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Die Young, Live Fast: The Evolution Of An Underclass

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Good article on how poor people plan for (or panic about) their reproduction.

I'm dubious on the evolutionary theory, but the article reinforces some of my views (sex education - people are only that stupid in academics' grant applications), challenges others (I reckon universal health care is too expensive).

Most interesting dilemma, which I guess the good guys in the labour movement struggle with, is whether state benefits can replace productive work for this purpose - maybe resolved by the fact the UK has higher teen pregnancy rates than contintental countries with fewer and lesser state benefits for single mums.

Most of the research cited is from the UK. Well worth a read. Interested to hear other views.

FROM feckless fathers and teenaged mothers to so-called feral kids, the media seems to take a voyeuristic pleasure in documenting the lives of the “underclass”. Whether they are inclined to condemn or sympathise, commentators regularly ask how society got to be this way. There is seldom agreement, but one explanation you are unlikely to hear is that this kind of “delinquent” behaviour is a sensible response to the circumstances of a life constrained by poverty. Yet that is exactly what some evolutionary biologists are now proposing.

...

The bottom line, if young people are to avoid being channelled into a fast reproductive strategy with the disadvantages that this entails, is that they should have the chance to develop a longer view – through better availability of jobs and health support. They need reasons to believe they have a stake in the future.

http://gravesen.info/2010/07/die-young-live-fast-the-evolution-of-an-underclass/

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Bit weird this. I think the issue could be skewed by post-war welfare state support.

Reason I say this: I've been doing some research on 19th century working class households (migration, employment, living conditions, where children end up, how many couples marry in church, mortality rates, life expectancy etc) and one thing comes up again and again.

In the mid 19th century, working class women in industrial areas tend to die fairly young (if not in child birth, then in their 40s/50s), but they have children really late. It is very common for a woman to have her first child in her late 20s or early 30s (which puts the whole "modern career women delaying motherhood" debate into a very different perspective), and this trend tends to go back to the late 18th century. It only stops around the turn of the 20th century where working class women on average suddenly start having children in their early to mid 20s.

This phenomenon of working class women marrying and having families late, despite having short life expectancy, during the 19th century is pretty well documented in academic research in this area. It was often down to the fact that working class men had to work and save throughout their twenties in order to afford to marry, rent a property and start a family.

So I would suggest the issue here is economic, rather than evolutionary.

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The missing element from your comment is perverse incentives: "get pregnant to get housed". Look both at what you penalise and what you reward. I hope IDS & Co will do just that.

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The missing element from your comment is perverse incentives: "get pregnant to get housed". Look both at what you penalise and what you reward. I hope IDS & Co will do just that.

I don't think it will make any difference actually. The real perverse incentive is still there which is about being something and having something to do in life. The economic argument masks this, but basically I expect young women will no other options for the future will continue to pump out sprogs. A mother is something to be, its a role, its a job, it gives you some sort of standing in society, some women expect it will give their lives meaning. This why education and prospects delay motherhood, it only looks like its to do with money but it has more to do with identity and so on.Re; Dissident Junk; our society has also atomised since the 18th and 19th centuries, people knew who they were, knew what they were about, they went to church, lived with extended family and so on. Work, at least in identity terms, was more meaningful. Its one thing to work at the local factory if everyone else you know does, its quite another to stack shelves for a faceless American megacorp. So I don't think it necessarily is economic, it could as easily be social. I guess we'll find out anyway.

Edited by Cogs

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I don't think it will make any difference actually. The real perverse incentive is still there which is about being something and having something to do in life. The economic argument masks this, but basically I expect young women will no other options for the future will continue to pump out sprogs. A mother is something to be, its a role, its a job, it gives you some sort of standing in society, some women expect it will give their lives meaning. This why education and prospects delay motherhood, it only looks like its to do with money but it has more to do with identity and so on.Re; Dissident Junk; our society has also atomised since the 18th and 19th centuries, people knew who they were, knew what they were about, they went to church, lived with extended family and so on. Work, at least in identity terms, was more meaningful. Its one thing to work at the local factory if everyone else you know does, its quite another to stack shelves for a faceless American megacorp. So I don't think it necessarily is economic, it could as easily be social. I guess we'll find out anyway.

