July 15, 2011

"Does education reduce childbearing, or does childbearing get in the way of education?"

Assuming causation, which direction does it go?

"In theory, either scenario is plausible."
A girl born in a "pronatalist" environment might later revise her childbearing aspirations as the experience of schooling transforms her world views, access to contraception, bargaining power or economic opportunities. Conversely, a teen’s unexpected pregnancy might alter the costs and social support available for her pursuit of education.
Supposedly, a study shows "that women's childbearing patterns have a stronger impact on their education than the other way around." That may or may not be true, but one question is: Why is it helpful to know? I've often read that educating young women is the most effective way to control population growth. If that belief is not true, it would undercut enthusiasm for education in countries with overpopulation problems.

We spend so much money on education, and I wonder whether we do that because of the intrinsic value of education or because we believe it is a means to various ends that we like. If the latter, studies that unsettle (or crush) our beliefs threaten our commitment to education.

53 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

duh,

How about it's a function of which comes first. Her first child, or a level of education at/above the average for her society?

rhhardin said...

Women's Choices: School vs. Children

It's written for women, that's for sure.

Their thing would be opportunities for women.

Robert said...

It depends upon what you mean by education. What were childbearing rates like in the Stone Age. And there kids got educated all the time -- how to hunt (including tracking), what plants to eat, how to make clothes/tanning hides. Reading the weather. And if you didn't learn those lessons, you starved to death.

I think it's less about "education" and more the more likely your kids will survive to adulthood so you don't need to reproduce as much.

Chase said...

We spend so much money on education . . .

and yet receive so very little on our investment.

And now California, with a 12% unemployment, on the brink of bankruptcy and being second worst state in educating its students, just passed a law yesterday mandating that gay history be taught in the public schools. LEGISLATORS HERE.

You can't make this up, folks - our government officials are really that stupid and uneducated out here.

Scott M said...

I believe, from readings of various journals from our forebears, that education used to be prized for it's own sake. The population was less specialized and it seemed a lot of people had a lot of skills.

It seems now, though, that we browbeat the education drum because it increases the likelihood of an end we desire. Education, for its own sake, seems second or third to that. This might have to do with the highly specialized nature of our modern society.

Shouting Thomas said...

We spend so much money on education...

Yes, and this is where the money goes... straight down the toilet.

Fred4Pres said...

Raising children is an education in itself.

chr1 said...

Most feminists conceptions of nature are deeply flawed, and often lead back to Continental Europe at best. That's why they are so at home with the redistributionist Left.

As for equality, they've been committing our institutions and our government to aim for impossible ideals...as evidenced by the fact.only a relatively few women, will have the luxury of choosing career or baby and exactly when, whether to work or not or take a few years off. There isn't just some "patriarchy" behind the wisdom of two parent families and proper male incentives for marriage as well as women's.

The relatively successful social standard that has served to create the wealth these people love to claim is theirs is often being replaced with....

...no fault divorce? attaching politics to new groups of poor people in the name of those ideals? no one being able to ask questions the costs/benefits of rearranging our society this way?

As to women's freedom, I'll leave that to women, and hope that folks like Althouse are committed to civil libertarianism and independent thought.

G Joubert said...

So at the other end of the spectrum, when they forgo childbearing for education, the biological clock ticking away becomes the worry. Instant career interruptus. A schism for women on the way to becoming fully self-actualized, because it also includes the biological imperative for many if not most.

Shouting Thomas said...

...and I wonder whether we do that because of the intrinsic value of education or because we believe it is a means to various ends that we like.

No, we taxpayers don't have any choice in the matter.

Read the City Journal article I cited above.

The Diversity Racket is a sponge that soaks up all available money. The racket cannot be questioned. Taxpayers have absolutely no say in the racket.

And, of course, social engineering of the role of women is the top priority of the Diversity Racket. Second in line in the Diversity Racket are gays.

The Diversity Racket is the lifeblood of your institution, Althouse. You're operating with a limitless slush fund. Your obsession with the Diversity Racket scams only amplifies how beholden we are all to the racket.

Shouting Thomas said...

