Idiot is idiot

France’s newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, when asked in a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg why there was no Marshall plan for Africa, explained that Africa had “civilisational” problems. He added that part of the challenge facing the continent was the countries that “still have seven to eight children per woman”.

The condemnation online was swift and relentless. The US political scientist Laura Seay summarised the problem many had with Macron’s words in a series of tweets: “It is RICH for a French president to criticise Africa this way,” she said. “France’s colonial theory was called the ‘mission civilisatrice’, which purported to bring all the benefits of Frenchness to the continent. Part of the ‘mission’ was the institutionalisation of Catholicism as the official religion of French colonial territories in Africa.”

“We see all kinds of effects of the ‘mission civilisatrice’ in Francophone Africa today,” she continued, “like the church’s teaching against contraceptive use, which most African adherents take very seriously. Do women in Francophone Africa want to give birth to far more children than they can reasonably feed, clothe, and educate? I doubt most do.”

Actually, absolutely every piece of work on fertility insists that desired fertility is the driving force. Contraception does indeed matter but it’s still a secondary matter.

The basic aim of an animal, and we humans are indeed such, is the production of grandchildren. Behaviour tends (for perhaps no other reason that we’re all descended from those who did so) to that which will maximise the likelihood of such, up to a certain point. That is, we don’t all have 8 children today because we don’t need to in order to have a 95 to 100% chance of having grandchildren. But the human condition was for millennia after millennia that 8 live births, perhaps 12 or 14 pregnancies, was required per woman in order to gain that sort of chance.

There are still parts of the world where this is true today. Thankfully, many fewer.

Absolutely every time anyone goes out and studies this we get the same results. Yep, sure, there are people who would like access to contraception. And, at the margin, it makes a difference. But not all that much of one. Because people aren’t, however poor, stupid. They know sex causes children, they know when sex causes kids too. Contraception allows more sex without children, most certainly, but if fertility limitation is what people really want to do then fertility gets limited. Worth noting that the first great falls in fertility were long before the invention of reliable artificial contraception (19th century France wasn’t it?).

How much contraception changes things is indeed argued over. Some say only 10% of fertility change comes from its general availability. Some say more. But it is still very definitely changes in desired fertility that drives the process.

Why are dirt poor women in sub-Saharan Africa having 8 kids? Because they want grandchildren and that’s what has historically been necessary to gain them. This will change a generation after people realise – which they will with better food supplies, vaccination and so on, that process we call getting rich – that 3 or 4 then 2 will still achieve that goal.

As with other animals in a state of nature the female of the human species spends adulthood pregnant or nursing. Once that state of nature, with its appalling death toll, is removed, then once descent is assured we all go off and do more interesting things. Including the contraception to still have the sex.

As to the Catholicism, animist, Muslim, populations subject to the same economic circumstances have just as many children…….

34 comments on “Idiot is idiot

  1. Macron is the idiot’s idiot, but in this case was accidentally talking sense.

    Long and boring comment will follow later.

  2. “Why are dirt poor women in sub-Saharan Africa having 8 kids? Because they want grandchildren and that’s what has historically been necessary to gain them.”

    Cobblers.

    It is a sign of your wealth and prosperity that you can raise 8 children to adulthood. If a few of them wind up dying it is hard, but the entire point of monster families is they are a status symbol. A mark of how successful and prosperous you are in the here and now. It is a literal illustration of the big dicked male and how great your life is.

    America in the 1950’s was the embodiment of this in that monster families like that of Senator Joe Kennedy’s twenty years prior, in the depths of the depression, were now possible for everybody. (His huge family and how much money they had were a part of his time as ambassador to Britain, with all of the press attention that it attracted.)

    The United States had a birthrate that was higher than Africa or Catholic Italy and was unfit to lecture anybody about population growth, to the point where as journalist Vance Packard noted almost two out of every five Americans were under the age of twenty, the implications of which were appalling if one then contemplated how they would then proceed to have families of similar size.

    The big dick culture shows up in low IQ countries because they are mostly morons, who have no other option for their old age because they cannot save money through fecklessness.

    If you compare this to Asian countries, where saving is a pathological habit, the low birthrate is reflected in the fact that they have planned for a retirement, and have replaced monster families with flashy consumer goods. They show off in a different way.

  3. Does anyone have a link to what exactly Macron said ? I have a feeling that as usual, a sentence has been lifted out of context just to give fuel to the usual suspects, and in fact his comments were a lot less radical than is being made out.

