Monday, August 25, 2014

The Sex of the Debt: Fertility Rate Edition

In this post, which is one of a series on the "Gender of the Federal Debt", I'd like to look at issue that is receiving a lot of latent attention from both political parties, albeit in different ways, and which has some interesting and surprising dynamics not immediately visible: fertility rates in the United States.  For this reason, I've renamed this view the "Sex of the [Federal] Debt".

1.  What Are The Current Fertility Rates?

First, some basic facts on fertility rates.    The fertility rate is the projected births per woman in his/her lifetime (these statistics are based on women, but the same data generally applies for men):


Avg US Total Fertility Rate from 2000-2011 (including illegal immigrants):
All
2.01
White
1.85
Black
2.05
Hispanic
2.62



2012 Total Fertility Rate In US (including illegal immigrants):
All
1.88[1]
White
1.72
Black
1.90
Hispanic
2.19

When the fertility rate drops below 2.1, a country or political economy is said to have fallen below the "replacement rate". For a country like China or India, which had very high fertility rates until recently, and which have huge populations (1.3 billion in China; 1.4 billion in India in 2014), this is not likely to spell the end of such a civilization and may, in fact, help preserve it.  Here are the current fertility rates in these countries:

US
2.01
China
1.55
India
2.51


For countries or populations that have had lower fertility rates for a long time, which has been the case in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Northern Europe (other than Ireland), and some populations in the U.S., particularly "mainline Protestant"-legacy people in the U.S. and Canada (as contrasted with Evangelical Protestants), however, this can start to look as though a civilization is in danger; this is particularly ironic in the US as the reason that illegal immigrants say they want to move to the US is for its political economy, which is based in its constitution written with a basis in "rights and responsibilities of person and citizen", as distinct from the "rights of man / responsibilities of woman" constitutionalization countries such as Ireland, Italy, the Phillippines or Central America have to this day.  It also is curious that there is no effort to help Central American countries with constitutional reform.

Mainline Protestants did not/do not have religious proscriptions against contraception or abortion, as Catholicism does and Evangelical Christianity often does.  Also, the Protestant work ethic included some expectations about investment in children and parental responsibility for meeting children's needs that tended to encourage smaller family size, so many of these families have been smaller for many generations.  (I am from this background, and the average family size has been less than 3 on both sides of my family going well back into the 1800s; no family on either side of my ancestry had more than 4 children back into the 1800s.)



France
2.08
Sweden
1.88
Norway
1.86
Great Britain
1.9
Denmark
1.73
Finland
1.73
Belgium
1.65
Switzerland
1.54
Portugal
1.52
Spain
1.48
Germany
1.43



Italy
1.42
Germany
1.43
Japan
1.40


And, finally, here some 2014 fertility rates of countries that are sending a lot of illegal immigrants to the United States:


Mexico
2.29
Guatemala
2.99
Honduras
2.86
El Salvador
1.95


2.  What does this mean for issues of politics in the United States and peer families?

One interesting phenomenon, that has not been well tracked in the press, is that countries typically go through stages in their development that have effects on their fertility rates (excluding immigration from the picture to clarify the phenomenon), where they start with:

(a) majority patriarchal/maternalist families, or families where the mother is considered the primary, or sometimes the only parent, responsible for meeting children's needs (the unpaid work of the family).  Men in these countries may have some legitimate and some illegitimate children, which they may or may not acknowledge.  Before paternity became provable in 1970, this was more common, although there have been populations in the US that have always been focused on an issue of paternal responsibility for children, particularly the "Mainline Protestants" (at the time the Constitution was written they were represented primarily by the New England Puritans, the Mid-Atlantic Quakers and Scottish Presbyterians; these each had different views of the nature of this paternal responsibility).

Then they move to:

(b) majority "transitional" families, where the mother typically earns some income, and the father may play some more direct role in meeting children's needs.  This is common in countries where the cost of proving/disproving paternity is low enough that it is available to a significant portion of the population.  It currently costs $300-$1000 to prove paternity, although this price is rapidly dropping and may be under $100 by the end of the decade and be something that can be done via a corner drugstore.  Divorce rates are highest in these families.