Imperative #1 of the Diversity Racket:

Hetero white men must kiss the asses of women, gays and blacks.

You are neck deep in this shit, Althouse. I can see you slowly lifting your head above the shit heap and taking a look around.

But, you're still too enamored by 60s civil rights nostalgia to see what's going on.

MadisonMan said...

G Joubert, my own opinion is that women who obsess about their bio clock ticking would, if they weren't in a career that demanded a high level of education, obsess about something else. The main part of their personality, obsessing over something, would remain the same, it would just manifest itself in a different, but still (again IMO) annoying, way.

I say this after interacting with my brother earlier this week and realizing, again, how very much he behaves like our Mom did.

David said...

We spend so much on education because the teachers' unions are so powerful. Neither the inherent value of education or the add-on effects require that we spend more than $10,000 per student.

roesch-voltaire said...

If education is tied to economic opportunity and advancement for women, then yes the birth rate falls in India as well as here. But is money spent on education a waste? Well how am I to understand that in the past America was an admired for it innovation and power as thought there was no connection to our educational system? Interesting that China, which looks to the future, is pouring money into education and grad students into our universities-- I wonder why.

Shouting Thomas said...

Within this post, Althouse, you've just rejected the crowning assumption of the gay activist racketeers.

Gay sexuality is absolutely innate and fixed. It responds to nothing and arises from nothing.

Yet, here you have just suggested that heterosexuality is mutable, that is can be changed through propaganda and education.

So, which is it, Althouse? Or have the roles changed completely. Is heterosexuality now just something that is taught? Heterosexuality is subject to change, but not homosexuality?

How about an accounting of all the positions, salaries and facilities at WI devoted to the Diversity Racket?

This sex propaganda crap isn't happening accidentally, Althouse. The institution you work for and represent is involved in a massive propaganda program to make it happen.

Shouting Thomas said...

Interesting that China, which looks to the future, is pouring money into education and grad students into our universities-- I wonder why.

China is sending students here to study hard sciences and technology. American kids are helpless in these fields.

American kids are just about all wasting their time learning the commie propaganda you believe in, r-v. They're in the Diversity Racket programs.

Especially the women are concentrated in the Diversity Racket crap... which includes legal.

Legal is very attractive to women because it's all about writing and enforcing more rules... the female obsession. Legal continues to soak up more and more of our money, while producing nothing.

The ideal Diversity Racket.

edutcher said...

I don't think it's a reduction necessarily. The Baby Boom was borne (no pun) by women with at least a high school education in the days when that meant something. More education can mean, however, that a certain discipline is instilled and the woman doesn't put out as soon as she's able, which seems to have become the case more often in the last 40 years, when education has gone downhill.

Ann Althouse said...

We spend so much money on education, and I wonder whether we do that because of the intrinsic value of education or because we believe it is a means to various ends that we like.

We spend so much on education because the Democrat Party is in bed with the teachers' unions. It has nothing to do with actually educating anyone.

The Drill SGT said...

Chase said... and being second worst state in educating its students,

When I was in a Sacramento school 50 years ago, there were puffed out chests at how good the schools were, always ranking in the top 5 in the country and smirks at all those poor southern states in the bottom 5, now that California is 49th, it's not so much fun is it.

And before you talk about funding. California spends a hell of a lot more per pupil than it did 50 years ago, course we weren't educating half the population of Oaxaca

Freeman Hunt said...

I think it goes both ways.

It is MUCH harder to pursue educational options while caring for small children, so there will be quite a few women who have children early and therefore do not pursue their educational opportunities.

But for women who do not have children early and pursue education instead, it is often very difficult for them to put aside all the money and time invested in education and career to raise children. Most of my female friends who have pursued high levels of education are planning to have zero to two kids, the most they believe to be manageable under the circumstances of their careers.

Shouting Thomas said...

California spends a hell of a lot more per pupil than it did 50 years ago, course we weren't educating half the population of Oaxaca.

Not to worry.

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed in a law mandating gay education in the schools.

That ought to improve things.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...


Interesting that China, which looks to the future, is pouring money into education and grad students into our universities-- I wonder why.


