Even when governments pay them to have more kids, families want fewer

August 26, 2021 by Joshua
in Education, Visualization

I came across this revealing graph in a peer-reviewed paper and had to share it.

It shows that over fifty years, societies that intentionally instituted family planning (as I understand, not China’s One Child policy) saw birth rates lower.

But note that every society’s birth rate dropped. Governments that tried to increase birth rates saw decreases nearly identical to those that did nothing. They spent money for nothing except working against their citizens’ interests. I guess you could argue that they would have dropped faster otherwise.

People want smaller families. Or course exceptions exist, but for nearly all of human existence, we didn’t grow our population. If you think larger-than-replacement birth rates are normal, the past couple centuries are an anomaly.

Here’s the graph, followed by the relevant passages from the paper describing the research more.

We compare the country-level patterns in mean fertility rate by the fertility policy goals stated in 1976, which paints the striking picture shown in Figure 4. The data on fertility policy begins in 1976, but several countries had already adopted fertility reduction policies beforehand. While fertility has fallen in all regions, even in the group of predominantly European countries that wanted to increase fertility, the countries that had identified the need to reduce fertility in 1976 recorded by far the highest average fertility rates before 1976, but the second-lowest average fertility rates by 2013. The countries where there was no intervention had the second-highest average fertility rates in 1976 and became the highest fertility group by 2013.

“the countries with more funding for family planning experienced greater reductions in fertility rates, even after controlling for the changes in income, urbanization, infant mortality, and years of schooling of the adult population.”

“These exercises demonstrate a strong association between the establishment and intensity of family planning programs and the decline in fertility rates, after adjusting for changes in per capita income, urbanization, infant mortality, female labor force participation, and educational attainment.”

“The rapid decline in fertility rates in the past five decades cannot be accounted for in a satisfactory way by economic growth, urbanization, education levels, or other socioeconomic variables. The timing and speed of the fertility decline coincides with the growth of a neo-Malthusian global population-control movement that designed and advocated a number of policy measures aimed at lowering fertility rates across the world. The precise measures chosen by different countries varied in nature and scope, depending on the individual country’s socioeconomic context. But common to almost all programs was an enhanced provision of contraceptive methods and mass-media campaigns to establish a new small-family norm.”

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