And finally, to:

(c) majority egalitarian families, or shared earning/shared parenting families, which are the focus of this blog.  Divorce rates are lowest in these families.

As countries move from (a) to (b), the fertility rate drops, often to well below 2.1 or the "replacement rate."  

As countries move from (b) to (c), to more egalitarian families, the fertility rate rises back up.  This has happened in some countries in Scandinavia, which have effectively pushed families through these stages through reconfiguring social welfare programs from subsidizing women as primary parents and unpaid workers to a model of both parents having responsibility for meeting needs of the child or the unpaid work of the family.   As paternity has become inexpensively provable, the Scandinavian countries have rapidly shifted their modeling in these programs.  And this has had an effect on their fertility rates.  For example, take a look again at the fertility rates in Northern Europe listed above, and you'll see this phenomenon.  Sweden and Norway are back up nearer 2. 



Year 1984 Fertility Rate
Year 2000 Fertility Rate
Year 2014 Fertility Rate
Sweden
1.66
1.54
1.88
Norway
1.66
1.84
1.86

We don't yet have an example of a country that reaches stage (c), with a majority of egalitarian families, but did not force the population through as the Scandinavian welfare programs do.

As I noted in these prior posts, the US does such forcing in the other direction; it pressures people into patriarchal/maternalist families by heavily subsidizing them, including through debt, and overtaxing and underbenefitting egalitarian families.)

Some countries go a different path, however, with large amounts of immigration, particularly large amounts of illegal immigration, which tends to keep the fertility rates higher, but mainly because of the high fertility rates to first generation immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants in jus soli countries (where a child has rights of citizenship if born on that country's soil, regardless of the citizenship of the parents).  (Sweden and Norway, by contrast, are jus sanguinis countries, where one or both parents must be a citizen for the child to have citizenship opportunity)   Several countries that used to have jus soli, such as England and France, have repealed it in recent years in favor of jus sanguinis.   I will discuss some of the dynamics of this legal reform in an upcoming post.   Here are the current fertility rates:


Great Britain
1.90
France
2.08
United States
2.01



The problem in these countries is that the lower fertility rates to citizen populations, effectively become masked by the high fertility rates to immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants.   Also, while a country is in stage (b), where it has a lot of transitional families, and a lower than replacement fertility rate, it tends to attract a lot of illegal immigration, usually from countries that have higher-than-replacement fertility rate.[2]





This then confuses the public policy and can create latent political pressures that result in bizarre political behavior, such as

1.  The GoP preoccupation with prohibiting contraception and abortion, and prohibiting taxpayer funding for these services, but not recognizing any paternal responsibility for children; or

2.  Both parties seeking to offer citizenship to illegal immigrants, even as women don't have full citizenship rights and men are exempted from citizenship responsibility in some states or in some federal programs.  The "Gang of Eight" immigration reform bill is an example of this.  (Significantly, no women legislators participated in this legislation).  Also, the effort by the Obama Administration to prosecute child illegal immigrants who have followed predecessor illegal immigrant parents, (in all of the cases reported in the press, the predecessor illegal immigrant parent has been the father), to the US, and not to prosecute the predecessor illegal immigrant parent, is an example of this.  Civil rights lawyers representing the children have not paid any attention to this displacement of the "real defendant in interest" status to the child from the father.  Nor has the Obama Administration made any effort to encourage or support constitutional reform in the countries that are producing a lot of illegal immigrants.

