Religiosity and fertility: Wrong metric

Half Sigma finds that religiosity is correlated with fertility, and nothing else makes much difference. In particular, intelligence makes little difference, except that smart people tend to be less religious by the measure of religiosity used.


His measurement of religiosity is Biblical Literalism, which is more a measurement of which religion one subscribes to, rather than how much one subscribes to religion: Thus, a better conclusion is that some religions encourage fertility, and others discourage it.

A brief wander between religious gatherings reveal that some breed, and some do not, thus chances are that any measure one uses, will correlate or not depending on the extent that high fertility religion happens to correlate with whatever measure of religiosity one is using.

It seems likely that the correct measure is attendance to particular churches and religious organizations, rather than beliefs that do not in themselves directly affect sex and reproduction.

Secondly, fertility correlates negatively with educational attainment, but again, not with intelligence.

But if attainment, but not intelligence, then obviously attainment is the wrong measure: The right measure should be attendance, not attainment. We should treat educational institutions as yet another church or religious organization.

In which case we will find that the religion taught at some institutions discourages fertility, and the religion taught at other institutions encourages fertility. That reform Jews don’t breed, while orthodox Jews and Mormons do breed suggests that the critical variables are hypergamy and patriarchy. To the extent a religion encourages hypergamy, it discourages fertility, and to the extent that it encourages patriarchy, it encourages fertility.

Attendance at educational institutions, viewed as religious attendance, encourages hypergamy. Girls are taught that they are entitled. They can have it all. A girl of average looks can, she is told, have a career and a financially successful faithful lover who looks like Brad Pitt.

Half Sigma’s measure of religiosity tends to favor churches that refrain from encouraging hypergamy. If the question had been “We are children of the universe, and there is a cosmic force that cares for us”, I am pretty sure that religiosity so measured would be negatively correlated with fertility, massively so.

11 Responses to “Religiosity and fertility: Wrong metric”

  1. G’Day! Blog,
    This question may be a little off-topic, .

    Why are most people under the false impression that religiosity equates with spirituality?

    BTW great blogpost

  2. I’m an optimistic atheist; I see the global level of religiosity as being half empty. So the trend I should be seeing is a gradually lower level of religiosity between generations, but is this the case? Or is it more a case of a randomly fluctuating, impossible to predict trend like so much of human behavior?

    • jim says:

      If we only count religions that officially admit to being supernatural, pretty obviously religion is declining. If, however, we define religion more broadly, then religion is increasing by leaps and bounds.

      If authority assures you that leprechauns exist and that authority can see them, it does not take much faith to believe, since you cannot see leprechauns not existing. If, however, authority assures you that all humans are equal, or that all groups and categories of human are equal, it takes outstanding and extraordinary faith, since every day you see individuals, groups, and categories being strikingly and obviously unequal, for reasons cultural, genetic, and hormonal.

      Further, belief in the flying spaghetti monster not only does no harm, but is apt to inculcate the accumulated wisdom of the ages, inculcating prudent and virtuous behavior, whereas belief in equality tends to inculcate bad behavior, as illustrated by the inability of “Occupy” to operate an urban campsite.

  3. […] Religiosity and fertility: Wrong metric […]

  4. The independent variable of religiosity was measured by two variables from the NSFG data set (i.e., importance of religion and frequency of attendance at religious services) and by a combination of six variables that reflect traditional attitudes on human sexuality. Importance of religion in the respondent’s daily life was originally recorded as: (1) very important, (2) somewhat important, and (3) not important. For analysis purposes these responses were dichotomized into two categories: (1) very important and (2) not important.

  5. RS says:

    > it seem pretty certain that increasing IQ reduces fertility in women regardless of education (under modern conditions)

    Malloy — one of our most disciplined scholars — says it is pretty much all by way of education.

    • RS says:

      Pretty much the entire effect of IQ on fecundity, that is

      • jim says:

        If true, then job attraction is unimportant, contrary to what I argued above.

        If the attractiveness of jobs other than making babies was a factor, then IQ should be a factor independent of education.

