How Feminism Can Also Save The Planet

by: Natasha Chart

Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 15:00


It's true, Rush Limbaugh is a racist idiot and vicious propagandist. One of his recent exercises in inhumanity included telling New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin that he should "just go kill [himself]", as noted at Media Matters, after Revkin said that "probably the single most concrete and substantive thing an American, young American, could do to lower our carbon footprint is not turning off the light or driving a Prius, it's having fewer kids, having fewer children."

There is a wealth of material indicating that wingnut heads spontaneously explode when someone suggests that white Americans shouldn't have as many babies as possible in service to the noble goal of crowding out the lazy brown hordes coming to take our jobs. It's creepy, but not breaking news. When Revkin suggested, as a thought experiment, directing carbon credits towards discouraging people in America (and elsewhere, but we'll get to that) having children, Limbaugh's cranial pressure differential reached critical levels.

In the ensuing October 20th rant, the same one where he suggested Revkin off himself, we get to the meat of Limbaugh's damage:

We don't even have to talk about getting married.  We don't even have to talk about being a couple.  I mean men have no say now, really, in whether a child is born or not, legally I mean.  So would a man have any way of benefiting from the carbon credit?

If men don't have control over something, and especially if they can't benefit from it, Limbaugh is opposed. If you needed an object lesson today on why feminism remains relevant, well, there you are.

However, the fact-on-the-ground that many men do insist on control and the greater share of direct benefits from everything within their purview, gets at the underlying problem with Revkin's thought experiment. Just because Rush Limbaugh doesn't like you, it doesn't make you right in all particulars.

Revkin closed his original blog post describing condoms as the ultimate green technology this way:

If anything, the population-climate question is more pressing in the United States than in developing countries, given the high per-capita carbon dioxide emissions here and the rate of population growth. If giving women a way to limit family size is such a cheap win for emissions, why isn't it in the mix?

Well, here's why. Because if you were really serious about reducing the birth rate, you'd be campaigning first and foremost for women's rights. If you aren't campaigning first and foremost for women's rights, then your push for greater contraception access will never get you where you think you want to go. Also, it can come off badly.

Natasha Chart :: How Feminism Can Also Save The Planet
Maximal Returns

Developed nations have mostly reduced their birth rates to at or below replacement levels. Which is to say that population growth has already been cut close to the bone. Further, the rate of pollution produced by the most developed nations is entirely disproportionate to their population share.

As an example, Germany's per capita CO2 emissions are half those of the US, even though they have the highest manufacturing output per capita in the world. This year, Germany announced that they'd met their Kyoto targets three years in advance and are on track to reduce emissions to 1990 levels. They also had a positive balance of trade in 2008, according to UN economic figures, with an export:import ratio of 1.15.

Germans are not living in mud huts, suffering blackouts, or being otherwise miserable for economic reasons as compared to countries with equivalent standards of living. This would suggest that it's at least technically possible for the US to make drastic cuts in CO2 emissions equivalent to halving our total current population while both remaining prosperous and keeping our noses out of people's bedrooms.  

Revkin has also been looking at UN data, from which he gathered "that meeting unmet need for family planning would reduce unintended births by 72 per cent, reducing projected world population in 2050 by half a billion to 8.64 billion."

There are approximately 300 million people in the United States. Our total population is only around 3/5 of these projected reductions.

There are unmet needs for family planning in the United States, but when you're talking about the sort of needs gap resulting in that level of population growth rate reduction, the conversation automatically shifts away from the US and the rest of the developed world.

I know. He said we have much higher per capita emissions, he didn't explicitly try to shift blame to poorer nations. But. The math of the situation is such that when population growth becomes the focus, that spotlight always shines brightest on the population segments growing the fastest. Yet if you were to make a chart that compared world population to per capita emissions, which you can see below, a person could be forgiven for thinking that population and emissions have little direct correlation. Not 'no correlation', but it's very obvious that other factors weigh more heavily.

Further, when contraception becomes the focus, that spotlight always shines brightest on women. Why? I don't know, I didn't do it, ats.

Women are held uniquely accountable for population increase and contraception use. You can see the pregnant belly, not so much the erect penis that was also involved. Indeed, women have long been the focus of most reproductive education campaigns, which is funny, ha ha, because they tend to have the smallest share of leverage over sexual encounters.

