Comparing Presidents, Having Children

Comparing Presidents, Having Children

This post is on the decision to reproduce. Here’s a look at the percentage of women ages 15 – 44 that are childless.

(Note… the following years were unavailable, and for the graph, I extrapolated them linearly: 1977- 1979, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996- 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003)

For the folks on the right who talk about how the US is going to be over-run by them foreigner folks (and point with fear to Europe as our future), this can’t be good news.

Here’s a summary

Well, this is one series that doesn’t divide neatly among Dems and Reps. Reagan showed the slowest increase in childlessness, which has to gladden the hearts of the right in more ways than one. (Frankly, I can’t remember Reagan doing better than Clinton on any of these series we’ve looked at so far except driving up debt.) Following Clinton was GW, Carter, and then GHW.

Childlessness increased more quickly in Clinton’s second term than his first. A question of the Welfare Reform Act? Income?

I took a look at income. Its not straightforward due to the missing data, but I created a variable called “% change in pct childless from last available year.” Thus, for 1984, I took the percentage change in the percentage of women that are childless from 1983 to 1984. But, for 1990, I took the percentage change from 1988, since data for 1989 was not available. Then I created an equivalent percentage change in real median income, pretending that real median income was missing the same list of years.

The correlation between the change in real median income and the change in the percentage of women who become childless is –0.21. (The missing data makes it impractical to do correlations of the lags of one or another series.) It would seem that more rapid increases in income are loosely correlated with decreases (or slower increases) in childlessness. I do know that rings true with the Ex-GF and I. While we’re doing OK, we are concerned enough (as noted in a post yesterday) about income to be postponing starting a family. And it seems to fit the pattern with many people I know.

But I think one more thing is at play… it seems to me that confidence about the future also plays in. As I noted, the Ex-GF and I are doing OK now… we’re worried about whether we will still be doing OK in a few months. Interestingly enough, the correlation between the percentage change in the share of women that are childless and the percentage change in consumer sentiment is also -.21. As people are more confident about the future, they are more likely to have children.

Next few posts involving data… looking at healthcare.