"I think that housing costs and morning sickness are the two biggest deterrents to married women having more children." Doesn't ring true, though I have no data. I expect the biggest deterrents are financial (not just housing) and the amount of work that having children requires for women, whether or not they are married. No women I know say that morning sickness deterred them from having kids; lots of pregnant women don't have it. Starting families late matters - not enough time, too much to lose. I don't believe that governments should provide free childcare or that they can provide good childcare. But the challenges and costs of childcare are huge deterrents for women.

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Google says that 70 to 80 percent of women have some morning sickness, mostly in the first trimester. Some women continue to have it throughout the entire pregnancy. If you dig a little more it says that 15 percent of women with morning sickness does it rise to a level categorized as severe. I also, thought this was not one of the two biggest determinants. In contrast over 30 percent of births are C-sections and once down the C-section road this puts a hard cap on the number of pregnancies you can have that are not considered very high risk.

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I didn't experience it but have never heard anyone mention morning sickness in a fearful way; generally if it comes up it is connected to "the only thing I wanted to eat" type retrospective pregnancy-and-birth talk women typically seem to enjoy. (If you had an easy birth, you are usually shut down in these discussions.) I have more often heard women reference with annoyance the constant need to urinate.

I think the fear of having a child that is born damaged, is much more disquieting, as for humanitarian reasons one sees those children much more than one would have, decades ago; and also, medical advances having had the effect of taking some of those births out of nature's hands.

Apologies if that paragraph was offensive, I am trying to be honest about what I perceive certain background fears to be, among a certain demographic segment.

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Arnald doesn't listen to woman folk much or is clueless when it comes woman sensitibities. But I found this statement a little off the mark.

But he writes a lot. Can't be on the mark all the time right Arnald.

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The CTC would have partially subsidized child care w/o making into a state provided good.

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I posted below that my wife and daughters express there being a great social pressure that women have a job. There is also the economic pressure for dual income marriages.

Twenty five years ago I had a fascinating conversation with my company HR manager. I was adding my third kid as a newborn dependent and the lady asked if my wife worked. I said no and the lady said my wife was very lucky. The message conveyed to me that being a working mom was hard and it made having a larger family very difficult (observe that 25 years ago you could have these honest conversations at work).

Childcare costs are one expense. But an even larger one is the emotional energy and opportunity cost of balancing work and kids.

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Sep 16, 2023·edited Sep 16, 2023

This, yes. In my mother's generation, you were in danger of being *considered* "left on the shelf" if you were still there senior year (she was not, finishing later by correspondence course while left alone with the little children, while her husband ran around). Most girls expected to get a ring on their finger before graduation anyway. Then there was a shift. By the time I was in college, there was no such expectation, not at all - however, public state school was still so inexpensive that even if a career lay on the other side, for most girls, making money didn't feel like the only motive and justification for college. Too there was a little neo-hippie moment ...

You'd now have to be unusually independent to run the meritocratic gauntlet, to announce at the end, I did all this to go into marriage and motherhood.

The conventional thinking is still there, just the same as the 50s - it's just flipped.

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Sep 16, 2023·edited Sep 16, 2023

Re: Decline in human fertility (birth-rate).

Robin Hanson has written a series of fascinating essays about causes and correlates of the secular decline in human fertility. Here is a link to the most recent:


Hanson ventures a prediction:

"The most likely scenario by which world human fertility will rise again includes a big return to communism. It will be a small-scale religious 'commune' form of 'commune-ism'. [... .]

To see why, note two big facts about fertility. The first big fact is that human fertility (kids per woman in her lifetime) has been consistently falling since it first started to do so in France ~250 years ago. Most of the world is now below replacement fertility, and the rest should soon follow, resulting in a world population peak in about thirty years, and a world economy peak not long after. After 'hovering' near that peak for a few decades to centuries, population will likely then fall by half every generation or two. [... .] The economy will fall a bit faster, due to shrinking innovation rates and scale economies. [... .]

