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Ear to the Ground

Sex is Essential, Kids Aren’t

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Posted on Jun 6, 2006

Thirty percent of German women are childless—the highest proportion of any country in the world. And it’s intentional. Why? Because they can be. Free will, baby. A professor of psychology examines what this trend augurs for conservatives who wring their hands at the thought of people enjoying sex outside the context of procreation.


L.A. Times:

THE GERMAN PUBLIC was recently shocked to learn that 30% of “their” women are childless ? the highest proportion of any country in the world. And this is not a result of infertility; it’s intentional childlessness.

Demographers are intrigued. German nationalists, aghast. Religious fundamentalists, distressed at the indication that large numbers of women are using birth control.

And evolutionary biologists (including me) are asked, “How can this be?” If reproduction is perhaps the fundamental imperative of natural selection, of our genetic heritage, isn’t it curious ? indeed, counterintuitive ? that people choose, and in such large numbers, to refrain from participating in life’s most pressing event?

The answer is that intentional childlessness is indeed curious ? but in no way surprising. It is also illuminating, because it sheds light on what is perhaps the most notable hallmark of the human species: the ability to say no ? not just to a bad idea, an illegal order or a wayward pet but to our own genes.

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By Ga, June 7, 2006 at 9:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Human beings are moving beyond evolution. Perhaps a better term would be we are getting around evolution.

We have been for a long time keeping people alive and well and breeding through medicine and technology that would otherwise not survived through “natural selection.” Blindness, deafness, diabetes, etc., so many aspects of health that would limit a human’s growth and long life no longer are limitations.

Now we have in the 21st Century entered the realm of genetic engineering.

Humans have gone way beyond any “fundamental imperative of natural selection” to procreate to continue our species. We are the top species and are no longer competing with any other.*

Indeed, we human beings still have not faced the facts of overpopulating in certain areas in excess of successful management of natural resources.


* but ourselves.

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By Lynchmom, June 7, 2006 at 6:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems to me there is another reason for not having children besides the personal.  If we are to follow the wisdom of the animal kingdom, we would increase our productivity when the species is in decline and decrease it in times of overpopulation.  There are simply too many people in the world.  Chosing to not contribute to this problem seems in the best interest of our genetic future, not the opposite.

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