanization and higher education for women, and increased preference for leisure among parents.

            Mean age of first child thirty.

            If people get married at a reasonable age, and start having children at a reasonable age, then it is preference for fewer children and leisure.

            If people start having children late, more likely preference for Jeremy Meeks.

            Another possible problem is extended education. People who spend too much time at college (postgrads) unavoidably wind up with late families.
            Either over education (as in years of postgrad bullshit), or Jeremy Meeks.

          • Jamal_the_Honorable_Black_Gentleman says:

            People who spend too much time at college (postgrads) unavoidably wind up with late families.

            Thirty year-old males can marry sixteen year-old females. And they did, a hundred years ago.

            Fertility is not decreased much, if men (and only men) get a lot of education.

    • jim says:

      However, Japan seems to have controlled its women during that period pretty effectively.

      The occupation “changed the status of women” – which says that Japan ceased to control its women during that period.

      Taking divorce rate as a proxy, Japanese divorce falls steadily from a peak in 1899 to the 1940s, then stays stable until around the 1980s. http://www.glocom.org/special_topics/social_trends/20021007_trends_s10/

      Old Japanese system. Men divorced women if the woman failed to perform to their requirements, and the woman lost everything. New Japanese system. Women divorce men if the man fails to perform to their requirements, and the man loses everything.

      Age at first birth and age at marriage for women (and men) rise over time, but their increase during the period before the 1970s is small compared to the proportion of the fertility decline that occurs in that period. http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/handbook/c0117.htm

      Not seeing it in that handbook. Could you give a more specific citation?

      What I would expect to happen is that the occupation “changes women’s status” – and then the marriage rate immediately drops, and age of first marriage, and age of at which first child is born rises steadily thereafter, as the proportion of married women in each age group falls, starting with the youngest age groups, eventually reaching today’s pathological levels.

      You say that your data contradicts this, but I don’t see it. Please give more specific citations.

      • Sarah Perry says:

        Sorry about that – scroll down to Tables 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8.

        Also Table 4 and Figures 1-3 in this http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Values_and_Fertility_Change_in_Japan.pdf

        Occupation absolutely changes women’s status – forced female suffrage! But Table 4 is not painting a picture of a society whose women are going to be booty calling Jeremy Meeks. The decline in fertility happens too fast too soon, and when the women eventually do become degenerate and the Japanese divorce rate does approach half of the American rate, fertility doesn’t drop that much more.

        I’m interested in Jimian markers for female degeneracy – e.g. what countries have the most degenerate females and how do you measure it OTHER than fertility?

        • jim says:

          scroll down to Tables 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8.

          Table 2.6 starts at 1950, and shows births collapsing in Japan. Does not show when the collapse started. This is not a picture of women under control.

          Table 2.7 starts in 1970, and shows age of first birth rising in Japan, from levels that are disturbingly high (twenty five years old) in 1970 to levels that are disastrously high in the present (over thirty). This is not a picture of women under control. This is a picture of women who spend their fertile years fucking Jeremy Meeks.

          What we need, however, to resolve this question, is data that covers the prewar period and shows the occupation.

          Table 2.8 starts in 1970, and shows the marriage rate in Japan collapsing from 1970. This is not a picture of women under control. This is a picture of women who spend their fertile years fucking Jeremy Meeks. If we had the data, what I would expect to see however on the Jeremy Meeks theory is the marriage rate collapsing with war and occupation, and then getting steadily worse.

          Also Table 4 and Figures 1-3 in this http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/Values_and_Fertility_Change_in_Japan.pdf

          Again, starts in 1950, shows age of marriage rising, shows number of people getting married falling, shows people having fewer children than desired. Seems to fit the Jeremy Meeks theory. They keep themselves available for late night booty calls from Jeremy Meeks, until the clock starts to run out and Jeremy Meeks no longer calls, then they marry a good provider at the last minute, but there is not time left to have as many children as they planned.

    • jim says:

      Japan’s fertility started falling steeply by the 1940s, and by 1957 most of the drop was already accomplished. http://www.berlin-institut.org/en/online-handbookdemography/population-dynamics/japan.html

      War caused the initial drop, then the occupation liberated women. When the soldiers were away, the women screwed Jeremy Meeks. When the soldiers came home, the women were liberated, so continued to screw Jeremy Meeks.

      By “Jeremy Meeks” I mean hypergamous behavior, where women have sex with a small number of males who have far too many females to be able or willing to stick around, and the women respond to this lack of interest in sticking around by contraception, abortion, and infanticide.

      • Red says:

        The Japanese had taken the time to build a large system of prostitution just for America GI(offered at very low cost). MacArthur had them dismember it and then outlawed prostitution. He wanted American GI to liberate Japanese women of their virginity.

  7. Jamal_the_Honorable_Black_Gentleman says:

    I don’t think the nationalization of children is really separable from feminism

    You seem to be implying that Augustinian Rome separated the two. Or were they not feminist?

    Maybe fertility is less about incentives, and more about values. The Amish have the same incentives we do, but constructed a culture that directed people toward certain lifestyle choices. In other words, their values overrode the incentives. Of course, you need the right approach.