The second big fact to keep in mind about fertility is that we have seen many small but consistent exceptions to this global fertility fall, exceptions which have many distinctive features in common. For example, Orthodox Jews, Salafist Muslims, Mormons, Laestadian Lutherans, and many Anabaptists such as Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites. Some of these have maintained their distinctive cultures and high fertility for very long periods. Amish, for example, have doubled roughly every twenty years for over a century.

These groups tend to be fertile, insular, religious, pacifist, rural, and family-oriented. They uphold traditional gender roles, discourage birth control, limit years of schooling, maintain strong internal censorship, limit tech to maintain social isolation, and are made of small independent communities of about a hundred which split when they get large. And they tend to be communal, with mostly shared property, collective choices of activities and roles, and strong norms governing behaviors which are quite egalitarian re differences in talk, dress, housing, etc."

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Even if technological advancement is slower with higher average age, there is no reason it would turn negative so that pc income would fall

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See Chad Jones' online presentation of his paper, "The End of Economic Growth? Unintended Consequences of a Declining Population":


The paper (published in AER) notes:

"One force we have abstracted from here is the possible depreciation of knowledge.

It is well known by historians that fundamental ideas have been lost with the

decline of some civilizations. That may not be a problem here in that living standards

continue to increase in this model, so that our technologies for storing knowledge

may remain effective. However, if knowledge were to depreciate at a constant

exogenous rate, it is easy to show in the simple models at the start of this paper that

this would lead to declining living standards in the presence of negative population

growth, an even more dire outcome.

Of course, the results in this paper are not a forecast—the paper is designed to

suggest that a possibility we have until now not considered carefully deserves more

attention." (p. 3,515)

Arnold Kling has expressed skepticism about these models of the impact of fertility on innovation:

"It seems to me that this is an awfully simplistic model of innovation to draw such a strong conclusion." (In My Tribe, Substack, 24 August 2023)


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A lot of the "freedom to play" issue is related to the demographic composition of society. When a large proportion of the society is made up of kids, society and the various associations within it orient around kids. Kid-based businesses are easier to create and make successful. In a society like ours that is geriatric and on death's door, most of our culture is dedicated to providing old people the palliatives and stimulations that they crave. This tends to include child-suppression measures. For example, in the fancy co-op apartment building in which I grew up, the board members demanded an absolute ban to all playing of hop-skotch or any use of chalk in front of the lobby. There must be no children playing in front of the building!

This to me is a good model of what usually happens. The old people out vote and out spend the children, so they win, again and again and again. Peter Gray, by contrast, seems to put the blame on parents, whom I also think deserve some blame, but I think the underlying issue is just that children are such a minority now that most adults see them as vermin to be managed rather than people.

The government is addressing this problem (as it is now, see: dropping life expectancy) by just killing people off like the Soviets did. See https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/09/05/upshot/medicare-budget-threat-receded.html -- somehow the author only mentions life expectancy once despite it probably being the driving factor behind the decrease in spending. The quiet legalization of MAID is also a factor here. The Soviets just dumped the gurneys into the snow, but we kill our people with moron therapy speak with a topping of opium.

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The fundamental issue is that parents can’t vote on behalf of children and olds have money while parents don’t.

I don’t know how to get from here to there on this because the olds would never allow a constitutional amendment or redistribution to parents.

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prohibition is not the only mechanism.

As stated in the piece, ozempic can help

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Another mechanism are social campaigns, as in Lithuania and Iceland

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You cite the 40% decline in Russian alcohol consumption after 2003 as an example of the successful use of restrictive government measures to tackle alcohol abuse 'absent job creation,' but the period since 2003 was also characterized by strong job creation thanks in large part to economic policies introduced during this period. As the article you reference explains, alcohol consumption 'exploded' after the collapse of the Soviet Union and continued to rise into the early 2000s, and this was undoubtedly in part associated with economic conditions during that period. I don't think the Russian example supports the case you are trying to make.

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“It isn’t about being left alone but about being permitted to engage...” Permitted? Freedom/passive Rights means you don’t need permission from anyone.

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"I think that housing costs and morning sickness are the two biggest deterrents to married women having more children."

Given that we live in homes about double the size of ~50 years ago I'd say housing cost isn't the problem. I'd also argue housing isn't at all expensive where about half of US lives.

