A new study out of the United States has found that couples today are putting off having kids in favour of a new house, a new car or even just a new mobile phone. Yes, it seems that their desire to keep up with the latest fads and trends is causing a decline in reproduction.
To prove the case, Paul Hooper at Emory Health Sciences in Atlanta, came up with a mathematical model demonstrating how reproduction goes down as the cost of maintaining status goes up, proving that although the news in unsurprising, the argument is plausible from a biological point of view.
“Our model shows that as competition becomes more focused on social climbing, as opposed to just putting food on the table, people invest more in material goods and achieving social status, and that affects how many children they have,” Hooper told the Detroit News.
He says that social inequality in most countries makes status competition more intense.
Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important. – T.S.Eliot
— Famous-Quote.net (@famousquotenet) March 31, 2016
Other factors the report cited as being responsible for fertility decline in the modern world included lower child mortality rates, more access to birth control and the choice to delay childbirth to get a higher education.
Hooper tested the theory during his time living with a family in the Amazonian rainforest. He says that during that time he found that while the family lived within the confines of the rainforest they were only consumed by their need to provide for their family, so food, shelter and clothing.
But when members of the family moved closer to the towns the increased contact with consumer goods also increased the importance of social status.
“When they start getting earnings for the first time, they spend money on things you wouldn’t really expect, like an expensive wristwatch or a nylon backpack for a child attending school, instead of sending them with a traditional woven bag,” he said.
The model was also related to modern society where Hooper said today’s couples are over-investing in social standing.