China is sending students here to spy.

there, fixed it for you. Every Chinese student is interviewed by the PLA before being allowed overseas. Their course of study is reviewed and they are given intelligence targets and their intel productivity is measured.

traditionalguy said...

Why have miserable children at all?

Any serious environmentalist knows that baby people are the actual cause of human populations that rape the pristine nature.

All in favor of ending births and getting more and more educated until they die, please take the pledge and become homosexual or surgically neutered.

Do it for the future.

Wait, wait...let's keep a population of nubile young women for paid dating services in Florida as part of Disney World to show us how disgraceful heterosexual relations causing disgusting births were before education became our god.

carrie said...

There are many kinds of education. You are talking about our commitment to traditional school based education systems. But school based education systems all have agendas. Whether educaton reduces childbearing depends upon what is being taught. I went to the UW in the 70s and it reduced childbearing for me and my peers because we were taught (it was pounded into our heads) that there was a population crisis and that we should limit childbearing to just replacing ourselves (or less) ---all of my friends did just that and would not have dreamed of doing otherwise. And we all had our kids late in life after our careers were established because that was what we were taught. And we didn't change our names when we got married because we were taught that women need to keep their own identities. And none of us . . . . When I look back at all of this I am amazed at how our lives were programmed by the UW. It took me until my mid 40s to start thinking for myself.

Shouting Thomas said...

And we all had our kids late in life after our careers were established because that was what we were taught.

Apostasy! Sexual orientation and behavior is absolutely innate and cannot be changed!

That is, if you are homosexual...

A psychotherapist who would even attempt to alter homosexual behavior is a bigoted fascist.

Paul said...

Re "I've often read that educating young women is the most effective way to control population growth. If that belief is not true, it would undercut enthusiasm for education in countries with overpopulation problems":

Not so much, actually. The strongest evidence showing tangible benefits from education in poor Third World countries lies with primary education, and the benefits extend far beyond simply the tendency to limit family size. Promoting female literacy produces women who are better able to maintain not only their own health and nutrition, but that of their children; who are capable of adopting modern farming methods and high-yielding varieties on their farms, thereby raising their incomes; who will advocate for the education of their children; and who would be able to take salaried jobs if and when they are available.

roesch-voltaire said...

St you really are out of touch is some realities that lay outside of your Pot smoking music scene; I suggest that you at least check out the website of a few engineering schools before you make this claim: American kids are just about all wasting their time learning the commie propaganda you believe in, r-v. They're in the Diversity Racket programs.

I roll my eyes as I read this. Just this morning I got an email from an American born engineering student who took my class and now proudly writes about his research and publications at the graduate level. And he wanted to inform me that his younger brother will be enrolled in my class to start his engineering career.
You really should pull your head out of the diversity rhetoric and starting reading news links from ASEEt o discover the vitality of some of our students.

MadisonMan said...

We spend so much on education because the teachers' unions are so powerful.

I'd say the bigger budget breaker is that we have a Dept of Education at both Federal and State Levels that decides what should be done.

Triangle Man said...

American kids are just about all wasting their time learning the commie propaganda you believe in, r-v. They're in the Diversity Racket programs.

@ShoutingThomas

Do you propose government programs that tell people what they should study? Do you imagine that there is a vast pool of students who would be engineers or scientists if only they had not been tempted away by the humanities, or that there is insufficient capacity to train engineers or scientists and qualified students are being turned away from these majors? What exactly is the problem you want to solve, and how to propose to solve it?

Shouting Thomas said...

St you really are out of touch is some realities that lay outside of your Pot smoking music scene;

I worked in IT for a corporate law firm, commie.

The most obnoxious people in that law firm were the bastards who weren't coming to work stoned or drunk.

A corporate law firm is a fucking S&M meat grinder. Dante's seventh circle of hell. The hired help is smart enough to know that it is just a fucking paycheck. Do your job and go home.

The only people in that place who weren't always drunk or stoned were the asshole administrators and partners who enjoyed the S&M.

Probably about the same at the wretched institution where you work, r-v. The only assholes who are enjoying the S&M game are commies like you. Shit rises to the top.

