Bernie Goldbach (topgold) wrote,
Bernie Goldbach

The educated classes had better get breeding

KILKENNY, Ireland -- I stepped off the path (sidewalk) for a double-wide baby carriage again this morning with the voice of my grandmother ringing in my ears. "All the wrong people are having babies," she would say, as if everyone pushing an infant fell short of her standards.

Fast forward 30 years and fly across the Atlantic Ocean where you can hear Irish adults murmuring the same thing. In the States or in Ireland, the lower orders breed like rabbits while the middle class or well-educated don't seem to have the time.

In the EU, the women who have the most babies today are the least-educated. The Office of National Statistics in England showed that women with higher educational qualifications are 50% less likely to have children than those without them. Almost a quarter of all women with degrees remain childless.

At the other end of the social spectrum, women with fewer opportunities might as well have as many babies as they want because the welfare system takes care of their desires.

Writing about this social fact is inflammatory. Nonetheless, my old-fashioned ideas of deferred gratification and self-restraint are important foundation elements of a sensible society. A society ungrounded in the values of learning, art and community is doomed to incompetence, philistinism and anarchy.

Since government does so much to help along the teenaged mother, I believe the time has come for rock-solid legal protection of maternity leave, generous funding for child care, tax credits for teleworking and flexitime hours.

Left to itself, the middle class will look after its own affairs. But when pressurised, beleagured species stop breeding. Ireland's young middle class, formerly the free-spending twentysomethings of the nineties, feel overtaxed, overregulated and overwhelmed. They need the gentle hand of a caring government to lend a spark to their reproductive years.

Posted by Bernie Goldbach, Underway in Ireland
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