Friday, February 10, 2012

Poor Family Values Make You Poor

Let's have a look at this assertion.

First, when "poor family values" is said, what is mostly meant is "not being married". And there is undoubtedly a high correlation here; not only in the western world but actually all over the world. The fighters in the Arab spring who risk and often give their lives for whatever they believe in, are predominantly young, unmarried men; and they don't have a job.

The question is really the direction of the causality here, and when I read that poor family values lead to people not marrying and not getting children and not having a job, I just don't think this is the way the causality runs. Ask any young unemployed man whether he would like to have a family and a nice job. He will say 'yes' to both; and he will mean it.

The problem is that you just don't get a lovely wife without a job. Because that's the way human procreation works. When boys look for girls they predominantly look for good looks. Oh, I'll get flamed for this by Spinks and others, I know. But please realize that I am not justifying it. I don't think that this is the morally correct way to act for a man. All I am saying is that this is a large part of the way it is. In fact, good looks are so extremely important for men that even still 2D images can cause men to, well, you know ..

Of course, men also like to have a smart wife who is also a best friend, and not just a sexual object. But if you look at men who have the options (very high social status) you can see that hardly anyone of them is able to stick to one wife. Biology and its evolution determines what men love and this biology is powerful. Very powerful. You just can't decide to fall in love with Misses X. If she becomes old and you have options it's just not possible for many men to still be in love. They often accept strong social and financial repercussions and disappointing their current wife, who they usually deepy care for, to be together with a 'new love'. That's how powerful biology is.

Now, there is a flip side and that is the way women work. Women don't really care all that much about good looks. Sure, partners should look healthy, but otherwise women don't really care. What they do care about is social status. That's why looking like somebody who is very successful can help and looking like a loser is a bad thing. But most importantly you need to have a job - or at least lots of money. The only exception is if you are a spiritual leader. In that case being poor is acceptable.

While men predominantly look for good looks, women predominantly look for high social status. That's why unemployed and even badly educated men can't find a wife! And since the ratio of boys:girls in the western world is roughly 1:1, for every unmarried man, there's also an unmarried woman; usually a highly educated woman with a good job. These two groups will never find together. And it's mostly due to the women. Contrary to what most women believe, a man usually accepts a wife who is more successful rather easily - especially if she looks good. It's not optimal, but it would happen much more often than that a woman would actively marry an uneducated, unemployed man while she is socially successful - this is a very rare exception. And if it happens it's often some kind mother-son relationship. There's love there, too, but they aren't really lovers.

It is said that behind every successful man there is a strong wife. And this is true in the sense that women have a strong desire for their husbands to be successful. They push their husbands because success makes them more attractive for them. Just like a husband wants his wife to stay slim - or at least not become fat - and to use some make-up, a wife wants her husband to stay - or at least become - successful. It allows her to love him more. This is one big problem when working men retire. Usually the wives tell them to 'do something'. And the husbands don't understand why. They argue that they have enough money and that they enjoy doing little or even nothing. Of course, that's completely besides the point. A man who does nothing is not attractive. And there's nothing a woman can do about this, her, sentiment.

Some time ago there was a study that found that married men work harder than unmarried men; they spend more hours at work! Even if they have children! At this point this shouldn't surprise you.

So, after a long wall of text: 99% of the men alive would like a beautiful wife, many children and a nice job. This applies even if they would like to have additional lovers. If these men have no wife then predominantly because they don't have a job, not the other way round.


  1. [i]women predominantly look for high social status[/i]

    I think you mean "resources to guarantee that the family will not starve to death". The two are not necessarily linked (even if often they are).

    BTW I find your analysis very superficial.

    1. No, that's not what I mean. And, yes, I know it sounds superficial - while, in fact, the forces I describe are anything but that.

      They are deeply ingrained in the human psyche and even though they can certainly be beaten if you really want to, if you open your eyes and have a look at the world, that's really not happening very often.

  2. Extremely superficial. I can't even believe you're blaming biology for any given man's lack of loyalty and integrity.

    1. I don't blame anything. And I don't excuse anything. Should men lie to their wifes and fuck young girls?

      This is wrong - it is despicable!

      But it's happening. Those men consciously suffer extreme repercussions if need be and still do it. I am describing why. But the 'why' is not an excuse; it is an explanation.

  3. You make some good points but you missed the basic one. Being married makes you more efficient at surviving. two people splitting the workload is more efficient and adding children can make it even more efficient. If you can hold the unit together it gets even more efficient over time because you have a broader support structure.

    I think the problem is that Poor people get less noticeable gains immediately and tend to ignore the ones the do get so they tend to not get married or undervalue the benefit they are getting from it as the short term benefit for two very poor people is marginal.

