A Patriarchy Complex?
By Arnold Kling
Advanced societies are growing more patriarchal, whether they like it or not. In addition to the greater fertility of conservative segments of society, the rollback of the welfare state forced by population aging and decline will give these elements an additional survival advantage, and therefore spur even higher fertility. As governments hand back functions they once appropriated from the family, notably support in old age, people will find that they need more children to insure their golden years, and they will seek to bind their children to them through inculcating traditional religious values akin to the Bible’s injunction to honor thy mother and father.
Societies that are today the most secular and the most generous with their underfunded welfare states will be the most prone to religious revivals and a rebirth of the patriarchal family. The absolute population of Europe and Japan may fall dramatically, but the remaining population will, by a process similar to survival of the fittest, be adapted to a new environment in which no one can rely on government to replace the family, and in which a patriarchal God commands family members to suppress their individualism and submit to father.
Elsewhere in the essay, Longman is even more natalist than my co-blogger.
My own view is that we have reached the point where technological change is faster than demographic change. For example, I expect nanotechnology and surveillance technology to have a much bigger military impact over the next 30 years than will demographic changes.
Technology also may enable people to enjoy affluence in old age without a large cohort of children to support them. See The Great Race.
So I think that I mostly disagree with Longman. Still, it is interesting to speculate on populations that, like the Shakers, essentially un-breed themselves out of existence. I wonder, for example, if liberal attitudes about homosexuality, which reduce the pressure on homosexuals to marry and have children in order to appear normal, will lower the amount of homosexuality in the gene pool at some point.