        If, education causes infertility, but IQ does not cause infertility holding education constant, then the effect of education is must be primarily through its ideological indoctrination, through the values it inculcates when educational attendance is interpreted as attendance to a religious institution, and of course through wasting time, through keeping women in a permanent state of childhood until their fertility and beauty starts to decline.

        To the extent that education reduces fertility through wasting time, this effect must be much more severe on women than men. To the extent that it reduces fertility by encouraging hypergamy and discouraging patriarchy, the effect should be roughly similar on women and men.

        Education might reduce fertility by raising female status, but if so, IQ raises female status.

        Education might reduce fertility by making attractive jobs available, incompatible with having children, but if so, IQ makes attractive jobs available.

        Education might reduce fertility simply by wasting time, but if so should primarily affect women, rather than men.

        Education might reduce fertility through the sexual and political ideology that educational institutions, viewed as religious institutions inculcate. This seems to give best fit to the observed effects.

  6. Bruce G Charlton says:

    There also seems to be a big sex differential: it seem pretty certain that increasing IQ reduces fertility in women regardless of education (under modern conditions) – but the effect on men may be insignificant.

    Also, within a religious category, increasing orthodoxy or traditionalism and devoutness tends to correlate with increasing fertility.

    And – it is only among the orthodox, traditional and devout that very high average fertility is seen in modern societies.

    So religion is indeed a major factor in fertility – and this is potentially dissociable from intelligence – and you are correct that the ‘religion’ variable needs to be carefully designed.

    • jim says:

      There also seems to be a big sex differential: it seem pretty certain that increasing IQ reduces fertility in women regardless of education (under modern conditions) – but the effect on men may be insignificant.

      High IQ in a woman means that attractive jobs are available, whereas a low IQ woman is apt to find the job of producing and raising children much more attractive than any plausible alternative.

      High IQ in a man means higher status and income, so he can outbid Uncle Sam the Big Pimp.

      High IQ in a woman means higher status and income, making it difficult for her to find men that she will accept taking a subordinate, wifely, role to.

      In my possibly biased and statistically insignificant observation, successful reproduction and fatherhood by men requires them to impose patriarchy in their family. As my son explained our family to his teacher in his first school year “Dad is the boss of the family and he loves me”. This is easier if one marries a woman with longer time preference, which is to say high socioeconomic status, and easier if one has higher socioeconomic status than she does.

      Also, within a religious category, increasing orthodoxy or traditionalism and devoutness tends to correlate with increasing fertility.

      My theory predicts orthodoxy and traditionalism increases fertility, since orthodoxy and traditionalism generally demands monogamy and patriarchy. However I predict that devoutness only increases fertility if one is devoutly orthodox and traditional. Obviously devout Gaian females are unlikely to reproduce. I also predict that devout Unitarians, if such creatures exist, would have low fertility. The religion celebrated in “Eat Pray Love” is entirely incompatible with reproduction, so, the more devout, the less fertile.

  7. Lost in the Cosmos says:

    “We are children of the universe, and there is a cosmic force that cares for us”

    This is what I’ve never understand about progressivism. The reasoning undergirding progressive thought is essentially: “There is no God, therefore there is no virtue, therefore life is meaningless, therefore… all the things we wish were true about life must be true [the moralistic fallacy being the basis for all progressive ideology] and anyone who says otherwise is evil [even though without God there is no such thing] and must be marginalized.”

    The incoherence of progressivism is, I think, the best evidence for its religious origins. Progressives use science as bludgeon against Christianity, perpetually harping on about how archaic and illogical it is, and yet they are obligated to retain bastardized elements of it in order to rationalize the magical thinking at the core of their beliefs. Because without religious faith, albeit a Devil-oriented religious faith, progressivism could not exist.

    From a strictly scientific point of view, the core assumption from which all progressive ideology follows–the fungibility of all humans regardless of race or sex–is bullshit; but then again progressives never have been and never will will be concerned with the disinterested application of science: rather they are concerned with science and reason only insofar as they can be used as rhetorical tools against their enemies, i.e., conservatively-inclined white Christian males.

    Ever notice that the more people venerate science and reason the less scientifically minded and reasonable they actually are?

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