My wife and I feed wet food to our two cats Ben and Jerry at the same time every day. Ben spends the whole prior hour crying for that food. He seems to be expect that, if not for his lobbying, we’d never feed him. Jerry instead spends a similar time spread out across the prior 24 hours lobbying for our immediate attention. He seems to expect that we wouldn’t feed or house him if he could not induce us to pay enough regular attention to him.
I like this kind of analysis where you examine the interplay of signalling issues with attempts to incentivize certain behaviors. I love the idea of designing clever new mechanisms to more efficiently incentive certain behavior but I think the kind of analysis like you do at the top here of checking to see if it is appropriately signal compatible is critical.
It is interesting that in the fifties, during the baby boom, a man could support a large family on a single salary, and his job security was much higher than anyone’s today. It was not uncommon to start and finish one’s career at the same company. I think the expectation of job insecurity, or experience of a layoff early in one’s career would also drive down fertility, since financial stability is usually a prerequisite for starting a family.
Is it gatecrashing this conversation to note that human fertility is currently doing fine (or alarmingly not at all fine for those old people who have seen the world's population triple in just the course of one boomer lifetime)? What seems to be the case globally is that more advanced societies will lose out fertility-wise to those of what used to be called ''the third world '. Anyone got a plan for how to make that a happy prospect?
I think it's strange how many people in rationalist spheres, who say they are concerned with underpopulation, and wary of signalling and status games etc. Have yet to start a high fertility subculture, it seems sort of trivial for such a group to prevent population collapse and genetic deterioration etc. at minimal cost.
The most interesting part to me was the idea that women wait to marry out of fear of admitting personal failure. They see marriage as solidifying their self worth.
I am curious if you have a reason WHY this is particularly bad recently?
I would think that feminism would have the opisit effect-- the more detached ones self worth is from marriage, the lower their standards.
“The book Promises I Can Keep (recommended to me by Caplan) describes how lower class US women now wait longer to marry because of their increased reverence for marriage. They have sex and children with men they do not see as good enough to marry. This is because they see marriage as a declaration of life success, and so wait to marry until they have collected a good enough career, partner, home, etc. To marry without these is to publicly admit to life failure. Such signaling habits plausibly reduce their marriage rates. And as marriage tends to increase fertility, this plausibly cuts fertility. “
There is reason to believe that most parents today pay more attention to their kids than in the past, at least if daycare is counted as farmed-out attention. Either way, I think it is a mistake to lump all types of added attention as over-parenting.
I agree that suggesting too many play dates and not enough unstructured time with other kids has negative impacts is a reasonable claim.
Spending lots of time interacting with an infant or even 18 months old probably isn't over parenting. I'd argue it's hard for a parent to spend too much time interacting (as opposed to hovering) with any age kid.
I'd bet the cases for unstructured kid play instead of play dates (your assertion) and for increase parent interaction (my assertion) are both rather weakly supported by data, science, studies,, etc .
This is all true. Mostly urbanisation (high rents, so much income to make and things to do): cities are fertility traps - and always have been, though some disagree: https://www.allianz.com/content/dam/onemarketing/azcom/Allianz_com/migration/media/press/document/PROJECTM_Big_cities-more_babies.pdf .
The long term solution is evolution. Those who have inheritable traits that makes them enjoy having even more than 2 kids will have more. Evolution seems slow, but depending on the factors, it can be quite fast: As DINKs, GINKs and DINKWADs get eliminated from the gene-pool by definition, expect much less of them in three generations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DINK
I agree with much of this. I had recommended that high-status (pro natalist) folks talk more about little kids publicly and "pay" moms with attention. Not promoting the abstract idea of mothers who do all the work while the other adults are out building satellites, but specifically helping a current mom. https://economistwritingeveryday.com/2022/08/20/ambitious-parenting/ Specifically, I suggested that Elon Musk tweet out Emily Oster's newsletter every week.
The post was a rant by an exhausted mom of littles. I'm tempted to edit it, but I'll keep it honest by leaving it alone.
I think the situation is less dire than it'd be if all those tendencies were independent. I don't think they are.
I think they are (or most are) downstream from population being excessive, and the demand for human labour having cratered since the turn of the XX century.
The implied solution trend is simpler and clearer, but harder to stomach
For the parental investment one, some ideas that might help:
Promote free-range parenting and encourage parents to compete on how independent their children are instead of how much attention they give them.
Reverse changes to laws and guidance so kids can be left alone at earlier ages, play unsupervised earlier etc. (Difficult with current safetyism, but necessary for the above.)
Publicise research that shows parenting has little effect on IQ, personality etc; stop claiming the early years are critical to academic achievement and well-adjustedness.
Reduce competitiveness of the education system. Helping children through the educational gauntlets is one reason for intensive parental investment, so reducing or eliminating these would give a double benefit.
Seems like the best solution is teen pregnancy among the high IQ.
A subculture that encouraged and rewards High IQ people who choose to pair bond and reproduce (2-3 children) at 16-19 who are then left to be raised by the married grandparents (4 of them) while the 20+ yr old parents go on to 4-6 yrs of school and then reproduce again at 30-35 (2-3 children) would go a long way providing society with more children (4-6 per couple) and healthier pregnancies.
Each sanctioned pregnancy of a 140+ IQ 16-19 yr old couple would earn a refundable tax credit of $50k per child/yr up to age 25
When you compare the tax credit cost to healthcare costs for fertility treatments and >38 yr old pregnancies, having kids early look like a bargain
education signalling also makes the cost of kids much higher
The analysis is solid - but it assumes that things continue as they are. But they won’t. I can’t say how they will change - but they will change; and if the fertility bust continues long enough there will be incentives to reverse it.
I think this post could use some headings. "So far I have listed many ways in which lower fertility allows for better looking signals" This paragraph is a transition to a new section and should be marked as such. Another heading for when that list begins.
Children require sacrifices. People are not used to sacrificing anything, and so they don't have children. In the past, children were at least of possible economic utility, but now they are only a drain.
So combine no sacrificing with no benefit, and you get less kids.