- Delayed marriage
- Expanded higher education and labor-force participation
When you combine the three demographic trends above, what do you get? You get large numbers of young women who marry late or not at all, are unlikely to ever reproduce to replacement, and build lives centered around limited concerns having mostly to do with themselves.
You may say, "So what? Men have been doing that for decades--it's called "The Peter Pan Syndrome
". Maybe it's time women start doing the same? If men have retreated from family responsibility and parenting, why can't women?"
Well, they can, of course, and they are doing so.
Today, the average woman in the world bears half as many children as did her counterpart in 1972. No industrialized country still produces enough children to sustain its population over time, or to prevent rapid population aging. Germany could easily lose the equivalent of the current population of what was once East Germany over the next half-century. Russia's population is already contracting by three-quarters of a million a year. Japan's population, meanwhile, is expected to peak as early as 2005, and then to fall by as much as one-third over the next 50 years -- a decline equivalent, the demographer Hideo Ibe has noted, to that experienced in medieval Europe during the plague.Foreign Affairs
In large numbers, across North America, Western Europe, East Asia, and now Eastern Europe, women are dictating the terms of the human future.
Seek out the trendy shoe stores in Shanghai, Berlin, Singapore, Seoul, and Dublin, and you’ll see crowds of single young females (SYFs) in their twenties and thirties, who spend their hours working their abs and their careers, sipping cocktails, dancing at clubs, and (yawn) talking about relationships. Sex and the City has gone global; the SYF world is now flat.City Journal
Is this just the latest example of American cultural imperialism? Or is it the triumph of planetary feminism? Neither. The globalization of the SYF reflects a series of stunning demographic and economic shifts that are pointing much of the world—with important exceptions, including Africa and most of the Middle East—toward a New Girl Order. It’s a man’s world, James Brown always reminded us. But if these trends continue, not so much...
Combine these trends—delayed marriage, expanded higher education and labor-force participation, urbanization—add a global media and some disposable income, and voilà: an international lifestyle is born. One of its defining characteristics is long hours of office work, often in quasi-creative fields like media, fashion, communications, and design—areas in which the number of careers has exploded in the global economy over the past few decades. The lifestyle also means whole new realms of leisure and consumption, often enjoyed with a group of close girlfriends: trendy cafés and bars serving sweetish coffee concoctions and cocktails; fancy boutiques, malls, and emporiums hawking cosmetics, handbags, shoes, and $100-plus buttock-hugging jeans; gyms for toning and male-watching; ski resorts and beach hotels; and, everywhere, the frustrating hunt for a boyfriend and, though it’s an ever more vexing subject, a husband.
The SYF lifestyle first appeared in primitive form in the U.S. during the seventies, after young women started moving into higher education, looking for meaningful work, and delaying marriage. Think of ur-SYF Mary Richards, the pre-Jordache career girl played by Mary Tyler Moore, whose dates dropped her off—that same evening, of course—at her apartment door. By the mid-nineties, such propriety was completely passé. Mary had become the vocationally and sexually assertive Carrie Bradshaw, and cities like New York had magically transformed into the young person’s pleasure palace evoked by the hugely popular TV show Sex and the City. At around the same time, women in Asia and in post-Communist Europe began to join the SYF demographic, too. Not surprisingly, they also loved watching themselves, or at least Hollywood versions of themselves, on television. Friends, Ally McBeal, and Sex and the City became global favorites. In repressive places like Singapore and China, which banned SATC, women passed around pirated DVDs.
By the late 1990s, the SYF lifestyle was fully globalized. Indeed, you might think of SYFs as a sociological Starbucks: no matter how exotic the location, there they are, looking and behaving just like the American prototype. They shop for shoes in Kyoto, purses in Shanghai, jeans in Prague, and lip gloss in Singapore; they sip lattes in Dublin, drink cocktails in Chicago, and read lifestyle magazines in Kraków; they go to wine tastings in Boston, speed-dating events in Amsterdam, yoga classes in Paris, and ski resorts outside Tokyo. “At the fashionable Da Capo Café on bustling Kolonaki Square in downtown Athens, Greek professionals in their 30s and early 40s luxuriate over their iced cappuccinos,” a Newsweek International article began last year. “Their favorite topic of conversation is, of course, relationships: men’s reluctance to commit, women’s independence, and when to have children.”
