Driving a stake in the heart of the US marriage strike myth.

In my previous post Marriage Strike? I exploded the manosphere conventional wisdom that the US is in the throws of a marriage strike.  I pointed out that the metric published by The National Marriage Project is being widely misinterpreted, and showed that the vast majority of current white men and women in the us in their mid 30s have married at some time. I also made it clear that women in their 20s today are making very different choices as a group than women the same age did just 10 years ago, and that we can’t assume they will be able to marry at the same rates we see today. We may yet see a marriage strike by white men in the US, but the data simply isn’t in yet.

But while no one could point out an error in my logic, several have made comments suggesting the Marriage Project data proves we already have a marriage strike. It has also been suggested that the Department of Census data which I presented isn’t reliable and that the Census is using different data than The Marriage Project. Since The Marriage Project data keeps coming up, I have decided to explain the problem with how people are interpreting it in greater detail.

What is the metric?

The chart in the original Spearhead post titled The End Of Marriage used data from The National Marriage Project report The State of Our Unions, Marriage in America 2009: Money & Marriage. For comparison, see figure 1 from page 64 of the report.  In the notes at the bottom of figure 1 it explains where the data comes from.  They had to compile the information from several reports, but much of the data series came from the U.S. Department of the Census Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2001, Table 117.

Click for larger version.As I explained in my previous post, the metric of marriages per 1,000 unmarried women is highly sensitive to changes in the number of unmarried women even if the number of marriages per year is remaining relatively constant.  The source data proves this.  The absolute number of marriages per year rose slightly from 2,159 in 1970 to 2,244 in 1998.  Even though the number of weddings was increasing, the rate per 1,000 unmarried women fell dramatically from over 76 to under 50 during this time period.  The entire change in the chart from 1970 to 1998 is being driven by changes in the number of unmarried women over time. The continued drop from 1999 to present likely is driven by the same thing.

There are two ways the number of unmarried women can change over time as it did.  The first is the population of women over 15 years of age can increase, and the second is the percentage of time those women spend married can decrease.  We know that both of these have happened.  Total US population  increased from roughly 200 million in 1970 to 280 million in 2000.

The percent of women who are married at any given time has also decreased due to fewer marrying, later marriages, divorce, and reduced remarriage.  Whereas people in the 1960s spent the vast majority of their adult lives married, people now spend far less of this time married and more time putting off initial marriage and following divorce (see Figure 2 in above linked Marriage Project report).

So part of what the metric is picking up is population growth increasing faster than the total number of weddings, and part of it is due to us spending less time being married.  The less time being married factor is an important trend but a separate issue from the claim of a marriage strike.  If as I showed 85% of white women are still able to marry by age 35 but they are waiting longer (and perhaps divorcing sooner), this doesn’t show that men are on strike.  Marrying an older, less hot woman and then having her divorce you isn’t being on strike.

This leaves the question of population growth, but this in itself brings back the issue of demographics which I mentioned in the initial post.  Not only is our population changing, but the racial makeup is changing as well, and marriage rates vary greatly by race.  Any part of the change which is being driven by changing racial demographics wouldn’t support the hypothesis of a marriage strike.  In order to keep things simple I focused on whites, which make up 75% of the US population (and probably a greater percentage of the adult population).  I don’t have timeline data on the percentage of whites who married by age in the US going back before 1999, so I shared the data for 1999 and 2009.  For both time periods roughly 85% of white women had married by the time they were 35.  It is possible that back in the 60s and 70s this number was something like 95%;  I have no idea.  If someone has this data please share it.  Still, 95% feels like a theoretical max to me, and it is very close to the 90% we see today and 10 years ago for those in their early 40s:

Percent of White Men and Women Ever Married by Age, 1999 and 2009

Percent of White Men and Women Ever Married by Age, 1999 and 2009

So there might be a small shift down in white lifetime marriage rates in the US over the last 50 years, but right now it is so close to 100% it can’t have been large.

For a picture of how this looks across races, I found the following chart in the report Who Marries and When? Age at First Marriage in the United States: 2002:

Probability of first marriage by race.  Click for larger chart.Keep in mind that these projections are based on the status quo 8 years ago.  So far these projections have held roughly true but we have already seen a shift to lower marriage rates for women now in their 20s.   As I said in the original post, we can’t predict the future and can only speculate.

One other more subtle form of marriage strike in the US might be under way which wouldn’t necessarily show up in the data we have already reviewed.  It is possible that the most desirable men are now less likely to be willing to marry, especially the high earners and those with game.  As women delay marriage they may find they have to settle more than their predecessors did and marry lower status men who might otherwise have remained unmarried (or married even later).  The highest status men starting to become more likely to opt out of marriage would make some sense, and at the very least the data doesn’t disprove this hypothesis.  However, I can’t find anything which proves it either.  Here is what I did find from the same report regarding likelihood of marriage by economic status:

Never married by economic status.  Click for larger chart.This doesn’t really prove the issue either way because the category “not poor” is a very broad one.  Also, there is no proxy I’m aware of for a man’s game.

