"Brazil's Girl Power"

I was reading an old issue of National Geographic and came across an article called “Brazil’s Girl Power“. The article reports decreasing birth rates around the world, but specifically in Brazil. It describes the correlation between lower birth rates and a higher standard of living. It also showcases some young Brazilians and their reasons for wanting fewer children.

Professor Carvalho, retiring head of his university’s School of Economics and one of the most eminent Brazilian demographers of the past half century, now reclined. He put his feet up and smiled. He knew the total number of grandchildren, of course: 26. For much of his working life, he had been charting and probing and writing about the remarkable Brazilian demographic phenomenon that was replicated in miniature amid his own family, who within two generations had crashed their fertility rate to 2.36 children per family, heading right down toward the national average of 1.9.
That new Brazilian fertility rate is below the level at which a population replaces itself. It is lower than the two-children-per-woman fertility rate in the United States. In the largest nation in Latin America—a 191-million-person country where the Roman Catholic Church dominates, abortion is illegal (except in rare cases), and no official government policy has ever promoted birth control—family size has dropped so sharply and so insistently over the past five decades that the fertility rate graph looks like a playground slide.
And it’s not simply wealthy and professional women who have stopped bearing multiple children in Brazil. There’s a common perception that the countryside and favelas, as Brazilians call urban slums, are still crowded with women having one baby after another—but it isn’t true. At the demographic center Carvalho helped found, located four hours away in the city of Belo Horizonte, researchers have tracked the decline across every class and region of Brazil. Over some weeks of talking to Brazilian women recently, I met schoolteachers, trash sorters, architects, newspaper reporters, shop clerks, cleaning ladies, professional athletes, high school girls, and women who had spent their adolescence homeless; almost every one of them said a modern Brazilian family should include two children, ideally a casal, or couple, one boy and one girl. Three was barely plausible. One might well be enough. In a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte, an unmarried 18-year-old affectionately watched her toddler son one evening as he roared his toy truck toward us; she loved him very much, the young woman said, but she was finished with childbearing. The expression she used was one I’d heard from Brazilian women before: “A fábrica está fechada.” The factory is closed.
The emphatic fertility drop is not just a Brazilian phenomenon. Notwithstanding concerns over the planet’s growing population, close to half the world’s population lives in countries where the fertility rates have actually fallen to below replacement rate, the level at which a couple have only enough children to replace themselves—just over two children per family. They’ve dropped rapidly in most of the rest of the world as well, with the notable exception of sub-Saharan Africa.

The article goes on to say:

Brazil spans a vast landmass, with enormous regional differences in geography, race, and culture, yet its population data are by tradition particularly thorough and reliable. Pieces of the Brazilian experience have been mirrored in scores of other countries, including those in which most of the population is Roman Catholic—but no other nation in the world seems to have managed it quite like this.

Cynthia Gorney, the author who penned the above article, points out that Brazil’s birth rate is dropping. She points out that this is so in much of the world. She mentions that sub-Saharan Africa is a notable exception and she emphasizes that Brazil is a multi-racial country.
In light of the above, the obvious question should be: Are there differences between the birth rates of white Brazilians, black Brazilians and other groups? Gorney makes no attempt to explain the “notable exception” of sub-Saharan Africa – or what implications this may have on the world as a whole. The printed version of the article even provides us with a world map of human fertility. Though continuing high-fertility is mostly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, no explanation is offered as to why this might be so. Other hotbeds of fertility include Papua-New Guinea and Afghanistan. While Afghanistan’s case can be explained by the influence of fundamentalist Islam and its own unique cultural/historical circumstances, New Guinea and sub-Saharan Africa both host a wide array of cultures, languages and religions.
Brazil still has a substantial white population. According to some statistics, almost half of Brazil is white. According to New Zimbabwe.com (2009):

Brazil and its almost 200 million population is no longer a country of white majority. The credit now belongs to the 49.6% black and mulatto population compared to the 49.4% defined as white and this is set to increase in coming years with that percentage increasing to 54, according to a recent report from the Rio do Janeiro Federal University.Professor Antonio Paixao from the Rio University’s Economy Institute believes that since Brazil is no longer a white majority country, “we need a policy of diversity”, which is a great challenge for the political establishment.The black birth rate is also higher than that of the whites or Europeans descendents, so the big question is whether Brazil is prepared to face the fact that blacks and mulattos are becoming a solid majority, and how this will influence legislation, asks Paixao.

