Bryan Caplan  

The Other Demographic Suicide

Memo to Krugman and DeLong: S... Health Care: Mandates or Vouch...
Arnold's concerned about demographic projections of impending Democratic super-majorities.  But there's a major demographic trend going the other way: Whites in Republican states have a lot more kids than whites in Democratic states.  My source is none other than Steve Sailer, who strangely manages to explain the facts in The American Conservative without telling his readers that the future isn't quite as bleak as they've been led to believe:
The most fecund whites are in heavily Mormon Utah, which, not coincidentally, was the only state where Bush received over 70 percent. White women average 2.45 babies in Utah compared to merely 1.11 babies in Washington, D.C., where Bush earned but 9 percent. The three New England states where Bush won less than 40 percent--Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island--are three of the four states with the lowest white birthrates, with little Rhode Island dipping below 1.5 babies per woman.

Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility (just as he did in 2000), and 25 out of the top 26, with highly unionized Michigan being the one blue exception to the rule. (The least prolific red states are West Virginia, North Dakota, and Florida.)

In sharp contrast, Kerry won the 16 states at the bottom of the list, with the Democrats' anchor states of California (1.65) and New York (1.72) having quite infertile whites.

Among the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., white total fertility correlates at a remarkably strong 0.86 level with Bush's percentage of the 2004 vote.
Once you combine this info with a plausible inter-generational partisanship correlation, I've got to wonder: Why are fears about "demographic suicide" so concentrated on the American right?  Where are the Democratic pundits pleading with their loyalists to make more babies?

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COMMENTS (11 to date)
Troy Camplin writes:

WHere does one begin? We can start with the fact that to the extent there is a Democratic ideology, it is anti-human (abortion, radical environmentalism, support for dehumanizing systems like welfare and socialism). What a strong economy is doing for whites (lower birth rates), abortion is doing for African-Americans and Hispanics (take a look at where the vast majority of abortion clinics are located -- minority neighborhoods). However, there is enough social disapproval among Hispanics and African-Americans that the fact that abortion clinics target those groups does not prevent them from having fairly high birth rates. Also, as Thomas Sowell pointed out, African-Americans and white Southerners are very similar culturally. My experience with Hispanics suggests they are also very similar to white Southerners when it comes to deep cultural patterns. Adjust each group for income, and the demographic differences disappear almost entirely.

B.B. writes:

The Democrats for 150 years have been heavily pro-immigration. Urban party machines and union bosses would meet immigrants getting off the boat. They would provide basic location services, get them to join a union, and register for the Democrat Party. The Democrats have managed a lock on urban politics ever since. The Republican whites moved to the suburbs.

The policies continue with Latino immigration.

Immigrants have a higher birth rate than natives, compounding the impact of immigration on the Democrats.

So, yes, the Republicans should worry, even if Mormons have a lot of babies.

BTW, Sen. Harry Reid is a Mormon.

Asymmetry Noted writes:

Count me as an atheist liberal who is worried about religious birthrates as well as citizenship for unskilled migrants (vs guest workers). But over the medium term (in the long term technology changes everything) migration matters more because there will still be a reserve of potential migrants. Say 15 million Mexican migrants get amnesty. Then they bring in another 45 million family members via family reunification immigration programs, likely with increased general ease of Latin American migration. Even if the non-Hispanic electorate reacts in a way that neutralizes impact on the welfare state, as long as the migrants can on net increase the support for further migration, you'll get a positive feedback effect.

jeff writes:

The red states do have high white birthrates, but it seems a healthy portion of those babies grow up to move to the coasts and become sour left-wing atheists.

Sometimes I feel like half the people I meet in Seattle or New York are refugees from large religious families in the heartland.

shecky writes:

Why are fears about "demographic suicide" so concentrated on the American right? Because among this crowd, demographic suicide happens unless all immigration is eliminated. This is a group that does not see very many things as other than black or white, yes or no, on or off.

DanT writes:

jeff has it right.

Is there a study which shows politics (as represented by political party membership) is heritable and enduring across time?

Stephen S writes:

DanT: Yes, there are. Example:

The Snob writes:


Somewhere between ages 25 and 35, many of those refugees get married, discover that the urban public elementary schools are great for other people, and return whence they came. A very few decide to be urban homesteaders, and a very few become multi-millionaires and can afford a family-sized home in the city and private K-12. Those who do not have kids simply add to the demographic suicide contingent.

RL writes:

Bryan, I am less enthusiastic about this information than you. I think the largest fraction of the Red State white birthrate by far is from the faction of the party that strongly prefers legislating morality than from the faction that wants limited government. Do you disagree?

El Presidente writes:


Where are the Democratic pundits pleading with their loyalists to make more babies?

Sounds like a great pickup line to me. It should work about as well as the rest of them do. :-)

Steve Sailer writes:


You are misrepresenting me. I've frequently explained the upside of fertility trends for conservatives. Heck, I worked it into my 2004 movie review of "Napoleon Dynamite:"

"One of the less remarked demographic trends is that the makers of "Napoleon Dynamite" represent the future. As coastal sophisticates fail to reproduce themselves, an ever-increasing percentage of young white people come from conservative, religious backgrounds. Mormon Utah has by far the highest birthrate, of course, but in the 2000 election, the 19 states with the highest white fertility all voted for Bush, while nine of the ten states at the bottom of the white birthrate list voted for Gore."

The politically relevant issue is how the GOP is doing at driving large turnouts of white voters. Nominating John McCain, the co-author of the 2006 Kennedy-McCain immigration bill, was clearly a failure in this regard.

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