Lastly, while the data doesn’t (yet) support the hypothesis of a US marriage strike, I showed yesterday that there is clear evidence of a remarriage strike.

I hope this clears the question of a US Marriage Strike up for those willing to approach it with an open mind.  I understand that for the true believers no amount of explanation or data will prove otherwise.  I also understand that it is possible likely that I will at some time make a mistake.  Please don’t hesitate to point any errors you find out to me in the comments section in a respectful way.  However, please also note that telling me to learn calculus, generally accusing me of spinning the stats, or telling me If you figure it out, you will believe it aren’t valid forms of feedback.

See Also:  Supply and demand in the marriage market.

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52 Responses to Driving a stake in the heart of the US marriage strike myth.

  1. Joe says:

    There are two flaws in your reasoning (and yes, I am a believer in the marriage strike, and a practitioner, like many of my yuppie friends :)

    1- The only way that such massive numbers of never-married young people would end up getting married eventually, is if marriage rates for older people would sharply increase (to compensate for the decrease in younger people). Did you take a look at the marriage rates for older folks? They are going down every year. Of course we don’t know what those rates will be in a few years, which is why a marriage strike cannot be proved or disproved (the data is missing), but it certainly doesn’t look like those rates are moving in the right direction: in other words, even though the data is incomplete, it is trending towards the marriage strike hypothesis. We know this much today!

    [D: In my original post I made the same basic point. Today's 20 year olds look different than their predecessors. But I don't think that in itself is proof of a marriage strike. You would basically have to assume men are refusing to marry young women while still marrying old. I'm assuming the women are delaying marriage. However, the young women are taking a risk if they assume they will be able to marry at the rates of previous generations.]

    2- you are missing the big picture: what is marriage for? Raising a family, correct? Look at the rate of children born outside of wedlock? It’s approaching the majority of children and growing very fast! The central purpose of marriage, which is to provide a stable environment for children, has already failed. Marriage is already an irrelevant institution..

    [D: I'm not arguing that marriage isn't broken (check out my other posts...). I'm just pointing out that white men aren't (yet) refusing to marry in any significant numbers in the US.]

  2. Oak says:

    I wouldn’t call myself a ‘believer’ but my suspicion, and it’s no more that that, is that newer data that may not be out for a decade or so is going to show a decrease in marriage rates overall.

    [D: Likewise]

    And to be honest, the overall change in attitude regarding marriage, is really enough for me. When I say ‘marriage is a bad idea for men’, that’s generally accepted. I’ll allow for men to continue to make the stupid mistakes, and perhaps the decline in remarriage rates shows the message is getting through, after his attorney explains what his buddies already told him.

    [D: Yes, I think attitudes are changing. I made the same observation on the youtube post, and as you say the data is pretty strong on remarriage.

    But none of this is what was being argued. The argument was that the Marriage Project data showed a mass marriage strike. Now that I've shown how completely unfounded that is it is easy to forget what the common stance was just a week ago.]

  3. Marsh_Gas says:

    I’d like to point out, whatever your semi-careful look may show, that it clearly shows ME. Marsh Gas is everywhere. And stealth-planes, and weather-balloons. Everyone, and that includes you, sees them.

    The fact that some people choose to call marsh gas a ufo doesn’t change the fact that everyone who looks up sees Mr. Marsh Gas and his pal Mr. Weather Balloon.

    Marriage rates ARE down. Unmarried rates ARE up. Maybe it doesn’t mean what they think it means, but it is most definitely there.

  4. Deansdale says:

    I’ll begin with admitting that I have not read the whole post. Usually I applaud thorough research of a topic but this is way too much :)
    The thing I want to say is this: The change may be small, but it is a fact that more and more “eligible” men are rejecting marriage. The reason this might not be statistically “visible” could be that more and more men are re-marrying. Divorce is on the rise, so it’s perfectly possible that less men are marrying the same number of women. It’s a logical conclusion considering the “ever married” table. (Percent of White Men and Women Ever Married by Age, 1999 and 2009)
    Well, according to this table, the number of ever-married men have dropped by 5% in the last 10 years, so the change is actually not that small. A few percent of women have always been marrying divorced men, that much is obvious from the same table, and I reckon this is the number that is growing, thus skewing the results.
    Women are rejecting betas more than ever, but alphas are rejecting marriage more then ever, so there’s a growing “marriage middle class” of men who are marrying 2 or 3 women in succession. The “marriage strike” that is hurting women is the growing number of George Clooneys, ie. the alphas rejecting marriage. Of course he is an extravagant example but there are other, less famous but still “eligible” men out there refusing marriage.

  5. Lily says:

    George Clooney has been married.

  6. novaseeker says:

    There may be a “George Clooneyesque Marriage Strike” among the tittpity top eligible men, but that’s not enough men for the kind of “marriage strike” MRAs talk about. Even if these guys account for 5% of the male population, under the ancien regime, they would only be married to 5% of the women (i.e., before no-fault divorce), so the impact of these men being out of the marriage market, even if they had 10% strike status, would overall be small.

