Comments: Oh Baby, this is a national dilemma

Why should the 2 be incompatible? The US has an above replacement level of fertility and has cut down on the number of illegitimate births through welfare reform in the 90’s. What is lacking in the UK is not a feasible solution but simply the will to implement reforms that encourage birth within marriage. People just pretend there is some sort of conflict or trade off in order to excuse inaction.

Secondly the link between illegitimacy and teenage pregnancy, while a superficially appealing story is possibly spurious. In“Recent European Fertility Patterns: Fitting Curves to 'Distorted' Distributions” Chandola, T et al note that the teenage pregnancy humps are unique to Ireland and the UK (and you’ll find that same thing for the US too) – they don’t seem to occur in European countries - even those which have higher rates of illegitimacy or single parent benefits.

Why this is so is not so certain; my take is that its to do with the education system; Anglo Saxon education systems tend to be much more specialized– concentrating on sorting students by ability in particular areas while European ones tend toward the baccalaureate generalized conformist education system. While the British system then helps by selecting out the brilliant mathematician, it also has the side effect of informing some people that are not very good at anything at all. It is these “stoopid girls” that then bump the hump in the Hadwiger curve. Now you argue that this is a problem, but is it? If you’re not very bright then you’re not going to enhance national productivity by entering the workforce. Surely it makes better sense for you, if female, to specialize in baby production? And isn’t this better for the economy as a whole since they need babies and workers?

So there’s nothing either unnatural or un-economic about teenage pregnancy – its been with us since the dawn of time and has never created a problem before. What is unnatural and uneconomic is not marrying – for the child, the mother and society. What is even weirder is that, as you say, society encourages it through the welfare system The US managed to reverse the situation through welfare reform alone but I think the UK is in a more difficult position as it lacks the ability to bring about reform through social pressure. In the US pressure in favor of marriage through black churches was also important in reversing the trend. I’m not sure there are any comparable institutions in Britain today. . In the 19th century many countries actually fined un-married mothers and perhaps this type of action may be necessary in the UK, carrots may not be enough if social censure is absent.

Posted by Giles at February 6, 2005 08:19 PM

searching for alife partner to spent the rest of my futre life with each other till death do us part (Amen).

Posted by Elvis alex at July 7, 2005 04:09 PM