Marriage: A Short Exposition

Alasadair MacIntyre in his book Whose Justice Whose Rationality demonstrates using ancient political divisions to illustrate how, when meta-ethical differences between groups arise conversation between those groups is difficult. Well, perhaps “difficult” is putting it mildly. We see this today as it unfolds in conversations between those in different sides of the political aisle. Highly paid commenter Boonton on this blog noted recently that the only good arguments concerning SSM are on the pro-SSM side, there are no arguments and only avoidance of the same seen from the right. My response was that the left side of the aisle perceives it this way because they insist on a “small playground”, only debating this issue in the context of their particular meta-ethical context and refusing to step outside. And yes, by analogy, if you assume flat 2-dimensional Euclidean geometry there is no good way to dispute that the the interior angle of a triangle sum to pi. But all geometries are not 2-d Euclidean, in fact the world we live is not. So what follows will be an attempt to bridge that divide, to give a glimpse to the left the basics of the marriage debate as seen from the right. Be warned however, in crossing this bridge there are always hermenuetical difficulties, when speaking across meta-ethical and foundational divisions the same words can be viewed from different context and what is said can easily be misunderstood. That is to say, bear with me … and this gets a little longer than the usual essay … so the rest is below the fold…

Six or seven hundred years ago, society was very different than today. Charles Taylor in A Secular Age, makes this point dramatically when he cites a Middle ages book on etiquette. Unlike today’s such books, it was necessary to point out and make clear that at no point during a dinner, especially with guests, was it good form to defecate in the dining room during dinner. This needed (apparently) to be pointed out. Over the intervening centuries between then and now, the three main leadership roles in our society, the political leaders, the religious leadership and the academic or learned scholars hammered home better comportment and behavior. Much progress, as we can see by comparison has been made. This effort however was not cheap, did not falter (with recent exceptions), and was persistent and warranted.

The same triad, political, religious, artistic, and scholarly leaders for a far longer time, by a factor of five have been hammering at us unwashed another lesson. For a society to continue it must renew itself through the raising of new children to adulthood. In past ages, the ‘replacement rate’ maintaining a society has been higher than the 2.1-2.3 that we enjoy now (this change is largely due to recent medical advances). Now the raising of children is a daunting task. It requires at least two or more decades of diligent, attentive, considered care. This isn’t to say there are not rewards, but the cost is very high. Convincing couples to cleave together, work together to accomplish this task if not done and done well, will doom a society to extinction. No society will last long in which “good parent” is not high praise. If you think this false, name a counterexample.

Each of these factors of the aforementioned “triad” has contributed to an effective array of mechanisms for helping people make the right decision, in which the term “right” here means the same thing as it did in the context of etiquette. Weddings, social acknowledgement, public recognition of lasting marriages, tax breaks, poems and stories, moral teaching all line up to help convince couples to wed, have children and raise them diligently. There has been no one solution as to how to best accomplish the task of convincing people to have children and raise them well. Heterosexual monogamy as practiced and advocated in the Christian influenced West is one of the most common, but it is not exclusive. What is common to all societies however, is that the raising of children is placed very high on the “must be done right is paramount” list for that culture.

Europe and much of the modern world is suffering from a demographic collapse. Some countries and subcultures have been experiencing for decades now replacement rates close to 1, an exponential collapse. Here in the US, religious, cultural and immigration has kept the replacement rate nearer two, but look at the 20-somethings and 30-somethings of your acquaintance, how many of them are married with children? Or more telling, how many of them are not.  But here is a question. That triad of societal leaders, do they have the same force as they once did? Are they still telling us the same message, “get married and raise your children well?” Clearly they are not. In this month our society is deluged with commencement addresses. Read a few … one in a hundred (a thousand) will be telling these kids as they move to independence to get a job, get married, raise kids well.

And no, the conclusion is most definitely not due the European embrace of same sex marriage as being on par with heterosexual ones. That is a symptom not a cause. And this is why I started this where I did. To debate “is calling a same sex union marriage” right or not is to debate in a sandbox, not in the real world. The problem isn’t how/whether we can raise same sex unions on a par with heterosexual ones without “destroying” heterosexual marriage. That frames the debate wrong. The real question at hand is how do we put the task of raising children rightly with the same political, religious, and academic force that it had in past decades back on track. If we fail at that, we will follow Europe into demographic collapse and exponential decline into the past. Parts of Europe already have more 90+ y/olds than those under age 10. We need the vast majority of ordinary individuals to aspire to raise children well in order for society to continue. If we fail at that, whatever we decide on marriage will not matter, for we will be doomed to pass onto the ashes of history as another culture which is remembered in books and by scholars but which has passed away from the world.

What is a fictional narrative, a novel? A novel or fictional narrative at its root is an exercise in world building. With words and story an idealized society is constructed. These stories, setting aside those which are purely meant to entertain, highlight and bring to our attention either what might be wrong with our society and how it functions or perhaps a vision on how it might be improved. Liberals and libertarians supporting same sex marriage in the US are wont to say that there are “no good arguments” against SSM, just bigotry and such. For myself, I have not seen once, anywhere a good narrative account of how you can combine holding same sex marriage in the same regard as heterosexual marriage and at the same time hold the raising of children well as a high cultural imperative in a believable way. Define marriage as a mere mostly temporary contractual alliance between consenting adults … and your raising children well is left where? Show me the novel in which marriage is the thing you think it might be seen in the SSM=HSM world and at the same time raising kids is what children aspire to and then you’ve actually made the argument you think you’ve made outside of that meta-ethical sandbox. Currently from where the right stands, the SSM arguments made by the left sound a lot like more Mr Huxley’s little famous (and alas prophetic) novella. But that, as a reminder, was a dystopia and not a highlighting of problems not construction of where we want to go.

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42 comments

  1. Boonton says:

    Unlike today’s such books, it was necessary to point out and make clear that at no point during a dinner, especially with guests, was it good form to defecate in the dining room during dinner. This needed (apparently) to be pointed out.

    Interestingly I kind of doubt this. You may remember the movie Borat which many people divided on. Some felt it was funny as hell, others thought it was just mean. In one scene Borat goes to an etiquette school in Texas, I believe, to learn how to conduct himself at a dinner. In the class he asks to be excused to use the bathroom as he was instructed. He politely returns with a paper bag, presumably holding defecation, asking what he should do with it…to the horror of the teacher/students. I recall Christopher Hitchens pointed out that disgust with feces is more or less a universal human taboo. Go to the most primitive tribes in the Amazon with no contact from civilization and I suspect you’ll find that even there it’s considered bad form to defecate while consuming a meal with others. Borat, then, actually was mocking not the simpleminded foreigner but the supposedly sophisticated people laughing at it who believed this might plausibly be something a foreigner might do.

    So maybe this ancedote should be turned around. Maybe the book wasn’t illustrating how different the Middle Ages was from today as much as it illustrated the contempt some classes had for others. Perhaps the author assumed that people not educated in the ways of Court were so backwards as they had to be told not to deficate in front of the dinner table. And perhaps it illustrates the self-importance that some classes unjustly attribute to themselves. Many centuries ago we drastically cut down on the power priestly classes wielded. A few centuries ago we drastically cut down on the political power of kings. I’m not sure scholars ever really wielded any power in themselves. Leaving that aside our ‘manners’ have only gotten better. A simple middle class man with a halfway honorable trade or profession is more likely to treat you with respect and dignity than your typical high priest or king from history. The argument that civilization comes from an elite class of supermen who are above the ‘common people’ more or less died after WWI.

    Anyway from this promising beginning I thought you were going to have something a bit deeper than raising children and ‘demographic collapse’. What an amazingly ahistorical view of marriage as well as atheological one! Basically you’re just pushing social engineering. You think that somehow, magically, keeping SSM illegal will increase fertility rates and improve child rearing. Why and how will it do that? Well you don’t really bother to say, except your ‘model’ seems to be that people raise children not because they have a biological and spiritual connection to their offspring but because they are seeking ‘regard’ from larger society. In other words, your theory is your mommy loves you not because she’s you’re mommy but because her Facebook friends click ‘like this’ when she posts that she loves her son. I would venture to say that the human species, if it required such shoddy social engineers to maintain itself, would have never come down off the trees in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago.

  2. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    You think that somehow, magically, keeping SSM illegal will increase fertility rates and improve child rearing.

    Nope. That wasn’t what I was trying to say. See the first paragraph. You’re not getting it yet.

    Recall, I note that SSM is the symptom not the cause. If you have appendicitis and a result have a fever, you don’t worry overmuch about treating the fever as such. SSM is a symptom. My statement is that SSM/not SSM is mostly irrelevant. You need to treat the cause, i.e., the infected intestinal piece.

    On the other hand, I’m still missing your argument for SSM. I’ve never seen one. Have you?