3.  Democrats claiming that Social Security will be refunded, from its current projected deficit, by "communities of color", who have higher fertility rates than white U.S. citizens.  The projection does not acknowledge that black US citizens have a much lower fertility rate than Hispanics, and illegal immigrants are less likely to be black or white and much more likely to be Hispanic.
Avg US Total Fertility Rate from 2000-2011 (including illegal immigrants):
All
2.01
White
1.85
Black
2.05
Hispanic
2.62

There are a number of problems with the math of this, including that the wage rates will thus be most likely less than minimum wage as these low rates have bee one reason illegal immigrants' services have been engaged instead of US citizens for the same work; also, no payroll taxes have been collected from the employers of illegal immigrants or the employee illegal immigrants (and none will be collected from the employers under the Gang of Eight bill; while they will be collected from the employees who seek citizenship, they will be unlikely to have the money to pay.)  Even if the illegal immigrants are made citizens, and thus must be paid minimum wage, because benefits in Social Security (and Medicare for that matter) are progressive and subsidize sole breadwinners, they will not contribute enough to pay for even half of the benefits they receive.  Also, employers typically pass along their half of the payroll tax to employees in the form of lower wages, because the tax is assessed to the company and not to the owners of the company.  The progressivity of the benefits to low wage workers is paid for by mid/high-wage workers and the subsidy to sole breadwinners (2x benefits for 1x taxes) is paid for by 2-earner families (2x benefits for 2x taxes).

Also, this does nothing to address the problem of the current $19 trillion federal debt and resolving some of the unconstitutional aspects of it that would reduce the size of its being passed down to Gen-X and younger people.

4.  Right-wing agendas that can mirror the problems that led to both World War I and World War II.  This has been a concern in Europe.

Many of the Mainline Protestant legacy has now become secular humanist or atheistic as well as being the first to "transition" to two-earner/two-parent families, with the corresponding drop in fertility rates below 2.1.  Mainline Protestants have left their religion in very large numbers since 1970, in much larger percentages than Catholics or Evangelical Protestants,  meaning that they don't have the collective action basis that they had around issues such as abolition of slavery and coverture, prevention of discrimination against women in voting, etc.

The discourse has thus become dominated by a Catholic and Evangelical Protestant Right and a Catholic and Maternalist Left, neither of which accurately represents the ideology of the US Constitution that so many have come to the US to get.

5.   Preoccupations with national security, sometimes provoked by attacks from lawless regions of the world that have higher-than-replacement fertility rates, that lead to overspending on national defense.  One example of this is the violence of Al-Quaeda and ISIS.  One example of how this works is the connection between the British Empire legacy countries failing to reckon with the implications of paternity being provable for their "rights and responsibilities of person and citizen constitutions" and not modeling this even as countries such as Tunisia are adopting an "equal rights and responsibilities regardless of sex" constitution.   I will discuss this nexus in an upcoming post.


____________________________________________________

All these factors lead to a "sex of the debt" problem, where declining fertility rates among some sectors, particularly white and black US citizens (and possibly some Latino US citizens as well), and high fertility rates among some sectors, particularly among illegal immigrants, lead to a piling up of the debt and a failure to do the budgetary work to make the federal system solvent.

One aspect of this budgetary work is removing discrimination against peer marrieds.  Some proposals for this I have outlined here and here.




[1] This is the lowest rate since 1986.  It was at 2.1 in 2007.


[2] See this chart for an example of how illegal immigration from a country with fertility rates above 2.1 (Mexico) to a country with fertility rates below 2.1 (United States), occurs.
Year
US Fertility Rate[1]
Mexico Fertility Rate[1]
Percentage of US Population in the Country Illegally[1]
1950
3.03


1958
3.65


1965
2.91
6.77

1969
2.46
6.76
0.3%
1974
1.835
6.16
0.5%
1980
1.839
4.71
1.3%
1983
1.799
4.17
0.9%
1992
2.046
3.21
1.3%
1996
1.976
2.81
1.9%
2000
2.056
2.58
3%
2003
2.047
2.53
3.3%
2007
2.120
2.42
3.9%
2009
2.002
2.36
3.5%
2010
1.931
2.3
3.8%



Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States; http://www.tradingeconomics.com/mexico/fertility-rate-total-births-per-woman-wb-data.html; http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/completingfertility/RevisedTUIRAN-PARTIDApaper.PDF; http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/mexico/fertility-rate; http://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000844





















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