    I look at the “ever married” table differently. By 44, 84% of men have been married at least once. That doesn’t look like a strike to me. I would guess that among the remaining 16%, there are a goodly number who are not exactly eligible, as well as some committed bachelor types like Clooney, but an institution that has an 84% participation rate is not one that is subject to any significant “strike”.

    It may very well be true that when we see the stats for 2019, that number plummets to 50% or below — but that would be very odd indeed, and certainly not indicated by the rest of the data. During the same period from 1999-2009, when the other data on “percentage of women married” has been falling steadily, the percentage of men married at 44 dropped — by two percent. Not really a huge change.

    We can’t predict the future, of course, as has been said. But to me the most logical reading of this data is simply that men and women alike are marrying later, and there are marginally slightly fewer marriages occurring than in the past. It seems to indicate what we see when we look around: (x) lots of cohabitation, especially among (1) young not-yet-marrieds and (2) divorced people, (y) young not-yet-married cohabiting people getting married, eventually, but later than they would have otherwise, and (z) divorced people remarrying at lower rates than in the past. In addition, there is a growing, but still small and only very slowly growing, number of people who have never been married by the mid-40s — but it’s still very small. It may be indicative of a broader future trend, or it may not. The data today don’t really suggest that it will, however.

    2- you are missing the big picture: what is marriage for? Raising a family, correct? Look at the rate of children born outside of wedlock? It’s approaching the majority of children and growing very fast! The central purpose of marriage, which is to provide a stable environment for children, has already failed. Marriage is already an irrelevant institution..

    Certainly Marriage 2.0 is not about raising children. The whole legal/social design of the institution is about self-fulfillment and social proof, depending on social class. As a result, people are making the decision to marry, or not, separately from the decision about children — and even though it’s claimed often in the manosphere that men don’t marry single mothers, that’s not borne out in reality. In reality, most men are not MRAs and will marry a single Mom if that’s what they have on the table. Look at Matt Damon. A guy who could have any woman in the world, really. Who does he pick? A divorced single mom who was working as a bartender at the time they met. Heresy for the manosphere, but it happens all the time in the real world.

  7. Lily says:

    George Clooney can’t be used as a posterchild for the marriage strike as he already hit the marriage stats.

    I just googled his ex wife.
    – plays Mona Sterling in Mad Men
    – was married to George Clooney between the ages of 30 and 34
    – remarried at 39, she is 51 now
    – has one son
    – second husband plays Roger Sterling in Mad Men

    Interestingly, seems she was older than both George Clooney (2 yrs) and second husband (3 years).

    [D: You look different Lily. Did you get your hair done? :) ]

  8. Pingback: Clarification on my position on a marriage strike. | Dalrock

  9. Certainly Marriage 2.0 is not about raising children. The whole legal/social design of the institution is about self-fulfillment and social proof, depending on social class. As a result, people are making the decision to marry, or not, separately from the decision about children — and even though it’s claimed often in the manosphere that men don’t marry single mothers, that’s not borne out in reality. In reality, most men are not MRAs and will marry a single Mom if that’s what they have on the table. Look at Matt Damon. A guy who could have any woman in the world, really. Who does he pick? A divorced single mom who was working as a bartender at the time they met. Heresy for the manosphere, but it happens all the time in the real world.

    Very well stated, Novaseeker. I agree with all of your comment. Marriage is broken because people’s expectation and definition of marriage (“Marriage 2.0″) have broken the institution.

    It really boils down to the fact that each generation is more and more immature and narcissistic than the one preceding it. I guess parents are largely to blame for part of that.

    I had the opportunity to counsel a young wife recently and was left in stunned amazement at what she thought marriage was supposed to be and what she expected to get from it compared with what she was willing to sacrifice. Sadly, I am sure she was the rule and not the exception.

  10. dalrock says:

    @Terry
    I had the opportunity to counsel a young wife recently and was left in stunned amazement at what she thought marriage was supposed to be and what she expected to get from it compared with what she was willing to sacrifice. Sadly, I am sure she was the rule and not the exception.

    My wife has said the same thing several times. I think it is easy to underestimate how many men are clueless to this problem when they approach marriage. They take it seriously so they assume she must as well. I’m curious if you think my Interview Questions would have allowed the unsuspecting husband to assess the problem ahead of time and avoid marrying her in the first place, or if you think I’ve missed something important.

  11. Hope says:

    One thing I feel is seldom acknowledged in these blog parts is how many 20 and 30-something young men today adamantly feel that they don’t want children, never want children and get vasectomies as early as their mid-20s, which is basically non-reversible (the rates are not higher because many doctors refuse to do it on younger, childless men). I think this has a big impact on marriage rates as well.

    It’s a growing trend, with men not wanting the responsibility of fatherhood, the drudgery of marriage, and the boring lifestyle of the family man (going to school ball games, recitals, watching kids movies, etc.), and basically wanting to keep their time and money for themselves and regular sex. Thus cohabitation and the need for vasectomy to ensure no children.

    I don’t see this trend slowing down, as more and more men are either planning to put off the kids question until their 40s, or opting for sterilization. These are often not your typical “players” either, but men who get into LTRs. They specifically seek women who do not want children as well, and disparaging women who do want children.

