Jan 19, 2007

Smart Women Have Fewer Smart Children

Forbes business magazine had an article on p. 58 of their November 2006 issue entitled, "The Smart Women Myth" written by Christine B. Whelan, the author of Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women. Whelan concludes in her book that "smart, successful women marry at the same rates as all other women, and once married, they have children at the same rates as well." She bases her conclusion on a survey that showed "there’s 75% chance that a never-married 30-year-old woman with an advanced degree will be a bride, compared with a 66% chance that a 30-year-old with a college degree or less will marry."

Whelan also discusses statistics that show 35 to 39-year old women living in medium-size cities who earn more than $75,000 a year and have a master's degree will marry at a 92 percent rate. She states this percentage is more than the 87 percent married for less educated, lower-earning women of the same age group and class. From these data, Whelan concludes smart women have bright futures for happy marriages (even though she presents conflicting data in her book that show the number of never-married people in their thirties has quadrupled in the last twenty-five years).

Why do I have a problem with Whelan's conclusions? First of all, the author selects only a five-year age group, 35 to 39-year old women. Second, only women living in medium-size cities are mentioned. Why did she not give statistics for all child-bearing women who earn more than $75,000 a year and have a master's degree--regardless of whether they live in medium-size cities. Third, she really doesn't give statistics on the total number of children of career women. Seems she might be using only the data that fit her hypothesis.

Whelan concedes that the 1980 census showed that educated, successful women were less likely to marry and much less likely to have children. Personally, I have observed in professional environments over the past 25 years that smart, educated, and successful women have fewer children than non-professional women. One woman that I know well now wonders if she should have traded her professional life for a marriage and children.

If smart women have fewer children, then the numbers of children with high intelligence are reduced in comparison with the total population. Both the genetic component and the environmental component of intelligence are decreased when smart women have fewer children. Children of intelligent mothers usually are exposed to an intellectually stimulating environment that has been proven to lead to high achievement.

The standardized SAT score was 'recentered' in 1995 because of declining scores. Some say that it was because more students are taking the exam. It seems more likely the declining SAT scores is a sign of declining average intelligence of students. Smart, high-achieving women have fewer children than other women, so fewer children are being born and nurtured in intelligence in relation to the total population.


Alison said...

As someone who happily turned in her working card at an "advanced age" for marriage and children, I'd like to point out that this study leaves a little to be desired. A degree or an advanced degree is not necessarily an indicator of intelligence. I know my friends, who married at a younger age, were just as intelligent as the women I received my advanced degree with. In fact, some of those women have ten or more intelligent children.
I didn't get not get married because I wanted an advance degree. Instead, I had the opportunity to get the advanced degree because I wasn't married. Also, being married is about following God's will. I do not believe that God willed this for me. I only believe that because I always prayed and others prayed for me (one priest in his daily rosary). I love being married, my husband and my children. The only thing I really miss about being single is being a pro-life activist. But as one of my favorite and most heroic pro-lifers, who never went to college, used to say, "Pro-life begins at home." Isn't what we really all want is a life of service?

Dust I Am said...

I most certainly did not mean to imply that intelligence resides only in the population of women who get advanced degrees and have careers. The really intelligent woman decides to forego a career until after she has accomplished the awesomely important roles of being a wife and mother--assuming that this is God's will for her.

An older lady once interviewed me as I competed for a scholarship and asked about my future plans--what would I do with a college degree? I answered that being a housewife and mother was what I planned after finishing college. The lady was quite upset when I persisted and explained that the roles of wife and mother were more important than a career.

After finishing college I took a professional job and within a short time was married and resigned because of our first child's imminent birth. Naturally, I was a little sad about leaving a very interesting and well-paying job. There was an IBM rep who listened and then told me something I won't forget--"When you educate a man, you educate a man. When you educate a woman, you educate a family."

The IBM rep was absolutely right, and his words are especially true today when women must home school their children.

Yet much time remains in most women's lives after raising children. For me, I eventually returned to college and audited classes taken 20 years earlier before reentering the job market. I then found almost 25 years to have a career--even working on a reduced time basis because of continuing family commitments. During my late career, I discovered that most men of my age were now tired of working, yet I was freshly interested in professional work.

Married women (and men) should know that "success" is raising the next generation of children to be saints and productive members of society. Everything else is secondary to this mandate. Children are the only legacy that is carried through history. Why don't more people realize this?

cranky said...

You seem to have such a clear grasp on who you are and what you want. That makes you a good model for those of us lacking your "centeredness."

It also, by the way, makes you a good salesman for the faith you espouse.

M. Alexander said...

I definitely think that it is the "most intelligent" women who have lots and lots of kids. Though I admit that is a very self serving conclusion ;).