    It seems reasonable that the rest of us have constructed a culture that directs people toward non-fertility. For example, suppose St. Paul rose from the dead, and became the Pope* of all American Christians. Would fertility change? Even if the government remained the same as the present?

    *I’m assuming the Papal office carries the authority it did in the middle ages, not the modern authority

    • jim says:

      I don’t think the nationalization of children is really separable from feminism

      You seem to be implying that Augustinian Rome separated the two.

      Augustinian Rome freed women from their husbands, not from their fathers. Modern feminists would definitely not approve. They want women to marry Uncle Sam the Big Pimp.

  8. Mass says:

    I know multiple ghetto moms with 8+ kids who have full sexual autonomy and have regular booty calls. The cost of kids is loss of personal freedom for caring parents. Parents, especially fathers, that don’t care can abandon their children and keep full freedom. Parents that morally can’t do that lose their freedom. Even driving kids to day care every day and having to hire a babysitter to go anywhere is a large amount of routine effort for adults.

    I understand what you are saying that “nationalizing children” makes single motherhood less painful, which is the alternative to having active fathers. Active fathers can be patriarchal and domineering, but they don’t have to be. Many parents can come to some mutual agreeable relationship that involves active parenting and doesn’t involve one party dominating the other.

    • Red says:

      Have you ever seen 2 co-equal captains on a ship? The reason you don’t see is because every ship that had equal co-captains sank long ago with the first crisis. The same is true with marriage.

    • peppermint says:

      okay. So what you want is a fully Africanized dating market. How will children with European personalities be produced, and how will they be directed towards pursuits other than pussy?

      Presumably, they will be produced by test tubes and sperm banks, and directed by the fact that pussy is pointless when what genes go in the next generation is controlled technologically?

      Yes. That sounds fun. Let’s have that.

    • jim says:

      Many parents can come to some mutual agreeable relationship that involves active parenting and doesn’t involve one party dominating the other.

      I really don’t see that. For that to work, you need two separate households, and the husband from time to time makes conjugal visits to his wife’s household.

      Under which system, women are profoundly reluctant to have children – among the sort of people I hang with, never have children.

    • Alan J. Perrick says:

      L.O.L… Welcome to “Jim’s Blog”

  9. R7_Rocket says:

    Well said.

  10. Zerg says:

    I was asking about this at Xenosystems — In the olden days a woman would have rejected men with status lower than her father’s, so how does the modern woman’s rejection of men with schooling-based status lower than her own make a big difference? Wouldn’t women’s economic independence, allowing them to gamble on eventually hooking a super-alpha, be a much bigger factor? In other words, it isn’t a matter of simple hypergamy, it’s a matter of high-risk ultra-hypergamous gambling. Or else (or in addition), as Spandrell has elsewhere suggested (if I understood him correctly), it’s a matter of cultural conditioning — being prepared for a public rather than domestic role.

    • Alan J. Perrick says:

      You’re trying to mitigate the pressure that people here are trying to put on uncontrolled hypergamy – it isn’t a matter of simple hypergamy, it’s a matter of high-risk ultra-hypergamous gambling.

      The reason a woman should marry ANYONE isn’t due to her hypergamous instinct, but because her family wants her to marry and so does the future husband. The bride’s agency during this decision is NOT a good thing.

      A.J.P.

    • spandrell says:

      Yes, that was my observation. Probably in addition to all the other factors, which reinforce each other.

  11. I think the Jews argue against this thesis as well. According to David Goldman (ob cit) secular Israeli Jewish women today have a fertility of 2.6. Their own mothers had a fertility of only 2.1. 2.6 is not the 8.5 fertility of the Haredi (ultra orthodox), but its well above replacement and quite respectable. No doubt the Haredi’s customs are more restrictive of women, but I believe they are well educated as well, and both live under the same civil law I believe. And I don’t know how you explain the rise in fertility of the secular Israeli Jews over their mothers.

    Within the US, ultra orthodox have a fertility of 6.72, modern orthodox 3.39, the conservatives 1.74, the reform 1.36, and the secular 1.29. Again they all live under the same civil laws, and I imagine even the ultra orthodox could resort to US divorce courts should they desire.

    • jim says:

      I imagine even the ultra orthodox could resort to US divorce courts should they desire.

      But it is not socially acceptable for them to do so. Women are very prone to conform to the culture around them. You don’t really need state power to lower the status of women, though it helps, tribal power does quite well. In Britain, women were legally emancipated around the mid nineteenth century, but it had very little effect until the state started intervening (using increasingly drastic means in the twentieth century) against social enforcement of inequality.

      Some of the orthodox request that all women give way to men – that secular women give way to religious men – which must incline them to give way to all men, which doubtless raises fertility of all women in Israel.

      Orthodox Jews socially enforce female inequality, primarily against orthodox Jewish women, but, almost inadvertently, against all women. This raises orthodox Jewish fertility, and, if you have a lot of orthodox Jews, raises everyone’s fertility.

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