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Razib Khan
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Fertility Rates

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In my post on American fertility rates by racial group Mike Keesey asks: ‘It’d also be interesting to see what’s going on within “non-Hispanic whites”.’ One can explore this question in the GSS. Let’s look at ancestry group (e.g., German, French, etc.), religion, belief in God, political ideology, intelligence and education, for non-Hispanic whites. The data is limited to the 2000s, and I also constrained to those age 45 and up. Then I looked at the “CHILDS” variable, which asks the respondent how many children they have. Taking the mean of this value gives us a sense of the rank order in fertility. Note that this is not total fertility rate. That should be clear from the values being well above 2 in most cases. Additionally, I recombined some categories, so that “British” is the amalgamation of English, Scottish and Welsh ancestry. The “Irish” class almost certainly includes both Scotch-Irish (doing the regional and religious breakdown this seems obvious), and the Irish without modifiers. For intelligence I used “WORDSUM”. The variables I input into the GSS can be found at the bottom of the post so you can replicate.

Mean # of children N
German 2.47 911
French 2.43 169
Nordic 2.22 277
Irish 2.36 759
Italian 2.18 311
British 2.26 1033
Low intelligence 2.45 287
Average intelligence 2.39 1153
Above average intelligence 2.19 709
Highest educational attainment
Less than high school 2.93 720
High school 2.37 2970
Junior college 2.25 412
Bachelor 2.03 952
Graduate 1.93 687
Political ideology
Liberal 1.99 954
Moderate 2.37 1690
Conservative 2.43 1855
Religious preference
Protestant 2.39 3355
Catholic 2.53 1342
Jewish 1.83 155
No religion 1.78 639

I believe much of the difference among white non-Hispanics by ancestry is caused by other variables. In particular, the low values for Italians is probably a function of their disproportionately urban residence patterns in comparison to German Americans. Other white ethnic groups (the sample sizes were smaller for these constraints) with a strong urban bias show the same pattern.

To replicate, go to

Under “Analysis” at the top left select “Comparison of Means.”

Dependent: CHILDS

Row: WORDSUM(r:0-4″Low intelligence”;5-7″Average intelligence”;8-10″Above average intelligence”) DEGREE GOD(r:1-2″Atheist and Agnostic”;3″Higher Power”;4-6″Believe in God”) polviews(r:1-3″Liberal”;4″Moderate”;5-7″Conservative”) RELIG ETHNIC(r:2,11″German”;3,10″French”;7,9,19,26″Nordic”;14″Irish”;15″Italian”;8,24″British”)

German = Germany + Austria
French = France + French Canadian
Nordic = Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland
British = Scottish, English and Welsh

• Category: Science • Tags: Data Analysis, Fertility Rates, GSS 
Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"