  3. Boonton says:

    Recall, I note that SSM is the symptom not the cause. If you have appendicitis and a result have a fever, you don’t worry overmuch about treating the fever as such. SSM is a symptom. My statement is that SSM/not SSM is mostly irrelevant. You need to treat the cause, i.e., the infected intestinal piece.

    Your ‘treatment’ as cited in your piece seems to be a series of rather superficial and materialistic based ceremonies and ‘honors’ for those who get married…namely weddings, tax breaks, poems and stories…..none of these things are lacking in today’s culture. The Wedding industry, if anything, has expanded on making weddings more extreme. I believe it was near the end of Clinton’s term that Republicans ran on expanding tax credits for the married (i.e. fixing the so-called ‘marriage penalty’). I suppose poems aren’t as big as they used to be, but really you have to get over this pettiness. Lasting marriages are not created by upping the ante on the wedding. A lasting marriage is actually a rejection of society in favor of finding company and comfort with your spouse rather than friends, community, hobbies etc (of course you still have those if you’re married). By definition then trying to improve marriage by enhancing social recognition to the married is an oxymoran. A marriage that depends on social recognition is a failure by definition just like a business whose profits depends on subsidies is likewise a failure.

    Now you haven’t connected your ‘reason’ to SSM. There is nothing about SSM that I see that would plausibly prevent one from also extending all types of honors to long lasting heterosexual marriages, writing wonderful poems to fertility, and so on. Marriage licenses are not a scarce good and there’s no law requiring individuals to respect all legal marriages equally (and we don’t, which is why we tend to view marriages like the late Anna Nicole Smith’s as something of a joke…even though they are perfectly valid from a strictly legal POV).

  4. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    You also confuse “power” with the ability to shape behavior. 18th century poets shaped their ideals of romantic love which drastically changed our views of fitness for marriage. Where they in “power.” No. Where they highly influential? Yes. Right now, kids (via imprecise cricket races) apparently think that the percentage of gay individuals in society are upwards of 20% because that’s closer to the ratio they see on sit-coms. Are the writers and producers of such fare in “power” can they cause wars, move billions of dollars in aid? No. Can they shape behavior. Yes. Are they shaping behavior to hold raising children and having families as a high ideal? No. That sort of thing is the problem. What they (and others who move and shape our behavior, of which oddly enough academics and educators are included) teach is in fact important and the proximate cause of our demographic crises. Is SSM the problem. No. Has the pro-SSM faction produced a vision of society and behavior that promotes child rearing as a high ideal that is consistent with SSM? No. This is the argument you’re not producing.

    Make your case. I’m listening.

  5. Boonton says:

    Right now, kids (via imprecise cricket races) apparently think that the percentage of gay individuals in society are upwards of 20% because that’s closer to the ratio they see on sit-coms.

    So how many fewer daughters do you think you would have had if you lived in a universe where 20% of the population was gay instead of maybe 5%? Likewise how many more kids would you have had if you lived in a universe where the portion of gays was, say, half of what it is in this one? I’m unclear why this figure, or one’s perception of this figure, should have anything to do with how many kids they have or how dedicated they are to correctly raising them.

    I think such a person who is highly motivated by that metric should probably be discouraged from having kids in the first place!

    in fact important and the proximate cause of our demographic crises

    Ahhh so it is ’bout your vision of social engineering. You are under the impression that not only can a society’s fertility rate be managed, but that it should be managed by the use of strategically allowing or restricting marriage to those who will contribute to whatever the ‘target’ is for nationwide fertility. Interesting.

  6. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Note, at the top apparently the hermeneutic failure of communication because of non-shared context is at work here. Because nothing you’re saying here can either be drawn from or concluded from anything I wrote. It’s like you read something completely different and decided to respond to arguments and statements held elsewhere.

    Ahhh so it is ’bout your vision of social engineering.

    No.

    I’m unclear why this figure, or one’s perception of this figure, should have anything to do with how many kids they have or how dedicated they are to correctly raising them.

    That figure was demonstrative of how art can change societies perceptions of what society consists and what are laudable goals. Your drawing unwarranted (and unasked for) conclusions and trying to raise straw men.

  7. Boonton says:

    I think you’re not quite in such a ‘different context’ as you think you are. You’re ultimately centering your argument on fertility rates of society. Sorry, that’s social engineering, esp. if you’re making a case that particular policies or various forms of art should be shaped with an eye to shaping things like fertility rates.

    So whether you’re talking about accomplishing social engineering through fiddling with marriage laws, making it easier or harder for certain types to marry or through fiddling with art or popular culture that brings in the question of what exactly qualifies you as a social engineer? Why should we presume you (or others like you) know how society should be shaped and what evidence do you have that the tools you propose to deploy can reasonably be expected to accomplish your stated goals?

  8. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    You’re mistaken. Social engineering is going on all the time, by those politicians, artists, academics and priests. Every one of those commencement addresses noted is social engineering in practice. How many do you think told kids, get married, get a job, stay married, have children, raise them well? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000? None? Mr Obama’s certainly didn’t. It’s all social engineering. Your assumption this is (a) something only practiced by people “in power” and (b) rare or non-existent.

    I’m not talking about fiddling with marriage laws, but maintaining consistency of message. Let me know a vision of society that includes a place of honor for good parents and that also includes a vision of marriage as a mostly temporary contract between consenting adults and you’ve got something to sell.

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Oh, and the reason I think we’re in different contexts is because you continue to miss the point of what I was saying. I still haven’t any notion you have a clue into what I was trying to say, your rebuttals seem to confirm that.

  10. Boonton says:

    You’re mistaken. Social engineering is going on all the time, by those politicians, artists, academics and priests. Every one of those commencement addresses noted is social engineering in practice. How many do you think told kids, get married, get a job, stay married, have children, raise them well? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000? None? Mr Obama’s certainly didn’t.

    Actually social engineering implies intent and control. A dam may be built with the intent to create a lake. Those building the dam have control (the ability to force water into the form of a lake) combined with intent. I would say you don’t have engineering if you don’t have that. A butterfly who causes a hurricane in the Atlantic by flapping its wings in China is not engaged in ‘weather engineering’ but if China’s military has a machine that causes hurricanes in NYC by blowing air around in China that would be.

    As for Mr. Obama’s kids, his daughters are only 14 and 11. Not really sure it’s fair to hike on them for not getting married and having kids yet.

    I doubt, say, Sean Pean either intends to or can alter the number of marriages and children among his audience by, say, playing a gay character. You, however, are asserting such control is possible and we should intend to use it to boost fertility and marriage. I’m asking what evidence do you have that such control exists and that we are justified in entrusting people like you to use it to fulfill your intentions?

    I’m not talking about fiddling with marriage laws, but maintaining consistency of message.

    But consistency has gotten us into what you call a looming demographic crises! You can’t have it both ways, either fiddles with marriage law impact fertility or it doesn’t. If it does then why shouldn’t we be fiddling to avoid a crises? If it doesn’t then what is your argument against SSM?

    Let me know a vision of society that includes a place of honor for good parents and that also includes a vision of marriage as a mostly temporary contract between consenting adults …

    Not sure whose vision you’re talking about here? Newt Gingrich’s? John McCain? Sarah Palin? Her daughter? You seem to be sneaking in a side issue here, whether marriage should be for life or just a temporary contract. That would seem to be a quibble you have with divorce, not SSM. I can see a world with SSM where divorce is common and one where it’s uncommon. Likewise I can imagine a world where there isn’t SSM but divorce is common as well as one where it’s uncommon.

  11. Boonton says:

    The Demographic Non-Crises

    For fun I took Germany’s crude birth and death rate per 1,000 (8.33 and 10.92 which means each year Germany loses 2.59 people per 1,000 of population) and Germany’s current population of 81,702,399. At that horrifying rate, Germany will have 72 million in 2060, which is about how many it had in 1960. In 2200, nearly 200 years from now it will still have 50 million. Even in 2311, three centuries from now, it will have 37.5M which is what it had in 1850 when it first surpassed France. From the 14th to 18th it oscillated between 10-15M, which using this model it won’t even see the high end of that until 2640.

    For this model to be plausible, though, several assumptions have to be made:

    1. The birth rate won’t fall much lower than 8.33. The lowest birth rate in the world is Monaco at 6.85. Barring some massive change, like worldwide infertility ala Children of Men it seems pretty hard to believe that out of 1,000 random people a few of them won’t be having babies each year. So there’s an absolute limit to how much further the birth rate could fall even in theory. On the other hand there’s plenty of room for the birth rate to increase.

    2. The death rate will stay roughly constant. This is unlikely given that we’ve had the death rate fall dramatically as medicine has improved. Why wouldn’t it continue to do so? For the sake of argument let’s exclude any dramatic change that would shake the death rate like a nuclear war, mass outbreak of zombies, meteor strike etc.

