Dalrock writes an interesting article related to Dr. Helen Smith's book the Marriage Strike. I really have to bump it up on my too rapidly growing reading list. (^_^)
Dr. Helen has a thoughtful post up asking if the title of her book is an accurate description of men’s response to the changes in the law and culture. While the title of her book is extremely effective in opening the discussion (which is what it needs to do), it isn’t an accurate description of problem we face in the West. A strike can be negotiated with; offer them a bit more and they’ll get back to work. Better yet, offer a few of them a side deal and break the cohesion. True strikes require moral or legal force to avoid this sort of peeling off. The problem for the modern West is far worse. What we are seeing isn’t men throwing a collective temper tantrum, noble or otherwise. What we are seeing is men responding to incentives. Even worse, inertia has delayed the response to incentives, which means much more adjustment is likely on the way.
There was an old joke in the Soviet Union to the effect of:
""We pretend to work. They pretend to pay us.""
The problem for the Soviets was this wasn’t a movement. They knew how to handle a movement, and Siberia had plenty of room above ground and below. The Soviets were masters at coercion through fear, but the problem wasn’t a rebellion, it was that they had reached the limits of incentive through fear. In the short and even medium term fear is a very effective motivator. But over time if overused it loses some of its power, especially when it comes to the kind of productivity which requires creativity and risk taking. Standing out is risky; you don’t want to be the worst worker on the line in a fear based system, but you also have reason to fear being the best worker on the line. This doesn’t happen so much by conscious choice, but due to the influence of the incentive structure on the culture over time. Conscious choices can be bargained with, and threats of punishment are still effective. The culture itself is far harder to negotiate with. No one is refusing anything. So the Soviets had no choice but to assign quotas, and severely punish those who failed to meet them. But while the quota/coercion system keeps production running, it works against human nature. If you become the best producer you end up being assigned a larger share of the quota burden; from each according to his abilities. Over time the logic of this works its way into the culture, as everyone gets just a little more inclined to go with the flow and not do more than required. The problem is while momentum causes the response to be slow, it also means it is very difficult to deal with once you have enough of it to recognize.
The problem we presently face in the West is similar. While we have a small number of men who have decided to slack off as a form of protest, the far more insidious risk to our economy is the across the board weakening of the incentive that a marriage based social structure creates for men to produce at their full potential. We’ve moved from a mostly reward based incentive structure to a model the Soviets would have been proud of.
You can see this at the micro level with a man whose wife goes Jenny Erickson on him. The courts understand that throwing a man out of the home and taking away his children naturally reduces the man’s normal incentive to work to support his family. How could it not? It isn’t that most men in this situation will stand by and watch their children starve, but they won’t be motivated to produce quite as much. You can confiscate a percentage of his income in the form of child support, but he no longer has the incentive to fight his way quite so high up our progressive tax structure. This is why the courts have to assign the man an income quota he has to meet, Soviet style. Imputation of income isn’t incidental to the child support family model; it is essential to the function of the model. Note that this doesn’t mean the courts have to formally calculate an income quota for each man who ends up in the new child support family structure; in most cases the man has already assigned himself a quota based on past production. All the family courts need to do in most cases is make sure he doesn’t fall below this quota.
As I mentioned above coercion is generally a very effective incentive in the near and medium term. Part of the reason conservatives are so enamored with child support is the threatpoint it provides to keep existing husbands working as hard as possible. While in the long run this will ultimately create a culture where husbands are less inclined to become stand out earners, as Keynes famously put it in the long run we are all dead. The other problem is the changes in the culture in response to over use of coercion are by their very nature difficult to identify and quantify. This isn’t unlike the Laffer Curve; while both liberals and conservatives agree regarding the principle of the curve, the shape of the curve is impossible to get agreement on. Eventually you can raise tax rates so high that you end up with lower revenue, but due to the problems of momentum identifying exactly when you have (or will) hit that point can be very difficult.