Of course, you have the old "chicken and the egg" question about which came first: The Peter Pan Syndrome, or the SYF "Sex and the City" lifestyle. But does it really matter? The end result is the same:
But as with any momentous social change, the New Girl Order comes with costs—in this case, profound ones. The globalized SYF upends centuries of cultural traditions. However limiting, those traditions shaped how families formed and the next generation grew up. So it makes sense that the SYF is partly to blame for a worldwide drop in fertility rates. To keep a population stable, or at its “replacement level,” women must have an average of at least 2.1 children. Under the New Girl Order, though, women delay marriage and childbearing, which itself tends to reduce the number of kids, and sometimes—because the opportunity costs of children are much higher for educated women—they forgo them altogether. Save Albania, no European country stood at or above replacement levels in 2000. Three-quarters of Europeans now live in countries with fertility rates below 1.5, and even that number is inflated by a disproportionately high fertility rate among Muslim immigrants. Oddly, the most Catholic European countries—Italy, Spain, and Poland—have the lowest fertility rates, under 1.3. Much of Asia looks similar. In Japan, fertility rates are about 1.3. Hong Kong, according to the CIA’s World Factbook, at 0.98 has broken the barrier of one child per woman.City Journal
For many, fertility decline seems to be one more reason to celebrate the New Girl Order. Fewer people means fewer carbon footprints, after all, and thus potential environmental relief. But while we’re waiting for the temperature to drop a bit, economies will plunge in ways that will be extremely difficult to manage—and that, ironically, will likely spell the SYF lifestyle’s demise. As Philip Longman explains in his important book The Empty Cradle, dramatic declines in fertility rates equal aging and eventually shriveling populations. Japan now has one of the oldest populations in the world—one-third of its population, demographers predict, will be over 60 within a decade. True, fertility decline often spurs a temporary economic boost, as more women enter the workforce and increase income and spending, as was the case in 1980s Japan. In time, though, those women—and their male peers—will get old and need pensions and more health care.
And who will pay for that?
Of course we see large numbers of third world immigrants making their way into Europe and North America, willing to reproduce well beyond replacement rates, and looking for economic opportunity of one sort or another. Will these newcomers be willing to work their way up the economic scheme of things, or will they want to become dependents on the state--just like the decadent westerners? Why should the third-worlders work their glutes off so the flabby old westerners can live it up on state pensions?
As it happens,men and women look at the world a bit differently
. Tradition and social/biological expediency have driven men and women together in the past, for companionship and reproduction. Those forces are much weaker, and other influences and incentives are taking over
. Where will these take humanity?If one takes a look at demographic trends, one sees that the high-achieving "North" is being out-reproduced by the low-achieving "South". IQ testing of populations correlates with GDP of nations. Low IQ/Low GDP nations have excess populations that are moving into the population vacuum created by SYFs and their Peter Pan male cohorts.
What will be the end result of this transition? After all, can we not expect the new immigrants to first world countries to be able to pick up the burden of responsibility, and carry on with what needs to be done? If you actually believe that there is no qualitative difference between a population with low IQ and a population with high IQ, I encourage you to read about "The Smart Fraction."
While it helps to understand basic statistics when studying populations (and most other modern issues), the concepts involved are fairly simple and easy to understand even if you are like most western university graduates--innumerate. The problem is accepting obvious facts that contradict your university indoctrination. Some people can, and some can't. If you can't, don't beat yourself up over it. You are in the same boat with most academically lobotomised, psychological neotenates.
The narcissism observed in Peter Pans and SYFs is simply what happens when life centers around oneself for lack of better alternatives and circumstances.
Interestingly enough, there are some western populations that are reproducing above replacement. Religious orthodoxies, evangelicals, and various sectarian religions are contrarians in the reproduction arena. While this trend may resist some of the dysgenic forces at work, it will not be enough.
Am I saying that you should prepare for the Idiocracy?
No, this is not a message of nihilism and futility. It is merely a prod, a grain of sand within the oyster shell. We live in a comfortable age, where hard work can lead to lifestyles of relative luxury and complacency. I am suggesting that while we are enjoying the results of our hard work, that we consider larger trends that need to be addressed.
More on this theme later.
Labels: dysgenics, european decline, gender, Idiocracy, population decline, underpopulation