Did you know that it is a fallacy that poor people have more babies than other people? I’ll be discussing this topic next Friday at 6PM Mountain Time on Skeptically Speaking Talk Radio, with Desiree Schell, in the next installment of “Everything You Know is Sort of Wrong” (This is part of the Falsehoods discussion.)

Speaking of fear, Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, will be the main (and live) guest on Friday’s show. I’m looking forward to that.

Also, last friday’s show on The Science of Sleep with Kimberly Cote is now up in podcast form, here.

Comments

  1. #1 Bill James
    July 25, 2010

    Did you know that it is a fallacy that poor people have more babies than other people? I’ll be discussing this topic next Friday at 6PM Mountain Time on Skeptically Speaking Talk Radio, with Desiree Schell, in the next installment of “Everything You Know is Sort of Wrong” (This is part of the Falsehoods discussion.)

    No, I didn’t know that.

    List of countries by birth rate – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    July 25, 2010

    Bill, I certainly hope you tune in on Friday!

    Why the list of countries?

  3. #3 Russell
    July 25, 2010

    Remembering a past post of yours on this topic, I recall you writing about the Kennedys as exemplifying a statistic that rich folks have more babies than the national median. While interesting, I was a bit disappointed, because that really has no connection with whether poor folk have more babies. “Rich” and “poor” are the tail ends of a spectrum. It might be the case both that rich folk have more babies and that poor folk have more babies.

    That said, there seem to me all sorts of confounding issues to be careful about when looking at relevant statistics. Young folk have more babies than old folk. And young folk are poorer than old folk. Which likely is fine, since it takes a lot of energy to raise babies, and young folk also have more of that. That said, raising babies involves some expenditure, so likely makes people poorer than others in their cohort who are not doing so.

    The real question, it seems to me, is why does it matter? The fact that some babies are in poor families argues for good public schools and a social safety net for poor families with children, since their future matters to all of us.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    July 25, 2010

    It might be the case both that rich folk have more babies and that poor folk have more babies.

    That would be the point, wouldn’t it?

    The truth is, that in a given socioeconomic setting, a) you can’t accurately predict high fertility with low SES. In a mixed setting or setting with recent immigrants form high fertility zones, there is a spurious association, and where all else is equal, those with more resources are probably going to end up with more living adult reproductive offsrping. But no one ever points tha tout. They just point out, and get all mad about, the poor people having the babies.

    The real question, it seems to me, is why does it matter?

    In the long run, yes indeed!

  5. #5 Bill James
    July 25, 2010

    Remarks on the negative correlation between Fertility and Intelligence [Wikipedia]. Apparently the stupid have more offspring just as they encompass the majority of poor. Which doesn’t account for each and every instance of course, (I may discount the net effects of infant mortality compensation depending on circumstance) but such is the predominant trend is it not?

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    July 25, 2010

    Actually, Bill, the predominant trend is you making a total ass of yourself as you attempt to use my blog as a platform to advance your racist agenda.

  7. #7 Bill James
    July 25, 2010

    Discussion of fertility rates between rich and poor results in you raising the specter of some racists agenda thus calling me a racist? I wonder where you come from some days Greg.

    Anyway, what I wanted to add to the above was the greater likelihood that manifestations of intelligence are the driver of Socio-Economic Status much more so than the other way around.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    July 25, 2010

    Bill, there is not a shred of evidence to support your assertion. Everything we know about the human brain tells us that the primary determinant of how that brain functions, and how well, is post natal environment (and some pre-natal effects). There is no way in run of the mill “normal” humans that allelic variation can account for ANY difference in intelligence, and there is no evidence of any such thing.

    Yes, there are group differences but the group differences that are persistent correspond to persistent differences in race-based and/or socioeconomic factors, plain and simple.

    There is a racist agenda here, Bill, it is yours, it is wrong, and it is obnoxious.

  9. #9 edivimo
    July 25, 2010

    I had read your previous defenses of that thesis, in SB and in your previos blog. I made my little google research too, and it appears that another lines of evidence support your asertion: religious affilation predicts higher fertility (catholics are higher), high socioeconomical people had more sexual encounters, etc.
    You’re going to publish the link to the podcast?

