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The employment data above are from Randall Parker (seasonally adjusted for what it’s worth), and originally the Labor Department. Randall had it as a tabular display, but I think a simple bar plot is more illustrative. The percentage of unmarried births is from the Census.

It looks like Americans with university degrees or higher are basically at full employment. Additionally, the substantial majority of Americans with university degrees or higher are in the labor force. In contrast, only a minority of Americans without high school diplomas, and only a simple majority of Americans with high school diplomas, are in the labor force.

Labor force participation is pretty straightforward. If you are looking for a job, or have a job, you are part of the labor force. Everyone else is part of the whole population (e.g., those who are homemakers, etc.).

FT_15.12.4.college.marriage2 As for births to unmarried women, those with university degrees basically live in a different universe. I didn’t want to clutter the above chart anymore, so I didn’t mention divorce. But you can see from the data to the left that college educated Americans tend to have very long marriages. In contrast, when the non-college do get married, divorce is rather common.

I’m pretty bullish on America, and the world. But that’s easy for me to say, since I am the sort of person who has more work than time, and my work is very fulfilling. Also, I’m married, with beautiful healthy children. I’m a lucky person, and the world seems charmed. It’s simply not in my interest to rock the boat.

But for those for whom only desperation stretches out before them, desperate acts can seem quite rational. Those with nothing to lose have nothing to lose.

 
• Category: Economics, Ideology • Tags: Class 
33 Comments to "The Two Americas"
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  1. Twinkie says:

    I’m a lucky person, and the world seems charmed. It’s simply not in my interest to rock the boat.

    It’s also in your interest not to ignore the pressure cooker of the downtrodden in the manner, apocryphally, of Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”).

    It is both good in the objective sense and in self-interest to exercise noblesse oblige and do our best to look out for the wellbeing of our fellow citizens whose lives are not as charmed. It’s also important to bring up our children with the knowledge of, and empathy for, the life outside the charmed bubble.

    My older children and I go to to West Virginia with our parish group to refurbish or build homes for poor people. My kids always come back fulfilled and with a renewed sense of gratitude for what they have had. Charles Murray is absolutely right about the necessity of bridging the gap between the polarizing classes.

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  2. I have always doubted whether middle-class values like marriage and a (legal) job really are such important factors for life satisfaction. My guess would be that at least for a substantial minority things like e.g. (a) the success of the sexual market (b) experienced power over others, especially in physical form (which means violence) (c) money (which can be obtained in non-legal ways) are more important. So maybe some of those unmarried people without a legal job are not that unhappy at all, because they date a lot, maybe have some children (which they don´t care for but are proud about anyway) and have quite a lot of money (obtained in non-legal ways). Although you can pursue such a lifestyle with of without diploma, so ceteris paribus better education is better anyway.

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  3. Numinous says:

    Didn’t a poll come out a while ago showing that Trump voters were far from the poorest of the poor, and actually had relatively middle incomes (72k or so)?

    It seems to me that the number of people who are deeply upset with the status quo and pessimistic about their future far exceeds the number of people who actually have (in material terms) something to be upset about. I guess pessimism is contagious.

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-may-become-the-first-republican-in-60-years-to-lose-white-college-graduates/

    primary voters as a whole are richer and more educated in any case. i bet trump will do rather well with the less educated but well off. hillary will kill it with the less well off educated. the other two parts of the 2x2 matrix will be in between. for the first category, consider the palin family. todd doesn't have a college degree, but they were pulling in 200 K thanks to his oil sector job for a while.
  4. @Numinous
    Didn't a poll come out a while ago showing that Trump voters were far from the poorest of the poor, and actually had relatively middle incomes (72k or so)?

    It seems to me that the number of people who are deeply upset with the status quo and pessimistic about their future far exceeds the number of people who actually have (in material terms) something to be upset about. I guess pessimism is contagious.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-may-become-the-first-republican-in-60-years-to-lose-white-college-graduates/

    primary voters as a whole are richer and more educated in any case. i bet trump will do rather well with the less educated but well off. hillary will kill it with the less well off educated. the other two parts of the 2×2 matrix will be in between. for the first category, consider the palin family. todd doesn’t have a college degree, but they were pulling in 200 K thanks to his oil sector job for a while.

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    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond
    As the notorious Adorno showed, authoritarianism fluorishes among those with high status anxiety/ambiguity.
  5. iffen says:

    Those with nothing to lose have nothing to lose.

    They used to think that they had a chance to make it and move up and they didn’t want to lose that “chance.”

    Not many believe that they have a chance anymore.

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  6. This might be a self-evident thing to say, but with the tremendous degree inflation over the last two generations or so, in no way is someone without a higher degree similar to in the past. The percent of the labor force with a HS degree or less in 2010 is more or less identical to the proportion who were HS dropouts in 1970. If we presume that finishing that high-school degree isn’t imparting any extra skills, and cognitive ability is mostly hereditary, then it must be true most of the decline in the wages, living standards, and social cohesion of those without high school degrees is attributable to a “boiling off” of the more capable fraction into some level of higher education.

    Also, it’s not clear to me from the graph – are only people of prime working age considered? Because educational attainment has risen so much over the past 40-45 years, obviously those who are retired are much less likely to have college degrees. Retirement obviously decreases the labor force participation rate. In addition more than 10% of people without high school degrees are disabled – some are malingerers, but many are not. And depending upon what you consider the “labor force” age range, a lot of high school age kids are included. While close to half of older teens worked as recently as the 1990s, last I checked the number was under 25% and still dropping.

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    • Replies: @Dmitry Pruss
    There is almost certainly a confounding factor of age. Not only the college-educated people are more likely to be in their prime working age, but also people with low education attainment may be a mix of disproportionately old (and labor force participation drops with age) and a few disproportionately young (too young to complete full education cycle anyway)?
    , @Matt_
    @ Re: last two generations, on the US General Social Survey, unless I'm reading it wrong (and I don't know a lot about history of higher education in the US), expansion of higher education basically seems done by the Baby Boomer generation (1945)?

    Highest education by year of birth (only includes samples aged 25 and up):

    http://imgur.com/XzV2fo5

    Highest Education for 25-30 and 40-50 year olds, by year:

    http://imgur.com/JafHyfp

    I can't see any major compositional changes in the "Highest degree" from around the 1940s births onwards. So seems more like last three generations (basically every generation postdating the "Silent Generation"). If changes in behaviour happen midway through the last three generations, seems unlikely to me any "boiling" is causal.
  7. Two problems with the data:

    Time machine effect. When you are looking at the whole population you are looking at a lot of people who were educated in a previous era. It may not tell you that much about kids graduating in 2016.

