Tuesday, June 15, 2010

People Know

Some people, anyway. A young guy at work and I were chatting it up the other day about the reasons people have children. "In my culture (Mexican)," he noted "people have kids to take care of them when they get older. I complained to my mom about that, about how she charges us all rent, makes money off us. You shouldn't have kids to do that, man." Unfortunately, that basic utilitarian attitude towards offspring has probably been the prevailing one throughout history, much like marriage was less based upon love, being a social contract to promote familial and social stability. The more modern parental attitude- at least, the apparent one, though I wouldn't go so far as to say it's come close to pushing aside the other agenda yet- is to raise children for their own sakes, with an eye towards cutting them loose and letting them fly, without tying them down with the burden of octogenarian caretaking.

Now, I realize none of this is as clear-cut as my little summary might be communicating. I'm just building a little launching pad to get to this, an article about Japan's falling birthrate. Specifically, I wanted to talk about this observation:

I repeat: A rise in mood (and stocks) = A rise in diaper duty. Ten years ago, EWI's founder and president Bob Prechter put this very notion forward in his September 1999 Elliott Wave Theorist's compelling case study "Sex and Stocks." Bob's main observation:
"In a bull market, when aggregate feelings of friskiness, daring, and confidence wax, people engage in more sexual activity with the aim of having children. When these feelings wane (bear market), so does the desire for generating offspring."

The way I see it, this translates to one of two things, though not exclusively one or the other, for the prospective parent on the street. Both concern possible future states-

1. People are concerned about the ability to raise children in a climate of diminishing resources.
2. People are worried about a future in which their grown children will not prosper.

What I want to zoom in on here is the idea that prospective parents actually do have the ability to forestall the basic procreational urge, in the face of what they deem to be an uncertain future. Or in other words, since in actuality the future is ALWAYS uncertain, to see through the cracks of their carefully crafted life-lies, and act accordingly. Sometimes it doesn't take much to shake people from their complacent life affirming habits. A few numbers go down on the big board, and suddenly things don't appear quite so rosy anymore.

Naturally, while I'm reflecting on this one little encouraging trend in Japan- which may or may not mean a damned thing in the long run- somewhere else in the world people are breeding like bunnies in the midst of a leprosy outbreak. What do I know? Still, in a world where over 150,000 people die every day, and where billions more suffer the spectrum of possible discomforts and atrocities, ANY news of reason winning out is good news.


Former Shadow said...

That´s why most people have children I believe.

Just so they can take care of them when they grow old.

Shadow said...

This blog is becoming like "news on antinatalism", everytime you enter there´s something new.

Amazing stuff.

Sister Y said...

People who think their children will care for them in their old age are often in for a nasty surprise.

Too bad they don't realize it before it's too late.

Here's some enlightening/scary discussion of that point.

Former Shadow said...

Totally agreed, Curator.

The truth is that not all sons and daughters will do this.

But still, people think and fool themselves with this thought

TGGP said...

Throughout the vast majority of human history, the young have consumed more than the old. As people get older and are able to produce fewer calories, they also consume more, so at no time are the young supporting the old.

metamorphhh said...

TGGP: I'm afraid you've lost me. I assume you're shooting for some kind of net consumption comparison here, but I don't see what you're getting at as far as the OP is concerned. In the context of familial relationships, children often wind up supporting their parents, monetarily and otherwise. The young also support the old through various social organizations financed by tax dollars.

Maybe you can flesh out your argument a bit?

Shadow said...

That´s the whole point of Social Security, in every country, I believe.