I had a sad thought the other day

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I had a sad thought the other day

Postby V » 02 Oct 2018, 18:40

I will try to précis this to keep it simple, but if it’s valid it’s sad.

There was a time, not long past (Victorian Era) when rich families had vast numbers of children (my Gran was youngest of 12) mainly because they could afford them, while the poor didn’t. Even feeding a large brood was challenging & life expectancies inevitably reduced. Our world has thankfully changed that in modern societies & the poor don’t starve anymore (if anything the opposite of starvation is our current difficulty).

But now, thanks to social safety nets, the poor have very large numbers of children (not necessarily in a “traditional” family setting) but generally the rich don’t, because they’re rather busy making dosh (1 or 2 very fortunate offspring).
The ever larger numbers of poor, dependent of social schemes for survival are unlikely to ever become rich in large numbers. The ever falling numbers of the rich will gain individually by ever greater inheritances.

Extrapolating this family trend, we could in not that many generations assuredly produce a staggering gap between an Uber Rich Elite & the Rest (in fact some would say we’ve already achieved that).

The only obvious solution is expropriation (I guess via an onerous taxation method) very much resembling property theft.
But if we keep producing ever more poor & ever fewer rich, it’s gonna happen. This vision of the future has complex causation & might be tricky to fix amicably.

Have at it you guys. I only put it here because it looks an inevitability sad outcome. I won’t be around to see it myself ;)
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby asudevil » 02 Oct 2018, 19:26

I’d disagree with your premise. Poor people had lots of kids because they needed them to run the farms and stuff.
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby V » 02 Oct 2018, 19:45

asudevil wrote:I’d disagree with your premise. Poor people had lots of kids because they needed them to run the farms and stuff.


I should clarify maybe. People that owned farms are not the poor to which I was referring.
It was the farm labourers paid next to nothing that had the small family. It was only the 19th Century Industrial Revolution that allowed poor people with better paid jobs to afford large families (at least in England that was true). From there we got more large families in the cities in the Victorian Era. But we’ve changed it.
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby Lamprey » 02 Oct 2018, 21:11

...
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby StarkAdder » 02 Oct 2018, 21:26

People had larger families (and still do outside of the developed countries) because they need the help, because they can't afford safe birth control alternatives and because when there is no social security or other safety net for retirement, the best way to ensure someone will look after you is to have enough children to do so.

Rich families and poor families in earlier times had many children (read Dickens), and they didn't think about being able to afford to feed them -- things either worked out for them or they didn't. It is modern life, when both adults in a family can find work for a decent wage and modern appliances make looking after a home easier, that has produced the historic aberration of families with few or no children.

And for the sake of the planet as well as the well-being of those who choose that lifestyle (as most others would if they could), it is a good thing that family size is now an optional choice. When you look at developing countries in transition to developed status, as soon as women get access to education and quality jobs, the national birthrate goes down. It would do the opposite if this were all about wealth.
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby duckling » 02 Oct 2018, 21:34

The poor have many children because of social safety nets?
I’m not sure where you get that from. (And I’ll bet there are many other factors in play there.)

Also, since larger families are on the decline in the world in general (kids survive, you don’t need 8 to keep 1), and “first world” countries experience lower birth rates (we are too busy drinking latte and realising our dreams), and lots of well off families have more than 2 kids (but not enough to offset all those who don’t have any), I really think all of this is more complex than what you fear.

Here are a couple of optimistic talks on population and poverty, btw:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FACK2knC08E
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2LyzBoHo5EI
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby Pootleflump » 02 Oct 2018, 21:37

The 'rich' choose to have fewer children and to have them later in life. They want to invest in rewarding careers, attain a degree of financial stability, travel the world and enjoy themselves before settling down. Lucky them!

It is a sad fact that rich kids have more opportunities, parenting that has promoted confidence and self esteem, aspiration and self belief. They aspire to do well, stick in at school, get an education and aim to achieve. That's parental aspiration.

If you want to stop poor people having big families, give them hope, aspiration, make it easier for them to access education, better jobs, reduce the wage gap between the top and bottom earners, access to affordable housing, tackle poverty and inequality. Have an education system that works for all and promotes positive destinations for all school leavers. Invest in early years, parenting programmes, education.

Yes V, you're probably right, it is a case of redistributing wealth and breaking cycles of deprivation.
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby Lamprey » 02 Oct 2018, 22:15

...
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby V » 02 Oct 2018, 22:45

duckling wrote:The poor have many children because of social safety nets?
I’m not sure where you get that from. (And I’ll bet there are many other factors in play there.)


Again just for clarification of what I meant to say;

The poor have many children THAT SURVIVE because of social safety nets (would probably have expressed it better).

It was still commonplace in the 19th Century that a famine even in Europe (most developed area on earth) would lead to mass casualties amongst the poor. That kind of thing does not happen any longer.

By the way, I’m very much enjoying the debate. It’s a challenging subject that probably our children, or theirs, will have to face seriously.
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Re: I had a sad thought the other day

Postby Pootleflump » 02 Oct 2018, 22:49

Lamprey

Oh, I know the importance of personal responsibility. And we love a rags to riches story.

But the evidence is that poverty (independent of factors like nutrition, language exposure, family stability, or pre natal issues) affects brain development with long term consequences. The correlation is strongest for areas of the brain associated with executive functioning and language. Factors intrinsic to health behaviour choices, aspiration, personal responsibility, as well as IQ and academic achievement.

https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/ ... ens-brains

"Small increases in income have a larger impact on the brains of the poorest children."

Dividing people into good people who are to be mimic'd and bad people who need to pull their socks up just widens the gap. Strength and asset based approaches are what's been shown to motivate. Everyone has a valuable contribution to make to society.

There is a theory (and the subject of a really good TED talk about inequality) that people don't make bad decisions. They make rational decisions in the context of their lives. When it's a daily struggle to put food on the table, it's hard to have the head space to think about the long term consequences of your decisions, mimic successful people or have any kind of aspiration about the future.
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