Fighting men and fertile women

The darker the red, the greater willingness to fight.  Click to enlarge.

A people that cannot defend itself, and reproduce itself, will be replaced.

Historically most societies have said that it is the duty of men to bear the hardship and danger of war, and the duty of women to bear the pain and danger of childbirth.

A poll, taken back in 2014, showed that only a minority of Americans and citizens of many other countries refused to say that they would fight for their countries.  At the same time the fertility rate in the USA and many other countries has fallen below the replacement rate.

On one level, I’m pleased at these trends.  Being an old-time liberal, I’m glad the world’s population increase is starting to level off, and I oppose U.S. military interventions of the past few decades.

Also, it is a mistake to read too much into these trends.

Just as it was wrong to think that population increase would never level off, it is wrong now to think that population decline would never bottom out.  And the fact that many Americans are reluctant to be shipped overseas to fight doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t defend our country if it really were in peril.  So maybe there is no real cause for alarm.

But still.  Having children and rearing them to be responsible adults requires great sacrifice.  Serving your country in time of peril requires great sacrifice.  What happens to a nation whose citizens decide individually, on a cost-benefit calculus, that these sacrifices are not worth making?

Click to enlarge

I wondered whether there was any correlation between a nation’s willingness to fight and its fertility rate.  I took the nations in the 2014 poll and looked up the World Bank’s most recent estimates of their fertility rates to see if there is some correlation.

If there is a correlation, it is a weak one.  

With one exception, all the surveyed nations with fertility rates above the replacement rates had more than half the population expressing a willingness to fight.  But some nations with low fertility rates also had a relatively high willingness to fight. 

Ukraine and Russia and China all had lower fertility rates than the USA and a greater percentage saying they’re willing to fight.  China had a relatively low fertility rate and a relatively high willingness to fight.

I provide the numbers below.  Make of them what you can.  

Notice that fertility rates are estimates, and estimates differ.  The map above, the figures below and the figure for India in a previous post were drawn from different sources.  Also notice that most of the nations with the highest fertility rates were left out of the survey.

The minimum fertility rate needed to replace the current population is 2.1 children per woman.  The global average fertility rate is 2.4 children per woman

UNITED STATES.

Willing to fight:  44 percent.

Fertility rate: 1.64

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Willing to fight: 59 percent.

Fertility rate: 1.50.

UKRAINE

Willing to fight: 62 percent

Fertility rate: 1.22

CHINA

Willing to fight: 71 percent

Fertility rate: 1.70

INDIA

Willing to fight: 75 percent

Fertility rate: 2.18

JAPAN

Willing to fight: 11 percent

Fertility rate: 1.34

GERMANY

Willing to fight: 18 percent

Fertility rate: 1.53

UNITED KINGDOM

Willing to fight: 27 percent

Fertility rate: 1.56

FRANCE

Willing to fight: 29 percent

Fertility rate: 1.83

CANADA

Willing to fight: 30 percent

Fertility rate: 1.40

AUSTRALIA

Willing to fight: 29 percent

Fertility rate: 1.58

BRAZIL

Willing to fight: 48 percent

Fertility rate: 1.71

NIGERIA

Willing to fight: 50 percent

Fertility rate: 5.25

AFGHANISTAN

Willing to fight: 76 percent

Fertility rate: 4.18

ISRAEL

Willing to fight: 66 percent

Fertility rate: 3.49

PAPAU NEW GUINEA

Willing to fight: 84 percent

Fertility rate: 3.48

PAKISTAN

Willing to fight: 89 percent

Fertility rate: 3.39

KENYA

Willing to fight: 69 percent

Fertility rate: 3.37

KAZAKHSTAN

Willing to fight: 69 percent

Fertility rate: 3.13.

FIJI

Willing to fight: 94 percent

Fertility rate: 2.73

PANAMA

Willing to fight: 64 percent

Fertility rate: 2.42

PHILLIPINES

Willing to fight: 73 percent

Fertility rate: 2.40

MOROCC0

Willing to fight: 94 percent

Fertility rate 2.35

ECUADOR

Willing to fight: 54 percent

Fertility rate: 2.38

INDONESIA

Willing to fight: 70 percent

Fertility rate: 2.27

ARGENTINA

Willing to fight: 43 percent

Fertility rate: 2.23

PERU

Willing to fight: 61 percent

Fertility rate: 2.21

MEXICO

Willing to fight: 56 percent

Fertility rate: 2.08

LEBANON

Willing to fight: 66 percent

Fertility rate: 2.06

VIETNAM

Willing to fight: 89 percent

Fertility rate: 2.05

GEORGIA

Willing to fight: 76 percent

Fertility rate: 2.05

TURKEY

Willing to fight: 73 percent

Fertility rate: 2.04.

BANGLADESH

Willing to fight: 86 percent.