It's perhaps hard to convey to people likely raised in secular humanist surroundings, but a person needs to have a certain amount of overall leverage in a relationship in order to insist on condom use when the other partner doesn't want to use one. A woman who is a despised economic burden whose sexuality is perceived as the rightful property of her partner is unlikely to be able to insist on condom use. If her society is willing to let her die needlessly in childbirth, how much power can she possibly have?

We didn't lower the birthrate in the US by handing out condoms on every corner, but by improving basic health, expanding education and economic opportunities for women, expanding their rights and status, and then, later, contraceptives proved very effective in curbing the birth rate. It's also worth pointing out that still to this day there are women in the US are in relationships where their partners respect and consider their desires in this regard, or where they're encouraged to believe that their desires matter. Condoms could, in fact, be free on every corner and wouldn't lower the birth rate in a society where men had all the socioeconomic power and saw no reason to use them.

In terms of the global mean, it's inarguable that women have less economic leverage. They are most responsible for doing the universally unpaid work of caring for any resulting children, as well as other sick or elderly adults. In many countries, just keeping the bare necessities together for a family requires hours spent gathering fuel and water, which is yet more unpaid work. They work hard but the only thing it earns them is more poverty and abuse.

Women, mostly mothers, also make up the majority of the world's farm labor force. The cumulative effect of colonial-era inheritance policies and modern development incentives likely mean that our typical farmer doesn't own the land she works on and will be lucky to get even a small share of any profits from her work. And even so, they're probably better off than women completely excluded from the productive economy.

In sum, the people who would inevitably end up being the focus of well-meaning environmentalist population crusading are in fact among the poorest, most powerless people on the planet. No one who lives in the developed world has the moral standing to shift responsibility for our climate obligations in their direction, and yet if you're going to talk about population growth, that's where you're always going to wind up if you're chasing maximal returns.

They're Busy Dying, Thanks

The book Half The Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, more fully catalogs the situation of the women who were, are, and probably will be the mothers of most of the world's children. From a review in The American Prospect, emphasis mine:

"It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century," Kristof and WuDunn write. They estimate that 3 million people, the vast majority of them female, are trapped in sexual slavery. More than half a million women die of pregnancy-related causes every year, a figure than hasn't improved in decades.

Addressing a United Nations meeting on September 23rd of this year, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg pointed out that of the eight Millenium Development Goals, maternal mortality was the only one on which no progress at all has been made since 1990. None. And though progress has been made on child mortality, 230 of their infants die every hour from childbirth complications.

You could almost forget, living in the modern US, just how dangerous childbirth can be. That forgetting isn't possible elsewhere.

In sub-Saharan Africa, birth injuries known as fistulas are relatively common in regions where there may only be one health clinic for each of several dozen, or several hundred, villages. A fistula leaves a woman uncontrollably leaking waste, and perhaps partially paralyzed. While simple to either prevent or repair with proper medical treatment, many women suffering from fistulas are simply left to die. Either their governments don't care enough to make basic health services available, their families can't or won't spend the money to get treatment, or IMF/World Bank structural adjustments have priced basic care beyond the reach of the poor.

It's all about the money, you know.

Because women's labor is often unpaid or paid much less, they're routinely considered an economic drag on their families. In countries where there are school fees, daughters may only get to go to school if there's money left over after sending their brothers, and they're more likely to be taken out of schooling to marry early, help earn money to school their brothers, or help their mothers with unpaid household chores.

In countries where dowries are customary, a baby girl is a major liability, and that disdain carries throughout her life. I'm looking at you, Indian subcontinent. It's routine in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to hear of women dying from 'exploding stoves,' which is code for a woman's in-laws killing her because her dowry wasn't big enough and they want to free their son to marry again. And plenty of ink has been spilled in the last few years over honor killings, which nauseate me and I'm not going to go into it now.

So again, because "more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century," I think a case could be made that anything translating into greater responsibility or unpaid effort on the part of the world's most impoverished and oppressed persons is ethically wicked.

Feminism To The Rescue

This is not to say, again, that population isn't an issue. While problematic in some ways, this Scientific American article outlines the very real problems of deforestation and agricultural pollution that are only going to increase with world population and also won't be much affected by slight changes in wealthy nations' birth rates.

Yet if you're very serious about slowing the global birth rate what you would do instead of adding up contraceptive costs would be to increase women's access to education and employment. If that seems like too big a leap, you would increase their access to basic healthcare through affordable, nearby clinics that can waive fees for the impoverished. If that's too big a commitment, you start training women as basic health extension agents who can advise their neighbors on day-to-day issues and know when to go for a doctor.