    Demographically speaking they tend to be white, educated with high income and high IQ, and low on religiosity. They would be able to afford children, but they just don’t want them. It’s not specifically a marriage strike or even a dislike of women. Rather they see children as huge burdens and prefer to live life while young.

  12. Hope says:

    You folks probably don’t often interact with the more typical 20- and 30-something men these days, who are just as immature and narcissistic as the typical women in my generation. It’s true that those men who are marriage-minded are more mature and wiser (like my husband), but there are tons more men who do not want marriage or children because they want to live carefree like kids themselves, not because they are on a philosophical or political strike.

    An obvious factor driving down marriage rates is that men can date and get all the sexual benefits from women without commitment, and any average man can do so without much trouble, and easy birth control allows them to have the pleasure indefinitely without the burden. Given these incentives, why would a man get married and have kids unless he really wants to? For that matter, why would a woman do the same when she would have to “ruin her good looks” by getting pregnant? Not many 20-somethings nowadays want to deal with a crying newborn or changing diapers. It’s just not glamorous, cool or fun.

    I’m 26 and connected with lots of other former classmates and other people in my age cohort. I know very, very few who are married, and of those who are, even fewer have kids. A good number of my former classmates are still in graduate school, living the fun single lifestyle, dating or maybe cohabiting. There is no sense of urgency whatsoever as they approach 30 (I was the youngest one in my class because I skipped a grade), since just about everyone else around them is doing the same thing. Maybe things will change in another few years, but right now the agenda of the day is not marriage or kids. Is that a “strike” or is it just immaturity? I lean toward the latter.

  13. novaseeker says:

    Interesting notes on the “childfree”. Among the kind you mention (the non-partier, educated, urbane, atheist crowd), I’d say that it seems to be rather equally split between men and women alike who are outright hostile to children, even though they otherwise lead fairly undramatic workaday lives. It comes up a lot here in DC, in the District itself (which is where these folks congregate … they wouldn’t be caught dead in the suburbs of DC due to the preponderance of “breeders” and their “rabid children” here) — fights about use of public park space (childfree complaining about too many kids making too much noise and running around in public park spaces), strollers on sidewalks and in places like Starbucks (again, taking up too much space, invading the adult/urbane space with child-related noise and chaos), same comments in respect of restaurants, buses, metro and so on. Many of the childfree resent couples who elect to raise children in the urban area, because they specifically chose to live there t avoid “breeders”.

    Granted, some people do not like children and would make bad parents (no doubt many of these would). But there is an overbearing sense of selfishness and self-centeredness around the “childfree” movement that is very off-putting. It’s not that I think they should have children anyway — better that they don’t if they don’t like children. Yet, it seems to me that society as a whole has some kind of interest in promoting family life and the raising of children, and when people fail to do that it’s remarkably selfish of them to do so. Of course, most of the more clever “childfree” will toss that right back and say that in an age of environmental degradation and supposed planetary overpopulation, the decision to have a child is far more selfish and should be derided and shamed as such. Which only leads to more sharp words, anger and division, really.

    Just one more fault line in contemporary America, and, as with many others, very fraught and heated one.

  14. Hope says:

    Novaseeker, that’s exactly the mentality of the people I knew and sometimes still read online, who are adamantly against having children and looked down on those who do have children. It was a pervasive attitude in urban areas back east, but here in the mountain west it is basically nonexistent. The educated women I know are all married with at least a child.

    If a woman really wants to get married and have kids, she should flee the big coastal cities and go west to more suburban and rural areas — but not so west that she ends up in California, which also has a big movement of “forever young” and “dual income no kids.”

    I also agree that there is an overwhelming sense of self-centeredness in the childfree movement. These people are not much more than overgrown children who loathe any semblance of responsibility and do not want to make any sacrifice, but still pretend it’s for the “greater good” of the planet.

    In the case of aging women, many do end up with regrets or eventually have kids when older, due to their hormones and biology. In the case of men who have no such physiological imperatives, they tend to be content being that way indefinitely. This is yet another aspect of the cultural breakdown of marriage, which has nothing to do with a backlash against immature women, but more a “strike” against having a family.

  15. I’m curious if you think my Interview Questions would have allowed the unsuspecting husband to assess the problem ahead of time and avoid marrying her in the first place, or if you think I’ve missed something important.

    I think your interview questions cover areas that would have helped this young husband immensely, but I don’t know that he would have heeded the warning signs, because they were certainly there. You know how it is when people fall in love. They off check their brains at the door.

    One of the things that I think serves as a warning is when a woman comes from a family of women who dominate the family. Granted, the matriarchal nature of the black community would have made it hard for him to find a wife who didn’t come from such a family, but not impossible.

    I came from a family with a strong father who had definite expectations of what a wife should be, and my husband did, too. But we harbor no ilusions that our families were the norm. They weren’t then, and are even more rare now.

    It’s because of that fact that I think a young man would do well to take a page from your book and ask the tough questions before marriage, and be able to articulate well exactly what his expectations are from marriage. More importantly, he needs to listen very carefully to what her expectations are. If everything looks good and she turns into Bridezilla during the wedding planning, he should run for the hills. It’s a red flag.