    My wife worked in the Higher Education department of a local university and they had some great studies. They all indicated the quickest way to become poor,(for middle class and below) if married with children was to get divorced. Because housing and other expenses immediately increased by a large amount and income did not.

    Short version. Its more efficient to share the load with other people and that's what marriage is.

    Obviously people look for what they think will help them the most in the partnership. If your broke unemployed and ugly you've got very little to bring into the partnership.

    1. If you have little money and don't want to share expenses with friends then getting a divorce is obviously making you have even less money. In so far this is clearly a problem. But I don't think it is the heart of the problem.

      The heart of the problem, in my opinion, is that unemployed men have a very hard time finding a wife - especially a socially successful wife. Consequently many unemployed men are unmarried.

    2. I disagree

      Poor people have less short term reasons to get together. Thus they cooperate(get married)less. Thus they as a group are less successful. Middle class and rich people have more time, resources and knowledge to help them plan ahead. So they seeing the long term benefit cooperate more and are more successful.

      I think being poor,(and therefore more likely to be undereducated and have less resources available)is the root of the matter and being unemployed is just a symptom.

    3. I actually agree. When I said "the problem" I meant the fact that men who have no job tend have a much higher chance of not being married (this is not at all true for women, by the way).

      If you want to discuss poverty and relative poverty in general, I would agree that, especially in the US, being poor is itself quite the hurdle on the way out of poverty.

    4. Ok I guess I misunderstood.

      I'd say women only have the advantage if they are good looking and intelligent enough to take advantage of those said good looks. Otherwise they have the double whammy of all the problems poor men do and they can get pregnant which significantly increases the chance they'll be stuck in poverty.

  4. For those who claim this is superficial you are ignoring a million years of evolution. You can't turn that off just because it is no longer PC.

    Also, your personal exception to this rule doesn't qualify. What Nils has listed out is what evolution has ingrained into us for a million or more years.

    Men have an ingrained desire to spread their seed around. This also is why there is a desire to go beyond marriage. Healty attractive women is a sign that they can have children. Evolution has taught men to look for the capability of women to have children.

    Women ahve been ingrainded through evolution to care for children. They look for a man that can help in this task. First through strength and cunning to feed them. But this has evolved into money and the capability to get money.

    So you might be offended and not like it. But this is evolution at work.

    1. And you are forgetting several thousand of years of culture and social norms, which affect people's behaviour as much as evolution.

    2. Mammals also pooped on the ground for most of those million years, but I never see people say that we have an ingrained desire to poop on the ground now because SCIENCE.

      Evo-psych is bollocks.

    3. I'm certainly not saying that we are slaves to our primitive desires. Humans are absolutely able to overcome them. But I think it is important to understand that this doesn't make our desires go away.

      Look, there are people whose greatest goal in life is becoming president of the United States. But for some reason they still couldn't resist and get divorced twice - after having had relationships first.
      Hell, there were people who actually were president of the United States and had an affair.

      These desires aren't superficial and weak. They are strong - even the most disciplined and hard-working person is - at times - unable to resist. And, by the way, if you have an affair you are genuinely in love ...

      I mean, ask a well educated 35 year old woman who would like to have a family, whether she would take that handsome guy over there who couldn't get a job even though he tried so very hard the last five years. Even this disciplined woman will not be able to overcome her desires: She will not be able to fall in love.

      If you want to have a bit of fun, go to a night club, talk to the girls. Then, at some point when you think that one of them really likes you, tell her that you are unemployed for five years now but, of course, are still trying so very hard to get a job. You'll never forget the look in her eyes. ;)

    4. "I mean, ask a well educated 35 year old woman who would like to have a family, whether she would take that handsome guy over there who couldn't get a job even though he tried so very hard the last five years. Even this disciplined woman will not be able to overcome her desires: She will not be able to fall in love."

      Dude. Dude! Seriously??? This woman CANNOT by any possible stretch of the imagination fall in love with the handsome dude? It doesn't matter if he's funny or smart or kind or hasn't found a job for five years because he's been taking care of his sick mother because ladies love the cash, am I right?

      All women are not identical, just like all men are not identical. Some look for financial security, some look for kindness, some look for a sexy smile. Assuming we are all helpless to resist wealthy men who will support our empty wombs is ... weird.

    5. Social norms and laws do stop some of our more primative nature and responses. We generally don't steal or kill each because of social/moral and leagal reasons. But that doesn't mean everyone stops these primative impulses and abides by current social requirements.

      And since sex and reproduction are so vital to the continuation of the species this is even harder to surpress, especially since much of it works at the subconscious level.

