Diversity Is Strength! It's Also…2006's Demographic Death Spiral

I've been following the birth statistics published annually by the federal National Center for Health Statistics since the late 1990s. I thought I'd seen it all.

But even I was shocked by the new data for 2006 released last Wednesday, December 5.

The bottom line: 2006 was a demographic disaster. All the bad trends of this decade suddenly got worse while the good trends turned around and started moving in the wrong direction.

(This is "preliminary data," but it includes 99.9 percent of all births in 2006, with most of the 0.1 percent missing concentrated in Louisiana and South Carolina.)

The Main Stream Media [MSM]'s take on this report: the big news was that the teen birthrate went up in 2006 after 15 years of decline. That's because being against teen pregnancy is the only "value judgment" about demographic trends that is mentionable in polite society.

But there are a lot more alarming numbers buried in the data. For example:

  • 1] The Illegitimacy Tidal Wave of 2006.

From 2005 to 2006, the number of babies born to married women went up 0.5%, but the number born to unmarried women went up 7.6%. (The increase in teen births is only a minor factor in the illegitimacy surge—most of the growth in out-of-wedlock births was to women in their 20s.)

The number of babies born to married white women went down by 0.4 percent, while the number of babies born to unmarried Hispanic women increased by 9.6 percent.

 

 # of babies: 2006 v. 2005

 

 Married

 Unmarried

All Races

0.5%

7.6%

Whites

-0.4%

6.5%

Hispanics

1.6%

9.6%

Blacks

2.9%

6.9%

Maybe, as President Bush has assured us, "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande". But marriage sure seems to. An amazing half (49.9 percent to be exact) of all Hispanic women who gave birth in 2006 were unmarried.

Rutgers sociologist David Popenoe, co-director of the National Marriage Project, wrote recently:

"…Hispanics seem to have assimilated into the American culture of secular individualism more than the reverse. For example, the unwed birth percentage among Hispanics has jumped from 19 percent in 1980 to 48 percent in 2005 and stands well above the percentage for the non-Hispanic White population. Hispanics have the same divorce rate as non-Hispanic Whites, and in recent years their rate of non-marital cohabitation has grown faster than that of any other immigrant group. These trends contradict earlier expectations that Hispanics might bring this nation a new wave of family traditionalism."[The State of Our Unions |The Social Health of Marriage in America]

The percentage of Hispanic babies born illegitimate still trails the black percentage. But the birth rate for unmarried Hispanic women is now substantially higher than for unmarried black women—and three times higher than for unmarried white women.

The illegitimacy rate is not only increasing—it's accelerating, as you can see by comparing the change from 2005 to 2006 (+1.6 percentage points for the whole country) versus the change from 2004 to 2005 (+1.1 percentage points).

 

% illegitimate

 

1990

2004

2005

2006

All Races

28.0%

35.8%

36.9%

38.5%

Whites

16.9%

24.5%

25.3%

26.6%

Hispanics

36.7%

46.4%

48.0%

49.9%

Blacks

66.5%

69.3%

69.9%

70.7%

I don't think anybody knows for sure what caused 2006's unexpected surge in illegitimacy.

But I'll make a suggestion:

My theory of "affordable family formation" suggests that the absurd prices for homes reached in 2005-2006 would drive down the marriage rate. And indeed it did drop, to 7.3 per 1000 people in 2006, down from 7.8 in 2004, and way down from 9.8 in 1990.

The increasing unaffordability of buying a home likely hits the classes differently. The better educated put off having children and the less educated put off getting married. (This is not a recipe for a happy future for America.)

Americans now seem to see getting married as what you do when you are ready to buy a home. A five-year long study of 162 white, black, and Hispanic single mothers in Philadelphia has put a human face on the relationship between the Mortgage Gap and the Marriage Gap. Sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, authors of Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage, wrote an essay in the Washington Post (May 1, 2005) entitled  Unmarried Because They Value Marriage:   

"Marriage, we heard time and again, ought to be reserved for those couples who've acquired the symbols of working-class respectability—a mortgage on a modest rowhouse, a reliable car, a savings account and enough money left over to host a 'decent' wedding."