    3. The two together rarely change much over the course of centuries. This is implausible. In 150 years or so Germany went from about 35M people to over 81M. But in 1946 Germany had 65M, exactly what it had in 1910. We see over the course of hundreds of years the net change to population rate has not been stable at all.

    What conclusions can we draw from this:

    Mark’s crises is a non-crises.
    – It is unlikely to happen because for it to do so highly unlikely things are required.
    – Even if it does happen, literal centuries will go by leaving plenty of time to address it.
    – Not much is really required to address it. Lower the death rate ever so slightly and have just a tiny bit more births per 1,000 people and you have gone from declining population to stable one or even growing.

    So much for our social engineer.

  12. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Actually social engineering implies intent and control.

    Seriously. See hermenuetics. Obviously that strict definition is not what I mean, yet here you go. Whatever. You tell me the word you prefer.

    As for Mr. Obama’s kids, his daughters are only 14 and 11. Not really sure it’s fair to hike on them for not getting married and having kids yet.

    Now that remark is just insane. Are you kidding? Mr Obama gives a effing commencement address to a graduating college class, and you figure the intended audience are his early and pre teen daughters.

    That would seem to be a quibble you have with divorce, not SSM. I can see a world with SSM where divorce is common and one where it’s uncommon.

    Mr Kuznicki once of Positive Liberty a gay man and SSM advocate when asked if he’d consider as a positive notion bundling SSM with stricter divorce laws … his answer an abrupt “no”.

    Not sure whose vision you’re talking about here? Newt Gingrich’s? John McCain? Sarah Palin? Her daughter?

    In the list of those promoting liberal visions of a future society those novelists aren’t first on my list. Odd, however, that they come first to you attention. Seriously? You think Sarah Palin is who you’d highlight one whose fiction paints the world you envision? I wouldn’t have guessed. Not in a million years.

    Interesting. Italy can have a 1.2 a TFR (total replacement rate, i.e., children per couple) … that won’t pose any problem. Again, count your 20 and 30 something friends. How many are married with kids? How many are not?

    I think PTFR rates are more difficult to deal with from a model/mathematical standpoint than TFR rates. Wiki cites: The average total fertility rate in the European Union (EU-27) has been calculated at 1.59 children per woman in 2009. That doesn’t factor in the differential demographics in that African and Middle Eastern immigrants are significantly skewing that number upwards compared to the ‘native’ northern European population.

  13. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Oh, and this isn’t the fix you pretend

    Lower the death rate ever so slightly and have just a tiny bit more births per 1,000 people and you have gone from declining population to stable one or even growing.

    So “lower the birth rate” and you have more people over 90 and over 100. How exactly does that help a nation?

  14. Boonton says:

    So “lower the birth rate” and you have more people over 90 and over 100. How exactly does that help a nation?

    I didn’t realize people living past 90 is a problem. Exactly what does this mean ‘help a nation’? Is not the nation the sum of the individuals inside of it? Would not helping an individual live beyond 90 be a good thing? Should we be encouraging people to die before 90? For whose benefit exactly?

    The only cause of death is old age? Even today people do die before 50 so if all you need is a modest tweak in both the birth and death rate you could do it there. In fact taking a bite out of the pre-50 death rate might get you the tweak in the birth rate you need simply by preventing some early deaths of people who have yet to go on to have their own kids.

    More importantly, even with no tweaks your crises seems be missing.

  15. Boonton says:

    Briefly, the ‘demographic crises’ is only a crises if population rates of change are known to remain constant for centuries, and even then it takes centuries to really notice a huge difference at the the current declines which are pretty tiny.

    But the historical record gives us NO reason to think that rates of change remain stable over long periods of time. So the argument that we must be making some dramatic social engineering intervention (this intervention seems to be adding childbirth to the subject matter of commencement speeches and rejecting SSM) rests on literally nothing.

  16. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    You let me know how TFR can be lower than 2 and not be a problem. The EU has a TFR of 1.5. Explain how that’s not an issue.

    So the argument that we must be making some dramatic social engineering intervention (this intervention seems to be adding childbirth to the subject matter of commencement speeches and rejecting SSM) rests on literally nothing.

    No. You fail again the hermenuetical test.

  17. Boonton says:

    You let me know how TFR can be lower than 2 and not be a problem.

    Was Germany a problem when it had 72M people in 1960? If not why owuld it be a problem in 2060? Was it a problem in 1850? If not why would it be a problem in 2311 when it will also have 37.5M people? You haven’t explained to us why population should always be growing at all periods of history or why 81M people or so is some type of magical ‘optimum’ population for Germany and anything below that is subpar. As I pointed out before the 14th century Germany’s population swung between 10-15M. That’s a whopping oscillation of 50% of the lowest value and yet there was little concern it seemed to mount a fertility campaign. So you seem to be operating here on an implicit assertion that the overriding moral imperitive for humanity should be to convert as many atoms as possible into as many human bodies as possible. If that’s so let’s talk about it as it’s a rather novel idea.

    But let’s just assume for the sake of argument that is the truth. What do we know about TFR? We know that has never remained stable for even a century let alone centuries. If Germany’s total population will fall from 82M to 15M in 600+ years at the current TFR, that still amounts to a big shrug. It’s like say it was one degree cooler today than on Wednesday….if it continues like that we’ll be at absolute zero in less than a year! Blah possibly but there’s no evidence that temp ever falls at an even rate day in day out for hundreds of days in a row.

    I see your criticism of Obama was about his commencement speech failing to mention parenting…OK fine enough, though he did give a notable speech a few years ago on the duty of fathers that you could have picked up on. What this has to do with population dynamics over centuries I’m at a loss still.

    Mr Kuznicki once of Positive Liberty a gay man and SSM advocate when asked if he’d consider as a positive notion bundling SSM with stricter divorce laws … his answer an abrupt “no”.

    Indeed, why should it be ‘bundled’? Should interracial marriage be ‘bundled’ with divorce law reforms? No. If you have a proposal for divorce law changes, then propose it and make a case for it. Instead your side embraces divorceaholics as leaders and argues about SSM.

    I think PTFR rates are more difficult to deal with from a model/mathematical standpoint than TFR rates. Wiki cites: The average total fertility rate in the European Union (EU-27) has been calculated at 1.59 children per woman in 2009.

    I simply used the death rate and birth rate to give me a figure of Germany losing 2.33 people per thousand of population each year, which probably ties out to your total EU Fertility rate of 1.59 in 2009. This is just quibbles, though. While I don’t have anything against Germans, I don’t see much of a case why it should be very important to try to set ideal population targets for Germany decades and centuries into the future.

  18. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Indeed, why should it be ‘bundled’?

    Apparently you are completely ignorant of how the legislative process works. Oddly enough bills are often bundled together so garner broader support and get them passed. Strange that you don’t know that.

    And you continue to dodge my direct question. How can you have a 1.5 or lower TFR rate and not have a falling population.

    You claim TFR rates fluctuate rapidly and frequently. TFR in the US has not fluctuated wildly, I suspect the same is for Europe. The “baby boomer” event which was a change in TFR lasted a decade and a half and can be traced to economic and cultural events.

    It is unclear how an exponential decline takes 600 years with ~20/year period to reach 20% with an exponential decay. An TFR of 1 means that each generation is half the size of the prior. A TFR of (ideally with no natal deaths) of 2 would be stable. 1.5 would mean that each generation is 75% of the prior. (3/4)^(x gen/20 years per gen) = .2 . Solve for x. X = 5.5 * 20, or 110 years … not 600. If this was Italy (Albania?) with TFR of 1.2 means each gen is 6/10ths the prior. That yields 3.1 * 20 or in just 60 years.

    Now that’s not exactly right because more than one generation is alive at the same time. But when you are in rapid exponential decline you have the problem that of the 5 generations overlapping at a time, the first and final two generations are not producing at all, only the 2nd and 3rd (and a bit of the fourth) are still in the workforce. If the each successive generation is exponentially smaller than the prior, with your 1.2 TFR the fourth generation is four times larger than the most recent, i.e., there are four times more people aged 60-80 than 0-20.

    What I can’t imagine is how you can’t see this as something of a crises. Is it that you think population is an arithmetic not a geometric/exponential progression?

  19. Boonton says:

    Apparently you are completely ignorant of how the legislative process works. Oddly enough bills are often bundled together so garner broader support and get them passed. Strange that you don’t know that.

    I know that, but you’re not arguing about bills but about what policies we should or shouldn’t support. Yes bills are often bundled, so yes you’re right a bill legalizing SSM may end up being bundled with a bill changing divorce law in order to win enough votes for passage. So what? Such a bill may just as easily be bundled with another bill to increase oil company subsidizes or expand riverboat casinos.

