April 12, 2010

Inese Šlesere


Dear Inese Šlesere:
I appreciated your contribution to “Demographic Winter.”  I understand how much your country has suffered from the infertility that is rising everywhere.  Your plan is to strengthen the family.  There is more to that than you probably know, and I shall explain.  Also you point out that in a smaller country the problem is particularly acute.  But there is reason to hope that the cure is easier.  In fact it might be possible in Latvia but not possible in larger countries. 

The little recognized fact is that reproductive rate depends on kinship.  We are constantly told that the less kin people are, the more fertile they will be as a couple.  That is almost exactly wrong.  Barring the very rare case of intense inbreeding, the closer kin the better. 

Before you cast this aside as impossible, please look at my data on my website nobabies.net.  The March 25, 2010 entry is probably the best.  There you will find the best data with professional references presented as quickly as I am able.  There is much more on the site.  There are many letters.  There is more data.  There is some speculation.  It appears that somebody recently went to the site and read three hundred articles.  That is an enormous effort.  The subject is so important that it merits such interest.

If you cannot convince yourself that what I say is true beyond all doubt, please get in touch with me so we can go over some of the material together.  The statistical strength of the data is such as you have probably never seen.

Once you are convinced, think again about what you have said in the documentary.  Of course strengthening the family is everything.  And it is not just the nuclear family but it is the extended family out to perhaps fifth cousins.  That group is the secret of survival.  Stay well within those limits and you will have more babies than you could possibly need.  Stray even a little outside that and extinction yawns like a pit. 

So you are doing the right thing.  You just need to do a lot more of it.

The second thing I mentioned was the fact of being a small country.  Although fertility is low – and that means only that Latvians have not been marrying cousins – it should be possible to bring it up rapidly enough to survive.  Unless I mess a very good guess, Latvians keep track of each other.  You can probably figure out for most people just who their extended families are, what villages they are from and where their ancestors lived.  Imagine how difficult that will be, if we even attempt it, in the United States.  Here the average job lasts only a few years and people move between jobs.  The average marriage does not last much longer.  For most people going back for four or five generations will simply be impossible.

So good luck.  Tell me what you think.  If there is any way I can help, please let me know.


M. Linton Herbert MD

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