The rest are staying drunk or stoned so as to sedate themselves against your stupidity.

Triangle Man said...

Every Chinese student is interviewed by the PLA before being allowed overseas. Their course of study is reviewed and they are given intelligence targets and their intel productivity is measured.

Link?

Shouting Thomas said...

What exactly is the problem you want to solve, and how to propose to solve it?

Trade schools.

My future son-in-law has only a high school education, but he learned how to be an electrician on the job.

Just landed a $60,000 a year job as a locomotive electrician. Has absolutely no student loan debt.

Lifetime job security and an unbelievable pension in the future.

My daughter has an MA and $75,000 in student debt for a $45,000 a year teaching job. She's lucky she found a job. Most of her classmates didn't. They're saddled with the debt and no job.

Freeman Hunt said...

Do you imagine that there is a vast pool of students who would be engineers or scientists if only they had not been tempted away by the humanities,

I do. It's a cultural problem. All of the intelligent, artistic, creative people are in the humanities solving the world's problems. Or you could go be a drone in the sciences...

You find out later that it isn't true, but by then you're done.

Phil 3:14 said...

OK I'll point out something of importance for society at large and for many women:

-both men and women can get "educated"

-only women can bear children.

Look here at fertility rates by country.

Replacement rate is about 2.1. Note all of the Western nations (particularly Europe). So are these countries becoming more and more educated as they become

less and less of a country?

roesch-voltaire said...

St I invite you to COE to meet all the commie engineers who are not drunk or stoned--might give you a fresh perspective on life. I do agree with you that learning a good skill trade is an important part of our education. But to suggest that everybody become a plumber or electrician makes no more sense then to suggest everybody become a teacher, and yes it is sad to see teacher, like your daughter, so in debt starting with such low salaries and disrespect from the Republicans.

Shouting Thomas said...

... yes it is sad to see teacher, like your daughter, so in debt starting with such low salaries and disrespect from the Republicans.

No, it isn't sad.

There were probably 1,000 applicants for her job.

The market pays according to value and teachers and teacher applicants are a dime a dozen. The salary reflects that reality.

With raises, my daughter will be making $80,000 by the time she's 50, and she'll be eligible for retirement when she's 55. For a 9-1/2 month a year job.

I'm very happy my daughter has a job. She's not underpaid.

Shouting Thomas said...

And, r-v, she has tenure.

After ten years of service, her student loans will be forgiven.

Republicans, my ass.

That $45,000 is a princely salary in upstate NY. Upstate NY has been losing jobs, people and industry for 40 years under the beneficent management of Democrats.

$30,000 is considered a good salary for a college grad in upstate NY.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Canuck said...

I suppose it depends on the numbers of children. Are we talking 4-5 children or 10-12 children?

If a family wants 14 children they need to get cracken early.

I think it would be difficult to be an undergrad with two or three little ones.

carrie said...

Shouting Thomas-that is an interesting point but not in the way that you mean. The friends I am referring to when I talk about childbearing were all heterosexual as they were the ones who had babies. However, in the 70s there was a lot of what I will call recruitment going on to have women who thought they were heterosexual to try homosexual relationships. I had some female friends who did that, but most decided that they were heterosexual. So I will say that it is my recollection that in my group at college in the 70s and in graduate school in the early 80s that if there was an attempt to change any female's sexual orientation, it was to change it from heterosexual to homosexual, not the other way around. Women 's studies was very "in" in the 70s and early 80s and so was being a lesbian. I am not saying anything about what it was like to be a man at the UW in the 70s or early 80s. It took a while for us heterosexual females to figure out that feminists and women's studies people weren't neutral on the sexual orientation issue and that recuirtment was going on, which was fine, but I don't think you can talk about attempt to change the sexual orientation of people who are gay/lesbian without acknowledging that there are attemtps to change the sexual orientation of heterosexuals too.

roesch-voltaire said...