I disagree. In the 18th and 19th centuries people knew that (1) they were poor (2) they would always remain poor and (3) if they didn't work, they starved.

In 2010 some people feel that (1) they are poor (2) they will always remain poor and (3) if they have a kid, the government will make sure that they don't starve.

See the difference?

People are not stupid, they just respond to the economic incentives they are given.

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The missing element from your comment is perverse incentives: "get pregnant to get housed". Look both at what you penalise and what you reward. I hope IDS & Co will do just that.

Or as Jimmy Carr says;

Having a child to get a flat?

Why have one child when you could have two and get a house!

But why stop there? Try for triplets and we'll even throw in a hot-tub!

And if you get one with a minor skin disease... we'll even give you a free car!

*game-show music*

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Me and my partner both agree on this subject.

The world is a cruel place, it is going to head to a state where the rich eat and the poor starve even in developed countries. Jobs will go to the wealthy and educated.

Basically the rich/poor gap will become wider and wider.

I care little about myself having a mansion and sportscars. I wish to live a modest life, have a single child, and ensure that my genetics live on with the best chance in this ******ed up world possible. I'm going to work my butt off, leave a large enough portfolio behind, privately educate it and lavish it with everything I could not have, so that when I'm gone and the world is beyond repair - my child will be okay.

I imagine it as being similar to Romero's dawn of the dead - where the rich are gathered up in some massive tower block in central London surrounded by a lake, armed forces etc while the Zombies savage the land below. Yeah, the rich guys are pricks, but I know which life I'd rather leave for my children.

Obviously I know there's a difference between being wealthy enough and being super-rich. I'm thinking by the time it gets to the wealthy starving so that the super-rich can survive - they're smart enough to fight back.

Edited by fadeaway

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Oh good grief, what a load of total cockwash this article is. It reads like something written by an intellectually starstruck

16 year old whos just read his first sociology textbook

Since when did we need to invoke "evolutionary theory" to know that if you're poor life will be more difficult

or that if you're a young and under educated girl with low self esteem then having a baby is a way to feel

some degree of self-worth.

Its idiots like this, writing ponderously tenuous pieces of social observation (from the quiet safety of their middle class

ghetto) that screw up any chance of sensible discussion of the so called underclass....why don't we just try giving them

a decent education and at least the chance of a job when they leave school, I think you'd find that would do wonders...

By all means, print this article off, read it, have a laugh and then use it to wipe your bottom but don't give it any credence.

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Funnily enough I'm not certain at all.

If you read 1984 or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World - it is apparent to me that the people 'outside the system' lead the most carefree lives if a little less in terms of luxury.

Education and a degree of foresight is somewhat of a curse.

Nah it was the proles who had an easy life, they'd work building stuff in factories get drunk have sex children and go home, it was the outer party that suffered, with the inner party the elites of today.

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Me and my partner both agree on this subject.

The world is a cruel place, it is going to head to a state where the rich eat and the poor starve even in developed countries. Jobs will go to the wealthy and educated.

Basically the rich/poor gap will become wider and wider.

I care little about myself having a mansion and sportscars. I wish to live a modest life, have a single child, and ensure that my genetics live on with the best chance in this ******ed up world possible. I'm going to work my butt off, leave a large enough portfolio behind, privately educate it and lavish it with everything I could not have, so that when I'm gone and the world is beyond repair - my child will be okay.

I imagine it as being similar to Romero's dawn of the dead - where the rich are gathered up in some massive tower block in central London surrounded by a lake, armed forces etc while the Zombies savage the land below. Yeah, the rich guys are pricks, but I know which life I'd rather leave for my children.

Obviously I know there's a difference between being wealthy enough and being super-rich. I'm thinking by the time it gets to the wealthy starving so that the super-rich can survive - they're smart enough to fight back.

I think you're maybe spending too much time in places like this...its probably not a great idea to plan you're life based on such a

pessimistic scenario, the world generally has a way of sorting ityelf out for the best (in the medium to long term)...I really don't think

you're kids will be growing up in the kind of post apocalyptic world you imagine (unless you're being tongue in cheek here in which case

I apologise for being thick).