    Second, race. It is a huge factor in American life. One of the virtues of Murray’s coming apart is that he only looked a white people. I think you need to factor race out. Perhaps similarly with geography out as well

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    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    i didn't correct because the results are qualitatively the same if you account for age and and race, even if they effect the quantity. i know there are confounds. but if they don't change the big picture i don't see why i'd want to correct for them in a non-publication that's a quick blog post.
  8. @Karl Zimmerman
    This might be a self-evident thing to say, but with the tremendous degree inflation over the last two generations or so, in no way is someone without a higher degree similar to in the past. The percent of the labor force with a HS degree or less in 2010 is more or less identical to the proportion who were HS dropouts in 1970. If we presume that finishing that high-school degree isn't imparting any extra skills, and cognitive ability is mostly hereditary, then it must be true most of the decline in the wages, living standards, and social cohesion of those without high school degrees is attributable to a "boiling off" of the more capable fraction into some level of higher education.

    Also, it's not clear to me from the graph - are only people of prime working age considered? Because educational attainment has risen so much over the past 40-45 years, obviously those who are retired are much less likely to have college degrees. Retirement obviously decreases the labor force participation rate. In addition more than 10% of people without high school degrees are disabled - some are malingerers, but many are not. And depending upon what you consider the "labor force" age range, a lot of high school age kids are included. While close to half of older teens worked as recently as the 1990s, last I checked the number was under 25% and still dropping.

    There is almost certainly a confounding factor of age. Not only the college-educated people are more likely to be in their prime working age, but also people with low education attainment may be a mix of disproportionately old (and labor force participation drops with age) and a few disproportionately young (too young to complete full education cycle anyway)?

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  9. @Walter Sobchak
    Two problems with the data:

    Time machine effect. When you are looking at the whole population you are looking at a lot of people who were educated in a previous era. It may not tell you that much about kids graduating in 2016.

    Second, race. It is a huge factor in American life. One of the virtues of Murray's coming apart is that he only looked a white people. I think you need to factor race out. Perhaps similarly with geography out as well

    i didn’t correct because the results are qualitatively the same if you account for age and and race, even if they effect the quantity. i know there are confounds. but if they don’t change the big picture i don’t see why i’d want to correct for them in a non-publication that’s a quick blog post.

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  10. Matt_ says:
    @Karl Zimmerman
    This might be a self-evident thing to say, but with the tremendous degree inflation over the last two generations or so, in no way is someone without a higher degree similar to in the past. The percent of the labor force with a HS degree or less in 2010 is more or less identical to the proportion who were HS dropouts in 1970. If we presume that finishing that high-school degree isn't imparting any extra skills, and cognitive ability is mostly hereditary, then it must be true most of the decline in the wages, living standards, and social cohesion of those without high school degrees is attributable to a "boiling off" of the more capable fraction into some level of higher education.

    Also, it's not clear to me from the graph - are only people of prime working age considered? Because educational attainment has risen so much over the past 40-45 years, obviously those who are retired are much less likely to have college degrees. Retirement obviously decreases the labor force participation rate. In addition more than 10% of people without high school degrees are disabled - some are malingerers, but many are not. And depending upon what you consider the "labor force" age range, a lot of high school age kids are included. While close to half of older teens worked as recently as the 1990s, last I checked the number was under 25% and still dropping.

    @ Re: last two generations, on the US General Social Survey, unless I’m reading it wrong (and I don’t know a lot about history of higher education in the US), expansion of higher education basically seems done by the Baby Boomer generation (1945)?

    Highest education by year of birth (only includes samples aged 25 and up):

    View post on imgur.com

    Highest Education for 25-30 and 40-50 year olds, by year:

    View post on imgur.com

    I can’t see any major compositional changes in the “Highest degree” from around the 1940s births onwards. So seems more like last three generations (basically every generation postdating the “Silent Generation”). If changes in behaviour happen midway through the last three generations, seems unlikely to me any “boiling” is causal.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    It does seem like the expansion of college/graduate degrees did slow down significantly after around 1945 or so. But the GSS, unlike the Census, doesn't track "some college." A higher proportion of the population today starts a four-year degree only to later drop out. The inflection point was somewhere around 1990, when the percentage of people with just a high school degree peaked, while the some college (and four year or more) groups continued to rise. In 2009 a stunning 70% of high school seniors enrolled in college, a number which has since gone down a bit. Of course, nowhere near this amount actually finished. Degree completion rates at for-profit colleges and two-year institutions in particular are abysmal.

    While one could argue there is limited economic utility in "half a degree" it appears to be worth something in the range of an 8.85% boost in earnings over just having a high school degree (admittedly worth less than an associates however). As the social signaling value of an incomplete degree is limited, presumably the extra earnings reflects some combination of higher intelligence and more job-compatible personality skills on the part of the "some college" cohort.
  11. ohwilleke says: • Website

    The story behind the story is economic.

    Working class men have seen the job market stagnate for them since the 1970s – their real wages have been flat and unemployment has been significant. Working class women have seen the job market for them improve dramatically since then, and the jobs that working class women are employed in have minimal penalties for interruptions in work history or seniority to care for children. After centuries of being economically dependent upon their partners, they ceased to be economically dependent upon them and economic basis of marriage which was the main glue holding it together fell apart.

    Basically, working class Americans are not getting married and are getting divorced when they do marry, because adding a man to the economic unit isn’t adding anything for long enough stretches of time to wreck marriages.

    In contrast, college educated men have seen their economic circumstances surge since the 1970s with growing real wages and sustained low unemployment. And while college educated women have likewise seen their economic opportunities surge, the economic penalty that they pay for time out of the work force in professions like law and medicine and senior management, is intense. But, many college education women are still determined to make those sacrifices to have children, knowing that they have husbands who can support them. So, college educated women who have children have far more to loose from not marrying or getting divorced than working class women.

    As a result, working class families are in disarray, while college educated couples have stable families. A lot of the “family values” rhetoric on the right flows from the knowledge that working class families are falling apart and having the wrong ideas about why this is happening.

    The other side point (as other comments have noted) is that the SES percentile associated with college, some college, HS and no HS has shifted, so that no HS is now a much lower percentile population than it used to be (and HS as well), while college is diluted, due to higher educational attainment across the board.

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    • Replies: @Matt_
    Re: economic differences with I can think of an effects around association between numbers of children and education that could interact:

    - Lower education folk tend to have higher numbers of children, in marriage and out. Possibly that adds to economic stresses on married couples, to lead to divorce, with women more likely to regard the male as a deadweight taking resources from the child and to financial pressure against marrying. May be less true for higher education folk, with fewer children and also more likely to be "empty nesters".

    - At the same time, at least for low education folk, as distinct from working class, decreasing family sizes since at least the 1970s (per GSS) also could decrease the motivation to marry, if lower education people were marrying to have families. I get the sense marriage among highly educated often has and always has had more status symbolic functions (it seems more of an elaborate, ridiculous dance among higher social classes with announcements to newspapers and big parties and the like), and less of a function to simply bring up kids "right". At any rate high educated have reduced family sizes less. Smaller numbers of children seems to be one where the "two Americas" are "coming together".

    But really that's just in theory, and I have no real evidence for that.

