Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Affordable Family Formation"

Steve Sailer on house affordability, family values and voting patterns. In the UK it's always Mr and Mrs Average who get squeezed on the kids front. The wealthy and the tax-funded underclass can have as many as they like, but a couple on average wages pretty much have to keep two incomes coming in to pay the mortgage. And it is the devil's own job raising kids in any quantity when you're both working full time, quite apart from the question of whether a mother who spends more waking hours at work than with her children can be said to be 'raising' them at all.

Neither Jane Austen nor Benjamin Franklin, however, would have found the question of what drives the Red-Blue divide so baffling. Unlike today’s intellectuals, they both thought intensely about the web linking wealth, property, marriage, and children. They would not have been surprised that a state’s voting proclivities are now dominated by the relative presence or absence of affordable family formation.

First-time readers of Pride and Prejudice frequently remark that Austen’s romance novels are, by American standards, not terribly romantic. She possessed a hard-headed understanding of how in traditional English society, wedlock was a luxury that some would never be able to afford, an assumption that often shocks us in our more sentimental 21st century ...

... GOP “family values” resound more in states where people can more afford to have families. In parts of the country where “Families can be easily supported, more Persons marry, and earlier in Life.” And where it is economical to buy a house with a yard in a neighborhood with a decent public
(i.e. state - LT) school, you will generally find more conservatives. It’s a stereotype that marriage, mortgage, and kids make people more conservative, but, like most stereotypes, it’s reasonably true. You’ll find fewer Republicans in places where family formation is expensive. Where fewer people can form families, Republican candidates making speeches about family values just sound irrelevant or irritating.

The arrow of causality points in both directions. Some family-oriented people move to more affordable states in order to marry and have children, while people uninterested in marriage and children move in the opposite direction to enjoy adult lifestyles. This population swapping just makes the electorate more divided by geography rather than tipping the national balance toward one party.

Still, for the many Americans whose innate inclinations fall somewhere in the middle, the cost of forming a family in their current state affects how likely they are to start down the path toward married-with-children conservatism and therefore, cumulatively, which party will eventually prevail nationally.

Imagine a young couple considering marriage who live in the San Francisco Bay Area. He makes $60,000 and she makes $40,000 annually. If he could find a job that pays $50,000 in northern Texas, where costs are only half as high, she could stay home and raise the children. But if they can’t bear to leave California, with its inspiring scenery and lovely weather, she will have to keep working. And if she has to work, are children really such a good idea? And if they aren’t going to have children, why get married at all? And if they aren’t married, are they going to appreciate the nagging of socially conservative politicians?


Read the whole thing. UK house prices are such that there's nowhere any more where Joe Average can find "a house with a yard in a neighborhood with a decent state school".

7 comments:

Hugh Oxford said...

Ah, more on our suicidal society. The facts give the lie to the idea that individual choices are irrelevant to others - "How does it affect you" is the clarion call of the new individualism. Well, few things don't.

The only people who can afford family sized homes in Britain these days are people without children, because sufficient numbers of people have chosen not to contribute to the continuation of human race.

Added to that market pressure is the consequences of divorce and separation- now two adults are chasing the same housing stock, whereas only one would have done before, driving prices up further. The family is suffering, the country is dying as a result with chilling consequences. When one in three adults lives alone, only so many houses can be built fast enough.

That's the injury: now here's the insult. Two years ago the British government decided to pass the "Civil Partnership Act" giving pairs of homosexuals - the very people whose choices and behaviour are antithetical to the common good and the future of our society - the same privileges as are afforded to married couples. That's right: the state thinks that there is some kind of analogy between these two radically opposing states.

It's one thing for society to kill itself, when the state fans the flames in such a scandalous manner, it is hard not to lose hope. The truth is, the political elites treat this serious matter as a third rail, because not to do so would be to hold us all culpable. And that's a political risk.

All I know is that for now, being the father of a young family feels like a pretty marginalised and slightly distasteful job in modern Britain. Which is why I'm seriously thinking of moving to the US, where, for all its problems, there still seems to be the will to live.

Anonymous said...

"The only people who can afford family sized homes in Britain these days are people without children,"

Well, speak for yourself.

I have a more-than-family size house (2600 sq ft, four beds, three bathrooms), I am not a putocrat or a trust-fund mummy's boy, and my wife didn't go out to work until our four children were all at secondary school.

So it can be done. You just have to pick your location carefully (no, I am not saying where), and it probably helps that I built the house myself, to some extent with the profits made from building the previous one.

But it can be done.

Bessie said...

anonymous said ...
"Well, speak for yourself. I have a more-than-family size house ... and my wife didn't go out to work until our four children were all at secondary school."

Ah well, there you are. Your children are all at least 11, so you are not considering whether or not to start a family. Besides, as a self-builder, you are not typical. (And I’m jealous!)

In our town in south-east England, things have changed rapidly over the past 25 years. Those who bought their first property before the late 1980s -- whether they were 20-year-old trust-fund mummy's boys or 30-year-old middle-income parents -- are now sitting pretty. The value of their property may now be such that, for instance, they can afford to remortgage or even downsize in order to fund their children's university education. Those of us who bought in the 1990s may at least be lucky enough to have something nice (though perhaps rather cramped) in which to live, but that’s all we’ll ever have. Those who are thinking of buying their first property now are absolutely stuffed.

Gallimaufry said...

I realized the extent of the house-price feeding frenzy in 2002 when I learnt my flat had more than doubled in price in six years. I hadn't done much work on it beyond maintenance. The thing that concerned me was that the mortgage was comfortably less than 3x my salary in 1996 yet nearly 5x in 2002. Put bluntly, I couln't buy my flat in 2002. How much UK capital has been wasted on the property bubble that might have been better invested elsewhere? Are we any richer or just running faster?

Anonymous said...

Mark Steyn has been saying much the same thing for some time (minus the statistics): cheaper family homes encourages larger families encourages 'family values' encourages cultural conservatism. It also encourages emigrtion to the US. The same may be said for the legions of Brits queuing up to go Down Under: the wages may be lower there but in real terms houses can be 30% cheaper, and notably larger.
Interestingly, the mayor of San Francisco seems worried that not many people are having kids there (quelle surprise!), thus imperilling the city school system. How many families are really interested in bringing up kids in a gay paradise?

Who can reverse the trends for the southeast of England?

Colbert

Anonymous said...

its also because years ago 'kids' used to start work 10 years earlier.
When my Granddad left school at 14 years old as was the norm, his dad gave him the milk-round the next day and told him to get on with it! He ofcourse didn't have a drivers license as there was no such thing then.

-

In some areas in the West Midlands the government is trying to close down rural school because not enough kids apparently, but if there is no schools people with families will not be attracted to the area and may move out.. So surely a certain about of spare capacity is always needed.
So what is the government upto?

Harry said...

That's the injury: now here's the insult. Two years ago the British government decided to pass the "Civil Partnership Act" giving pairs of homosexuals - the very people whose choices and behaviour are antithetical to the common good and the future of our society - the same privileges as are afforded to married couples

You must be very insecure in your sexuality if you regard that Civil Partnership Act as an 'insult'. And in what way is homosexuality 'antithetical' to the future of a our society?

That's right: the state thinks that there is some kind of analogy between these two radically opposing states

Why are you so vexed by people you don't know doing things that you don't know about in a relationalship that you don't care about? Ever considered acquiring a life of your own?