And if all that sounds like a daunting task, then start showing men that they need to take responsibility for their effects on the health and welfare of women and children. Start telling politicians that they need to act as though it matters to them that more women die needlessly of malice or neglect than men die in war.

It's always been the feminist stance that these blatant disparities were shameful, and that glorifying motherhood while neglecting actual mothers is the most perverse tenet of patriarchal belief systems. Now it turns out not only to be an embarassment, but a threat to human survival.

If you're worried about the planet, fight for women's equality. Fight for their dignity. Do that, and a lot of the little things will sort themselves out along the way.

By The Numbers

While I know these things to be true, it's better to show than tell.

After reading about the Revkin incident, I was curious to know how maternal mortality matched up with national, per capita CO2 emissions. I wasn't sure the data would even be publicly available, but it turns out to be easier to get some statistics from the UN than it is to navigate the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' freakishly obtuse website.

Using UN demographic data, and UN climate data made public via a Wikipedia compilation, I was able to pull together a chart that compares per capita emissions and the global share of emissions to maternal mortality and child mortality for under-fives.

There's also a column in the middle derived from taking US per capita emissions and dividing them by other countries' per capita emissions to determine how many people in those other countries it takes to emit the same amount of CO2 as one US resident. So for example it takes 4.5 Chinese, 15.52 Indians, 241.09 Ugandans, or 698.21 Afghans, respectively, to emit the same amount of CO2 as one US citizen.

The table is first sorted by share of global CO2 emissions. Only 23 countries emit fully one percent or more of anthropogenic CO2, the values for the rest were left blank because, literally, I don't have all day.

The 23 countries with a one percent or greater contribution to CO2 emissions account for 83.7 percent of emissions as of 2006. They also accounted for 60.6 percent of world population as of 2009, and 83.1 percent of global GDP in 2005.

If you take out the three countries with a maternal death rate of greater than or equal to 400 per 100,000 births, (India, Indonesia and South Africa), the remaining 20 countries produce 75.7 percent of global CO2 emissions. They also account for 40.6 percent of world population and 80.1 percent of world GDP.

See that? See how the GDP share hardly budges if you take out countries where women are so neglected by their societies that their risk of dying in childbirth is around 100 times greater than the risk in the nations that take the best care of pregnant women? Twenty percent of world population, three percent of global GDP.

The lowest it seems technically possible to get maternal mortality is 3-5 per 100,000 births. The US has an embarassingly high rate of 11 per 100,000, likely reflecting the breakdowns of our health care delivery system, but certainly rates in excess of that are obviously preventable.

The rest of the countries are sorted by per capita CO2 emissions. I found it very amusing to note the high rankings of what are essentially vacation paradises for the wealthy whose own native residents can't possibly be polluting that much.

Countries for whom very little data was available have been excluded from the table, somewhere around a dozen or so. If their 2005 GDP data was in the UN database I referenced, it was included in the global GDP table. Overall, I doubt the picture would change much with a perfectly accurate and complete data set.

Without further ado, the numbers ...

