I suppose being cared for by a rosy cheeked English nanny is still an icon for a sweet childhood.  There was a movie in which the children wanted a rosy cheeked nanny, which they indeed got but who was not particularly rosy cheeked.  Traditionally southerners have been raised by nannies whose cheeks were definitely not rosy, but who were as sweet as the English version.  It’s why we used to be kind and courteous.  My own nanny was a distant aunt.  She was very sweet and sort of a fan of mine.  If something seemed to be broken down she would say, “Linton can fix it,” and bring it to me, not yet four, and I would tinker with it until it functioned.  Alas English nannies seem to be vanishing.  (Precious little burdens, ECONOMIST vol. 401 no. 8758 Nov 5 2011 page 68) 

Maybe childhood seems more important to me than it does to most because my own was so delightful. 

Nannies in Britain are decreasing because the field is becoming professionalized.  That’s government doing on the face of it.  Once those taking care of very young children were compelled to register with the government, their numbers declined until the past couple of years.  Inspectors tended to rate those with relevant college degrees higher than those without.  Go figure.  Of course the college grads had been told what to tell the inspectors. 

The secret of greater recruitment of professionals is not hard to understand.  The charge for child care has risen faster than the average income, in fact faster than the consumer price index, which is unusual nowadays.  The cost of child care consumes a lot of the income earned by a woman if she decides to return to work after having a child.  For many the cost is prohibitive; she cannot return.  This of course is ameliorated by a certain amount of government assistance.

But stepping back and squinting to blur out the details and get the bigger picture, it seems to me that one thing stands out.  Women are not so eager to take care of children than they have been, particularly in England. 

And that, I fear, is part and parcel with the observation that women are having fewer children.  You may call that choice and say it makes sense that the two choices move in parallel.  My own numbers of course suggest that it would better be called post zygotic infertility.  Our continued squandering of the structure of our mating pool is having the same effect it would on animals.  It is reducing our fertility at multiple levels.  Animals don’t care.  I’m not impressed that people care either, but I still try to warn.

There have been 68,134 visitors so far.

Home page.