It seems to me that the decline in  Brazil’s birth rate is merely a decline in its white birth rate. Unless Cynthia Gorney, and the editors at National Geographic, are total idiots, they must realize that we are not looking at a long-term decline in the overall birth rate at all. What we are seeing is simply a temporary dip due to the elimination of white babies. As the black population grows, and replaces the white population in Brazil, the black birth rate will more than compensate for this dip. In the end, Brazil will be just like Africa. It would appear that this is what Gorney, and her editors at National Geographic, want. If so, then it also follows that they also want the destruction of the Amazon rain forests, the eradication of endangered species therein, the genocide of native peoples and endemic disease and starvation for the remaining (black) human population.

Aren’t these some of the same things the Left habitually accuses conservatives of?

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18 Responses to "Brazil's Girl Power"

  1. It seems like one of the expressions of female power is to give birth because it is a uniquely female ability. So why is avoiding child birth seen as a manifestation of female power by National Geographic?

  2. fortaleza84 says:

    I don’t know about Brazil, but in the US, non-white fertility is dropping just like white fertility. Interestingly, hispanic fertility in the US is substantially higher than black fertility.
    So it’s not like IQ where there is an intractible hierarchy with Asians on one end and Blacks on the other.
    Probably as a Jew you would be interested to know that in Israel, Jewish fertility has been steadily rising for many years now while Arab fertility has been dropping. 5 or 10 years ago, Israel turned a demographic corner and since then, the percentage of Jewish births has risen steadily year after year.
    In the Jerusalem district, Jewish fertility is significantly higher than Arab fertility.
    It seems to me that this pattern is likely to repeat itself elsewhere in the world, i.e. first world fertility will bottom out and start to rise again until it exceeds that of third-world people.

    • Janon says:

      That increased Jewish fertility is almost entirely among the hasidim and haredim. Frankly, it is optimistic to the point of naivete to assume that a society dominated by fanatics with minimal secular education will be modern or first-world.

      • fortaleza84 says:

        I was using “first-world” as a polite term for “not brown or black.”
        As to what a country would be like if dominated by ultra-religious types, time will tell.

  3. Stealth says:

    “It would appear that this is what Gorney, and her editors at National Geographic, want. ”
    It’s a shame that this has to happen to Brazil.

  4. WmarkW says:

    This is the other kind of societal suicide. Superior cultures empoer women, who in turn have fewer children. So Western Europe and Anglo America import people from the Middle East and Latin America, where feminism isn’t so strong.
    It’s one of the reasons the race-realist, cultural nationalist movement needs to attract more women.

    • Stealth says:

      At some point, unrestrained procreation itself is also societal suicide. The resources of the world have limits. We can’t just continue to have children with reckless abandon.
      In the near future, the die-off will come; technology has been wonderful but has not produced the world of excess that everyone envisioned. There will be no replacement for oil, barring a miracle, Fossil fuels are the lifeblood of our civilization and are the only thing I can think of that has allowed us to produce enough food to actually feed seven billion people, some of whom starve anyway. When the oil begins to run out, things will start happening very quickly.

      • WmarkW says:

        I disagree that energy, or any critical sector of it, will be the destruction of the modern economy. Natural gas and the oil sands will keep us liquid (ha ha) until longer-term solutions like storing electricity in hydrogen and hybrid grasses from which ethynol can be extracted, solve future needs.
        I think the scientific-thinking world will solve its problems and the biggest question is whether extending the solutions to the non-scientific world will be peaceful, violent or lacking.

  5. At least some white people are having babies. The Amish beat out the haredim and hasedim, and according to some statistics have birth rates that rival those of the Horn of Africa–some of the highest in the world. I’ve read by the turn of the next century there will be something like 25 million Amish, Hutterites, and related groups in North America. The Mormons, Evangelicals, and Italian-Americans have relatively high birth rates as well, although probably only at or slightly above replacement level. There is some evidence that the (true, native) French, Swedish, Swiss and Russian birthrates are ticking up, although they’re still uncomfortably low.
    Probably like some others here, I’m a little worried about the growing numbers of “black hats” in Israel. How would a hasid-dominated government handle Israel’s considerable nuclear arsenal, for starters? Of course, that same worry applies to Pakistan, which is likely to fall to extremists long before Israel does.