    And you continue to dodge my direct question. How can you have a 1.5 or lower TFR rate and not have a falling population.

    Didn’t I just model Germany’s population falling over the next 600 years? Why would you think I’m arguing that having a raw birth rate < raw death rate would not result in a falling population? Someone here isn't paying attention to context.

    You claim TFR rates fluctuate rapidly and frequently. TFR in the US has not fluctuated wildly, I suspect the same is for Europe. The “baby boomer” event which was a change in TFR lasted a decade and a half and can be traced to economic and cultural events.

    TFR doesn’t change rapidly or frequently.

    The baby boomer event was a rapid and frequent change in TFR.

    OK, now you’re just digging yourself into pure nonsense and incoherence. Let me help you out a tad:

    1. Show me why a falling population is in itself a huge problem?

    2. Show me, assuming #1 has been accomplished, just how fast the population is falling?

    It is unclear how an exponential decline takes 600 years with ~20/year period to reach 20% with an exponential decay.

    Our differences might result from you using an exponential decay model whereas I’m using a constant rate of decline per 1,000 people (i.e. if for every 1,000 people in a year, you have 2.33 more who die than get born you’re going to loose 2.33 per k per year).

    https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/Demo_Trends_For_Web.pdf on slide 22 seems to support two issues we are debating here:

    1. TFR is not stable and has changed over the last 50 years and there’s no reason to believe it’s ‘normally’ a variable that remains constant for centuries.

    2. Granted you have to read it off a graph but Germany’s projected population from 2000 to 2050 appears to be a straight line, not exponential decay where you get a huge drop a the beginning then gradual declines in the far out years.

    The Demographic Transition model (see http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Sociology/Demography) indicates that the most likely long term trend is not for population increases or decline but hovering around stability. What has probably happened is prosperity has produced increase contraception use and investing more heavily by parents in fewer children to lower birth rates but this has been offset by rapid declines in infant mortality and mortality overall. Of course that’s just a model, not a prediction. For all we know over the next 600 years we’ll be living inside a Matrix. But barring that there’s really no case here for a ‘crises’ and if there is one it’s going to take long past our lifetimes to see.

  20. Boonton says:

    BTW, the graph of world population from year 0 to 2000 on http://leduc998.wordpress.com/category/world/ is also helpful here. If you think that this is all about a numbers game, scoring as many people as possible and little more, then the Christian era has been a distinct failure. You don’t see any real growth in overall population until the Enlightenment Era. Granted in 1800 birth control was not common and most people in the Western World lived with a worldview you cite as supportive of increasing populations but the hold of that worldview was weakening, not growing stronger. Yet population exploded putting to shame the rather modest gains from say 1200-1800.

  21. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Bad arguments a rebuttal do not make. You’ve “modeled” Germany’s population growth with an arithmetic model when population is driven by exponential/geometric factors, you’ve cited that TFR “is not stable” bot provide no data to support that except to note that TFR has been declining over the last 50 years … which is exactly the point I’m making, i.e., TFR has been declining and has fallen to alarming levels. You say “TFR” rapidly changed for the US boomer event … “rapid” in that it changed (by how much?) over a period of two decades.

    Your second bad argument is to look at the boom in population at during the 19th and 20th centuries and attribute that to birth rates … and not medical and nutrition advances. No medical advance is going to counter a 1.2 TFR.

    Your third bad argument is to claim I’m arguing that populations must always increase. I never said that.

    Your fourth bad argument is to question how a TFR of 1.5 can lead to a current measure moderate population decline. Think a bit about generations and the recent decades of moderately increasing lifespans and a boomer event of the late 50s and you’ll have your answer. You can have a very low TFR now but a rising birth rate if the TFR 20-30 years ago was higher.

    And if you want to look closer at Germany, look at subcultural mixes. I think you’ll find a strong differential in TFR between North African immigrants and non-immigrant populations. If in 100 years the dominant language in Germany is Arabic … this is “Germany” mean?

    Yes bills are often bundled, so yes you’re right a bill legalizing SSM may end up being bundled with a bill changing divorce law in order to win enough votes for passage. So what?

    So. I suggested such a bundling and it was refused outright? Why? I can think of a few reasons … that the speaker figured either compromise wasn’t necessary or that “making divorce more difficult” was a measure that was somehow worse if implemented than the good he perceived from gay marriage. I thought that odd.

    You think climate change is a important problem and are willing to take action based on that. It’s unclear why someone who thinks demographics is a problem should be unwilling to support measures to counter that.

  22. Boonton says:

    Bad arguments a rebuttal do not make. You’ve “modeled” Germany’s population growth with an arithmetic model when population is driven by exponential/geometric factors, you’ve cited that TFR “is not stable” bot provide no data to support that except to note that TFR has been declining over the last 50 years

    Unfortunately for you professional demographers follow the arithmetic model. Without breaking into far more detail and research on this point, I’ve submitted the projection of Germany’s population for the next 50+ years which is nearly a flat line, not the steep decline that you see with exponential decay.

    As for TFR being not stable, stable means staying the same, you just admitted that TFR has been declining for 50 years. That alone indicates that this is a variable that is subject to change. Perhaps you mean to say that the rate of change of TFR is stable, but this misses the larger problem with your argument.

    1. The slow rather than rapid decline in population as projected by actual demographers means you need centuries of stability, not decades to achieve a rapid fall in Germany’s population. Given the fact that population change has NOT been anywhere near stable over hundreds to thousands of years, the onus is on you to make the argument that unless we act now we will be locked into a 600+ year path of declining population as opposed to a path where population ebbs and flows, sometimes increasing modestly, other times decreasing modestly.

    2. You haven’t really explained why this is a problem that merits much attention. Why would it be a diaster if Germany, say, in 60 years has the population it did in 1960? Or if in 600 years it has the population it osciliated around for the first 1400+ yeasr of Christianity in Europe? Perhaps you’re concerned about extinction of the human species, which is fine but then again you’re basing your case not on any ‘outside the box context’, you’re basing your case on the premise that humanity needs your help as a social engineer….even though the human species has managed to exist long before you ever got on the scene.

    3. Even in your playground of social engineering, you haven’t made a case. Numbers do not always ensure a species does not become extinct. The biological record is full of cases of species that saw huge population increases only to suffer catastrophic crashes. If you’re trying to present the best strategy to ensure, say, that humanity continues to exist as a species for at least the next 20,000-50,000 years, it is hardly clear that the optimal strategy is to ramp up the numbers as high as possible right away and keep pushing for higher.

    Your second bad argument is to look at the boom in population at during the 19th and 20th centuries and attribute that to birth rates … and not medical and nutrition advances. No medical advance is going to counter a 1.2 TFR.

    Again assuming that 1.2 TFR is some type of magical fixed constant set by some laws of physics or something.

    Your second bad argument is to look at the boom in population at during the 19th and 20th centuries and attribute that to birth rates … and not medical and nutrition advances. No medical advance is going to counter a 1.2 TFR.

    http://insurancebasics.ca/

    I’m sure the rate in the US is pretty close, a woman in Canada has a 1 in 15 (6%) risk of death before 65. Since each year the number of people who leave by death is only a bit more than the number who enter by birth, you could easily flip that to even or slightly positive should pre-mature deaths continue to decline. What’s interesting about this is that society would ‘look’ the same. Young women would continue to have about as many kids as they currently seem to do, there would be no noticeable fad of women having more kids, it would simply be that women who would have died before having a chance to have kids would be here to have kids.

    Metrics that are built upon other metrics see their instability go up dramatically. Consider 2 ‘fundamental’ metrics and 1 derived one. Revenue is $95, Expenses are $100. Deficit is $5. Say Revenue goes down 5%, expenses go up 5%. The deficit doesn’t go up 10%, it goes up nearly 300% to $14.75

    TFR is a derived metric that incorporates such factors as women who die before they would have normally given birth. While it may mathematically represent the ‘average woman’ it can change even if the ‘average woman’ doesn’t change much in particular. This is what you’re saying regarding the baby boom, a surge of young people means a surge in babies even if said young people are having fewer babies per person than their grandparents did. And you’re not really making the case that hugely dramatic changes are needed. Basically you’re saying if some women have 1 kid, many have 2, and some have 3 (with smaller numbers having 0 or more than 3) you will mostly get a population that is either slowling decreasing, staying stable or slowly increasing. If you induced TFR to change from decline to stability in many counties the average person probably wouldn’t even notice the difference among their friends and peers, only if they made a habit of studying social stats. Yet, oddly, your program of social engineering seems premised upon instituting a major cultural shift (which, of course, leads to the question of your qualifications as a cultural engineer)

    And if you want to look closer at Germany, look at subcultural mixes. I think you’ll find a strong differential in TFR between North African immigrants and non-immigrant populations. If in 100 years the dominant language in Germany is Arabic … this is “Germany” mean?