ST glad to read that education has helped to make the future bright for both your daughter and future son-in-law. $30, 000 to start is low-- I do not know of one student graduating from COE to start at less than $50.000 in Wisconsin and much more if in the West Coast markets.
Read the link you provided; it makes a good point, but my understanding of those who left for Rice was because they did not get strong counter-offers from the system because of the wage freeze. To some extent that has happen at UW, but more to do with competitive salaries, no raises, etc. than money to enlarge our diversity programs.

Canuck said...

70K in student loans is insane unless the student is an MBA out of Wharton, a lawyer from Columbia, or a MD.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Canuck said...

I don't know if education reduces child-bearing.

But jumbo student loans are likely to reduce or delay child-bearing.

And get in the way of marriage. That would be quite a burden to bring to a marriage.

jamboree said...

I knew a guy from a community college background whose girlfriend went to Berkeley. She got pregnant and atypically kept the baby. She had to quit college and move back in with her mother. He had to quit whatever half-assed school he was going to and get a shit job right away. Five years later she was still with mom and he was working security or something.

Meanwhile, her friends were attorneys and later had 1-3 kids being raised in a married, professional backdrop.

Having said all that, we have to come up with a system to allow females more latitude with their childbearing years instead of this ridiculously anal post-grad school, pre-perimenopause, post-grad degree, age 27-35, 8 year blip on the THIRTY-PLUS year radar of a woman's fertility.

And I don't think a bunch of ridiculous young grandma age mothers and full on geezer age fathers running around college towns with an expensive jog stroller to offset that new stent is the answer.

I've noticed kids from non-professional backgrounds have kids at the "old normal" age of 18-22 and then go to college in their mid-to-late 20s. That still doesn't seem to work for the better colleges and professional degrees. (Back in the days that mostly men did college, I believe they used to have housing for the married guys on campus. Something like that....)

jamboree said...
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jamboree said...

My father was Catholic and my mom had a zillion babies and really really regretted it. (No, I don't take it personally.) Really. Regretted. It. (Did I mention how much she regrets it? )

To make things even more interesting, Mom later worked in OBGYN and came home every day with stories about mexican women and their twelve babies they couldn't support who should have been aborted. Dad stayed pro-life, but he was a guy, so basically, none of the female siblings really gave a * about what he thought about having babies.

In any case, we were (somewhat ironically) raised in a maternally, super pro-choice environment with an added sneering contempt for any uneducated rube that had bad enough reproductive hygiene to tax the system by popping out babies they couldn't support or lacked the foresight to assume the man would always offer lifelong support. We knew firsthand how quickly that could go wrong. The education was considered the reward for not having babies. We were considered "too smart" to get pregnant before we were degreed and could support ourselves.

So education wasn't considered the birth control, BEING SMART was, you see? This quality was to lead to both no babies and education.

Hence the very anal, 27-35 age range that I see replicated all over the place. The sisters have repeated the iteration of this attitude and actually intensified it.

My attitude, meanwhile, has softened and become more inclusive. I don't know why other than contrarian tendencies in general and being the last kid, I really wasn't that fond of having the oldest parents on the block.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Freeman said: It's a cultural problem. All of the intelligent, artistic, creative people are in the humanities solving the world's problems. Or you could go be a drone in the sciences...

This is absolutely the case. I was in my undergrad's honors program, and it was completely oriented towards humanities. It paid for my schooling, and made me feel smart and proud and superior, but so much of it was a grotesque waste of time.

- Lyssa

Triangle Man said...

I suppose it depends on the numbers of children. Are we talking 4-5 children or 10-12 children?

"Total fertility' or the average number of children per women ranges from 1.2 in South Korea to 7.1 in Niger. In 2009, the U.S. was at 2.1 children per woman.

Although, as pointed out, education of girls and women is highly correlated with total fertility, so is child mortality (in the opposite direction). Countries with very low child mortality also have low fertility.

Renee said...

The reason why those countries have low fertility, is that mothers expect that none of her children expect to die. If you expect half of your children to die before the age of five, you might plan on having more.

I just read a news article from Uganda, about the government utilizing birth control for their own government goals. Probably to be on the good side of the U.N. There so so much talk about reproductive freedom, but most days I think it's a complete farce.