    (The idea of Coming Apart, if simplified to the online soundbite, as higher education folk representing continuity older American ideal of average America, marriage and kids previously held by the low education Working Class seems a bit deceptive because high education folk don't really have the family sizes to actually match the older ideal of intact working child rearing families. Never really have had them maybe, as work, career, leisure, entertainment and entertaining have always had a higher status and are more central to life among the higher social / educational strata, who formed the old leisure class. The new upper class seems to work long hours, but cynically I wonder how much of that is truly a rebirth of the old leisure class dressing play as work to shore up their legitimacy within a meritocracy, and the new upper class really are just more straightforwardly heirs to the famously unfecund and unconventional early 20th century leisure class familiar through literature and entertainment.)
  12. Was it not always the case that women of high IQ had longer lasting marriages and lives as well? I think college is not the cause. I am the father of three daughters I do not wish for college education of women to be restricted, but lets not confuse correlation and cause. The high labor force participation rate for women of childbearing age in post 1960s America has not been all rose and no thorn.

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CIVPART/

    When we look at that labor force participation rate graph we have to think about other policies over that timeline as well. What if the 1965 immigration act was not passed? What if we had maintained control of our boarders as Eisenhower showed we could. How would the life of the left half of the bell curve of the American population be today? Would the citizens of Detroit or Ferguson be better or worse off? Would the life of the median household be better or worse?

    The decline in median household income was papered over for a while by the artificially high labor participation rate of women of childbearing age. The wind was sown and now we reap the whirlwind.

    I find from the post Reagan Bush the elder purge of the Reagan staffers onward the status quo R or D has been bad for my kin on the left of the curve especially and the vast middle class as well. I am ready to throw them both overboard for an outsider I don’t fully trust. He may yet stab us in the back, but I know they will.

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  13. @Matt_
    @ Re: last two generations, on the US General Social Survey, unless I'm reading it wrong (and I don't know a lot about history of higher education in the US), expansion of higher education basically seems done by the Baby Boomer generation (1945)?

    Highest education by year of birth (only includes samples aged 25 and up):

    http://imgur.com/XzV2fo5

    Highest Education for 25-30 and 40-50 year olds, by year:

    http://imgur.com/JafHyfp

    I can't see any major compositional changes in the "Highest degree" from around the 1940s births onwards. So seems more like last three generations (basically every generation postdating the "Silent Generation"). If changes in behaviour happen midway through the last three generations, seems unlikely to me any "boiling" is causal.

    It does seem like the expansion of college/graduate degrees did slow down significantly after around 1945 or so. But the GSS, unlike the Census, doesn’t track “some college.” A higher proportion of the population today starts a four-year degree only to later drop out. The inflection point was somewhere around 1990, when the percentage of people with just a high school degree peaked, while the some college (and four year or more) groups continued to rise. In 2009 a stunning 70% of high school seniors enrolled in college, a number which has since gone down a bit. Of course, nowhere near this amount actually finished. Degree completion rates at for-profit colleges and two-year institutions in particular are abysmal.

    While one could argue there is limited economic utility in “half a degree” it appears to be worth something in the range of an 8.85% boost in earnings over just having a high school degree (admittedly worth less than an associates however). As the social signaling value of an incomplete degree is limited, presumably the extra earnings reflects some combination of higher intelligence and more job-compatible personality skills on the part of the “some college” cohort.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Matt_
    That sounds plausible. The GSS does have another variable of years of education, so I tested if high school grads have higher length of education in more recent cohorts, indicating greater college drop out:

    http://imgur.com/xjzCDnj

    It does look like there is an extra 6 months in school on average today, for High School graduates in the most recent cohorts, compared to say 1970s births.

    Average length of education by cohort for comparison:

    http://imgur.com/msKQGQ5

    Changes in average length of education are small after the Baby Boom cohort (compared to the big transformation between "GI", "Silent" and Baby Boom), i.e. that is when the real massive expansion of higher education happened, but there is a bit of a subtle trend there.
  14. Sean says:

    It looks like Americans with university degrees or higher are basically at full employment.

    You said a while ago that:-

    In the near to medium term future it seems plausible that the bottom 90% of the population will be employed in occupations which serve the demand of the top 10% for “authentic” human servility and handcrafts. http://www.unz.com/gnxp/why-cgi-will-not-eliminate-porn-actresses/

    That future 90% will in many cases be the children of the Americans with university degrees or higher.

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    • Replies: @Karl Zimmerman
    This sort of gets to one of the bad side effects if (as looks likely IMHO) automation leads to massive unemployment. Higher intelligence is useful for all occupations, it's just somewhat less useful for working-class ones. College-educated people in working-class jobs also tend to make more money. Hence if labor-force participation continues to decrease, we would expect to see the college-educated push historically working-class people out of their fields.

    To some extent this is happening already. The whole bullshit "artisanal" movement is essentially people with college experience taking working-class jobs (baker, butcher, barber, bartender, woodworker, etc) marketing the service to a higher income spectrum, and getting better take-home pay than people traditionally would in the occupation.
    , @Bill M
    We still have elections though, and the 90% will be able to easily outvote the 10%. And even if we didn't have elections, there's always non-electoral politics at play. Encouraging poorer people to immigrate can mitigate this as their material prospects improve and they thus have less hostility towards the 10%, but this is temporary at best, as their children grow up in the US and don't have a poorer country as a reference. Immigration would have to be continually encouraged, but that just introduces another destabilizing dynamic.

    It's hard to see how this would persist.
  15. @Razib Khan
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-may-become-the-first-republican-in-60-years-to-lose-white-college-graduates/

    primary voters as a whole are richer and more educated in any case. i bet trump will do rather well with the less educated but well off. hillary will kill it with the less well off educated. the other two parts of the 2x2 matrix will be in between. for the first category, consider the palin family. todd doesn't have a college degree, but they were pulling in 200 K thanks to his oil sector job for a while.

    As the notorious Adorno showed, authoritarianism fluorishes among those with high status anxiety/ambiguity.

    Read More
  16. @Sean

    It looks like Americans with university degrees or higher are basically at full employment.
     
    You said a while ago that:-

    In the near to medium term future it seems plausible that the bottom 90% of the population will be employed in occupations which serve the demand of the top 10% for “authentic” human servility and handcrafts. http://www.unz.com/gnxp/why-cgi-will-not-eliminate-porn-actresses/
     
    That future 90% will in many cases be the children of the Americans with university degrees or higher.

    This sort of gets to one of the bad side effects if (as looks likely IMHO) automation leads to massive unemployment. Higher intelligence is useful for all occupations, it’s just somewhat less useful for working-class ones. College-educated people in working-class jobs also tend to make more money. Hence if labor-force participation continues to decrease, we would expect to see the college-educated push historically working-class people out of their fields.

    To some extent this is happening already. The whole bullshit “artisanal” movement is essentially people with college experience taking working-class jobs (baker, butcher, barber, bartender, woodworker, etc) marketing the service to a higher income spectrum, and getting better take-home pay than people traditionally would in the occupation.