    And what would the Roman Empire mean if in 600 years everyone is no longer speaking Latin? Your qualifications as social engineer are already questionable, now you’re promising not only to stabalize population but to be able to control its linguistic and cultural mix decades into the future? How are you with controlling your kids taste in music and language? A person 250 years ago would probably have been surprised to learn that English, not French, would become the dominant global language in the distant future. Huge portions of the US once spoke German as the main language, now it only exists in small hamlets of Amish groups who speak a form of it, alongside English. And, of course, cultures change faster than blood and language changes in less than a generation.

  23. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    TFR is not a “derived” metric. It isn’t calculated from “births and deaths” a simple survey of “average children per female” can by done via census, or the equiv.

    Population equations (simple vs differential). Note neither are arithmetic rates of (birth-death) as rate and pop = rate * time.

    Again, TFR 1.5 (or 1 for a simple example). Show me how a TFR of 1 can lead to a stable population.

    Again assuming that 1.2 TFR is some type of magical fixed constant set by some laws of physics or something.

    No. I’m saying a TFR far less than 2 is problematic and we need to be aware this is going to cause problems. The culture/nation will not survive. Apparently you don’t think this is a bad thing.

    Young women would continue to have about as many kids as they currently seem to do, there would be no noticeable fad of women having more kids, it would simply be that women who would have died before having a chance to have kids would be here to have kids.

    And you seem to be also forgetting the other half. Pure demographics of birth is one half … the other half is raising the kids in the best environment we can. Single parent households are not ideal. Marriage as contract of convenience/advantage between consenting adults is a poor model of marriage.

  24. Boonton says:

    TFR is not a “derived” metric. It isn’t calculated from “births and deaths” a simple survey of “average children per female” can by done via census, or the equiv.

    As you pointed out, the ‘typical’ woman might have 1.5 kids yet you may get a growing population from the results of, say, a baby boom, in the previous generation. When those boomers hit their 20’s and have 1.5 kids each, you’ll get a lot of kids divided by females. When those boomers get old you’ll get a lot of females but fewer kids. TFR is not stable even if every woman is engaged in a vast conspiracy to ensure over their lifetimes they have exactly 1.5 kids on average.

    No. I’m saying a TFR far less than 2 is problematic and we need to be aware this is going to cause problems. The culture/nation will not survive. Apparently you don’t think this is a bad thing.

    You haven’t explained why Germany can’t survive with 60M people, say, when it seemed like it was doing just that back in 1960? Leave aside your odd notion that marriage seems to exist as the means to the end of preserving nation states, modern entities that are only a few hundred years old!

    You’ve argued that a TFR less than 2 will result in a declining population. You’ve not explained why this would be a problem given the context that we’ve seen the most rapid increase ever in human history over the last two centuries. Instead you’ve presented what seems to be a racial centered argument that relies on one type of people trying to preserve their relative portion of the global population by matching every other type of people’s TFR. Again I see no reason to be sympathetic to such an argument, esp. when you present no reasons in its favor except flapping your arms about acting as if it is so obvious you shouldn’t be bothered to justify it.

    See you NEED to be saying TFR is fixed. If it isn’t it very well may be that the long run equilibrium TFR of the industrialized world will oscilate around some total population denisty meaning that TFR will fall below 2 when the country is above it and rise above 2 when its below it. Fact is we don’t really know but we do know we have at least 100 years plus to find out. We do know that there’s no good reason to think TFR is a variable that is fixed over long periods of time and we do know that there’s little evidence that we can directly change TFR via policy action within the range of what we consider to be normal respect for human rights (granted China has probably reduced its TFR by social engineering, Nazi Germany likewise probably did raise the TFR of its non-Jewish population through heavy handed policies as well).

    And you seem to be also forgetting the other half. Pure demographics of birth is one half … the other half is raising the kids in the best environment we can. Single parent households are not ideal. Marriage as contract of convenience/advantage between consenting adults is a poor model of marriage.

    Yet that is what marriage is. I call your attention, for example, to almost all traditional wedding vows which don’t even bother to mention children but do set out terms for both parties (love and cherish, share and share alike, etc.). In fact the word covenant (as in ‘marriage covenant’) means a solemn agreement or contract. Could you please flesh out exactly why you think its better for marriages to be made by something different and by what? Nonconsenting adults? Adults who don’t feel marriage offers either convenience or advantage to them (not sure how they are going to be sold on such a thing if you preserve consenting as part of the mix….guess you really think commencement speeches are very powerful rhetorical vehicles)?

  25. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    First off, define “stable” in some meaningful way. Canada (your particularly bad example for healthy TFR). First off, those numbers seem fairly stable.

    Leave aside your odd notion that marriage seems to exist as the means to the end of preserving nation states, modern entities that are only a few hundred years old!

    Never said that. You do like (either) attacking straw men, or failing to understand (hermeneutic problem noted at the top).

    I don’t “NEED” (caps?) to be saying TFR is fixed. I NEED to be saying (and what is happening) is that in many if not all Western European countries TFR is has dropped catastrophically low. I’ve not said it “needs to be changed by policy” … oddly enough I pointed out that three or four sectors that shape public mores/actions and opinions, i.e., academia, the arts, the church, and policy/politics shape our behavior. Apparently that is “changed by policy” in your book. It took over 600 years of concerted push to get us to shape up our act with regard to etiquette, and until recently the same crew was pushing for some version of marriage stability for child rearing and nurturing for (at least) 5 times longer than that. Within decades of those institutions halting or reversing their stance on this the bottom fell out of the TFR. Odd that. You are the only person you know that doesn’t think the push for women to put their career first and the rise in single parenthood is unconnected.

    Yet that is what marriage is

    Really. Why then are these things often celebrated with weddings if they are mere contracts. Did you have a “I got a job contract”, “I closed on my house”, or “I’m having my roof done” shower/reception/honeymoon/anniversary celebration? No? Why not? Odd that.

  26. Boonton says:

    First off, define “stable” in some meaningful way. Canada (your particularly bad example for healthy TFR). First off, those numbers seem fairly stable.

    Which it shouldn’t be, per your model Canada should have exhibited a declining TFR prior to its ‘symptom’ of adopting SSM around 2005. Do you have any evidence that this was the case? I’ll grant you the numbers over 10 years are stable, but that’s a rather short period of time to begin with. A generation of 13 yr olds could be magially converted to deep believers in having 3-4 kids each, yet in ten years that dramatic shift will barely begin to be felt in the TFR.

    I don’t “NEED” (caps?) to be saying TFR is fixed. I NEED to be saying (and what is happening) is that in many if not all Western European countries TFR is has dropped catastrophically low.

    It is only a catastrophy if:

    1. It’s stable for a long enough period of time to dramatically reduce population.

    2. Dramatically reduced population is a horrible thing.

    Otherwise you’re like the person who says the high temp. on Sat. was one degree less than Friday and Friday was one degree less than Thursday and at that rate in less than a year we’ll all be dead as the earth drops to absolute zero. Perhaps but only if you assume trends are straight lines that don’t change. In reality Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday can all continue the trend of falling one degree per day without the need for anyone to become alarmed.

    It took over 600 years of concerted push to get us to shape up our act with regard to etiquette, and until recently the same crew was pushing for some version of marriage stability for child rearing and nurturing for (at least) 5 times longer than that.

    We know that around 1800 population took off big time. Is it your contention then that all these insitutions were failures until secularism took hold in Europe and elsewhere? It seems pretty hard to believe that Europeans of, say, 1200 just didn’t get that children needed nurturing. Primitive hunter grather tribes found in remote parts of the world today seem to get that without the benefit of a multi-century social engineering project by academics, clergy, artists and so on.

    Really. Why then are these things often celebrated with weddings if they are mere contracts. Did you have a “I got a job contract”, “I closed on my house”, or “I’m having my roof done” shower/reception/honeymoon/anniversary celebration? No? Why not?

    You seem to to think the party surrounding a wedding is more relevant than the actual vows. And you’re taking classes in Orthodox Christian theology again? Hmmmm.

  27. Mark says:

    Boonton
    ” The main movement in Canada was a decline in fertility extending from the 19th century to the present, interrupted in the 1940s and 1950s by a baby boom. Between 1871 and 1937 the total fertility rate (TFR) fell at about an average of 1.4% annually. The rate of fall in the US was similar, with the result that in the late 1930s the Canadian TFR was about 20% that of the US. The fertility boom that followed was steeper in the US than in Canada, and in the downswing that later followed, the rate of decline was similar in the 2 countries (3.4-4% annual average). But, the decline continued longer– indeed still continues–in Canada, whereas the TFR in the US reached its lowest point in 1976. Moreover, the recent decline in fertility has been more severe in Canada than in almost any other industrialized country.” From Pub Med.