"High fertility rate affects women’s productivity,"

http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/760187

"UGANDA'S high fertility rate is affecting women’s contribution to national development, President Yoweri Museveni has said.

“An average of seven children per woman in the reproductive age bracket is high. Our mothers and sisters need ample time to engage in income-generating activities,” Museveni said. "

I could insert some nasty sarcastic thought here.

“This is both a challenge and opportunity for the country. The demographic surge of people entering their productive and reproductive years is a great potential for development if we can invest wisely in the social and economic opportunities of the young people,” Museveni said.

"Planning state minister Matia Kasaija said the rising population was not a problem for Uganda, but the issue was the lack of resources to cater for its people.

“Population is a valuable asset, but requires proper planning. Families should have a household income to cater for their children. This is why the Government is encouraging the boosting of household incomes,” he said."


----------
So as I live in Massachusetts, not Uganda. While we have very good test scores, we have a problem not 'reproducing' educated students.


As education becomes so expensive, as an investment here in Massachusetts all a family can afford is one child, because it takes two incomes from two educated parents (who have to pay their own loans) to afford a good public school system, to afford that home, and all of the extra activities mom has to work equally hard as dad, to be able to help pay for that child's college education.

Potentially we have a great education system, but it's so costly we're not able to afford to have any children to even attend. Women and men are going to avoid child bearing, if they fear they can not fully support that child until.... what.... 25-30 years now!!!!????

Children use to be helpful on the farm at age 7, not they aren't income producers until mid life, never mind having children of their own!

belleyoftheball said...

The seventies produced many women determined to raise their own kids, go to school and achieve a full life, just not all at the same time.

My mother has her PhD, my two youngest sisters are lawyers, one a mayor with six kids and I spent the time my husband was in grad school becoming an Opera singer. The kids are part of the family, not some obligation to fulfill.

My sisters and I had nothing to prove to anyone. We didn't want to waste our talents so we went to school. We didn't want to deprive ourselves of kids so we had our kids and raised them with our husbands.

I also didn't want my kids to deal with the
problems of daycare children (I taught briefly at Yale's childcare program) . Most of the women I know who work do so because they think they have to, so they buy the wardrobe, are overworked and miserable and never achieve their most basic goals.

We have to stop pretending everyone can have it all. Somebody bakes the bread, fixes the cars, works as secretaries limited by their talents. We shame and mock them instead of celebrating their choices. The women's movement is not just for the brainy and talented. Let women choose children or work or even both without this constant labeling of motherhood as the weaker choice. Because, of course, we are the weaker sex.

Rich Rostrom said...

What matters is choice.

Historically, women had limited choice about their life patterns, or control of their fertility.

Some became explicitly celibate (e.g. nuns), but for the general mass of women, marriage (at about the age of 18) and as many children as circumstances permitted was the norm. (Widowhood or infertility often intervened; or marital estrangement.)

Starting about 200 years ago (in the U.S.) the pattern changed. Women had more choices, and some of them chose to marry later, or not to marry, or to have fewer children. (Yes, 200 years ago. U.S. fertility dropped by 1/3 from 1800 to 1850.) Women's employment outside the home became a widespread opportunity; contraception became a possibility.

High fertility was very rarely a choice, it was a default pattern, and when the choice becomes easier, high fertility becomes rare and low fertility common.

This applies to men as well as women. Responsible men choose to beget fewer children that they must support.

Education for women has two effects: it enables alternatives to to the stay-at-home pattern, and it makes women aware of the alternatives.

Bear in mind that the alternatives also include the "consumerist" lifestyle. Lots of people decide they prefer phones and shoes and so on to babies.

Another factor is the general increase in personal autonomy. Arranged or forced marriages are far less common. Most people now expect to put off marriage until they want it, and to wait for "Mr./Miss Right", not to settle for the first tolerable candidate. That means a lot of people marry later or not at all.

Perceived infant mortality is not really a factor. Infant survival is 90% or better except in a very few hellholes. People who are afraid that most of their children may die don't choose to have more children, they try to get somewhere safer and protect their children.

Monika Borua said...

Education is the backbone of a nation. So, it is a must to give priority in this sector. Thanks for the post.
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