Birth rates up? Yes, but….

A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics on births in 1998 [] has been widely celebrated for its news that "American" (that is, American plus immigrant) birthrates are ticking up. A closer reading suggests more disturbing conclusions – missed, needless to say, by complacent commentators like, oh, U.S. News' Michael Barone.

One conclusion: our immigration laws are dumbing down America. A shocking 55% of the new mothers of Mexican descent are not high school graduates. This compares to 28% of African-Americans, 13% of whites, and 2% of Japanese-Americans. Similarly, only 7% of Hispanic mothers had a college degree. This compares to 11% of blacks, and 30% of whites.

Among women who were born in Mexico but gave birth in America in 1998, more than two thirds lacked a high school diploma. Yet even for the 40% of ethnic Mexican mothers who were born in the U.S., three out of every eight hadn't completed 12th grade.

This is significantly worse than the African-American average - even though Mexican-Americans tend to score about halfway between the average IQ of blacks (85) and native-born whites (100). In other words, American-born Mexicans drop out 30% more than blacks despite half-a-standard deviation higher average I.Q. American society is failing to assimilate Mexican immigrants into dropping the traditional Hispanic bias against education.

How can we acculturate our current Mexican-American population into the Norte Americano habit of staying in school – while we are welcoming even more masses of uneducated immigrants from Mexico? It's simply not clear.

Many commentators assume that assimilation happens automatically and always in benign directions. Typical is Michael Barone in the 4/3/00 issue of U.S. News & World Report []:

The Latinos of 2000 resemble the Italians of 1900. Both the Italians and Latinos came from countries once ruled by the Emperor Charles V; these were polities with "ineffective centralism," from crowded rural areas and towns with little economic growth. Both, with reason, mistrusted government and every other institution but their own families. In America the first generations from both groups had little education and created few community organizations. … Just as in 1900, many Americans today fear that minority groups will never be assimilated into American civic life or elevated to average economic levels. But blacks, Latinos, and Asians are already moving on the paths the Irish, Italians, and Jews [respectively] followed. If we have the good sense in the 21st century to follow the precedents of the 20th–to insist on the fundamental fairness of society and the legitimacy of its rules, to teach children to master the English language, to reduce the level of prejudice and discrimination, including racial quotas and preferences–we can expect the new minorities to become as firmly interwoven into the fabric of American society as the old.

Of course, Barone leaves off a few significant 20th century "precedents" for assimilating immigrants: e.g., carding out the failures (forty percent of the Ellis Island immigrants ultimately went home – there was no welfare to keep them here) world wars, mass conscription, and, most notably, a four decade long immigration pause (1924-1965).

Further, it's by no means clear that the U.S. will return to Barone's wish list of ways to assimilate immigrants. Multiculturalism is not exactly being rolled back right now. Although voters today oppose bilingual education and quotas, few professional politicians are signing on to fight these destructive policies.

Why? Because the politicians assume that A. Further massive immigration is inevitable; B. Immigrants want multiculturalism; and C. Therefore, any politician who fights multiculturalism will eventually be swept away by America's dusky demographic destiny.

So, Mr. Barone, how exactly are we going to muster the political will to put in place the policies you say are essential to assimilating today's immigrants … without first reducing the number of tomorrow's immigrants?

Finally, there is one more crucial difference between 1900 and 2000. One hundred years ago, there really was only one model for immigrants to assimilate toward: the WASP. In the age of Teddy Roosevelt, white Protestant Americans radiated a ferocious self-confidence.

Today, of course, WASPs…well, have largely lost their desire to impose their values on newcomers. There are, however, other groups that today possess the charisma and style to mesmerize young Latinos, notably African-Americans.

Consider that crucial social indicator, the illegitimacy rate. The longer Latinos are in the U.S., the more they assimilate … but not toward the white norm. Instead, they are becoming more like blacks. Currently, 22% of white births are illegitimate compared to 69% of black births. Among immigrant Latino mothers, 37% of their new babies were illegitimate. But among American-born Latino mothers, the illegitimacy rate rises to 48%.

This trend does not exactly bode well for the future.

Will liberals become extinct?

The new report from the National Center for Health Statistics on births in 1998 [] sheds light on a long-term but daunting problem facing well-educated peoples with progressive social attitudes: they tend to die out. They don't reproduce enough. This trend is reaching crisis status in Western Europe, especially in Mediterranean nations like Italy, where the average number of babies per woman has fallen below 1.2. (Demographers believe 2.1 children per woman are needed to maintain a stable population.)

In the English-speaking world, the white population is imploding at a more leisurely pace. For example, non-Hispanic white Americans are only slowly extinguishing themselves, as shown by their 1998 total fertility rate of 1.84. This is a mere one-eighth too low to prevent eventual … uh … well, the technical term is "race suicide." In fact, much publicity has recently been given to the report's showing that white women's fertility was almost 3% higher in 1998 over 1995.

Yet the number of babies per white woman remains lower than in 1990, the final year of the previous economic boom. How far white fertility will fall during the next downturn is unknowable. And even less certain is when, if ever, it will rise back to replacement levels.

Yet, there are big variations in fertility among whites. And that has dire implications for liberals. The much higher birth rate seen in both Israel and the U.S. of Orthodox Jews compared to more secular Jews may be the best-known example. (In polite society today, only Jews are allowed to publicly discuss fertility differences and their implications for demographic self-preservation.) The European Jews who founded the Jewish State were so pervasively leftist that Menachem Begin's rightwing Likud Party lost Israel's first eight general elections. But Likud has become highly competitive over the last quarter of a century in large partly because of the much bigger families of the North African and Middle Eastern Jews who make up its base.

Something similar is at work in the USA. Our most liberal state, Vermont (which is represented in Congress by Socialist Bernie Sanders), has the lowest birthrate at only 1.57 babies per woman. In contrast, our most socially conservative state, Mormon-dominated Utah, has the highest fertility at 2.71. That's 73% more babies per woman. At this rate, if Utah and Vermont had equal populations today and there was no migration in or out of either state, in two generations there would be three times more children in Utah than in Vermont.

And the effective gap is actually even greater because highly educated feminists tend to wait longer to have the few babies they do manage to squeeze out. Thus, the average generation is several years longer in Vermont than in Utah.

Social liberals fight their suicidal tendency by recruiting via subsidizing secular (but not religious) education; cultural propaganda; and demonization of social conservatives. But another solution that Democrat politicians have enthusiastically pursued is importing liberal voters from abroad.

Thus, for example, we witnessed the Clinton Administration's enormous rush to turn resident aliens into voting citizens just before the 1996 election. Mass immigration benefits the Democrats both because immigrants tend to vote Democrat, and because immigrants tend to have more kids than native-born Americans. In 1998, one out of every five new babies was the child of a woman born outside the USA. These days, fewer than 60% of new babies born in America have white mothers. And in California, the 900-pound gorilla of the Electoral College, only 34% of newborns are white.

Although East Asians tend to have moderate-sized families, the fecundity of women of Mexican descent (3.2 babies per woman) is 80% higher than the non-Hispanic white norm (and 48% higher than the African-American average of 2.24). And since Mexican-women generally give birth at younger ages than do white women, the effective fertility ratio of Mexicans to whites is around two to one.

Sponsoring mass immigration is thus likely to be a winning strategy politically for Democrats…for a while.  But sophisticated, NPR-listening white liberals may eventually find that – at least in terms of the environment, economic equality, education levels etc. - heavy Third World influxes are pushing America in directions they don't want it to go.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]