    Read More
  17. Matt_ says:
    @Karl Zimmerman
    It does seem like the expansion of college/graduate degrees did slow down significantly after around 1945 or so. But the GSS, unlike the Census, doesn't track "some college." A higher proportion of the population today starts a four-year degree only to later drop out. The inflection point was somewhere around 1990, when the percentage of people with just a high school degree peaked, while the some college (and four year or more) groups continued to rise. In 2009 a stunning 70% of high school seniors enrolled in college, a number which has since gone down a bit. Of course, nowhere near this amount actually finished. Degree completion rates at for-profit colleges and two-year institutions in particular are abysmal.

    While one could argue there is limited economic utility in "half a degree" it appears to be worth something in the range of an 8.85% boost in earnings over just having a high school degree (admittedly worth less than an associates however). As the social signaling value of an incomplete degree is limited, presumably the extra earnings reflects some combination of higher intelligence and more job-compatible personality skills on the part of the "some college" cohort.

    That sounds plausible. The GSS does have another variable of years of education, so I tested if high school grads have higher length of education in more recent cohorts, indicating greater college drop out:

    View post on imgur.com

    It does look like there is an extra 6 months in school on average today, for High School graduates in the most recent cohorts, compared to say 1970s births.

    Average length of education by cohort for comparison:

    View post on imgur.com

    Changes in average length of education are small after the Baby Boom cohort (compared to the big transformation between “GI”, “Silent” and Baby Boom), i.e. that is when the real massive expansion of higher education happened, but there is a bit of a subtle trend there.

    Read More
  18. ohwilleke says: • Website

    FWIW, “some college” is highly protective against being incarcerated in prison and even a two year degree is more protective (even, incidentally among people who have mental illness or substance abuse problems). A year in college followed by dropping out reduces your risk of being in prison by something on the order of a factor of six, relative to high school graduates with no college. I suspect that this is largely a product of sorting effects.

    More precisely: “Educationally, just 1% of those admitted to prison had an associates degree or more education although about 11% have some college, while 37% lacked a high school diploma with 36% being at least functionally illiterates who needed adult basic education instruction, rather than high school level GED instruction which would be too advanced for them. About two-thirds of those with either a high school diploma or GED had a GED rather than a high school diploma. So, less than a quarter of Colorado prison inmates graduated from high school in the ordinary course. In Colorado as a whole, 11% lack a high school diploma or GED, 89% of the age 25+ population has at least a high school diploma or GED, 65% have at least some college, 43% have an associates degree or higher degree, and 33% have a bachelor’s degree.”

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  19. Bill P says:

    A college degree is the new dowry. I work with a lot of high-income blue collar guys (Todd Palin types), and the gender pay gap in this social class is enormous. While the men, given enough seniority and the willingness to put in the hours, can easily make six figures a year, the women don’t even come close unless they run successful businesses (some do but it’s rare). You’d think that might induce women to stick around, but due to family law it has the opposite effect.

    Say you’re a 27-year-old woman who doesn’t have a college degree and your likewise non-degreed husband is a firefighter. Or he could be a railroader, a mariner, heavy equipment operator, cop, etc. The husband is raking in the dough by the time he’s in his thirties, and you’ve got a couple kids with him. You could get a job in an office making $12/hr, but why bother? Your husband is making significantly more than most guys with 4-year degrees, so there’s no point.

    This builds up an enormous inequality in income vs. assets due to “community property” laws. What this does is incentivize the seizure of these assets on the part of the partner with less income. Without working a day, you can get a house, half of retirement savings, and enough monthly maintenance and child support to avoid working for years. It’s a very attractive prospect for a lot of young women, who resent being tied down to one man. It’s really like winning the lottery, as the overall payout frequently runs into the mid six figures.

    For the degreed woman, on the other hand, there’s the expectation that she’ll be working too, especially because she has good income potential. Therefore there’s far less incentive to make a break for it, because the assets and debts/mortgages – and even child custody – will be split more or less equally because she has a job and an income. In other words, she doesn’t “win” anything. Her victory is as likely as not to be pyrrhic.

    This is the true value of a college education for girls in the upper middle class. It essentially makes them marriageable (i.e safe bets) to men who have good income and employment potential. It provides some insurance that she will not fly the coop while the man is still rising in his career, because she knows she stands little to gain from doing so.

    It’s all about incentives.

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    • Replies: @ohwilleke
    This narrative sounds very plausible, but empirically, it is simply not what is happening on average, in almost every respect, even though there are no doubt anecdotal cases that fit it.

    Most blue collar men are not making six figures (most, of course, make much less than their college educated male peers) and even those that do well often have short careers interrupted by injuries (a quite large percentage of middle aged blue collar men receive disability benefits) or industry disruptions. For instance, construction jobs were decimated in the Great Recession and oil and gas jobs are being decimated by low oil prices today. Very few blue collar men manage to avoid multiple sustained periods of unemployment in the careers and few make good money on average for long and this makes their marriages vulnerable.

    Blue collar women with children are much more likely, statistically, to make more than 50% of the family income than college educated women with children. This is mostly because a college educated woman does much more harm to her lifetime earnings by taking time out of the labor force to have kids than a blue collar woman does.

    The salient aspect of divorce law is that it is empirically overwhelmingly true that divorced women are much, much more likely to see their economic well being fall than men until they remarry, because divorce moves the spouses closer to not equally sharing resources, because women on average earn less than men, and because two households are more expensive than one.

    But, on the other hand, the best predictor of divorce is that the wife earns more than the husband and is not financially dependent upon him. From a modeling perspective, the closest match to reality is to view divorce as a decision made almost entirely by wives.

    The typical divorce involves a short marriage of a couple with very low net worth. Economically thriving couples who have had long marriages are much less likely to break up.

  20. Twinkie says:

    Say you’re a 27-year-old woman who doesn’t have a college degree and your likewise non-degreed husband is a firefighter. Or he could be a railroader, a mariner, heavy equipment operator, cop, etc. The husband is raking in the dough by the time he’s in his thirties, and you’ve got a couple kids with him. You could get a job in an office making $12/hr, but why bother? Your husband is making significantly more than most guys with 4-year degrees, so there’s no point.

    That may be so, but my impression is that the high paying blue collar jobs are more limited in number than the “$12/hr” office jobs. And the latter jobs are also more enduring in the sense that physical decline through age does not affect future and continued employment.

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  21. ohwilleke says: • Website
    @Bill P
    A college degree is the new dowry. I work with a lot of high-income blue collar guys (Todd Palin types), and the gender pay gap in this social class is enormous. While the men, given enough seniority and the willingness to put in the hours, can easily make six figures a year, the women don't even come close unless they run successful businesses (some do but it's rare). You'd think that might induce women to stick around, but due to family law it has the opposite effect.

    Say you're a 27-year-old woman who doesn't have a college degree and your likewise non-degreed husband is a firefighter. Or he could be a railroader, a mariner, heavy equipment operator, cop, etc. The husband is raking in the dough by the time he's in his thirties, and you've got a couple kids with him. You could get a job in an office making $12/hr, but why bother? Your husband is making significantly more than most guys with 4-year degrees, so there's no point.

