April 12, 2010

Kay Hymowitz
City Journal
c/o Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
52 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, NY 10017-3853
(212) 338-4300

Dear Kay Hymowitz:
Thank you for your contribution to the documentary “Demographic Winter.”  The documentary outlines the unhappy results we can expect from the low and declining birth rate worldwide, although it stops short of fingering the obvious end of the process.

And quite ambitiously the documentary undertakes to understand the cause. You mentioned some causes yourself: woman working more which draws them away from having and rearing children, we people in general value our own happiness over the happiness of the children and we seem to prefer to live as individuals.  I take your point each time, but if all three of those were important from a demographic standpoint, the decline in fertility would be quite erratic as first one motivation and then another became relatively more important.  Instead the fertility decline is following an inexorable and stereotyped course.  If you doubt me, go to nobabies.net, the March 27, 2010 entry and cast your eye at the chart of the world birth rate by region and the chart of the developed world birth rate.   Fertility is moving lock step in parallel in many different regions.  The only difference between the developed world and the less developed world is where we are along the line. 

Yes, I know that when you make measurements of large system small local fluctuations dampen out.  But that does not make a complex system of multiple forces suddenly start acting predictably.  The atmosphere is pretty big and the individual processes that affect it well established.  But the weather continues even now to be unpredictable more than a few days hence. 

The cause of the decline is actually quite simple.  In order to have adequate fertility couples must be cousins, not first and maybe not second cousins but certainly closer than sixth cousins as reckoned by a study in Iceland, which is a somewhat more sophisticated way of determining kinship.  The evidence, including the Iceland reference is at nobabies.net, with the March 25, 2010 entry probably being the most accessible.

This process is working itself out with no more concern for human values than a cannonball flying over a battlefield, actually less because somebody with a plan and an understanding of cannon shot that thing.  This is happening with no understanding by those making the critical decisions.  I am sure of that because were it otherwise one of the dozens of concerned experts involved in the documentary would have made mention of it.

Please have a look at my evidence and let me know what you think.  You have an unusual opportunity to make a splash, should you so choose, since the City Journal actually does point out websites.


M. Linton Herbert MD 

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