I'd argue the biggest deterrent is people not marrying. Another deterrent is dual income households that feel blocked by the cost for daycare.

Does anyone know how likely it is for a married woman vs unmarried to have children?

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My wife speaks: The problem is women are told by EVERYONE that they must have income to be useful to society. As my 29 year old daughter (married w/ 2 kids) observed about her and her peers, if you don't have a paid job you are then asked what is your "hustle". Being a mom is not good enough. A women needs to have income or she is not pulling her weight.

This daughter is a rebel and doesn't care what her peers say. Younger daughter who is also married w/ kids does have a "hustle" of photography.

Best thing a society could do to promote fertility would be to elevate the status of stay-at-home moms.

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I’m pretty sure the kids from housewives have fewer mental problems and commit fewer suicides-we need more well known studies documenting these facts. Then the answer becomes “I’m working to reduce teen suicides and mental health problems”.

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Yes, but how does that happen?

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That is but one part of the dual income issue. It might be the biggest, it might not. And it might be the most solvable, or it might not. And given it would heavily involve govt, reversing the low reproduction rate might have more secondary harms than what is gained.

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As a "baby boomer" myself (a very lucky generation in most ways) I have to say that - as a generation - we have seriously messed up so many of the things we inherited - playing in the street, making your own way to school, schooling generally, self reliance, minding one's own business..... the list goes on...https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/

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As a mother of 4 children who range between mid-teens to mid-20s, I find the idea that morning sickness is the reason women do not have children to be beyond my comprehension. Of all the burdens of parenting, sleeplessness, expense, patience, shuttling, medical access, and general worrying...morning sickness doesn't even make the top 20. Housing costs? Absolutely, because that is burden for the child's entire life. Morning sickness? Unless has had a previous previous pregnancy in which the nausea was unmanageable, having that scare one off of having children would be like not getting vaccines because needle sticks cause brief discomfort. I would impugn the young generation, except I know that my daughters and nieces would not let such a minor thing keep them from a fulfilling life activity such as parenting.

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freedoms aren't communal

VIOLATIONS of freedoms are

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Most women take zofran or

Reglan for morning sickness. Your information is outdated. Very few young women have even heard of thalidomide.

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Mornimg sickness and cesarean really: be Boston strong you ladies.

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Freedom clearly isn’t a primary value for many.

Israelites desired return to Egypt and slavery for better diet.

Material vs spiritual.

Lord Acton and others see the freedom of western civilization as result of two competing ideas (institutions) State vs Church.

Modernity has eliminated idea of religious authority.

Freedom just about gone.



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Removing's obstacles to housing and commercial developments is just good Econ 101 reform, but if it increases fertility, so much the better.

Higher taxes on alcohol also seems like a pretty good idea.

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Sep 16, 2023·edited Sep 16, 2023

Re: "These are all rights that inhere in individuals, to be sure, but they are rights of individuals to participate in the lives of communities." — Yuval Levin, essay at link in Arnold's post.

Yuval Levin expresses a crucial insight about the enumerated rights in the Constitution. John Hart Ely ("Democracy and Distrust") made a case that the point of rights is to enable citizens to participate freely as political equals in democracy. One might call the enumerated rights — worship, speech, assembly — 'participatory rights'.

However, another crucial feature of democracy is majority rule — which entails risk of tyranny of the majority over the minority.

The founders wisely framed the Constitution to acknowledge, in general terms, a presumption of liberty. Amendment IX states, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." It is not unreasonable to interpret this Amendment to include broad 'freedom from interference'. Such rights may protect individuals and particular communities from tyranny of the majority.

The conundrum, then, is what may override the broader presumption of liberty in various instances. One criterion might be that a particular liberty constitutes 'a clear and present danger.' Another criterion might be a high standard of evidential warrant for restricting liberty. The intrinsic difficulty is that the minority is not persuaded by the majority's case. Perhaps judges, then, should give deliberate consideration to Amendment IX as a constitutional check on majoritarianism — but they rarely do.

And where does another enumerated right - the right to bear arms — fit within this conceptual framework?

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