    Hmm. Perhaps Canada with legalization of SSM in the early 21st is a good bad example? “more severe in Canada than almost any other”?

    Could SSM attitudes as I suggest be a symptom?

  28. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Sorry I didn’t read down far enough.

    We know that around 1800 population took off big time.

    Yep, that would be the medical advances thing. Prior to the 20th century every family buried one or more children. I’ll be you don’t know one (or at most one) family that buried even one of their children in the first 3 years.

    Primitive hunter grather tribes found in remote parts of the world today seem to get that without the benefit of a multi-century social engineering project by academics, clergy, artists and so on.

    Are you pretending that hunter gatherers don’t have cultural mores centered around raising their next generation? No mores and way stressing the importance of raising kids rightly?

    Reality based indeed.

    You seem to to think the party surrounding a wedding is more relevant than the actual vows.

    Now you’re just being silly. You stressed its unimportance as a mere contract. I cited signs that it wasn’t. Because we have ways that demonstrate we don’t see this as a mere contract your logic tells you I must be putting the true freight on those signs.

    When you go to an econ class and they talk about economic indicators, like “pretty girls waiting tables” => that jobs are scarce means (for your logic) that pretty girls is what is important not employment. Can we start to have an intelligent discussion?

    What are you arguing? You’ve basically (by your silence) conceded that 1.0 – 1.5 TFR is not sustainable. You apparently think 1.0 TFR is not a geometric contraction of population … but I haven’t actually heard you acquiesce on that point. Do you concede (?) that geometric population decline is not in your national interest … unless you are an enemy nation, I guess? Does that mean you’re ready to move to the next point, that is any sort of connection between cultural ways/habits and population? Or are you going to allow that?

    I’m still waiting for a realistic cultural model (a novel perhaps?) that affirms your view of marriage (or one including SSM) that also puts primary stress on child birth and child rearing.

  29. Boonton says:

    Yep, that would be the medical advances thing. Prior to the 20th century every family buried one or more children. I’ll be you don’t know one (or at most one) family that buried even one of their children in the first 3 years.

    Not sure how this would impact TFR except it would raise the amount needed to generate replacement population. If 1 out of 2 babies die, for instance, then each woman will need to have 4 to generate replacement (assuming a 50-50 male to female ratio).

    Likewise you could still see TFR alter due to medical changes. Consider that if each woman in her 20’s decided to have exactly 2 children, that would not generate a TFR of 2.0. Something like 5-6% of women still die before finishing their child birthing years. A few women would have to have more than 2 kids to compensate for their sisters who die young. That means you could see TFR rise by ‘solving’ more early deaths without any cultural shift, everything would seem as it is.

    Are you pretending that hunter gatherers don’t have cultural mores centered around raising their next generation?

    Just the opposite, there was no multi-century ‘program’ to get people to raise their kids and value them. It is part of human nature and human culture develops around that nature. Likewise today there’s no need for your services as ‘social engineer’ to keep the sun shining and the birds singing.

    Now you’re just being silly. You stressed its unimportance as a mere contract.

    Mere contract? When did I say contracts were not important? I would say contracts are quite important. They probably make up nearly half of applied law. Multiple contracts matter hugely in the Bible. You are assuming because some contracts are about mundane things (your ‘agreement’ with Facebook) then all contracts are mundane. Now most traditional weddings have vows and the vows take the form of a contract. Sorry if you don’t like that but unless you believe the vows are just some type of performance art and the real action is the party, you can’t really avoid the contract aspect of it. And, unfortunately for your position, most traditional vows don’t even bother to mention children let alone put an emphasis on them.

    What are you arguing? You’ve basically (by your silence) conceded that 1.0 – 1.5 TFR is not sustainable. You apparently think 1.0 TFR is not a geometric contraction of population

    I’m willing to concede that if you forced TFR to remain at 1.0 you’d achieve a geometric contraction. The problem, though, is that TFR is not constant anymore than weather going up or down a degree a day is a constant, instead it reflects underlying processes. Hence you observed that the baby boom can generate a gain in population even at a lower TFR because it generates a ‘lump’ in the population of young people.

    Or to put it more briefly, who is sustaining any particular TFR?

  30. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Not sure how this would impact TFR except it would raise the amount needed to generate replacement population. If 1 out of 2 babies die, for instance, then each woman will need to have 4 to generate replacement (assuming a 50-50 male to female ratio).

    OK. Think for 30 seconds more how a recent medical advance (sterile birth procedures for example) which dramatically increased infant and maternal survival might impact a society in which TFR rates at say 4-7 (for relatively stable populations) changed slowly compared to faster improvements medicine might impact population when TFR rates took 20-40 years to ease. Perhaps a population explosion? Like the once you cite? Golly, this isn’t a arithmetic change in population. Strange that might be the case.

    Just the opposite, there was no multi-century ‘program’ to get people to raise their kids and value them

    Of course not, the “program” was in place for far longer than that.

    It is part of human nature and human culture develops around that nature.

    Culture = human nature? Nope. Culture is more deliberate.

    And, unfortunately for your position, most traditional vows don’t even bother to mention children let alone put an emphasis on them.

    Sorry that dog won’t fly. I’m an Orthodox Christian, our particular segment of Christianity prides itself on how slowly we change our rituals and forms and … newsflash children are certainly mentioned more than once, there is that emphasis. Which means if you think Christian marriage rites don’t emphasize children that’s because that is only true of those marriage rites as celebrated in the last 40-60 years. Go back a bit and you’ll find the missing elephant in your room. Do you want me to cite chapter and verse from the Marriage service? Let’s see:

    “That there may be granted unto them the happiness of abundant fertility, and a course of life blameless and unashamed; let us pray to the Lord.” …

    “Bless (+) this marriage and grant unto these Your servants (Name) and (Name) a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace, offspring long‑lived, fair fame by reason of their children, and a crown of glory that does not fade away.” …

    “Remember, O Lord our God, Your servant (Name) and Your servant (Name), and bless them. Give to them fruit of the womb, fair children, concord of soul and body. Exalt them as the cedars of Lebanon, and as well‑cultured vine; bestow on them a rich store of sustenance, so that having a sufficiency of all things for themselves, they may abound in every good work that is good and acceptable before You. Let them behold their children’s children as newly planted olive trees round about their table; and, being accepted before You, let them shine as stars in the Heavens, in You, our Lord, to Whom are due all Glory, honor, and worship as to Your eternal Father, and Your All‑Holy, Good, and Life‑creating Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.” …

    “Join them together in oneness of mind; crown them with wedlock into one flesh; grant to them the fruit of the womb, and the gain of well favored children, …

    “And you, O Bride, be magnified as was Sarah, and rejoiced as was Rebecca, and increased as Rachel, being glad in your husband, keeping the paths of the Law, for so God is well pleased.” …

    is my point made? Recall worldwide there are about a billion in the Roman Catholic communion and 800 million Eastern Orthodox … (Byzantine rite Roman Catholics will be using the above service).

    I’m willing to concede that if you forced TFR to remain at 1.0 you’d achieve a geometric contraction.

    OK. And TFR changes occur slowly, that long term trends are meaningful (even if you can have temporary … explainable influences like 5 million young men returning from a war in an economic boom causing a bump in TFR for a half-generation or so)?

    Or to put it more briefly, who is sustaining any particular TFR?

    Those couples deciding to marry and have children (and how many). Why is it that you pretend not to know where children come from? For such a highly educated fellow its odd how rhetorical exigencies insist that you ape ignorance. There was a time when boys were taught to get a job to marry and support a family and girls were taught to find a well positioned fellow and marry and raise a family. Now boys and girls are taught to get a career and to have consequence free sex. This is of course completely unconnected with a low TFR crises, at least in your view.

  31. Boonton says:

    Not disputing that medical advancements as well as material improvements was responsible for most of the population explosion (people just getting enough to eat and getting sewage working alone dramatically reduces early deaths). Nor do I mean to suggest you could currently generate a population explosion via medical advances from the current population unless you’re talking about something very radical like extending lifespan by a factor of two or three or the so-called singularity which essentially would be a materialistic based immortality.

    Culture = human nature? Nope. Culture is more deliberate.

    Not quite what I said. Culture adapts to human nature, not the other way around. Communist cultures (and I’m talking true communist communes, not the USSR or China) were tried and almost always fail because of the individualistic nature of humans. Not that they couldn’t work in theory, ants seem to do it, they don’t work for people. That various clergy, artists and others cheerlead parenting doesn’t make it human nature to value one’s children and seek a type of immortality through them, you’re confusing cheerleaders with players in the game.

    Nice try on the marriage vows, but note the children are still secondary, mentioned as good things that they hope God gives to the happy couple. Roman Catholic and Anglican vows (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_vows) take the form of a promise of one partner to another, and no the “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…” was not some new fangled innovation from 60 years ago.