The more immediate problem in the West is the reduced incentive young men perceive to compete as breadwinners due to the continuing delay in the age of marriage. Again this isn’t a movement, it is a delayed response by the culture to reality. When the average woman marries in her late teens or even her early twenties, the average young man will see himself as competing with his peers for the job of husband. Not only is he competing to not be left out of the game entirely, but he is jockeying for a better choice of wife. But move the age of marriage out far enough, and eventually young men don’t see themselves so clearly as competing for the job of husband. Extend the age of marriage far enough and eventually the culture of young men will be less focused on competing to signal provider status, and their priorities will shift (on the margin) toward slacking off. The question isn’t if this will happen, but how long you can push the age of marriage out before this starts to happen, how much this will reduce the motivation of young men, and how long between the change in reality and the change in culture. Note also that this doesn’t require men to swear off marriage entirely for this to greatly impact our tax base. Changing the culture of men in their formative years will have a lasting impact. You can’t rewind time and undo a decade of (relative) slacking. Additionally, momentum tends to start working against you at some point. As the expectations of men as providers declines it eventually creates an expectation of decline. As each generation of new husbands come to the table with less to offer as providers, we eventually will start to expect future generations of husbands to offer even less.
As I’ve said before, all of this places our elites in a very difficult bind. Eventually the momentum which initially masked the problem makes it extremely difficult to address. Denial of the problem is a flawed strategy but it has important advantages. Once you acknowledge that the incentive structure is flawed you tend to accelerate the delayed response to the new structure. At the same time, the changes at the core of the problem are very close to the hearts of both liberals and conservatives. However, ignoring the problem will become more and more difficult because of the impact on the bottom line. Because of this, we can expect to see more of what we already see. Feminists will continue their handwringing tentatively asking if perhaps we have gone a bit too far, and conservatives will redouble their efforts to convince men they need to man up and stop sabotaging the glorious feminist progress. Less conspicuously I also expect we will see some dialing back of the worst excesses of the family courts. However, because of the momentum involved and the reluctance to acknowledge the fundamental problem, these changes will at best only slow the problem, and they will always run the risk of initially accelerating it.
I downvoted because this is trying to explain a broad cultural change in terms of the response to a single incentive. To pull that kind of thing off you need an outstandingly airtight explanation, not an average one.
Here is some information I found in various blogs, that I am not sure how true it is and whether it is so in whole USA or only in some states. Please tell me which of the following is true, or rather where and how much it is true:
After divorce, a man must financially support not only his children, but also his ex-wife.
The money paid to his ex-wife may easily exceed 50% of his income. For example, if the man's income increases, the judge will increase the payment to the ex, but if the income decreases, the payment remains the same.
A judge may decide to ignore the prenup, and there is no way to defend against it.
Different states have different rules for divorce, which can be abused by filing for divorce in a different state where the rules are more on your side.
And, if you are in a munchkin mood:
How much of this... (read more)
Well, everyone who gets married is irrationally overoptimistic about the likelihood of divorce.
Also, part of the problem is that nobody knows what divorce law actually says - I'm an American, but I'm not any better informed about divorce law than you are. Studying up on divorce law in preparation for marriage is just not something people do.
The 50% divorce by 25 years statistic is for first marriages.
My number is from from Stevenson-Wolfers (alt alt), particularly Figure 2, page 37. It is not a misinterpretation. To be more precise, about 50% of first marriages from the 70s made it to 25 years. First marriages from 80s appear to a do a little better, heading for maybe 55%, but it is too soon to tell [this previously said that it was too soon only because of binning decisions, but that's wrong; the problem is that the data was collected in 2001].
Another ominously looming related effect is the mismatch of our genetic markup regarding reproduction and the real costs and risks associated with reproduction in our society.
Evolutionary psychology tells us that
men care for securing a wife because they cannot be sure of their offspring - but with paternity tests they can. And risk nothing if they cheat - but a paternity test might catch them. And sex leading to offspring can be prevented now.
women need a provider to care for their offspring and risk a lot by pregnancy - but society ensures at least a minimum provision esp. for children and medicine has reduced risk by birth to a minimum.
Thus effectively the reproduction causes for gender differences are mostly eliminated in our society and this should - in the long run - lead to much more pronounced effects.
As the key factor that remains is child care and parenting I'd predict that male behavior geared toward the well-being and fostering of legitimate children is going to prevail and win over jealous and dominant behaviors.
It is difficult to tell long term genetic effects from faster effects due to incentive structures.