  10. #10 Bill James
    July 25, 2010

    I’m not the one asserting that artificially raising ones socio-economic status will raise their IQ in turn. Nor have I asserted there is no difference in intelligence between individuals, within groups or comparatively between groups. Indeed, I have not catagorized intelligence by group at all. Nothing beyond noting the negative correlation between intelligence and fertility rates along with the positive correlation between intelligence and socio-economic success. We might then infer a predominant, if not fundamental correlation between high fertility rates and low socio-economic success with lower intelligence. Sure. Only in an irrational, credibility stretching alternate universe would we be asked to believe that higher intelligence leads to lower socio-economic success and higher fertility rates, or even the middle ground of belief that intelligence has little to no bearing upon the entire matter.

  11. #11 hibob
    July 25, 2010

    Did you know that it is a fallacy that poor people have more babies than other people?

    Cite?

    http://www.commissions.leg.state.mn.us/oesw/newsletters_/dec01.pdf

    U.S. fertility rates were higher for women with annual family
    incomes below $30,000 and lower for women with annual family
    incomes of $30,000 and over.

    • In 2000, the fertility rate was highest (86.8 births per 1,000
    women age 15 to 44 years) for women with annual family
    incomes below $10,000.

    • The fertility rate was second highest (78.9 per 1,000 women
    age 15 to 44 years) for women with annual family incomes of
    $25,000 to $29,999 in 2000.

    • The fertility rate was lowest (60.1 births per 1,000 women age
    15 to 44 years) in 2000 for women with annual family incomes
    of $75,000 and over.

    http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p20-558.pdf
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, June 2006:

    family income . . . .Children ever born per 1,000 women
    Under $20,000 . . . . . . 2,038
    $20,000 to $29,999 . . . 1,988
    $35,000 to $49,999 . . . 2,052
    $50,000 to $74,999 . . . 1,734
    $75,000 to $99,999 . . . 1,752
    $100,000 and over . . . . 1,832

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    July 25, 2010

    $100,000? W00t, I’m rich!

    On a more serious note, hibob, read comment #4.

  13. #13 hibob
    July 26, 2010

    $100,000? W00t, I’m rich!

    You’re in the top 17% of households (if you’re in the US).
    Sure beats being in the middle.

    On a more serious note, hibob, read comment #4.

    Done. Still hoping for numbers.
    Meanwhile:
    “In a mixed setting or setting with recent immigrants form high fertility zones, there is a spurious association, and where all else is equal…”
    Presumably the argument Greg is addressing is the one held by those who actually do go around complaining that “poor people have more babies than other people”, the ones who “point out, and get all mad about, the poor people having the babies”. The complaint that gets used as an excuse for all sorts of right wing political drek. Hopefully, Greg will be giving us something to take a bit of the wind out of their sails.
    But that argument isn’t referring to a setting where all else is equal, or any other perfectly defined demographic subsection for that matter. That argument is referring to a place where very little is equal: The United States. Or maybe a different country. Wherever it is, it’s where they live, and it’s probably a place with recent immigrants and plenty more than one socioeconomic setting. If you change the argument to one about perfectly matched demographic slices instead of about the whole population of the place, then you’re you’re addressing your strawman instead of their argument. They’ll call you on it. Though they will thank you for bringing up recent immigrants, since that’s what they want to complain about next…

  14. #14 Marion Delgado
    July 26, 2010

    Shorter Barry Glassner:

    The best counter to “their” sweeping generalizations is my sweeping generalizations.

  15. #15 Stephanie Z
    July 26, 2010

    hibob, I’ve spent plenty of time on the other end of those numbers. I’m not sneezing at anything. I’m still not rich. I just live in a country with stunning economic disparity, such that demographic cuts like this one don’t address this argument.

    And in fact, a great deal of the point, at least to me, is breaking this apart to the point where it’s clear what people, like Bill up there, really want to talk about.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    July 26, 2010

    OK, just for the heck of it, let’s try this: It is a falsehood that rich people have more babies than other people.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    July 27, 2010

    OK, just for the heck of it, let’s try this: It is a falsehood that rich people have more babies than other people.

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