Glorious Childbearing for the Motherland

Well, not exactly.  But if you don’t want your culture to disappear, there have to be kids to preserve it, and how that’s done is a knotty question.

One thing that’s interesting, is that Randall Parker here describes “traditional values” among predominantly Catholic countries, concerning who’s the breadwinner and who takes care of the kids.  This itself is actually not a Catholic cultural thing, but an early adjustment to Industrialization to the phenomenon of most men no longer working within a stone’s throw of the house… in the U.S., we call this the Cult of Domesticity, and it was a huge step forwards out of traditional English thought of the time, which it’s not too snarky and unfair to describe as “women= permachild semi-rational heir-producing legal nonentities.”

The upshot of which is that making adjustments to new social conditions is actually part and parcel of the process, and shouldn’t threaten anybody’s sense of culture, unless a well-meaning bureaucrat wants to do the stupid 20th-century thing and let the ends justifies the means with coercive social plan that looks great on paper but is a disaster in the real world.

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  1. The article starts to get a little too “futuristic” for my taste, but, hey, it’s FuturePundit.

    In regards to “traditional” Catholic (or Christian or “Cult of Domesticity”) ideas of parental roles, those roles are still, for the most part, accepted in the family. This leaves the woman with little choice but to hold off marriage and child-bearing in order for her to complete her education, as high as she can, and to climb that corporate ladder, as high as she can go. For children will effectively remove her from the “rat race” of high-speed productivity.

    Many woman in industrialized countries are told — by their mothers, no less — to do what they need to do for themselves first, because once the children come, they are no longer there for just themselves. As it should be. So the results for these women are two:

    First, highly educated, working women who either have only one or two children (because they are having them late in their childbearing years). They choose not to have too many children because of the cost of daycare and the cost to their careers if they are out too long on maternity leave.

    Second, they choose not to have any children at all because the costs are still too high.

    Working, professional women having three or more children are becoming rare and rare. Why? It’s because the mother’s income begins to pay more for childcare than anything else. In looking around the childcare costs for my little tadpole, the prices range between $4,000 to $10,000 annually, or $333 – $833 a month. No wonder some mothers, in having more than two or more children, often choose to quit their jobs, provided that they have a spouse who can make up the difference. Good for the kids and the family –but that’s one less highly educated professional from the working world.

    It’s a tough call. Fertility is one thing. But unless a society *both* supports — with money behind them — women to be highly educated and highly productive in the working world *and* family-oriented, the birth rates from professional women in that society will remain low or unchanged.

  2. happycrow

     /  March 6, 2007

    Yep, and *how to do that* is a serious problem, b/c the other side of the coin, being involved in hiring decisions knowing that the really bright gal you’re about to hire may be gone for good in a year and a half… is a serious problem.

  3. So what you’re saying is you want women who’re smart enough to qualify for the job, but too dumb to manage their own interests…. 🙂

  4. happycrow

     /  March 6, 2007

    Me? Heck, I wasn’t the guy doing the hiring, I was the admin overhearing the “she just got married, I don’t know if she’ll be here in two years” conversation…

  5. The answer to the catch 20-20 of how to have women be highly productive in the workplace and in the childbearing is a socialist program, in which government legislates extensive *paid* incentives for employed females to be mothers as well. This is the solution given in many Scandinavian countries. But, of course, as we know what’s funding that is taxpayer money, hence the high income taxes of places like Scandinavia. Publicly funded maternity leave, often lasting into several months, ensures mothers that they can be full-time mothers for a while and still have a job at the end. Also, state-assisted daycare is included in that package.

    But Scandinavia, having a rather homogeneous population, socioeconomic-wise, and a relatively small population (in contrast to, say, other industrialized countries like the US), can pull off this Maternal Wonderland. For countries as diverse as the US, state-funded and state-run maternity and childcare can easily have the problems of state-funded and state-run public schools.

    It’s a tough situation.

  6. As of now, a woman in the U.S. is legally guarenteed up to 12 weeks (3 months) of leave, under the Family Medical Leave Act, and still have a job when she comes back to work. But that leave is *unpaid*.

  7. yes, because, as you note, making said leave *paid* opens numerous cans of worms…

  8. Anna

     /  March 8, 2007

    LQ- it really depends on where you work. In my company, there is medical pay and STD that runs *concurrently* with your FMLA, and the STD is guaranteed 70% of your weekly pay, delivered via check weekly (granted, the paperwork involved is ‘MOUNTAINOUS and you are required to stay in weekly contact with your manager via phone. Good medical bennies are certainly an attraction and more likely to guarantee that an employee returns to work after childbirth and caretaking.


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