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Fertility by non-Hispanic white ethnic group, etc.

Gene Expression
By Razib Khan
Sep 2, 2010 8:14 PMNov 20, 2019 12:29 AM


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In my post on American fertility rates by racial groupMike Keesey asks: 'It’d also be interesting to see what’s going on within “non-Hispanic whites”.' One can explore this question in the GSS. Let's look at ancestry group (e.g., German, French, etc.), religion, belief in God, political ideology, intelligence and education, for non-Hispanic whites. The data is limited to the 2000s, and I also constrained to those age 45 and up. Then I looked at the "CHILDS" variable, which asks the respondent how many children they have. Taking the mean of this value gives us a sense of the rank order in fertility. Note that this is not total fertility rate. That should be clear from the values being well above 2 in most cases. Additionally, I recombined some categories, so that "British" is the amalgamation of English, Scottish and Welsh ancestry. The "Irish" class almost certainly includes both Scotch-Irish (doing the regional and religious breakdown this seems obvious), and the Irish without modifiers. For intelligence I used "WORDSUM". The variables I input into the GSS can be found at the bottom of the post so you can replicate.

I believe much of the difference among white non-Hispanics by ancestry is caused by other variables. In particular, the low values for Italians is probably a function of their disproportionately urban residence patterns in comparison to German Americans. Other white ethnic groups (the sample sizes were smaller for these constraints) with a strong urban bias show the same pattern. To replicate, go to http://sda.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/hsda?harcsda+gss08. Under "Analysis" at the top left select "Comparison of Means." Dependent: CHILDS Row: WORDSUM(r:0-4"Low intelligence";5-7"Average intelligence";8-10"Above average intelligence") DEGREE GOD(r:1-2"Atheist and Agnostic";3"Higher Power";4-6"Believe in God") polviews(r:1-3"Liberal";4"Moderate";5-7"Conservative") RELIG ETHNIC(r:2,11"German";3,10"French";7,9,19,26"Nordic";14"Irish";15"Italian";8,24"British") German = Germany + Austria French = France + French Canadian Nordic = Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland British = Scottish, English and Welsh

Mean # of childrenN









Low intelligence2.45287

Average intelligence2.391153

Above average intelligence2.19709

Highest educational attainment

Less than high school2.93720

High school2.372970

Junior college2.25412



Political ideology




Religious preference




No religion1.78639

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