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Funnily enough I'm not certain at all.

If you read 1984 or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World - it is apparent to me that the people 'outside the system' lead the most carefree lives if a little less in terms of luxury.

Education and a degree of foresight is somewhat of a curse.

Nothing new there ... the gypsy and vagabond go back a long way. And will be better-equipped to survive then the TFH brigade when the food system breaks down (for much the same reason high-tech armies have failed to crush the Résistance in Afghanistan).

I like Mozart's Magic Flute as a romantic fairytale story of how both the high/learned and the uncultured can thrive and find happiness. The huge political incorrectness is an extra bonus B)

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Me and my partner both agree on this subject.

The world is a cruel place, it is going to head to a state where the rich eat and the poor starve even in developed countries. Jobs will go to the wealthy and educated.

Basically the rich/poor gap will become wider and wider.

I care little about myself having a mansion and sportscars. I wish to live a modest life, have a single child, and ensure that my genetics live on with the best chance in this ******ed up world possible. I'm going to work my butt off, leave a large enough portfolio behind, privately educate it and lavish it with everything I could not have, so that when I'm gone and the world is beyond repair - my child will be okay.

I imagine it as being similar to Romero's dawn of the dead - where the rich are gathered up in some massive tower block in central London surrounded by a lake, armed forces etc while the Zombies savage the land below. Yeah, the rich guys are pricks, but I know which life I'd rather leave for my children.

Obviously I know there's a difference between being wealthy enough and being super-rich. I'm thinking by the time it gets to the wealthy starving so that the super-rich can survive - they're smart enough to fight back.

Have you ever considered the world may not want or care if you leave your 'genetic line' behind? Bizarre that you think if you work hard your child will be ok when you've gone.

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Nah it was the proles who had an easy life, they'd work building stuff in factories get drunk have sex children and go home, it was the outer party that suffered, with the inner party the elites of today.

I wouldn't say that they had an easy life but they certainly had it better in general than the Outer Party - analagous to the middle class - who were ruthlessly subjugated by the Inner Party who saw them as the #1 threat to their position.

The Proles were more or less left to live in ignorance - kept distracted with a diet of football, trashy mass produced music/entertainment, a national lottery and porn. Additionally, a never ending state of conflict (with the 'Enemy' constantly shifting) kept them afraid and the economy busy. Orwell was amazingly on the ball there.

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I wouldn't say that they had an easy life but they certainly had it better in general than the Outer Party - analagous to the middle class - who were ruthlessly subjugated by the Inner Party who saw them as the #1 threat to their position.

The Proles were more or less left to live in ignorance - kept distracted with a diet of football, trashy mass produced music/entertainment, a national lottery and porn. Additionally, a never ending state of conflict (with the 'Enemy' constantly shifting) kept them afraid and the economy busy. Orwell was amazingly on the ball there.

The fascinating thing about it is that it works. You have to admire the 'system'. Magnificent really, and the proles don't even realise it's happening, even if you tell them it is.

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I disagree. In the 18th and 19th centuries people knew that (1) they were poor (2) they would always remain poor and (3) if they didn't work, they starved.

In 2010 some people feel that (1) they are poor (2) they will always remain poor and (3) if they have a kid, the government will make sure that they don't starve.

See the difference?

People are not stupid, they just respond to the economic incentives they are given.

Except that exactly the same thing happens in countries with no benefits system.

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Education and a degree of foresight is somewhat of a curse.

Wise comment. I do sometimes wonder - have the great unwashed got it right?

They're the ones doing no work but getting paid for it, they're living for free, they've got a small army of offspring and big flatscreen tvs.

Are they laughing at us?

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I disagree.  In the 18th and 19th centuries people knew that (1) they were poor (2) they would always remain poor and (3) if they didn't work, they starved.

In 2010 some people feel that (1) they are poor (2) they will always remain poor and (3) if they have a kid, the government will make sure that they don't starve.

See the difference?

People are not stupid, they just respond to the economic incentives they are given.

Well you are just restating what I already acknowledged, I don't believe this is the most important factor.

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  • 261 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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