    • Stealth says:

      I wish the Amish, Haredim and Hasedim well, but I wouldn’t want to live in a country run by any of the three. I think these groups have a lot to teach us, however. The self-reliance thing is great. We should take note.

  6. Dumbo says:

    As someone who grew up in Brazil and occasionally still visits, I think I should clarify some issues. First, I believe fertility rates have fallen in all racial groups, due to the growing urbanization and development. Probably you still have minority groups/poor people having more babies than middle class/white, but not in the same proportion as it was years ago, where poor people would have up to 20 children (no kidding).
    All race statistics in Brazil have to be taken with a grain of salt. Current census (2010) indicates the following distribution:
    “Pardos” (mixed races): 43,1,6%
    White: 47,7%
    Black: 7,6%
    Indian: 0,4%
    Asian: 1,1%
    Now, this is based on self-identification, so the amount of “white” (pure Caucasian) is probably lower, and the amount of mixed-race is probably higher, as well as the number of “Indians” (pure or mixed). So Brazil was never really a “white majority country”, unless you include half-white or three-quarters-white, and the current higher number of “mixed and blacks” in the population might be just that more people identify as “mixed and/or black” – which became an advantage now that Brazil started to copy the politics of affirmative action from the US:
    That said, pure 100% Subsaharans are rare in Brazil (at least in the Southern, more Caucasian States; they are still numerous in Bahia), because of the long history of miscegenation with the Portuguese. A recent study showed that the DNA of Brazilian “blacks” and “mulattoes” is from 60% to 80% European. Then there are lot of European immigrants who came in the 19th century (Italian, German, Polish who largely did not mix with blacks or indians).
    (In Portuguese, but maybe you can follow the numbers)
    Thanks! Congratulations on the blog.

  7. ogunsiron says:

    As others have noted, the black fertility rate in the usa isn’t that high.
    It seems that whatever the forces are that lead to very low fertility in people who enjoy high standards of living, those forces work on black people too.
    Barbados’s fertility rate as of 2009 was 1.54 births/woman and they’re a run of the mill black caribbean nation as far as demographics go ( ie 80% black african or more). Jamaica’s is above replacement at 2.36 but that’s far, far below the subsaharan african numbers.

    • jewamongyou says:

      Yes, but it takes a lot more to make a black nation prosperous to that point. It’s easier on an island – especially when there is a thriving tourist industry.

      • ogunsiron says:

        What it takes to get a black country to even middling prosperity is a different issue. I do think barbadians have some merit.
        There are only 4% whites on the island. The whites are in control of big business on the island, but the government is black as well as the white collar workers and middle class professionals. If the barbadians were like haitians or like black Detroiters, the tiny white population wouldn’t be able to make it run all by itself, even with the tourism. They’re obviously getting some valuable help. But really, it’s a different issue because I wanted to address the effect of living in relative riches, however they were created and by whom.
        My point was that black africans who happen to live in relatively prosperous and stable environments like the usa or, in this case, barbados, seem subject to those fertility lowering forces too.
        Jamaica is pretty poor but compared to most african countries it’s quite rich and if we’re to believe the number above, the fertility lowering force acts on them too. It’s very strong and I was surprised to see that it also acted on black people, provided that they either enjoyed some material comforts and/or were familiar with western cultural norms. Most people in
        Niger, Mali, the Democratic rep. of Congo, Somalia etc are either disgustingly poor, illiterate and/or totally cutoff from the generic worldwide “western lite” culture.
        I’m not arguing against HBD at all. I just think that when it comes to this particular question (lowering effect of material comfort and westernization on fertility), it seems that no race is intrinsically immune, not even the black africans.

  8. jewamongyou says:

    Re: Ogunsiron,
    I think you’re right, and this is certainly encouraging. This is, of course, a big reason why it’s so important to try to bring up the standard of living in Africa. Otherwise, the whole world will be swamped with their babies.

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