    This builds up an enormous inequality in income vs. assets due to "community property" laws. What this does is incentivize the seizure of these assets on the part of the partner with less income. Without working a day, you can get a house, half of retirement savings, and enough monthly maintenance and child support to avoid working for years. It's a very attractive prospect for a lot of young women, who resent being tied down to one man. It's really like winning the lottery, as the overall payout frequently runs into the mid six figures.

    For the degreed woman, on the other hand, there's the expectation that she'll be working too, especially because she has good income potential. Therefore there's far less incentive to make a break for it, because the assets and debts/mortgages - and even child custody - will be split more or less equally because she has a job and an income. In other words, she doesn't "win" anything. Her victory is as likely as not to be pyrrhic.

    This is the true value of a college education for girls in the upper middle class. It essentially makes them marriageable (i.e safe bets) to men who have good income and employment potential. It provides some insurance that she will not fly the coop while the man is still rising in his career, because she knows she stands little to gain from doing so.

    It's all about incentives.

    This narrative sounds very plausible, but empirically, it is simply not what is happening on average, in almost every respect, even though there are no doubt anecdotal cases that fit it.

    Most blue collar men are not making six figures (most, of course, make much less than their college educated male peers) and even those that do well often have short careers interrupted by injuries (a quite large percentage of middle aged blue collar men receive disability benefits) or industry disruptions. For instance, construction jobs were decimated in the Great Recession and oil and gas jobs are being decimated by low oil prices today. Very few blue collar men manage to avoid multiple sustained periods of unemployment in the careers and few make good money on average for long and this makes their marriages vulnerable.

    Blue collar women with children are much more likely, statistically, to make more than 50% of the family income than college educated women with children. This is mostly because a college educated woman does much more harm to her lifetime earnings by taking time out of the labor force to have kids than a blue collar woman does.

    The salient aspect of divorce law is that it is empirically overwhelmingly true that divorced women are much, much more likely to see their economic well being fall than men until they remarry, because divorce moves the spouses closer to not equally sharing resources, because women on average earn less than men, and because two households are more expensive than one.

    But, on the other hand, the best predictor of divorce is that the wife earns more than the husband and is not financially dependent upon him. From a modeling perspective, the closest match to reality is to view divorce as a decision made almost entirely by wives.

    The typical divorce involves a short marriage of a couple with very low net worth. Economically thriving couples who have had long marriages are much less likely to break up.

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  22. ohwilleke says: • Website

    A fairly nuanced analysis of education premiums by earnings is found at http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/09/08/college_graduate_vs_high_school_graduate_salaries.html

    Considerably fewer than 10% of high school graduates (with no college) aged 30-50 who work full time make $100,000 or more. The 90th percentile income is about $60,000 for this population (about the same as the median college graduate).

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  23. Bill P says:

    This narrative sounds very plausible, but empirically, it is simply not what is happening on average, in almost every respect, even though there are no doubt anecdotal cases that fit it.

    I’m not talking about average.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    “I work with a lot of high-income blue collar guys (Todd Palin types), and the gender pay gap in this social class is enormous.”

    These are men who do make as much as college educated males. They are unionized and at the top of the labor hierarchy. Generally, they are about as intelligent as college grads, although usually they are not as well educated.

    Nevertheless, divorce is so common among this group that it goes beyond “anecdotal” into “obvious” territory. Cops, firemen, fishermen, etc. They have sky-high rates of divorce. My best guess is that it’s because of incentives. Maybe behavior factors into it as well. These guys are on average significantly more masculine than the typical American male. Maybe they cheat more. Maybe their wives tend to be more promiscuous (could be that women who are attracted to masculine men are more likely to seek out multiple partners). Whatever the case, they don’t fit into the narrative that traditional families with a male breadwinner and female homemaker are more stable, even though such stable families certainly exist among them (and inspire envy among the majority).

    The salient aspect of divorce law is that it is empirically overwhelmingly true that divorced women are much, much more likely to see their economic well being fall than men until they remarry, because divorce moves the spouses closer to not equally sharing resources, because women on average earn less than men, and because two households are more expensive than one.

    But, on the other hand, the best predictor of divorce is that the wife earns more than the husband and is not financially dependent upon him. From a modeling perspective, the closest match to reality is to view divorce as a decision made almost entirely by wives.

    So this suggests that women act against their own and their children’s interests at alarmingly high rates when empowered to do so. Who would have thought?

    The typical divorce involves a short marriage of a couple with very low net worth. Economically thriving couples who have had long marriages are much less likely to break up.

    In other words, young couples. Given that divorce is entirely a decision made by wives, I think it’s time people owned up to the fact that it’s really about sexual opportunity (enabled by “family” law), because there’s no other solid reason in most cases. Pity that there are so many morally execrable divorce lawyers out there willing to actually cash in on this tragedy of human weakness. These people are no better than loan sharks and drug dealers, but they get to call themselves officers of the court. Sick.

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  24. ohwilleke says: • Website

    “So this suggests that women act against their own and their children’s interests at alarmingly high rates when empowered to do so.”

    1. There is a considerable amount of “lifeboat economics” combined with a degree of shortsightedness. Husbands are often economic drains on the household in the short term.

    2. There is a lot of economic pressure for divorced women with children remarry or cohabit with a new partner, and most divorced women do, often with less than optimal partners. Women who divorce and swiftly form new households with more economically stable men often do improve their lots and disappear from divorce statistics once they remarry.

    3. Lots of women overestimate what they are entitled to in a divorce, which sounds a lot more equitable on paper than it is in fact. Many also overestimate their prospects of remarriage and re-employment. Overestimating your capacity to advance your own interests is a well established cognitive bias of just about everyone. A related cognitive bias is a tendency to underestimate the future potential of a spouse who has recently been disappointing economically.

    4. I would agree that the decision to divorce rarely (except in cases of serious domestic violence/substance abuse/desertion) is in their children’s best interests. Divorce is almost always a decision made based upon one or both parent’s interests, and routinely leaves children worse off even when both parents are better off as a result.

    The aphorism is that criminal law usually involves bad people who put their best foot forward in the proceedings, while divorce law usually involves good people in whom the proceedings bring out their worst side.

    “These are men who do make as much as college educated males. They are unionized and at the top of the labor hierarchy. Generally, they are about as intelligent as college grads, although usually they are not as well educated.”

    I’ve worked on cases involving families like these (as a lawyer). They are quite rare. For every blue collar dad whose doing well economically at the time the divorce decision is made, there are ten who have seen their economic prospects slide in recent years and now work part time at Home Depot (seriously, I swear, Home Depot has got to have an affirmative action program for divorced dads or something, I can’t count on my fingers all the divorcing men I can think of who work there part time.)

    It could also be that they are being culturally influenced by their less affluent peers who make up the vast majority of men with no college education. Cultural rules and ways of looking at situations for people of a certain time, place, ethnicity and class tend to be all or nothing, and tend to be optimized for the average member of that culture, not the outliers. When you make a decision to buy into a cultural identity as a blue collar male worker, you buy into a set of rules and perspectives that work best for the typical blue collar male worker, not the rare bird who makes $100K a year on a sustained basis, and adopting that set of cultural norms can cause people who are in atypical circumstances to make bad decisions for themselves based upon those norms, even when the same decisions would be good ones for more typical men who are members of that subculture.