Fertility rate: 1.99

MALAYSIA

Willing to fight: 63 percent

Fertility rate: 1.97

KOSOVO

Willing to fight: 58 percent

Fertility rate: 1.95

ROMANIA

Willing to fight: 38 percent

Fertility rate: 1.80

COLOMBIA

Willing to fight: 61 percent

Fertility rate: 1.77

ARMENIA

Willing to fight: 72 percent

Fertility rate: 1.76

DENMARK

Willing to fight: 37 percent

Fertility rate: 1.76

ICELAND

Willing to fight: 26 percent

Fertility rate: 1.72

CZECH REPUBLIC

Willing to fight: 23 percent

Fertility rate: 1.71

AZERBAIJAN

Willing to fight: 85 percent.

Fertility rate: 1.70

IRELAND

Willing to fight: 38 percent

Fertility rate: 1.63

BULGARIA

Willing to fight: 25 percent

Fertility rate: 1.56

SWEDEN

Willing to fight: 55 percent

Fertility rate: 1.55

LATVIA

Willing to fight: 41 percent

Fertility rate: 1.55

NETHERLANDS

Willing to fight: 15 percent

Fertility rate: 1.55

BELGIUM

Willing to fight: 19 percent

Fertility rate: 1.55

THAILAND

Willing to fight: 72 percent

Fertility rate: 1.50

SERBIA

Willing to fight: 47 percent

Fertility rate: 1.46

SWITZERLAND

Willing to fight: 39 percent

Fertility rate: 1.46

PORTUGAL

Willing to fight: 28 percent

Fertility rate: 1.40

POLAND

Willing to fight: 47 percent

Fertility rate: 1.38

FINLAND

Willing to fight: 74 percent

Fertility rate: 1.37

GREECE

Willing to fight: 54 percent

Fertility rate: 1.34

AUSTRA

Willing to fight: 21 percent

Fertility rate: 1.34

MACEDONIA

Willing to fight: 38 percent

Fertility rate: 1.30

BOSNIA / HERZEGOVINA

Willing to fight: 55 percent

Fertility rate: 1.24

ITALY

Willing to fight: 20 percent

Fertility rate: 1.24.

SPAIN

Willing to fight: 21 percent

Fertility rate: 1.23

SOUTH KOREA

Willing to fight: 42 percent

Fertility rate: 0.24

The World Bank had no fertility estimates for the Palestinian Territories (56 percent willing to fight) or Hong Kong (23 percent willing to fight).

LINKS

Would You Fight? Some Notes on Recent Public Opinion Polls by Adam Tooze.

Percentage of Europeans Who Are Willing to Fight a War for Their Country by Ian Wright for Brilliant Maps.

The Astonishing Drop in Global Fertility Rates Between 1970 and 2014 by Ian Wright for Brilliant Maps.

List of sovereign states and dependences by total fertility rate on Wikipedia.

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3 Responses to “Fighting men and fertile women”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    It is entirely possible that the percentage of people who would fight for their country would increase if suddenly the state were faced with an existential threat. Conversely, if there’s a Vietnam going on, that might reduce the numbers for a while. The answer to the question depends more on the respondent’s opinion of the current military policy and the current threat level than any fundamental will to fight.

    The reduced fertility rate happens because we have become urban and industrial workers. In a farm environment, children are cheap labor. To an office worker or industrial laborer, they are an expensive hobby. And between birth control and modern feminism, women don’t define themselves as future mothers anymore.

    Some states’ demographics are in such a severe state that their future existence as coherent states is under threat. China’s low birth rate is compounded by an imbalance in gender. The population will drop by half between 2050 and 2070 and the population will have aged greatly. Not much can be done for it. Japan has been battling this for 30 years. S. Korea has a huge demographic problem. So do several countries in Europe, including Russia. Canada has a big demographic problem.

    The US has dipped below the replacement rate but unlike most countries, our baby boomers had some kids. At least we can somewhat balance this with immigration and closer ties to Mexico. OTOH, there are countries nobody wants to immigrate to. Without big policy changes and high-tech automation and AI, they are screwed.

    On the good side, fewer people means fewer carbon emissions and less load on the planet from food production. Housing should become cheaper as the ratio of people to housing stock increases. Labor should make more money simply because it is scarce and tech makes everyone more efficient.

    We’re in for a rough patch until it gets worked out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nikolai Vladivostok Says:

    The trouble with rapidly falling fertility rates is that it creates a top-heavy population pyramid with too few workers to support too many retirees. Some countries have reformed their pension systems to cope with this but some have not. Japan is creaking right now. It could probably do with fewer people overall but needs more workers in the meantime.
    Australia has done a lot to prepare for the great Boomer retirement. The US has done less but has a relatively high birth rate plus immigration which will ease the pressure compared to Japan.
    On the other point, I’m among those who would not fight for my country even if it was directly attacked. They locked me out for two years so all my loyalty is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

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