  % Total CO2 Per Capita Tons CO2US Person EquivMaternal X per 100k live birthsChildren <5 X per 1,000 live births
Country 2006 2005 2005 2005 2005
China 21.5 4.28 4.55 45 25
United States 20.2 19.48 1 11 8
Russian Federation 5.5 10.53 1.85 28 17
India 5.3 1.26 15.52 450 77
Japan 4.6 10.17 1.92 6 4
Germany 2.8 9.72 2 4 5
United Kingdom 2 9.19 2.12 8 6
Canada 1.9 17.35 1.12 7 6
Korea, Republic of 1.7 9.91 1.97 14 5
Italy 1.7 8.01 2.43 3 4
Iran (Islamic Republic of) 1.6 6.28 3.1 140 36
Mexico 1.6 4.12 4.73 60 23
South Africa 1.5 8.53 2.28 400 65
France 1.4 6.47 3.01 8 5
Australia 1.3 18.01 1.08 4 6
Saudi Arabia 1.3 15.54 1.25 18 26
Spain 1.2 8.21 2.37 4 5
Brazil 1.2 1.87 10.4 110 24
Indonesia 1.2 1.46 13.31 420 36
Poland 1.1 7.95 2.45 8 7
Ukraine 1.1 6.97 2.79 18 17
Thailand 1 4.3 4.53 110 8
Turkey 1 3.41 5.72 44 29
Qatar - 58.67 0.33 12 16
Kuwait - 33.29 0.59 4 12
United Arab Emirates - 33.06 0.59 37 9
Bahrain - 27.16 0.72 32 11
Luxembourg - 24.81 0.79 12 4
Trinidad and Tobago - 23.38 0.83 45 35
Aruba - 22.45 0.87 - -
Netherlands Antilles - 20.14 0.97 - -
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) - 17.25 1.13 - -
Brunei Darussalam - 15.8 1.23 13 9
Nauru - 14.14 1.38 - 30
Singapore - 13.76 1.42 14 3
Estonia - 13.55 1.44 25 7
Norway - 13.12 1.48 7 4
Oman - 12.55 1.55 64 13
Kazakhstan - 11.65 1.67 140 35
Czech Republic - 11.26 1.73 4 4
Cayman Islands - 11.02 1.77 - -
Netherlands - 10.72 1.82 6 6
Ireland - 10.63 1.83 1 5
Belgium - 10.52 1.85 8 5
Finland - 10.45 1.87 7 4
Greenland - 9.7 2.01 - -
Israel - 9.51 2.05 4 6
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya - 9.28 2.1 97 19
Cyprus - 8.97 2.17 10 5
Equatorial Guinea - 8.97 2.17 680 155
Greece - 8.91 2.19 3 5
Bermuda - 8.8 2.21 - -
Austria - 8.78 2.22 4 5
Denmark - 8.64 2.25 3 5
Turkmenistan - 8.64 2.25 130 55
Seychelles - 8.15 2.39 - 13
Slovenia - 7.47 2.61 6 4
Iceland - 7.39 2.64 4 3
New Zealand - 7.35 2.65 9 6
Malaysia - 7.15 2.73 62 12
Slovakia - 7 2.78 6 8
Belarus - 6.57 2.97 18 15
Bosnia and Herzegovina - 6.54 2.98 3 15
Bahamas - 6.52 2.99 16 15
Malta - 6.43 3.03 8 6
Portugal - 6.22 3.13 11 5
Bulgaria - 6.07 3.21 11 13
Hungary - 5.83 3.34 6 8
Palau - 5.83 3.34 - 11
China, Hong Kong - 5.82 3.35 - -
Venezuela - 5.71 3.41 57 21
Sweden - 5.7 3.42 3 4
Switzerland - 5.57 3.5 5 5
Fmr Yugoslav Rep. of Macedonia - 5.53 3.53 10 17
Suriname - 5.26 3.7 72 31
Croatia - 5.19 3.75 7 7
Antigua and Barbuda - 4.95 3.94 - 12
China, Macao - 4.88 3.99 - -
Guadeloupe - 4.83 4.03 - -
Serbia and Montenegro - 4.77 4.08 14 9
Martinique - 4.53 4.3 - -
Barbados - 4.51 4.32 16 12
Cook Islands - 4.46 4.37 - 20
French Guiana - 4.43 4.4 - -
Lebanon - 4.36 4.47 150 30
Romania - 4.25 4.59 24 17
Uzbekistan - 4.23 4.6 24 46
Azerbaijan - 4.22 4.61 82 46
Algeria - 4.21 4.63 180 39
Anguilla - 4.19 4.65 - -
Argentina - 4.1 4.75 77 18
Lithuania - 4.09 4.77 11 9
British Virgin Islands - 4 4.87 - -
Jordan - 3.85 5.06 62 26
Jamaica - 3.79 5.14 170 31
Chile - 3.65 5.34 16 10
Korea, DPR - 3.53 5.51 370 55
Syrian Arab Rep. - 3.52 5.53 130 18
Mongolia - 3.41 5.71 46 48
French Polynesia - 3.34 5.83 - -
Iraq - 3.17 6.15 300 45
Latvia - 3.07 6.35 10 10