    [D: Thanks Terry! I agree that men have to have really considered it upfront, and many (most?) probably don't.]

  16. Doug1 says:

    Dalrock–

    [I made this comment on another thread, but it seems more appropriate here and this is a more recent one.]

    Are there no graphs of US marriages per year per 1000 women, or white women (single, married and divorced)?

    That would do away with the problem you point out, that the denominator has been steadily expanding as women have kept delaying marriage, and that’s the real reason the graph “marriages per 1000 single women” has been declining steadily and steeply since 1970.

    [D: This table has some of the data you want (20 years worth). You could look at the other data sources listed on this page for most if not all of the remaining data.

    Note that the second link is the Marriage Project graph of marriages per 1000 unmarried women (P 64 of this report), and the first link is the first data source (click on section II, scroll to P31, table 117) they reference for that chart.]

  17. Pingback: Marriage strike? | Dalrock

  18. Look at Matt Damon. A guy who could have any woman in the world, really. Who does he pick?

    Admittedly, it’s rather telling that the guy who played Jason Bourne is a somebody that married a single mom. It leaves one to question why a man with lots of options married a woman like her who admittedly is good looking, but doesn’t scream “wow” in the way that one would suspect from a celebrity wife. Is he a big beta, or is he an optimistic alpha? Or did he invest in a low ranking woman that would be loyal out of the massive difference in their social ranks?

    It’s a growing trend, with men not wanting the responsibility of fatherhood

    I hint at such a concept in my comments where I question why some MRAs and PUAs have an idealized version of pre-sexual revolution marriage. The shift to a consumer, entertainment, and lifestyle economy has created a number of diversions for young men that simply create a relatively decent alternative to marriage. Unlike men in earlier eras, relatively cheap and quick transportation allows for easy travel for middle class and some working class males, and video games, the Internet, and certain segments of the movie industry provide entertainment and distraction that men nearly 50 years ago couldn’t think about. Combine that with discretionary income on hobbies which in my case are esoteric like riding trains and driving, but for some men include paintball, sports, reading, hiking, autos, and cooking, and one really begins to wonder about trading in a lifestyle of leisure for one of responsibility. Sex and companionship are still the hard issues, and while porn has eaten up some of the marginal market for sex, there’s still a need sex, and even cheaping out with female friends does not provide the same level of emotional security that companionship provides.

    In my case, seeing what my father went through to raise us has left a depressing taste of what fatherhood could be like, and to be honest, I’ll never really have the money to raise children in a proper middle class lifestyle, and I suspect with my buying power on the sexual market, I’m unlikely to marry somebody with the high IQ to put my kids into the elite classes. So why should I work hard and sacrifice to have poor children that due to HBD will simply be stuck in the underclass? Arguably, I’m tempted to believe that the current economic contraction will fuel even more anti-family sentiment as those who wish to have a comfortable luxury lifestyle will jettison the idea of having children to maintain those lifestyles for as long as possible.

    But there is an overbearing sense of selfishness and self-centeredness around the “childfree” movement that is very off-putting.

    To me, it’s not selfishness or self-centeredness. It’s simply being realistic about the nature of life, and it’s simply our chance to finally conquer nature and finally enjoy our lives. Kids are cute, but they’re hard work and require lots of sacrifice, and I think it’s highly absurd to call those of us who opt-out of raising children selfish. I’d argue that we’re simply smarter and making a sensible, rational choice.

  19. Lovekraft says:

    I don’t think dating a single mother is much different in the range of lifestyle/dating choices men and MRAs in particular engage in. This person could be advancing men’s issues, while a lonely bachelor could be fading into obscurity.

    As for Hope, I respect your viewpoint, but leave the shaming language out of this debate. Sure, there are people YOU KNOW who are children in adults’ bodies, but as for me and (likely) many other MRAs, we didn’t arrive at our conclusions because we want to keep playing X-Box and walk around the house wearing housecoats.

    No, we have been in the trenches, making a living with little or no appreciation or assistance by society. If men around you act like kids, it is because you and society allow and encourage them to do. Incentivize them by becoming feminine. Starting with speaking less.

  20. Hope says:

    Lovekraft, if you aren’t one of those people I spoke about, why do you seem so offended by my comments? It’s not “shaming language” to voice my opinion on the subject. I am also closer in age cohort to the group of people being discussed, and I interact with/know a lot of them.

    I also mentioned on another thread that most young men are not politically motivated nor involved in the MRA. Is this a wrong thing to state? If you ARE, that’s you, but I was not talking about you or people like you. As for myself, I’m married and interested in men’s issues. I never encouraged men to act like kids personally, so leave the personal attacks out of your rants.

  21. dalrock says:

    I think part of the problem is you have to make an assumption of what is cause and what is effect.

    For example, J assumes that women remarry less frequently at exactly the same age men are least likely to want to marry them because they are sick of men, or afraid of marriage (even though the man assumes all of the risk). I think it is much more likely that the ones opting out realized how thin their options for marriage were and didn’t want to accept the few men actually on offer.