Marriage is increasingly concentrated among the well-educated and well-to-do. Popenoe notes:

"One surprising development of recent years is the growth of a marriage and divorce 'gap' between differently educated segments of the population. People who have completed college (around a quarter of the population) tend to have significantly higher marriage and lower divorce rates compared to those with less education."

The number of births among married white women actually declined in 2006. This suggests that the middle class was reacting to stratospheric housing prices rather like the yuppie married couple with a 140 average IQ in the opening scene of Idiocracy who prudently explain "There's no way we could have a child now, not with the market the way it is."

In contrast, the number of births shot upwards among the unmarried. Lower down the social scale, marriage is more likely to be postponed than babies.

Perhaps the absurd heights the cost of a house reached in much of the country convinced a lot of single working class women to give up on their dreams of home and husband and just have a baby.

Right now, home prices are coming down. This might sound like good news—but interest rates have gone up. So we're likely in for a lot more years like 2006.

There's even more bad news buried in the numbers that nobody at all will talk about—other than us reprobates here at VDARE.COM. (Did I mention we're having a fundraising drive?)

  • 2] The "Racial Ratio" (or "Quota Quotient") is rapidly worsening.

The "Racial Ratio" is the ratio of affirmative action beneficiaries (i.e. Non-Asian Minorities—NAMs) to "benefactors" (whites and sometimes Asians) who must shoulder the burdens imposed by racial preferences. This Racial Ratio is directly analogous to the well-known "dependency ratio"—of retired pensioners to taxpaying workers—which is central to the debate over the future of Social Security.

When the Nixon Administration invented racial quotas in 1969, there were almost eight whites for every black. So the average cost per white of giving a boost to blacks was relatively small.

Affirmative action, however, was soon extended to immigrant groups. And, combined with the loosening of immigration laws in 1965, this set us off on what the late political scientist Hugh Davis Graham called a Collision Course. The redefinition of "minority" and massive non-traditional immigration means that as of 2004, instead of one NAM for every eight whites, now there is now one NAM for every 2.04 whites.

It will get worse. In 1996, there were 1.73 white babies born for every NAM affirmative action baby. By 2005, the ratio of benefactors to beneficiaries was down to 1.40.

And in 2006, it dropped to 1.35.

Of course, the actual Quota Quotient borne by whites born in 2006 for the rest of their lives will be even more onerous because so many Hispanic immigrants will arrive, and (for reasons nobody has ever explained) will be immediately eligible for ethnic preferences.

Another ratio of interest: legitimate white babies to illegitimate NAM babies. In 1990, it was more than 3 to 1. By 2005, it was just 1.87 to 1; and in 2006, 1.72 to 1.

It's vital to note that Hispanics are not assimilating toward white fertility levels. In 1996, Latino women were having babies at a rate equivalent to 2.77 per lifetime, a level 56 percent higher than white women. In 2006, Latinos were up to 2.96, 59 percent more.

It is true that Hispanic fertility declines with the number of generations in America. But nobody remembered to seal the borders. Thus, a remarkable five-eighths of Hispanic babies are born to immigrants.

And immigrant Latinos have remarkably high total fertility rates: 3.7 in high-cost California, 131% higher than white women in the Golden State.

  • 3] Black fertility is rebounding.

The demographic good news for a number of years had been that black fertility was finally headed toward racial equality with white fertility. (You are in favor of racial equality, aren't you?)

For decades, black women had been deciding that they needed to reduce the quantity of children they had so they could increase the quality of the care they could give each one. This trend was starting to alleviate some of the pressure on social institutions.

But, ominously, the black "total fertility rate" reversed its decline in 2006. It shot up from 2.02 babies per black woman per lifetime in 2005 to 2.11 in 2006.

This widened the racial inequality gap in total fertility between black and white women from 0.18 babies to 0.25.

My conclusion: Last summer, economic historian Gregory Clark dropped an intellectual bombshell in his book A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. He pointed out that, during England's long rise from 1200 to 1800—leading up to its invention of the Industrial Revolution (perhaps the greatest gift any single country has given humanity—England's social system operated so that those most likely to provide the next generation with the best start in life had the most children.

For several reasons, not least the post-1965 immigration disaster, America in the 21st Century is heading in the opposite direction.

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