    Firemen and policemen and soldiers and postmen tend to retire early with benefits that are decent but nothing to write home about that greatly reduce their lifetime earnings, then go onto get crappy part-time jobs at 50 or so while trying to live off pensions and disability payments.

    “it’s really about sexual opportunity (enabled by “family” law), because there’s no other solid reason in most cases.”

    Just no. Both non-marriage and divorce are mostly about male economic failure, even when the parties themselves don’t articulate their reasons in those terms. Once couples split, sex because a key survival tool for women to get back on their feet, but women who leave marriages in search of sexual opportunity are the minority by far.

    Indeed, the classic “good divorce” often involves couples who can be civil with each other interpersonally and would have managed to survive a cold and loveless marriage if divorce were not an option. A surprisingly large number of couples who have kids together even have sex with each other now and then despite the fact that they have split up (and those couples tend to have kids who are better off than those who don’t). But, a large majority are cases in which the husband has failed economically in some respect relative to the wife, or relative to his previous economic performance or prospects.

    Even among divorcing millionaires with H.S. educations, a dramatic decline in economic prosperity is the norm before a divorce.

    Yes, there are cases of divorces that have little to do with economics (e.g. the grief and role changes associate with the death of a child for a couple that doesn’t communicate exceptionally well will often kill a marriage), but more often, even when people self-justify their actions for non-economic reasons, the economic reasons are present.

    But even cases involving adultery routinely have strong economic overtones. A lot of adultery is mostly preparation for survival post-breakup where the marriage is already on life support for economic reasons. There is also immense overlap between the factors that cause people not to marry in the first place and the facts that cause people to divorce.

    “Pity that there are so many morally execrable divorce lawyers out there willing to actually cash in on this tragedy of human weakness. These people are no better than loan sharks and drug dealers, but they get to call themselves officers of the court. Sick.”

    First of all, there is a great shortage of divorce lawyers. Something like two-thirds of people in divorcing couples represent themselves (almost always ineptly).

    Needless to say, as someone who has had perhaps 15%-20% of his general civil practice doing divorce law over the last couple of decades, I would beg to differ with this characterization.

    The incredible messes that people who try to represent themselves in divorce cases create for themselves, their spouses, their children and the court system, even in the systems most geared to helping parties represent themselves are routinely horrific.

    The quality of decision making of parents in divorce proceedings who don’t have lawyers is routinely miserable to a great extent because the intense interpersonal emotions associated with the breakup cloud their ability to use good judgment.

    Cases where one party has a lawyer and the other does not do often result in unfair outcomes. But, cases where both parties have lawyers overwhelmingly avoid the worst disasters created by people in self-represented cases and usually result in mutually tolerable settlements that hold up well over time (which is not to say that there aren’t bad lawyers out there). Almost nobody in the process who has a lawyer and follows that lawyer’s advice gets totally screwed in the process.

    Far more harm is done by expecting functionally illiterate people to use a process that professional need seven years of post-high school education and several years of on the job training to master.

    There isn’t any great magic to it, but competent divorce litigation does require literacy, an ability to follow detailed procedures to the “t”, good bureaucratic management of information related to finances and children, an awareness of what is and isn’t possible or likely, and emotional distance and longer term perspective that litigants often lack.

    Publicly funded counsel, at least for issues related to children, really ought to be available as a matter of course, because unlike personal injury cases or debt collection cases, there is no pot of money involved in that part of the case that can be used to finance the process of coming up with a good solution.

    In my view, the main (avoidable) root causes of dissatisfaction with the divorce process tend to flow from the fact that a single judge is vested with extremely vast discretion over parenting issues, alimony and property division in such a manner that even if both sides perfectly agree on the facts of the case, it can be very hard to know what the likely outcome will be until you know which judge is presiding and have some experience with that judge’s proclivities in these kinds of cases.

    This lack of guidelines means that lawyers, rather than negotiating settlements “in the shadow of the law” as in most areas of civil litigation, have to negotiate settlements on a pretty unprincipled basis, knowing that “rolling the dice” could lead to highly unpredictable outcomes. Still, as often as not, divorce cases go to trial because one spouse or the other has a felt need to tell their story publicly to a judge and vent, or a deep and mostly unfounded distrust of their spouse, than it does for any reason that makes economic sense.

    If you look at who people trust the least, it is people who professionally engage in negotiations, especially less principled ones. People who are able to take a my way or the highway approach to their professional dealings are routinely much more trusted even when their veracity on average in what they say is often quite poor (e.g. cops are trusted even though they are trained as part of their profession to lie to people in all sorts of situations).

    Legislatures basically abdicated all responsibility for laying down meaningful guidance in divorce cases, which wasn’t a horrible approach when divorce was very rare, mostly confined to people with assets sufficient for lawyers for both sides, and there was more of a consensus about issues related to parenting and the scope of spousal obligations. But, this approach has been a horrible failure in an era of high volumes of divorces, large numbers of impoverished couples breaking up, and declining social consensus on the issues that are vested in the discretion of the judge. Slowly, legislatures are providing more guidance or delegating decisions to decision makers who have more of a consensus among themselves, but the prevailing rule remains “do the right thing.”

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  25. Bill P says:

    I disagree strongly with you that sexual opportunity has nothing to do with it, especially because it’s an established fact that human females (as well as other female primates) routinely use sex to procure resources. It isn’t one or the other — it’s both. Being tied down to one man means a woman only has access to his resources and genes. Women play the field to optimize both economic and reproductive opportunities. Perhaps this is good for natural selection, but it’s typically socially disastrous, and it is strongly encouraged by both US culture and law.

    So your husband gets laid off and has to scrimp and save for a half year until the freight starts moving or the commodity prices recover. Kinda sucks when you could be out partying and getting laid by a guy who’s in the money. It’s really that simple. Happens to guys on deployment all the time, too. There are law firms expressly set up around military bases to help military wives screw their soldier husbands over while they’re serving overseas. It really is indefensible.

    The thing is, the layoffs, deployments and lean times usually happen to young men. By the time they’re in their 40s that’s pretty much a thing of the past, and the wives themselves are too old to lure in a new guy. This, BTW, is a big part of the reason college women divorce less: they marry older. By the time they get the itch they’re already too late for the game.

    Policymakers, old-man moralizers and legislators have to start copping to the fact that they created this state of affairs. Lawyers and judges have to start admitting that they make a living off a socially harmful system. As you say, the divorces are usually against the best interests of the children, but what standard is ALWAYS used in custody disputes? Best interests of the children. Every time. This has got to be the most transparent scam ever. I mean, how can people who enable dissolution then turn around and preach about how they know what’s best for kids? They should be tarred and feathered for their impudence alone.