    Likewise, Hope assumes that men aren’t marrying when they are young because they are too immature and aren’t interested in marriage. I think it is more likely that these men don’t feel compelled to do the hard work needed to attract a mate because the women their age and younger aren’t interested in marriage.

    In summary, I’m assuming women are the ones in control of marriage when they are in the SMV power position and men are the ones in control when they are in the SMV power position. Hope and J are (together) assuming the opposite.

  22. Lavazza says:

    Dalrock: Well, as they say, (wo)man is a rationalizing animal.

    I should stop there but it is interesting how women downplay their power when they have it and make their behavior a matter of choice when they have less power.

    Maybe Sun-Tzu was a woman:

    “All warfare is based on deception.”

  23. Hope says:

    Dalrock, I assume women in my age group are immature as well. I have written similar things on Susan’s blog. Women who are post college-age but under 30 want to “play the field” as much as the guys do — precisely because this is the age when they have the most sexual “power.”

    Most women my age don’t want to settle down and have kids when they are at their most attractive and fertile. They’d rather dress up, go out, flirt, party and have fun. It strikes me as somewhat counter-productive. Why not have kids when you’re most healthy and fertile? But that’s what is happening.

    I never blamed the men exclusively for being immature. I only know from observation and experience that men like my husband are the exception, and I was quite frankly both astounded and surprised that he was commitment-oriented and wasn’t balking at the thought of marriage and kids. I’ve never been a “party girl,” and my social circle is primarily nerdy, educated men, but even in this select group, my husband clearly stood out.

    [D: Point taken. I know we are on the same page on the larger issue here. But I do think the young women are the ones driving the trend here and the young men are following/reacting. Rereading your comments you might be saying the same thing. I think who is driving matters, at least in understanding what is happening.]

  24. Why not have kids when you’re most healthy and fertile?

    Because you can’t dress up, go out, flirt, party, and have fun when your old or stuck with children. Mind you, I’m biased because as a perpetual single person, early marriage and childbearing means that I become a very lonely outlier.

    But I do think the young women are the ones driving the trend here and the young men are following/reacting.

    Even if Athena begged me to marry her with all sorts of crazy promises, I still wouldn’t get married and have kids with her or any other woman.

  25. David Collard says:

    Children are very lovely creatures, and I love all three of mine, but they are a lot of hard work and worry. Ours certainly have been. So many things can go wrong with children: physical, mental and emotional.

    I suppose they make one a better person, and indeed man if one is a father. But I can understand why people might rationally decide to opt out.

    It seems to me that people will “rationally” decide to opt out in an individualistic society, absent a lot of social pressure to have children for some reason, which there really isn’t these days. (In fact, all the rhetoric , “ZPG” and so on, has been in the other direction in recent decades.) Or, and this will be increasingly important, one belongs to a socioreligious group that encourages practices and habits of mind that lead to having children, even against one’s “best judgement”. My wife and I first fell pregnant by accident, and our children have arrived in the context of our religious beliefs.

    Non-religious people probably won’t replace themselves very well in future. People in “dying” demographic groups may attempt to comfort themselves with the view that their cultural and intellectual legacy will live on, but groups that replace them will probably downplay such achievements as far as possible.

  26. their cultural and intellectual legacy will live on, but groups that replace them will probably downplay such achievements as far as possible

    If you have contempt for those groups, one is more likely to conclude that the world will eventually fall apart and collapse with the disappearance of one’s group. Since those disappearing will have no children, societal collapse after their disappearance isn’t a big concern for them as they won’t know anybody who will suffer under it.

  27. The Plague Doctor says:

    Childfree are selfish? What could be more selfish than to condemn a child to life (against its consent)?

  28. Hope says:

    Condemn a child to life? Without your parents “condemning” you to life, you wouldn’t be typing what you just typed.

    I’m confused.

  29. I’m confused.

    The theory is that more people should not be born in order to undergo the suffering that is inherent to daily living as a human. Depending on one’s point of view, it’s a highly sensible condition. Arguably, if his (or her) parents had made the decision not to “condemn” him to life, then he would have avoided suffering as he wouldn’t have existed.

  30. The Plague Doctor says:

    “Condemn a child to life? Without your parents “condemning” you to life, you wouldn’t be typing what you just typed.”

    Exactly, that would have been great.

    “I’m confused.”

    Did you even follow the link?

  31. Hope says:

    I followed the link, but it confused me more because where is the line drawn? Do antinatalists regard all life as not worth living? Do any of them own pets? Have plants? Do they actively seek out methods of suicide? Do they rejoice at global catastrophes and relish the thought of the apocalypse?

    The whole premise seems to be a nihilistic circle-jerk.

  32. The Plague Doctor says:

    Hope — to answer your questions:

    “Do antinatalists regard all life as not worth living?”

    Antinatalism makes no judgements about whether a particular life is not worth living. It only makes the claim that no life is worth starting, something else entirely. (One could still still quibble about whether this is because all lives contain somesuffering, something which is always preventable through non-birth (David Benatar‘s view) or because there is no way of knowing how a particular life may result (the “Russian Roulette” argument, espoused by Jim Crawford), or because coming into existence is always inflicted without consent (Chip’s Smith‘s argument), or other reasons.)