    Additional vows for Jewish and Muslim religions can be found here http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-ceremony/articles/traditional-wedding-vows-from-various-religions.aspx. Note while vows may not be spoken directly in all ceremonies, the core idea remains the same. The husband is ‘taking’ the wife and the wife is ‘taking’ the husband. Two parties are making a contract or covenant. Note also most ceremonies echo the contractual nature of this affair, with ‘payment’ being made in the form of a ring or dowery for example, the clergy acting as a ‘witness’ as a notary might witness your real estate contract and so on. This would exist as such before the couple has any kids, would still exist if they didn’t have kids, and exists after kids are grown up. If this was just about a means to an end of getting kids created and raised, you could cut to the chase. Make marriage contingent upon kids, make childless marriages easy to dissolve so couples could find new partners to have kids with and make it easy to dissolve marriages after kids have grown up. The reason that form of marriage didn’t develop over the ages is because that wasn’t the point of marriage to begin with. It was about a lifetime committment between two people. Kids are a byproduct. If tomorrow some plague made all humans infertile with the only way of making new humans some type of cloning technology that produced full grown adults rather than children, I would predict that people would still marry each other.

    Anyway let’s back up since I feel we’ve gotten caught up in a technical argument about demographics and population projections. Since you’ve asserted multiple times that you are not alleging SSM in itself will cause couples not to marry or not to have kids or not to have as many kids, you haven’t really presented an argument against SSM. You may have presented an argument for why there are bigger things to worry about than SSM, but since you’ve pounded the point that SSM does not cause TFR to alter you are lacking an argument against SSM.

    Most anti-SSM advocates disagree with you, they allege that there’s a direct causal link between adopting SSM and either people having fewer kids or not doing as good a job raising them and so on. At least with this argument one can say if it is correct then there’s a sensible reason to oppose SSM. You’re more less arguing that SSM is disconnected from solving some very serious problem, but we should oppose it anyway because…well why again? Ohhh yea you don’t say we should oppose it since you’re for local decisions on marriage law…..

    Well then again its the anti-SSM camp that’s been trying to Federalize marriage under one universal system with their FMA which would ban any state or locality that wanted to try SSM. More importantly if such serious things like the future of humanity is at stake (or is it the future ethnic makeup of a nation?) then why would you allow localities to decide? We don’t let local counties decide to make treaties with foreign powers we may be at war with, for example.

  32. Boonton says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_fertility_rate goes into detail about how TFR is calculated. In short it’s synthetic metric.

    Here’s the crux of how its calculated. Let’s say you have a 13 yr old daughter. Say from 13-20 the average female will have 0.15 children. At that same moment, the average woman 20-30 will have 0.95 children, from 30-40 0.2 children, 40+ 0.05 children. You then ‘fast forward’ your daughter…as if she lived at all ages right now and you get a TFR of 1.35.

    The problem with that is that is NOT saying she will have 1.35 kids in her actual lifetime. From 13-20 her odds of having kids will be what the odds of teens having kids in the 2012-2019 period. In 2020, though, her odds/number of kids she has won’t be the rates of 20 yr old women from the 2012-19 period, it will be part of the rate of 20 yr old women for the 2020-30 period.

    To see how this might be a factor consider a woman born 40 years ago. In 1971 the rate of childbirth among 40+ yr old women was very low. If you were to calculate TFR in 1971 you would ‘fast forward’ her through her 40’s assuming very few children. But today when she really hits her 40s the actual rate of childbirth among 40+’s is higher. Your calculated TFR would have told you a story of what 1971 looked like demographically but it would not be sufficient to predent 2012 population dynamics.

    This is a problem with obsessing over ‘sustainability’. It’s a bit like obsessing over wether a sunny day without a cloud in the sky is sustainable. Of course its not, but then it can’t be sustained to begin with! Needless to say the actual US TFR has varied being as low as 2.0 from 1935-39 then rising to 2.5 from 1940-44 (note that’s before the baby boom), peaking at 3.7 in the 50’s before dropping again to the 1935 zone of 2.0 and slightly below.

    What’s interesting is that I don’t think a baby boom would necessarily impact it. Yes a population that saw an infusion of 20 yr olds would soon see an infusion of babies since 20 yr olds have more babies then, say, 40 yr olds. But that may not impact the actual TFR rate which is based on a pretend ‘summing’ of the fertility rates of different cohorts of women at any given moment.

  33. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    You know for a guy who is “in with” the Anthropenic Climate Change and claims to be up to speed on economics you seem to compartmentalize really really well. TFR changes slowly and when it does there are cultural queues for why (boomers -> lots of young men returning from overseas after not being home for an appreciable time). TFR is “calculated” in that we don’t actually take census every year and one wants to deconvolve to an “instant” value instead of a census related one. For a guy comfortable with GDP and other more esoteric econometric values which are all synthetic I’m unclear on your objection. Western Europe and Canada have had declining values of TFR for the last century and are now uncomfortably low, i.e., in many places well below 1.5. If Climate had the same kind of change you’d be screaming that we need to act now, a 1-3% per year change in climate would be kinda noticeable. With TFR (unlike climate) the boomer period (’46-’64 had an explanation, unlike the non-change in global climate over the last 15 years). What you aren’t explaining is how is going to turn around.

    You really really really prefer trivial arguments. Let me attempt to simplify it even further (at the expense of clearer connection)
    1. Populations are in crises.
    2. Population maintenance is dependent on cultural factors.
    3. These cultural factors can be intentionally moved by particular leading sectors of society, i.e., teachers, artists, preachers, and politicians (this list is not exhaustive).
    3. Of the things that need to change to reverse the cultural swing that underlies the cultural swing SSM is on the wrong side of the fence, i.e., it connects with ideas and notions that reduce not reverse the needed cultural swing.

    Saying that SSM is irrelevant is nonsense. I say its a symptom. I mean it.

    This is why I’ve repeatedly asked for a description of a society in which you have SSM and at the same time, society focuses on the importance of having children and raising them well. This is the place for your counter argument. You have none. There is no good argument for SSM except the Libertarian one, which alas like Communism (as you note) misreads the nature of man (in the Communism case, put simply, the error is that man is perfectible, in the Libertarian case in that man is a rational independent creature).

  34. Boonton says:

    TFR is “calculated” in that we don’t actually take census every year and one wants to deconvolve to an “instant” value instead of a census related one

    You wouldn’t need to take a census every year. TFR is calculated by looking at the rate of childbirth for every woman by age. The mechanics of this are kind of simple:

    Top of the fraction: Every birth is recorded by state vital statistics and includes the age of the mother.

    Bottom of the fraction: You have the census. For any particular age group, say 30 yr olds, they will be 31 one year after the census. The CDC collects and publishes stats on all deaths in the US so you can adjust the count for 31 yr olds who died. In addition population is tracked elsewhere by other agencies…state DMVs, Social Security etc.

    TFR is not the simple ‘babies divided by females’ you claimed and it does not indicate how many children a woman will have in her lifetime. It indicates how many children women of all ages happen to be having at one particular moment. As I pointed out, though, this is not a population prediction. Women in their 40’s had a low rate of childbirth 40 years ago relative to today, yet 40 years ago TFR reflected not the childbirthing lives of females from then, but only childbirthing habits as they were 40 years ago.

    (even if you can have temporary … explainable influences like 5 million young men returning from a war in an economic boom causing a bump in TFR for a half-generation or so)?

    This sounds like a good story, but it doesn’t fit the data. WWII eneded in 1945 and nearly all soldiers were home by 1947. The TFR did climbe from 2.5 to 2.30 from the 1940-44 period to 1945-49. But there was an equally steep climb of 0.5 from 1935-1939 when you didn’t have anyone returning home from war and in the 1955-59 period it was 3.7, a much steeper climb.

    Western Europe and Canada have had declining values of TFR for the last century and are now uncomfortably low, i.e., in many places well below 1.5. If Climate had the same kind of change you’d be screaming that we need to act now, a 1-3% per year change in climate would be kinda noticeable.

    Exactly what makes something here uncomfortable? I’ve asked you before what is the problem with Germany having its 1960 population 60 years from now? I don’t recall Germany’s population being uncomfortably low in 1960. You keep dodging what the issue is here. Let’s look at your summarized argument:

    1. Populations are in crises.

    How? Are you saying humanity is in crises and needs a huge population to avoid extinction or are you saying particular ethnic groups are in crises because their population ratios may become smaller relative to other groups?

    2. Population maintenance is dependent on cultural factors.

    Germany, France, UK, Canada, Japan, even China all have TFRs that you would say are too low…yet they all seem to have very different cultures indicating that TFR is not driven by vague ‘cultural factors’….unless you mean moving out of mass poverty and into a middle class dominated economy is the ‘cultural factor’, in which case economic progress, not SSM, is your enemy.

