Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, July 07, 2006

An Idiot is Someone Who Only Knows His Own Discipline

In the LA Times today, David Barash, a psychology professor, tackles the "mysterious" problem of why German women are not having children - 30% no longer do, including 40% of college educated women. He makes some idiotic arguments about selfishness, free will, even evolution. Blah blah.

Like it's really a mystery. Go ask anyone who knows anything about Germany and they will tell you the real reason. In Germany, schools close at 1 or 2, with no afterschool sports or anything, so kids have to go home. Stores close at 5, no exceptions, so you can't work and buy food. There is little or no daycare to speak of. Nannies and au pairs are rare. There is no financial (or cultural) support for a man who stays home, but women get the "kindergeld" - payment to raise their own children. Through these and other tactics, women are ruthlessly excluded from the workforce if they have children. Thus, it is no mystery why German women, particularly the educated, choose not to have children so they can have careers.

Everything else Barash says is just idle speculation from someone with too little sense to inquire of other disciplines. The mystery is why German women tolerate this. For that, I turn to Bismarck, who famously said, "There will be no revolution in Germany because revolutions are illegal in Germany."


Anonymous said...

Here's another good reason . . . maybe not all of us women are so keen on having babies. Whoever said that every woman has some evolutionary destiny to give birth was an idiot. That is what makes the modern world so great . . freedom of choice. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

This article seems like a new twist on a favorite conservative "issue" - handwringing about those evil nasty feminazis in the developed world who won't accept their God-given duty to have as many kids as possible.

Never mind that there are a host of issues that surround deciding whether or not to have kids - interest, suitability, spouses, and the hard truth of organization. If you live in a society that educates you, empowers you, and then decides that the only way you can have a child is to completely drop out of your chosen career, is it really any wonder that women decide not to have kids?

Also, I think this is yet another way that the societal contributions of people without children are denigrated. My childhood was incredibly enriched by relatives and other adults without kids who would take us to the amusement park, play Lincoln Logs with us for hours, watch us when our parents went on vacation, and tell us about the neat things they saw and did and decided to do.

-Seventh Sister 

// posted by Anonymous

Anonymous said...

USWest - your point was mostly the point of the author, that women don't want to have children. Figures of 30-40% of women not having children are extremely high, and unique to Germany, so I think it's obvious that there's a lot more at work than per se not wanting to be a parent. The penalties of motherhood in Germany are exceptional. Were the choices of German women not to be either childless or a Hausfrau, I think it's safe to assume that more would have children. As they do elsewhere in the world. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

The percentages in Germany are high. The problem is that no one is goign out an polling women to ask why they aren't having children. And this, I think is the crux of your complaint aboutt the writer. He is tossing some unsupported theory out there rather than going out and doing to real research.

I think, as do you, that the issue is much more nuanced and subtle than the writer admits. There may be some truth to the idea that if society was organized differently, more women would want to have children. But I think that even if society was organized differently, many women would still choose not to have children.

The fact that women and men have more choices today than in the past and bigger expectations and a greater sense of self-awareness means that they may wish to contribute to society in other ways besides populating it with more comsumers and polluters. As 7th Sister points out, there is a lot more to the parenting choice than a need for free daycare or some instinct. And I would point out that being a working mother in the USA is hardly an easy task. In fact, our own birthrates are falling. But that fact is masked by increases in child rearing by immigrants to the US. The Economist did an article on this a while back and pointed out that as immigrants assimulate into American society and become more affluent, their birth rates aslo decline. This seems to track the same pattern that developed nations have laid. Wealth brings choice and opportunity. It is a luxury to be able to decide if you want children or not, that is for sure.

The reason this is an issue at all in Germany is because they aren't reproducing fast enough to pay the high cost of caring for the elderly. They are an aging society. So there is a lot of emphasis on trying to get good German women to reproduce.


// posted by USWest