    “Do any of them own pets? Have plants?”

    I do not have pets myself, but Jim Crawford writes in this blog post about his many pets, and in the Acknowledgement section of his book about “the many dogs, cats, rats, birds and fish I’ve loved and lost, who have taught me empathy, and how te be a bad loser.” He does have the belief that it would be better if puppies (and other animals) would not be born.

    Plants do not experience suffering (to the best of my knowledge).

    “Do they actively seek out methods of suicide?”

    Some do, but there is absolutely no antinatalist requirement to commit suicide. There is a difference between and continuing with your life, and starting a new life just like there is a difference between gambling with your money, and gambling with other people’s money. Jim Crawford discusses this question in more detail in the Avoiding Redundancy link in the right side-bar, as well as in his series of YouTube video’s (1, 2), and in the Q&A section of his book, “Confessions of an Antinatalist”.

    “Do they rejoice at global catastrophes and relish the thought of the apocalypse?”

    .

    Rejoicing and relishing incorrectly suggest that antinatalists take great enjoyment from other peoples suffering. In addition, antinatalism is strictly voluntary, and does not require omnicide (a.k.a. panthanasia). Some antinatalists (such as myself) are also greatly in favor of omnicide, while others feel that omnicide is a violation of the right of self-ownership.

    “The whole premise seems to be a nihilistic circle-jerk.”

    Antinatalism is not nihilist. Nihilism is the claim that nothing is of value (good or bad), whereas philanthropic antinatalism emerges from a universal humanistic empathy and is motivated by the belief that the reduction of suffering (a.k.a. “negative utilitarianism”) is a very good thing. As for “circlejerk”, such language is uncalled for.

    Thanks for engaging in discussion, and please come and continue the conversation on the blog (e.g., in the blog’s FAQ thread); we can always use some feedback and constructive criticism: if there’s a knock-down argument against antinatalism, so far I have not encountered it, and I have been looking long and hard. Please read all the relevant literature before you attempt to do so, however.

    [D: I think this is one of those issues where you will just need to teach your kids your way, and the rest of us will teach ours our own way. Live and let live.]

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  34. D., I think you just missed the entire point. I will not have any children to teach my way, and if you teach your children your way, the serious harm (of being brought into existence) has already been inflicted to your children without their consent, which is considered immoral, if not criminal under in the antinatalist view. It is just as if you had infected your children then with an STD (which is exactly what life is: a sexally transmitted disease with a 100% death rate).

    [D: I understand entirely. I think you have missed my point.]

    I do not mean to imply most people are motivated by ill-will toward their children, but due to various psychological blindspots and evolutionary reasons, most people are the “giftgivers” and “bugchasers” of life, but that does not make it okay.

    Live and let live, and don’t create more living.

    [D: You try it your way, I'll try mine.]

  35. Your point is that if someone wants to have children, he should have the right to children — which is what antinatalism objects to.

    [D: Nope. That isn't my point.]

  36. The right to teach your children “your way” assumes the more basic right to make those children in the first place.

    Have a nice day.

    [D: Are you suggesting I unmake my children?]

  37. J says:

    @Dalrock

    I just saw this:

    For example, J assumes that women remarry less frequently at exactly the same age men are least likely to want to marry them because they are sick of men, or afraid of marriage (even though the man assumes all of the risk). I think it is much more likely that the ones opting out realized how thin their options for marriage were and didn’t want to accept the few men actually on offer.

    Dalrock, regardless of how the numbers shake down, I’ve known a lot of happy widows and divorcees. There are women who give up on sex after menopause and don’t feel the need for a man any more. There are women who have had such bad marriages that they don’t want to try again. Your stats, while probably true enough, don’t break the women who remain single into sub-groups like “too damn ugly to catch another sucker” or “simply tired of picking up socks and putting the toilet seat down” or “maybe I’m gay” or “sick of drunken bastards.” I’ve known women who’ve fit into all those categories and more. A dear of mine who is a recent widow says she will never remarry because no one can take her husband’s place. She too would be lumped into your stats.

    Although I have made the point repeatedly that I think an older woman who wants to remarry can, I have also said many times that I myself wouldn’t be in a big hurry, mainly because it would mean subjecting two teen boys to a stepfather. (Not that there aren’t good ones, but the kids’ll be gone soon enough. Why complicate their last years at home?) You seem to think that men assume all the risks in a marriage, and that’s just not true. There are women for whom the risks exceed the benefits.

  38. J says:

    @Plague Doctor

    I looked at your site, and I’m really feeling you. I used to be a tremendous cynic too…before I had children.
    Know what? Even if my kids died of cancer like that poor child in the slide show, I’d never regret having them. Not because I’d delude myself that I was stronger and better for having lost them or that it was God’s will that they died, but because the joy of having had them would still exceed the pain of losing them. Yeah, life hurts sometime. So what?