    3. These cultural factors can be intentionally moved by particular leading sectors of society, i.e., teachers, artists, preachers, and politicians (this list is not exhaustive).

    Possibly but more likely these sectors are driven by culture IMO.

    3. Of the things that need to change to reverse the cultural swing that underlies the cultural swing SSM is on the wrong side of the fence, i.e., it connects with ideas and notions that reduce not reverse the needed cultural swing.

    This might work except you specifically forbidden yourself from arguing that SSM was a cause, instead you said it was a symptom of these vague ‘factors’. So by your argument whether or not a country adopts SSM is irrelevant. A person may present a symptom of a particular disease without having the disease or they may have the disease without presenting a particular symptom. Here you don’t have an actual argument against SSM unless you’re willing to concede your argument is based on SSM being to some degree a cause (maybe not the only one) of the ‘factors’ you’re fighting. In that case you should prepare your apology for calling that argument a ‘straw man’.

    This is why I’ve repeatedly asked for a description of a society in which you have SSM and at the same time, society focuses on the importance of having children and raising them well. This is the place for your counter argument

    Well that’s really quite simple. You simply focus on the importance of children and raising them well while at the same time the clerk at the marriage office will accept license requests from same sex couples who wish to be legally married.

  35. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I’m failing to see your “argument against”.

    Your argument against point 1 … is that cultural/national loss of identity isn’t a problem for culture or nation. Apparently if your nation’s TFR is not 1.5 it has to be much larger than 2.

    Your argument against #2 is that apparently cultural leaders are moved not movers. Tolstoy made that argument in War and Peace, i.e., that Napoleon was just a man swept up by the moment and movement and no individual (or group) can influence the course of history. You haven’t actually argued successfully that the etiquette reforms pushed over the last 600 years were pushed up not down.

    On #3 you argue we should be repairing the paint on the sinking ship. The argument (used that I’ve seen) is that we can “do more than one thing at at time” which would be more credible if this was actually being done, i.e., some credible attempts to stop the sinking were in effect.

    You simply focus on the importance of children and raising them well while at the same time the clerk at the marriage office will accept license requests from same sex couples who wish to be legally married.

    Quite the novel … very descriptive and realistic. That certainly realistically describes a urban utopia.

  36. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    This sounds like a good story, but it doesn’t fit the data. WWII eneded in 1945 and nearly all soldiers were home by 1947. The TFR did climbe from 2.5 to 2.30 from the 1940-44 period to 1945-49. But there was an equally steep climb of 0.5 from 1935-1939 when you didn’t have anyone returning home from war and in the 1955-59 period it was 3.7, a much steeper climb.

    OK. Let’s see, your forgot the half of the sentence where the economic boom resulting from end-of-war + their return came in and you figure if TFR needs to be impacted immediately after their return as if getting married and having kids takes months.

    What then is your explanation for the rise if it isn’t the return and boom? I await your explanation eagerly.

  37. Boonton says:

    Your argument against point 1 … is that cultural/national loss of identity isn’t a problem for culture or nation. Apparently if your nation’s TFR is not 1.5 it has to be much larger than 2.

    OK so you’re not arguing about humanity in general but about one groups ‘identity’ versus another groups. This, though, has nothing to do with TFR being less than 2. It has to do with your TFR being less than someone else’s. If your group (whatever that is, whites, Orthodox, Russins etc.) has a TFR of 5 but another (blacks, Jews, Gypsies, etc.) has a TFR of 8 then all things being equal the influence of your group will decline over time relative to others.

    As you can see, this often leads to a nasty conclusion. If all you are bitching about is the relative ratios of various ethnic groups, well if you can’t match them in TFR you can try to lower their TFR, which is what Nazi Germany tried.

    Your argument against #2 is that apparently cultural leaders are moved not movers. Tolstoy made that argument in War and Peace, i.e., that Napoleon was just a man swept up by the moment and movement and no individual (or group) can influence the course of history. You haven’t actually argued successfully that the etiquette reforms pushed over the last 600 years were pushed up not down.

    Actually I did point out I don’t buy your etiquette argument, which you base on a single ancedotal example from a book on etiquette. Even so shifting etiquette from the top down (i.e. asserting its ok to have elbows on the table whereas before it wasn’t) is hardly the same thing as alleging the culture itself can be shifted from the top down as if it was engineered by elites.

    On #3 you argue we should be repairing the paint on the sinking ship. The argument (used that I’ve seen) is that we can “do more than one thing at at time” which would be more credible if this was actually being done, i.e., some credible attempts to stop the sinking were in effect.

    Still not an argument against SSM. You’re giving a reason to allocate your time to something other than SSM, not a reason to put any effort into opposing the activities of SSM advocates. Again if the guy painting the ship refuses to stop painting, it’s really no big deal unless you have some reason to think his painting is causing the ship to sink. Or to put it another way it’s like getting all huffy on the Titanic that the band’s instruments are out of tune rather than trying to get people to board the lifeboats in an orderly manner.

    OK. Let’s see, your forgot the half of the sentence where the economic boom resulting from end-of-war + their return came in and you figure if TFR needs to be impacted immediately after their return as if getting married and having kids takes months.

    That might work except for the fact that the 60’s were a period of relative boom yet TFR went from 3.7 to 2.6. Likewise the period 1930-1940 say an increaes of 0.5. Almost as big as the 0.7 increase from 1949 to the peak of 3.7 in the 1955-59 period and there was no economic boom then! But this is a lot of jumping around in periods of just 5 years for a metric that you need to remain perfectly stable for 60+ years to justify cries of ‘crises’!

    What then is your explanation for the rise if it isn’t the return and boom? I await your explanation eagerly.

    Easy, an unstable, synthetic variable will not remain constant. Presumably, then, it follows that any attempt to build a model out of the assumption that it will is foolish.

  38. Boonton says:

    The real question here is lifetime actual fertility a constant variable. The problem here is that you don’t know unless you observe a woman for her whole lifetime fertility. But it can be calculated. Assume fertility is from 15 yrs old to 45 yrs. Then all you have to do is see how many children on average women born in 1968 (2012-44)had to date. Women born in 1967, 1966, 1965 and so on. A dataset of at least 50-60 years can probably be constructed with estimated datasets for periods before.

    Question: Do you think this variable will be relatively constant or changing?

  39. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I see, “Germany” or “Italy” (not to mention basically all of Northern Europe) has a national problem, but that in your eyes since it’s not a global population problem is one of relative ethnic rations. Not a nasty conclusion unless you’re a nasty person.

    Actually I did point out I don’t buy your etiquette argument

    Actually I didn’t “base” it on one anecdote, I illustrated it with one anecdote. I figured you could easily find more, because you can.

    Again if the guy painting the ship refuses to stop painting, it’s really no big deal unless you have some reason to think his painting is causing the ship to sink.

    Or that he might get out of the way of people trying to bail the boat out.

    Easy, an unstable, synthetic variable will not remain constant. Presumably, then, it follows that any attempt to build a model out of the assumption that it will is foolish.

    Kind of like GDP.

  40. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Question: Do you think this variable will be relatively constant or changing?

    Counter question. Do you constantly confuse weather with climate in the global warming debates?

  41. Boonton says:

    Answer: No.

    You’re turn now:

  42. Boonton says:

    BTW, symptom or cure? It seems that states that have legalized SSM have, if anything bucked a mild declining trend in marriage rates
    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/05/does_gay_marriage_affect_marriage_or_divorce_rates_.html

    Connecticut’s marriage rate appeared to be almost perfectly flat until an increase after passing SSM in 08. Iowa saw an increase in marriage rates *before* passing SSM in ’09 (remember your model is that SSM is a symptom of a culture that’s showing declining marriage and children). Massachusetts was much more wobbly but by doing it in 04 it has given us nearly a full decade worth of data. It too saw an increase in marriage before passage, slight declines afterwards but still higher than it was before SSM. Vermont’s mariage rate was declining before SSM, in line with your theory…although while Vermont’s rate was declining, it was higher than the national average. Yet it too saw an increase in marriage before passage and has been shooting higher than the national average ever since. New Hampshire almost perfectly mirrored the national trend line, but it too saw greater marriage before passing SSM.

    There’s you answer to your question about what would society look like with SSM. More importantly, though, it seems to present a perfect counter to your argument that SSM is a symptom….it actually seems to be the opposite, its a symptom of a culture that is embracing marriage. That makes sense when you consider SSM from the civil rights angle. If you’re pushing marriage then SSM gives you something to push to everyone. If you’re pushing a more swinging lifestyle (ala Austin Powers circa 1970’s) you probably don’t care much about SSM because you’re not really all that keen on regular marriage to begin with.