The October Thing #1 – August 25, 2011

Love and Marriage and a Baby Carriage

“What’s love got to do with it?” sings Tina Turner, calling it a “sweet old-fashioned notion.” The world seems to agree; marriage rates are now down (often dramatically) and divorce rates up in most countries. The only areas where “traditional” marriage rates prevail are some Latin American countries and some Islamic countries. Basically, education and freedom-from-religion are hitting marriage hard, with economic-freedom-from-a-husband and internet dating also playing a huge role. There’s some evidence that sex toys also play a role in the more developed countries. The other shoe hasn’t dropped yet; China and India have just begun to see the steep marriage-drop that countries like Japan (Asian) and Mauritius (Indian) have experienced.

Birth rates are following marriage rates downward, but there are differences; single Swedish women typically choose to have an out-of-wedlock child, single American women have one by default, single Asian women usually aren’t having babies, using a combination of celibacy, birth control, and abortion. Educated women who do marry have one or zero children; over half of Masters’ degrees in South Korea are now earned by women. Such “Golden Misses” are very choosy, marrying late, marrying only foreigners or marrying not at all. Since that leaves a lot of unhappy bachelors, the bachelors are seeking foreign women; in Taiwan about 1/4 of marriages involve foreign women.

Will all this continue? Probably, since birth rates now drop due to both social change and financial distress. Both are likely in the future. Of course, the planet already has 7 billion people but can only afford about 2 billion. Comments?

1 thought on “The October Thing #1 – August 25, 2011”

  1. I agree that marriage rates are dropping, but I’m not sure where you found that divorce rates are rising. If they are, why is my business as a divorce lawyer so lousy these days (he asked, suppressing a morbid chuckle). But I’m not sure that’s important here; I think the reason you’ve invited us to think about birth rates is that our population significantly exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet. Distressingly, there seems no human effort, organized or not, likely to lower the birth rate to any extent that matters. So here are the facts:

    1. We are fast reaching the point at which there are 7 billion of us.
    2. The planet can only sustain 2 billion of us.
    3. We are doing nothing to reduce birth rates.

    Conclusion: some of us humans – perhaps many many of us – are going to start dying.

    The immediate and identified cause may be a natural disaster, or disease, or war, or famine, but those who connect the dots will recognize it as the planet’s quiet and brutal correction of human overpopulation. Understand that I find it chilling to be speaking in these terms, and I wish I could be more hopeful. My fear, however, is that the time of hope has passed us by. We already missed that train.

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