As this is dependent on availalability of reliable child legitimacy tests this even allows to test this hypothesis in the long run: Societies allowing this might show different male behavior.
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_jealousy_in_humans
Why is this a problem? I genuinely don't understand. EDIT I mean if our values are less conducive to vigorous economic competition by a particular subset of the population these days, then why should we change our values? Shouldn't economies serve our values not the other way around?
The problem Dalrock is outlining is a severe breakdown of trust. The reason folks might choose not to marry is not because they would be getting a bad deal if they did (if that was the issue, the incentives would simply adjust in some way), but because they have no way of trusting the deal they are going to get. In the absence of a way of re-establishing this kind of trust (and AIUI, commonly proposed solutions, say pre-nup agreements, are highly imperfect), there is no hope of avoiding a comparatively very bad outcome.
It's basically the same reason why societies with undeveloped or untrusted legal systems always have terrible economies: there's no way of trusting the contracts you get into, hence no basis for real development.
"Our" and "we", when applied to whole societies, should probably be viewed as efforts to co-opt or silence opposition. Any other words or phrases to add to the list?
"The right side of history" implies that the speaker knows the future.
The men in question worked hard because they really wanted to have families of their own, they are now less likely to have them and aren't working as hard. This isn't a story of men kicking back and relaxing because their preferences changed, this is a story of men not being able to get what they want with hard work anymore.
Wait why do we want to correct the wage gap? I might care about men and women being paid the same amount for the same value of work. But that isn't what the phrase "wage gap" means at all once you look at it closely.
The USSR was technologically advanced until the end. They even operated the Mir and flew the Buran during their dissolution.
While the USSR may have not been a champion of work ethic, I doubt it collapsed because the Average Ivan was slacking off.
I don't see the point of this post. It assumes that only men can earn money, or that lack of marriage is somehow bad for society. Those premises need to be argued for and not just assumed.
Apparently Scandinavian countries didn't get that memo that lack of marriage destroys societies; they are still some of the best places to live on the planet.
The article you linked to contradicts the point you want to make. It explicitly says that lack of marriage is bad for countries that have a sizable underclass, which is most countries.
I want to emphasis that because men have significantly more outliers when it comes to achievement and social outcomes (both positive and negative ) , we should expect such a change in culture to ceteris paribus result in a net decrease in very exceptional achievements. Young men are also responsible for the vast majority of violent crime. We should expect delayed marriage and drop in marriage to push in the direction of more violence as well.
You are being suspiciously simplistic here. Needing to work hard to get a bride is one of the things that most vitally supports a culture of work ethic among men. Very few other things seem to have as big an impact. Most Fields medalists probably didn't work hard primarily because they wanted to attract a wife, though I bet many of them actually did. But the culture of work ethic being normative for men certainly seems vital to supporting their efforts!
Men can attract women with hard work (note not about money per se, it can be status)
The above is one of the strongest factors that contributes to a cultural expectation of hard work being normative for men
This has strong impact on the output of high performers
If it wasn't for the ruthless class segregation in the modern West, where people with high genetic potential are quickly identified and sorted by the academic system into subcultures where men attracting mates with hard work still happens things would probably be pretty bad. If you don't think this happens I would direct you to Charles Murray's book Drifting Appart. And even the upper classes are drifting away from this model, this looks to me like a social disaster in the making. Things will overall still get better due to other factors in the medium run, but the opportunity costs are terrible. (<_<)
Note that this is an interesting example of a social problem dilemma as Dalrock emphasizes. Talking about something will make it worse, but unless it is talked about the fundamentals will continue to get worse. It generalizes to other problems I think. The best course of action is to beforehand determine if talking about the social problem is likely to result in change to address it, if not it shouldn't be talked about. Your opinions?
I can't help being reminded of this. (SCNR.)
I'm not seeing a link to the orginal post.
Let me just bring up one historical parallel to put complaints like this ("if we ease up on controlling and punishing some particular group, this will greatly decrease society's productivity") in context. Such rhetoric was very common in the 18th and early 19th century, and its object was the proletariat and poverty. Here's a paper and an article about old-time Malthusian/anti-worker beliefs held by elites.... (read more)