  4. Article in the DiM today. How to save the planet by having fewer babies.
    Sure, no oxygen breathing creatures would cause what… wildfires of continent wide dimensions as the % of oxygen rises. No worries then.

  5. Ben S : Is that the wacky video where he runs backwards and forwards in front of the graphs, and the bubbles of people move according to their sizes? I would point out that Qatar, where they have lots of sh*tloads of money and very low average IQ, is a state where a huge family is still popular and Rosling just dismisses it as an strange outlier, to his general conviction that as wealth rises, population slows down, because if you got any sense, you spend you money on something else. Prat.

  6. I see the number of liberals that dislike black people having children has remained constant over the last 100 years…

    For the poor, children and grandchildren are their pension. In for example sub-Saharan African who exactly looks after the elderly?

  7. There are often two differing opinions as regards each conception: male and female. Whereas for the father this proves his virility, for the mother another child is another chore. Access to family planning clinics may be erratic, depending on whether the father is home or jobseeking in an urban area, whether his wife is supervised by his family, whether she is permitted to leave the farmstead(especially in Muslim areas), distance to be travelled : this makes concealed and longterm methods popular.

  8. @ASM, not sure if that’s the same video, but probably similar. Based on data. Apparently sufficient data to claim that Qatar is an outlier. Do you have any data to prove it isn’t?

  9. “.. Do women in Francophone Africa want to give birth to far more children than they can reasonably feed, clothe, and educate? I doubt most do.”

    Africans aren’t responsible for their own actions, apparently.

    Having big families used to be a thing in Britain too. It slowed, then stopped, when more of those children started surviving to adulthood. This may or may not happen in Africa.

  10. African’s problems should be for them to sort out so long as they don’t think to solve them by arriving here.

  11. Just how much of the French African empire converted to Catholicism?
    My impression is very very little.

  12. Qatar is tiny so quite plausible it is an outlier. If Nigeria were an outlier that would take some explaining.

    It’s one of those “stopped clock is right twice a day” moments, as I agree with Mr Ecks.

  13. In the country with the highest birthrate, Niger, the average woman has 7.2 children: she desires nine!

    And the idea that the country that instituted Laicite wanted to impose Catholicism on a mostly Muslim, and still Muslim, empire is ridiculous.

  14. @BenS ” Do you have any data to prove it isn’t?”

    By defintion, no. – Because I agree with the conviction that in societies where the population have got any intelligence, you don’t flash your wealth in the form of needing a minibus to transport your immediate family. Don’t you?

    Qatar is a society where oil wealth means that there is no correlation between the work you do and the reward you get. This is just the same as in basket case African economies where the best jobs involve being a government official. The giant family is a status symbol reflecting this.

  15. How odd that the birth rate in African Muslim countries is sky high too, e.g. Niger. This only goes to show how pernicious the influence of Catholicism is, comrades!!

    This really does illustrate a massive problem in Western culture today – an alleged expert has passed off a wildly political statement as fact, despite it being so weak a child could refute it in seconds, and no one called them out on it.

    Our political culture is at the level of a passive aggressive moron.

  16. As to “their birth rate will slow down, like ours did”, will it? Are we just assuming that the cultural factors present for us will be present for them in twenty years time?

    UN estimates for the population of Africa are for it to double to about 2.5bn by 2050.

    How many of those do you think Jeremy wants over here? What’s our “fair share”, I wonder? Twenty million?

  17. Mr Ecks is right and Macron is wrong.

    The most idiotic thing Macron said was floating some sort of Marshall Plan for Africa.

    Sub-Saharan Africa already receives several Marshall Plans worth of aid, loans and investment every year, and has done for decades.

  18. Yes, Macron missed a trick here.

    The Marshall Plan was designed to promote the reconstruction of Europe after WWII.

    The analogy with Africa doesn’t work – there’s nothing to reconstruct.

  19. ‘That is, we don’t all have 8 children today because we don’t need to in order to have a 95 to 100% chance of having grandchildren.’

    Hmmm . . . things are going to change in the U.S. Millennials don’t want kids. So parents will need to resume large broods if grandchildren are to be had.

  20. When you see the phrase “provoked a twitter storm” or “the online condemnation was swift” you know that the person has said inadvertently said something correct.