  39. Anyone still believing the childfree are “selfish” please pay attention to this jem of quote:

    “the joy of having had them would still exceed the pain of losing them.”

    It is not about YOUR joy. A pedophile also experiences joy by sticking his penis in a toddler, but we don’t allow that.

    <blockquote"Yeah, life hurts sometime. So what?"

    “Yeah, getting raped and tortured to death by a pedophile psycho hurts sometimes. So what?”

    Please get psychological treatment for your latent psychopathy.

    [David] Benatar successfully (in my opinion) exposes the true nature of the human ego and reveals it as veiled megalomania. Human beings seem to have cold indifference to those they “love”, treating them as possessions and mere means rather than as sovereign individuals.

    Garett Temple

  40. filrabat says:

    I agree with Plague Doctor, whom I know from Jim Crawford’s antinatalism board. I essentially agree with what PD says. To me, I went the antinatalism route because I think it’s wrong to force someone into existence when they can’t consent to it. This is especially true if you can’t predict whether that person conceived would have a strong distaste to the “rules” of the “game of life” and even the way the world operates. I also disagree too strongly with too much of human nature in general to want to contribute my sperm to humanity’s continuance.

    I spell out my own views in much more detail at the following link:
    http://why-im-sold-on-antinatalism.blogspot.com

  41. J says:

    @PD

    PD: Anyone still believing the childfree are “selfish” please pay attention to this jem [sic] of quote:

    “the joy of having had them would still exceed the pain of losing them.”

    It is not about YOUR joy.

    J: You know, you’re right. It’s not about my joy; it’s about what’s best for the kids. Somehow, I doubt that my kids, who are old enough to start making some rational decisions, would rather not to have been born because they run the risk of suffering. I think they are pretty happy to be alive. Although I read your use of that slideshow as meant to discourage people from having kids because it is painful to lose them, it is possible that you meant that life is too painful to be endured and we’re all better off dead. I don’t agree, but if you really believe that, then what? Do you plan to preemptively kill yourself before you get cancer?

  42. J.,

    (Sorry about the typos, WordPress has no preview button.)

    it’s about what’s best for the kids.

    Being brought into existence is (by definition) NEVER in the interests of the person being brought into existence (because he has no interests BEFORE he is been born, only afterwards), and is always brought into existence either through negligence or for the selfish benefit of the parents or others.

    <blockquote Somehow, I doubt that my kids, who are old enough to start making some rational decisions, would rather not to have been born because they run the risk of suffering. I think they are pretty happy to be alive.

    I won’t doubt that they may be happy now, but, like Jim Crawford writes, “there are no guarantees as to what may transpire as the immediate present unfolds into the uncertain future. Two things, however, are certain. Everyone will suffer. And everyone will die. Back to where we came from.” Here and here, Sister Wolf (who has several children) objects against antinatalism, taunting antinatalist to commit suicide (aren’t procreators nice). Two years later, guess what happens?

    I don’t agree, but if you really believe that, then what? Do you plan to preemptively kill yourself before you get cancer?

    Coincidentally, I already happen to be severely ill and in severe chronic pain (not from cancer though) for more than 2 years now, but no, I have not killed myself (yet). I do not see what suicide has to do with anything. I have already mentioned some antinatalist responses to the suicide objection (follow the links above). Having to kill is not a solution to suffering, because having to commit mortal harm to yourself is also a form of suffering, and furthermore suicide does not redeem the inflicted suffering in the life that preceded it.

  43. Sorry, in “I won’t doubt that they may be happy now”, I meant to link to this page.

  44. filrabat says:

    I can’t speak for PD, but speaking for myself….

    …I don’t object to suicide when there’s an illness that’ll leave one severely diminished mental or physical capacity, but I find no justification for mere preemptive suicide, if only because it creates more of the very suffering and anguish in others that philanthropic antinatalism seeks to prevent. Such an act would make the philanthropic antinatalist a hypocrite.

    As for the broader sub-topic of antinatalism, I’ve decided that it boils down to one question: For the typical person, is being alive worth its inevitable downsides or is it not? In the end, your answer is as much a matter of faith as anything any religion asks us to believe.

  45. filrabat says:

    Clarification about my basic agreement with PD

    Unlike PD, I do not believe in omnicide or any other involuntary cessation of already-existing life. I’m the type of antinatalist who very strongly believes in “sovereignty of self” as the source of at least 80% of my moral code. It follows that some actions are morally indefensible even if that morally indefensible action can grant immense good to another To use one of Chip Smith’s examples, it’s immoral to forcibly remove a kidney from a healthy person with two kidneys — even if another person desperately in need of a kidney would benefit from receiving that involuntarily donated kidney (i.e. “stolen kidney”). I think the same thing with regard to ending life for the sake of preventing future misery – this is a very personal choice in a very delicate matter (like abortion or euthanasia) that each person must come to his or her own decision about.

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  47. JaretD says:

    Preachy religious material here wow. Why does anyone have to ever be married, have a family, do anything they don’t want to??

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  49. Edward says:

    Hope, ‘any average man can do so without much trouble’?
    Not true, young women reject average men.

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