According to statistics released on May 17, Germany’s birthrate is now at an all-time low of 1.38 children per woman. Every year there are 190,000 fewer Germans. The news is rarely much better anywhere else in the high IQ world. South Korea and Japan are at 1.25 and 1.37 respectively. I don’t want to go into why this is the case here, but express surprise from an evolutionary perspective at the fact that such low birth rates persist.
Let’s agree that the following propositions are indisputable.
-Evolution is about survival and reproduction. Let’s say the equation is (S)(R) where S is either 0, died before being able to reproduce, or 1, living long enough, and R how many children one has.
-In first world countries all but a negligible few are alive at puberty and for a good many years after that. For all practical statistical purposes, S is 1 for everybody and can be removed from the equation.
-This is unique in evolutionary history, even among humans. In the United State at the beginning of the twentieth century 10% of babies died within their first year, compared to about 0.5% today.
-For at least a generation now reliable contraception has been available for the masses.
-TFR is not about financial incentives/disincentives as we see the fewest babies in the wealthiest countries and culture (being Muslim) and HBD factors (being black) seem to predict fertility better than econonmics.
Considering these points, there are five, and only five, things in the modern world being selected for or against assuming that these traits are heritable.
1) Ability/willingness to find (and settle for) a heterosexual partner
2) Number of children desired
3/4) Against IQ/conscientiousness, as it takes foresight to use contraception consistently and effectively
Unique living circumstances make for unique selection pressures. Think of all that a bird living in the wild has to contend with for its offspring to be born and survive. For the S part of the equation it must avoid diseases, outwit/outfly predators and find food. To do this it depends on its brain, limbs, wings and senses to be in working order. It then needs to find a partner and have the offspring itself avoid predators and disease. Even in our hunter-gatherer past a full thirty percent of males died violently. A significant percentage of people died young from disease up until the last several decades. All that has been neutralized.
Modern human evolution resembles husbandry more than it does anything in the state of nature. Since a conscious breeder has the advantage of taking luck out of the equation and equalizing S (sometimes prey or a murder victim is just unfortunate!), the animals under his control evolve much more rapidly. Just look at how quickly dogs and cats have appeared compared to the time it naturally takes for a species to develop. With practically no humans in first world countries being unlucky from a survivalist perspective, personalities and predispositions are almost all that count in how we are being selected.
To go back to our five big traits, we see that the first and last have little variation within a population. Most people find a partner and are able to reproduce. Pace the “gamers,” 90% of white men still get married at some point, making number one all but irrelevant. And only a small minority are impotent, asexual, exclusively homosexual or unable to have children for some other reason. These traits have always been selected against. This leaves intelligence, conscientiousness and desire for children as the big three being selected for/against. We’ve seen from more than a few studies that IQ is falling about 0.8 points a generation, or 3-4 points a century. A little multiplication will tell us that at this rate of decline whites would become as simple as Australian aboriginals in a millennium, a heartbeat considering that the major races have been separated for 50,000-100,000 years and have about 50 points between the most and least intelligent populations. It would take less than 200 years for whites to equal Mexicans. As I said before, our grandchildren could see one of the racial achievement gaps closed! I’m sure something similar would be found for conscientiousness.
As for birth rates, the desire for children should be growing at least as fast as IQ is dropping. In West Germany the pill was released in 1961. Two generations should be enough to see a slight up tick in the TFR not just for Germans, but all first world populations.
I believe we are seeing here the demographic equivalent of the Flynn Effect for the trait of wanting children. Throughout the twentieth century in the Anglo-American word the lower classes had a higher birthrate than the wealthy, but regardless IQ increased. This would be a refutation of the dysgenic hypothesis, if the evidence and logic behind it weren’t impeccable. What seems to be the case is that while genotypic intelligence dropped, i.e. the potential average a population can be expected to reach in any given environment/culture, phenotypic IQ went up as improvements in nurture outpaced the deterioration in the gene pool.
There is some emperical basis to my speculation. Harpending, Cochran and others found in 2007 that evolution has been speeding up ever since the switch to agriculture. Extreme changes in living conditions and bigger populations have served as catalysts for rapid biological tansformation. As the world population has never been larger and technological advancement never faster the rate of change is likely to be accelerating still.
So while we can be certain that in the same environment/culture the German population of 2010 would have more children than the German population of 1961, the cultural changes of the last fifty years mask the genotypic increase in desire for children. The low overall birthrates among more intelligent and responsible populations will eventually rebound though, as culture swings in many directions but strong selection for wanting to be a parent will remain as long as nobody in the West is starving or otherwise dying too soon. In the long run, we can simply close the borders and not worry about Western nations becoming underpopulated no matter how bleak things look in the immediate future. Now if only the drops in IQ and conscientiousness had such a simple solution.