    As for the fact that these high-earning blue-collar guys are a minority, yes, totally true and I don’t dispute you on that. They are in the top 50% physically, intellectually and in terms of diligence. Combine those traits and that puts them in roughly the top 10% of workers. These guys earn their money, and are extremely profitable for their employers. More so than your typical associate at a law firm, I’d bet. Yesterday I was on one job site that pulls in 45 million in revenue a year, and while the top paid worker earns close to 200k, labor costs in that branch can’t account for much more than a few percent of gross income.

    You say these divorces are less common than lower income blue collar divorces, and well they should be, because these are uncommon workers. My point is that divorce rates are no lower for them than they are for guys that make half as much. Perhaps part of the reason for that is that higher earners marry more, but the family law system that is currently in place is a much more likely culprit IMO.

    In any event, I appreciate the in-depth response. However, the “do the right thing” mandate leaves me highly suspicious. Does this mean letting libertine, adulterous men and gender feminist lesbians set the agenda as was the case in the 80s through 2000s? What is “the right thing?” Does it mean ruining people’s lives to lower the burden on the courts and state welfare while providing a sort of make work job for mediocre attorneys (e.g. imposing peony on unfairly abandoned husbands and fathers for half their working lives)? How do you justify these things? I suppose it goes back to “best interests of the child”…

    In the meanwhile, the American family is dissolving, and there’s been precious little improvement along those lines. I tend to think, despite your assertions that it’s better for people to hire a professional so as not to screw things up, that we’d be better off if the entire system were abolished and people were left to sort things out on their own. In that case, at least, we’d be empowered to come up with our own cultural solutions rather than having judges trained in rarefied institutions decide people’s fate based on a few minutes of arguments.

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  26. They are not in the top 10% of workers by income, they represent a much smaller slice of workers. College-educated women also marry in their 20s, not their 30s.

    As for divorce rates, it’s hard to say. There’s just so few of the kind of guy you’re speaking of that the divorce rate would have to be derived from other data.

    The economics are much more important than you’re giving credence to, though.

    And you can look at the canaries in the coal mine in the black community for why the divorce rates are increasing among blue collar whites.

    It’s easy to tell a woman things will improve in six months, until the woman notices that they don’t over and over again with not just her husband, but all the other husbands too. It’s not six months, it’s two years, he says she can stay home after the next kid, but they always seem to need her income for a little bit longer, etc, etc.

    It used to be better for blue collar whites, so they had a reason to stay married. Now it often isn’t better and so they are replicating the earlier group of people with spotty male provision. Ironically reducing it all to sex trouble obscures the real problems, which ohwilleke did point out.

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  27. Matt_ says:
    @ohwilleke
    The story behind the story is economic.

    Working class men have seen the job market stagnate for them since the 1970s - their real wages have been flat and unemployment has been significant. Working class women have seen the job market for them improve dramatically since then, and the jobs that working class women are employed in have minimal penalties for interruptions in work history or seniority to care for children. After centuries of being economically dependent upon their partners, they ceased to be economically dependent upon them and economic basis of marriage which was the main glue holding it together fell apart.

    Basically, working class Americans are not getting married and are getting divorced when they do marry, because adding a man to the economic unit isn't adding anything for long enough stretches of time to wreck marriages.

    In contrast, college educated men have seen their economic circumstances surge since the 1970s with growing real wages and sustained low unemployment. And while college educated women have likewise seen their economic opportunities surge, the economic penalty that they pay for time out of the work force in professions like law and medicine and senior management, is intense. But, many college education women are still determined to make those sacrifices to have children, knowing that they have husbands who can support them. So, college educated women who have children have far more to loose from not marrying or getting divorced than working class women.

    As a result, working class families are in disarray, while college educated couples have stable families. A lot of the "family values" rhetoric on the right flows from the knowledge that working class families are falling apart and having the wrong ideas about why this is happening.

    The other side point (as other comments have noted) is that the SES percentile associated with college, some college, HS and no HS has shifted, so that no HS is now a much lower percentile population than it used to be (and HS as well), while college is diluted, due to higher educational attainment across the board.

    Re: economic differences with I can think of an effects around association between numbers of children and education that could interact:

    - Lower education folk tend to have higher numbers of children, in marriage and out. Possibly that adds to economic stresses on married couples, to lead to divorce, with women more likely to regard the male as a deadweight taking resources from the child and to financial pressure against marrying. May be less true for higher education folk, with fewer children and also more likely to be “empty nesters”.

    - At the same time, at least for low education folk, as distinct from working class, decreasing family sizes since at least the 1970s (per GSS) also could decrease the motivation to marry, if lower education people were marrying to have families. I get the sense marriage among highly educated often has and always has had more status symbolic functions (it seems more of an elaborate, ridiculous dance among higher social classes with announcements to newspapers and big parties and the like), and less of a function to simply bring up kids “right”. At any rate high educated have reduced family sizes less. Smaller numbers of children seems to be one where the “two Americas” are “coming together”.

    But really that’s just in theory, and I have no real evidence for that.

    (The idea of Coming Apart, if simplified to the online soundbite, as higher education folk representing continuity older American ideal of average America, marriage and kids previously held by the low education Working Class seems a bit deceptive because high education folk don’t really have the family sizes to actually match the older ideal of intact working child rearing families. Never really have had them maybe, as work, career, leisure, entertainment and entertaining have always had a higher status and are more central to life among the higher social / educational strata, who formed the old leisure class. The new upper class seems to work long hours, but cynically I wonder how much of that is truly a rebirth of the old leisure class dressing play as work to shore up their legitimacy within a meritocracy, and the new upper class really are just more straightforwardly heirs to the famously unfecund and unconventional early 20th century leisure class familiar through literature and entertainment.)

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    • Replies: @ohwilleke
    Your points on family size aren't wrong, but the strong recent trend since about the 1990s has been for lower income families to have fewer kids than they did in earlier years and for more affluent families to have more kids than they did in earlier years (often with fertility treatments).
  28. This discussion on divorce is interesting. Regardless of whether the decision to divorce is more based upon economics or sex, I think it’s likely that class-based differences in time preference play a significant role, since we know lower SES people have a present time preference. Someone who is self aware and takes the longer view will realize that even if their own relationship is currently going through a more rocky period that any marriage will eventually reach the point of relatively low passion and bickering.

    Also, I have to wonder if the “social contagion” element is significant here. I know studies have concluded, for example, that merely having a social network which is mostly overweight will drive an individual to eat more. Similarly I would expect having many friends and family members who have had divorces (particularly recently) would make one more likely to think that it is an acceptable thing to do.

    Regardless, divorce is not a new thing by any means. The divorce rate peaked around 1980, when 22.6 out over every 1,000 married women divorced. By 2009 the number was down to 16.4 out of every 1,000 married women. As should be obvious by the number of out-of-wedlock births noted above, it appears that a significant proportion of people who would have gotten divorced 30 years ago, or remained in an unhappy marriage 60 years ago, simply never get married at all.

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  29. ohwilleke says: • Website
    @Matt_
    Re: economic differences with I can think of an effects around association between numbers of children and education that could interact:

    - Lower education folk tend to have higher numbers of children, in marriage and out. Possibly that adds to economic stresses on married couples, to lead to divorce, with women more likely to regard the male as a deadweight taking resources from the child and to financial pressure against marrying. May be less true for higher education folk, with fewer children and also more likely to be "empty nesters".