Belize - 2.97 6.56 52 26
Saint Kitts, Nevis - 2.76 7.06 - 20
Mauritius - 2.75 7.09 15 15
Botswana - 2.46 7.9 380 44
Egypt - 2.38 8.18 130 40
Ecuador - 2.35 8.3 210 25
Saint Lucia - 2.32 8.4 - 18
Maldives - 2.3 8.48 120 36
Tunisia - 2.26 8.63 100 24
Grenada - 2.23 8.74 - 21
Cuba - 2.21 8.82 45 7
Republic of Moldova - 2.1 9.27 22 20
Dominican Republic - 2.1 9.27 150 37
Guyana - 2.02 9.65 470 63
Fiji - 2.01 9.69 210 18
Panama - 1.85 10.53 130 24
Uruguay - 1.8 10.81 20 15
Saint Helena - 1.72 11.33 - -
Costa Rica - 1.68 11.58 30 12
Dominica - 1.68 11.62 - 13
Saint Vincent, Grenadines - 1.63 11.94 - 19
Morocco - 1.56 12.5 240 40
Marshall Islands - 1.49 13.1 - 58
Gabon - 1.45 13.45 520 91
Armenia - 1.44 13.52 76 27
Albania - 1.44 13.54 92 17
Peru - 1.36 14.3 240 24
Namibia - 1.35 14.44 210 78
Tonga - 1.33 14.66 - 24
Colombia - 1.32 14.8 130 22
Viet Nam - 1.2 16.26 150 18
Honduras - 1.14 17.1 280 28
Georgia - 1.07 18.16 66 32
Kyrgyzstan - 1.07 18.2 150 42
Bolivia - 1.04 18.7 290 65
Yemen - 0.96 20.37 430 79
El Salvador - 0.94 20.64 170 27
Guatemala - 0.93 20.86 290 43
Swaziland - 0.91 21.49 390 98
Philippines - 0.9 21.56 230 30
Tajikistan - 0.89 21.98 170 74
Zimbabwe - 0.88 22.13 880 101
Samoa - 0.86 22.71 - 29
Pakistan - 0.85 22.97 320 95
Nigeria - 0.81 24.18 1100 194
Nicaragua - 0.76 25.61 170 37
Papua New Guinea - 0.76 25.63 470 68
Occupied Palestinian Terr. - 0.73 26.61 - 28
Sao Tome and Principe - 0.67 28.96 - 99
Paraguay - 0.65 30.02 150 30
Bhutan - 0.62 31.63 440 90
Angola - 0.61 31.81 1400 158
Sri Lanka - 0.61 32.13 58 21
Djibouti - 0.59 33.12 650 133
Cape Verde - 0.59 33.24 210 35
Mauritania - 0.56 34.99 820 120
Western Sahara - 0.54 36 - -
Senegal - 0.47 41.11 980 119
Congo - 0.44 43.79 740 123
Cote d'Ivoire - 0.44 44.33 810 129
Vanuatu - 0.41 47.67 - 38
Solomon Islands - 0.38 51.22 220 75
Ghana - 0.33 58.75 560 114
Kenya - 0.31 63.31 560 120
Benin - 0.3 64.44 840 129
Sudan - 0.3 65.35 450 110
Kiribati - 0.28 69.82 - 65
Cambodia - 0.27 73.04 540 95
Bangladesh - 0.26 74.44 570 68
Lao PDR - 0.25 78.36 660 79
Myanmar - 0.22 89.23 380 105
Togo - 0.21 90.82 510 106
Liberia - 0.21 90.99 1200 140
Cameroon - 0.21 93.25 1000 149
Zambia - 0.21 94.56 830 174
Gambia - 0.2 98.73 690 115
Haiti - 0.19 102.47 670 84
Sierra Leone - 0.18 108.34 2100 265
Guinea-Bissau - 0.17 114.66 1100 204
Eritrea - 0.17 117.28 450 78
Timor-Leste - 0.16 118.13 380 105
Guinea - 0.15 128.92 910 160
Madagascar - 0.15 129.78 510 119
United Rep. of Tanzania - 0.13 147.35 950 124
Nepal - 0.12 166.64 830 62
Comoros - 0.11 176.61 400 71
Mozambique - 0.09 215.49 520 174
Rwanda - 0.08 234.7 1300 137
Uganda - 0.08 241.09 550 136
Malawi - 0.08 245.65 1100 127
Niger - 0.07 278.68 1800 190
Ethiopia - 0.07 280.29 720 127
Burkina Faso - 0.06 344.17 700 191
Central African Republic - 0.06 347.86 980 176
Mali - 0.05 398.36 970 202
Chad - 0.04 503.36 1500 209
DR Congo - 0.04 533.7 1100 166
Somalia - 0.03 630.42 1400 148
Afghanistan - 0.03 698.21 1800 257
Burundi - 0.02 906.05 1100 181
Tuvalu - - - - 38
Liechtenstein - - - - 4
Lesotho - - - 960 96
Micronesia - - - - 42
Monaco - - - - 5
Montenegro - - - - 11