  21. So the use of artificial birth control in Africa was widespread prior to the arrival of Catholicism?

  22. ASM,

    I think you’re confusing the fact that there is a tendency for elite families (Kennedies, Qatari royals etc) to have large families due to the ability to afford them, which is fairly status-based, with a general rule for non-elite families. It is unarguable that birth rates in the general population fall as a middle class develop (i.e. become wealthy) with access to health care. Whether this is the genetic necessity that Tim focuses upon or just the fact that less labour is required within the family this is established.

    And Qatar might be ‘rich’ but other than the elite most of the population aren’t, so your figures aren’t an outlier but simply a confirmation. Remember GDP per capita is an average, not an actually useful figure (shit, that sounds a bit too SJW for comfort, albeit few of them would know how to use an average…).

  23. The most idiotic thing Macron said was floating some sort of Marshall Plan for Africa.

    Macron didn’t raise the idea of a Marshall Plan for Africa, a reporter from Ivory Coast asked him about it.

    Sub-Saharan Africa already receives several Marshall Plans worth of aid, loans and investment every year, and has done for decades.

    Actually, that’s exactly what Macron said. And that if it were as simple as throwing money at Africa, the problem would have been solved long ago.

    https://www.unz.com/isteve/french-president-macron-mentions-high-african-fertility-in-passing-the-respectables-are-aghast/#respond

  24. In any case, the elites of Europe have already decided to solve African poverty by bringing Africa to Europe.

  25. The cure for democracy: replace the citizens with immigrants.

    When government doesn’t get the people it wants, it replaces them.

  26. ASM,

    that would be the Qatar that has a Total Fertility Rate of 2.03 (so yeah, really massive families there)

    The driving factor (as Tim points out) is surviving children, as the Child Mortality Rates falls so does the TFR.

    Simply ensuring clean drinking water and the separation of clean and waste water reduces child mortality massively, once the children stop dying the parents stop breeding and become richer (because they aren’t wasting resources on giving birth to children destined to die young)

    As child mortality is reduced the population will continue to rise for a period (exacerbated by the old living longer as well), then it will level and then it will fall (unless mitigating strategies such as importing people are implemented)

    Lots of first world countries have been supplementing their population levels for years by importing fecund foreigners but this is not a sustainable solution.

  27. Barbary pirates raided slaves all the way up to the English Channel.
    So quite a few Arfricans may have European descent.

  28. “Barbary pirates raided slaves all the way up to the English Channel.
    So quite a few Arfricans may have European descent.”

    I don’t think Arab muslim slave owners were quite as compassionate as North American Christian ones. Whereas in North America there are millions of black descendants of slaves, in North Africa one sees no white descendants of slaves.

  29. “Whereas in North America there are millions of black descendants of slaves”

    Speculation. Two generations back is all most know.

  30. Tim already gave us the tools to determine why Qatar is seen as an outlier:

    Why are dirt poor women in sub-Saharan Africa having 8 kids? Because they want grandchildren and that’s what has historically been necessary to gain them. This will change a generation after people realise – which they will with better food supplies, vaccination and so on, that process we call getting rich – that 3 or 4 then 2 will still achieve that goal.

    Qatar was an economic shit-hole until 1995 when Hamad bin Khalifah Al Thani deposed his father, Sheik Khalifa[1]. This means that we are approximately one generation removed from Qataris becoming rich enough to see the trend.

    We can look at this in a little more depth. When we look at the historical birth rate data[2] we see a slowdown in the decline of birth rates just after the nation got rich, then a return to the historical trend. This continued until the births per women reached roughly two[3].

    If we look at specific individuals within Qatari society we expect to find outliers. We don’t care about those. What we care about are the overall trends. The overall trends match what we expect. If fact, the pause in fertility rate declines was actually shorter than I expected. While some may claim Qataris have a low IQ, that didn’t stop them from adapting to the new reality. I see no reason why anyone could conceivably use Qatar as evidence Tim’s theory is invalid.

    ASM,

    I welcome you to attempt to defend your position that Qatar is actually noteworthy for this topic.

    [1] http://theweek.com/articles/459776/qatar-tiny-nation-that-roared

    [2] http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.CBRT.IN?locations=QA

    [3] https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2127.html

  31. The ultimate trajectory of evolution is towards maximising gene replication within the local reproducing group by making reproduction increasingly efficient. However, evolution requires only that we as individuals are aware of our proximate goals, and a man’s ultimate proximate goal is sex.

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