    - At the same time, at least for low education folk, as distinct from working class, decreasing family sizes since at least the 1970s (per GSS) also could decrease the motivation to marry, if lower education people were marrying to have families. I get the sense marriage among highly educated often has and always has had more status symbolic functions (it seems more of an elaborate, ridiculous dance among higher social classes with announcements to newspapers and big parties and the like), and less of a function to simply bring up kids "right". At any rate high educated have reduced family sizes less. Smaller numbers of children seems to be one where the "two Americas" are "coming together".

    But really that's just in theory, and I have no real evidence for that.

    (The idea of Coming Apart, if simplified to the online soundbite, as higher education folk representing continuity older American ideal of average America, marriage and kids previously held by the low education Working Class seems a bit deceptive because high education folk don't really have the family sizes to actually match the older ideal of intact working child rearing families. Never really have had them maybe, as work, career, leisure, entertainment and entertaining have always had a higher status and are more central to life among the higher social / educational strata, who formed the old leisure class. The new upper class seems to work long hours, but cynically I wonder how much of that is truly a rebirth of the old leisure class dressing play as work to shore up their legitimacy within a meritocracy, and the new upper class really are just more straightforwardly heirs to the famously unfecund and unconventional early 20th century leisure class familiar through literature and entertainment.)

    Your points on family size aren’t wrong, but the strong recent trend since about the 1990s has been for lower income families to have fewer kids than they did in earlier years and for more affluent families to have more kids than they did in earlier years (often with fertility treatments).

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    • Replies: @The Practical Conservative
    Yeah, I have frequently noted that the oft-cited never-married mother is much more likely to have a child, not children these days. And across lifetime children ever born for post 1990s women, married women continue to outpace never-married women by quite a bit in family size despite the higher ages of marriage. Never-married women have one kid early in their 20s while married women marry in their late 20s or so and have 2-4 kids. Those are the current broad general trends. Many married women marry younger and have slightly more kids at the margin, on top of that, of course.

    The fertility treatment thing has dramatically reduced itself in recent years, except at the margins in terms of surrogacy which for obvious reasons is hard to account for and anyway isn't very many people/births.
    , @Matt_
    Interesting idea. Few more graphs from GSS to try and test:

    http://imgur.com/YwdeIdv

    http://imgur.com/pmD6Kfl

    http://imgur.com/3Rv4h9p

    I don't see too much evidence for an uptick in number of children among affluent groups in recent year, using either the class or degree level variables on GSS. This may be too coarse for what you are talking about though.

    On a tangent, in the overall sample it doesn't look like subjective class (as a proxy for affluence) really matters at all for number of children when education is controlled for, with the most significant effect with direction (in terms of number of samples) looks like mild positive association of college graduation and class status with higher numbers of children.
  30. @ohwilleke
    Your points on family size aren't wrong, but the strong recent trend since about the 1990s has been for lower income families to have fewer kids than they did in earlier years and for more affluent families to have more kids than they did in earlier years (often with fertility treatments).

    Yeah, I have frequently noted that the oft-cited never-married mother is much more likely to have a child, not children these days. And across lifetime children ever born for post 1990s women, married women continue to outpace never-married women by quite a bit in family size despite the higher ages of marriage. Never-married women have one kid early in their 20s while married women marry in their late 20s or so and have 2-4 kids. Those are the current broad general trends. Many married women marry younger and have slightly more kids at the margin, on top of that, of course.

    The fertility treatment thing has dramatically reduced itself in recent years, except at the margins in terms of surrogacy which for obvious reasons is hard to account for and anyway isn’t very many people/births.

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  31. Bill M says:
    @Sean

    It looks like Americans with university degrees or higher are basically at full employment.
     
    You said a while ago that:-

    In the near to medium term future it seems plausible that the bottom 90% of the population will be employed in occupations which serve the demand of the top 10% for “authentic” human servility and handcrafts. http://www.unz.com/gnxp/why-cgi-will-not-eliminate-porn-actresses/
     
    That future 90% will in many cases be the children of the Americans with university degrees or higher.

    We still have elections though, and the 90% will be able to easily outvote the 10%. And even if we didn’t have elections, there’s always non-electoral politics at play. Encouraging poorer people to immigrate can mitigate this as their material prospects improve and they thus have less hostility towards the 10%, but this is temporary at best, as their children grow up in the US and don’t have a poorer country as a reference. Immigration would have to be continually encouraged, but that just introduces another destabilizing dynamic.

    It’s hard to see how this would persist.

    Read More
  32. Matt_ says:
    @ohwilleke
    Your points on family size aren't wrong, but the strong recent trend since about the 1990s has been for lower income families to have fewer kids than they did in earlier years and for more affluent families to have more kids than they did in earlier years (often with fertility treatments).

    Interesting idea. Few more graphs from GSS to try and test:

    View post on imgur.com

    View post on imgur.com

    View post on imgur.com

    I don’t see too much evidence for an uptick in number of children among affluent groups in recent year, using either the class or degree level variables on GSS. This may be too coarse for what you are talking about though.

    On a tangent, in the overall sample it doesn’t look like subjective class (as a proxy for affluence) really matters at all for number of children when education is controlled for, with the most significant effect with direction (in terms of number of samples) looks like mild positive association of college graduation and class status with higher numbers of children.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ohwilleke
    One notable threshold that was crossed sometime in the last twenty-five years is that the number of children per lifetime for African American women fell below that of white women for pretty much the first time since meaningful post-emancipation statistics have been available.

    Also, in terms of sources, I generally look to vital statistics reports (on births, deaths, etc.) and the Department of Commerce's census reports (the Census Bureau is in the Department of Commerce). These are comprehensive complete data sets rather than statistical samples, and are more focused on a single purpose, so they are more accurate than the GSS for this narrow purpose.

  33. ohwilleke says: • Website
    @Matt_
    Interesting idea. Few more graphs from GSS to try and test:

    http://imgur.com/YwdeIdv

    http://imgur.com/pmD6Kfl

    http://imgur.com/3Rv4h9p

    I don't see too much evidence for an uptick in number of children among affluent groups in recent year, using either the class or degree level variables on GSS. This may be too coarse for what you are talking about though.

    On a tangent, in the overall sample it doesn't look like subjective class (as a proxy for affluence) really matters at all for number of children when education is controlled for, with the most significant effect with direction (in terms of number of samples) looks like mild positive association of college graduation and class status with higher numbers of children.

    One notable threshold that was crossed sometime in the last twenty-five years is that the number of children per lifetime for African American women fell below that of white women for pretty much the first time since meaningful post-emancipation statistics have been available.

    Also, in terms of sources, I generally look to vital statistics reports (on births, deaths, etc.) and the Department of Commerce’s census reports (the Census Bureau is in the Department of Commerce). These are comprehensive complete data sets rather than statistical samples, and are more focused on a single purpose, so they are more accurate than the GSS for this narrow purpose.

    Read More

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