Resources and Notes:

- United Nations Millenium Development Goal (MDG) statistics
- Carbon dioxide emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP), 2005; UN MDG
- Maternal mortality ratio per 100,000 live births, 2005; UN MDG, only year of useful data
- Children under five mortality rate per 1,000 live births, 2005; UN MDG
- List of countries by 2006 emissions, percentage of total; Wikipedia, compiled from UN sources, most complete accessible data set
- List of countries by population, 2009; CIA World Factbook, most accessible source
- GDP for 2005; UNStats database.

All figures are given for 2005 where possible, as this was the only year for which there was a relatively complete, country by country estimation for maternal mortality in the UN database. Emissions statistics for 2006 and population statistics for 2009 were used because getting at 2005 data would have required either access to paid data sources or retrieving the information a country or two at a time.

I arrived at my estimate for global GDP by putting the economic source data in a spreadsheet, sorting it by the GDP indicator, transferring that data to a separate sheet and adding it up. If there's a better way to have gotten it, I don't know what that would be.

Also, some of the UN data for certain countries is based on estimates. The notes on how those estimates were made is freely available in the source database.


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You misunderstand the source of their paranoia (0.00 / 0)
It's not misogyny.  Because it isn't just conservative men; conservative women fear this idea even more strongly.

It's linked in with the Biblically-inspired fear of a one world totalitarian government.  They see countries like China, where there were actual birth laws, and worry that by even voicing the sentiment that a low birth rate might be a positive development, that the United States is headed down that road.


Who on earth is "they?" You haven't defined your pronouns. (4.00 / 1)
Or, for that matter, what "this idea" might be. And I'm hardly sure why you would assume that women aren't capable of indoctrination into misogyny.  

[ Parent ]
I presume fundamentalist Christians (0.00 / 0)
That's who this paranoia plays to. The secular conservatives tend to have different motivations for misogyny.

But I see we were thinking about the same thing ;)


[ Parent ]
Women can be misogynists, too (4.00 / 3)
Witness Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin.

But I disagree also that I misunderstand their paranoia. The Dominionist, apocalypse-happy, Rapture-ready Christian fundamentalism in this country is equal parts horrified when authority shifts away from belonging only to men, and excited to see this 'sign' of a decaying moral order that can only mean the wiping away of the planet's immoral human dross.

The misogyny doesn't separate out from that, it's integral. Feminism is very explicitly part of their moral take on what's wrong with the world and why their hints about what a one-world government would be like always include feminist policy goals, because they view them as evil. The Slacktivist has dissected a lot of this in more detail over his series of Left Behind reviews, but looking for a recent example, they view it in much in the same way that they view pacifism: as an inherently hypocritical sign of moral turpitude.

Nor are they actually afraid of totalitarianism. They're afraid of un-Biblical (however they interpret it) totalitarianism by the unworthy, and hold actively anti-democratic (small d) views. Fear and loathe the anti-Christ though they might, if that person shows up, it means they're almost to their promised land and will be taken away to heaven fairly directly.

'They're not misogynist, they just view treating women equally as a sign of an evil world entering the prelude to a deserved destruction' doesn't really pass the smell test.


[ Parent ]
Birth rate data (4.00 / 1)
One of the interesting things about the Limbaugh rant is what is missing.  Traditionally, white conservatives would rant about the high birth rate among black women.  You don't hear that now because the birth rate among black women is essentially identical to the birth rate among white women.  Both are slightly higher than the birth rates for Asian or native American women.  All are a little bit nelow the replacement level according to the Census Bureau.  The only group that will be gaining population "naturally" as opposed to by immigration would be Hispanics.

Birth rates in the US may be below the replacement level but they are higher than for European countries (except for Ireland), Japan, etc.  In fact, the birth rates for France, Italy, and the aforementioned Germany are much lower.

One more thing.  When the Great Depression came along, birth rates fell by 30% or so overnight.  Bad economic times are bad for birth rates.  Heck, even before the bad times hit fully, births were at record lows during the W era.  I suspect that concentrating income among the top 1% is also bad for birth rates.

Since birth rates peaked during the Eisenhower years maybe the answer (possible snark) lies in doubling business taxes and raising the top personal income tax rates over 90%,  Consider that, oh ye Republicans.


Eisenhower nostalgia FTW! (0.00 / 0)
I'd only add that by the time of the Great Depression, women had already made great progress in their standards of living and rights compared to both their immediate historical antecedents and the life of the average woman in a developing nation today. Under those circumstances, yes, bad economic conditions will reduce birth rates.

Chris has pointed out before that he and I were both born in a demographic trough, where during the mid-70s fewer people were having children because the economy wasn't great. The dynamic is going to vary with a society's socioeconomic conditions.


[ Parent ]
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