    6. I didn't say wealthy, I said high social status. If you are wealthy, but afraid to meet people and rather play WoW in your expensive underground labyrinth, no girl will find you interesting. At best some girls would fake it. But the reason for their interest would be greed, not love.

      As for the sexy smile and stuff. This is superficial. Some girls would take advantage of you and want to sleep with you, just because they like your looks, or the way you smile - and they would make damn sure to not get pregnant ;). Only a tiny minority will marry you for these things.

    7. It doesn't matter if he's funny or smart or kind or hasn't found a job for five years because he's been taking care of his sick mother because ladies love the cash, am I right?

      Just a comment on this. You are creating situations in which this person would still have a high social status even though he is unemployed.

      "He may be unemployed, but everybody laughs about his brilliant jokes. That guy must be smart. He may just have been out of luck. Other people respect him! What do other people know about him that I don't, that they respect him so much even though he is unemployed for so long?"

      "Oh - and he cared for his sick mother? He has principles! Only men with a strong self-confidence would forfeit income to care for their mother. What are the reasons for this confidence? What did he study?"

      Of course, if it turns out that he generally likes to spend lots of time with his mother, or even obeys her, he is actually completely unacceptable as a boyfriend or even a husband. Men need to stand on their own feet and be masters of their own life to be attractive.

      Generally, if you have credible proof that the guy is smart and thus has the potential to gain high social status everything is fine. But I don't want to be the unemployed guy who tries to convince you .. ;)

    8. And since sex and reproduction are so vital to the continuation of the species this is even harder to surpress, especially since much of it works at the subconscious level

      ...which is why first-world countries struggle to keep birth rate at more than 2, right? Actually, some struggle to keep it beyond one.

      As much as I love evolution-based explanations, you must be very careful: it's extremely easy to "explain" anything with an after-the-fact evolution explanation. But unless you take into account all factors, which is very very hard, your explanation is just an example of "everything is obvious (after you know the answer)" (title of an interesting book BTW, if you have the chance get a copy).

    9. I guess evolution couldn't really adapt to contraceptives yet ... If you look at how often people in first-world countries have sex ...

      You are correct that after-the-fact explanations need to be treated carefully. In the case of love and understanding its role in evolution, however, this certainly doesn't mean to treat love as something mystical and unexplainable.

      Of course, we all treat it like that on an individual, personal level; and that's fine. But if you're interested in the objective truth (and not in feeling good when you are together with your partner) you need to dig a bit deeper. This doesn't mean that that's it's not legitimate to ignore the truth every now and then.
      Humans do this all the time. For example, few of us would ignore a hungry child in front of their doorstep, but most of us treat a hungry child 8000 kilometeres away very differently. As if the distance made a moral difference..

      Back on topic, remember all your past lovers - especially the unrequited cases. If you are a man: how many of them were objectively of below-average beauty?

      If you are a woman: How many of them had a low social standing and, in your opinion, would probably not reach a high social standing in the future? Have you never told your girlfriends that your boyfriend is so damn smart?

  5. [i]If she becomes old and you have options it's just not possible for many men to still be in love.[/i]

    "A man is only as faithful as his options" -Chris Rock

    Kidding aside, I do believe that this phenomenon exists in large part. There are women and men that can and do transcend this however. Albeit, this accounts for a very small sample of the entire population. In large part, women will choose mates based on their options, and so will men.

    Its not much different from say, buying a house. If you are a millionaire you aren't going to buy a house in the ghetto. Even if its the nicest house in the ghetto. The house isn't as luxurious, the neighbors are not as affluent etc...

    Its all about what we find valuable. For men it tends to be looks, for women its success and status. I think this will begin to shift drastically in the coming decades, mostly due to women becoming much more successful than they have in the past. More women are going to college in the US than men today and that will change the dynamics tremendously i can only assume.

  6. Its interesting that in america at least Successful women are far more likely to never get married. They tend to start looking for husbands later in life. Less successful men are intimidated by them and more successful men want to marry the younger women. Probably because of the evolutionary imperitive to find the mate that is best able to bear children.

    Plus the double whammy that the men that aren't intimidated are more likely to get married earlier in life taking them out of the pool of prospective mates.

  7. "While men predominantly look for good looks, women predominantly look for high social status."

    Do you have any proof of this? Scientific findings? Documented patterns? Sociological studies? Anything that isn't anecdotal?

    Like, I think your heart is in the right place, but you've made some pretty large claims without a shred of proof. Are you basing this on your own personal experience? On, I dunno, what you see on television? As the saying goes, the plural of anecdote is not data.

    1. I don't have these, Liore. Even though there are certainly scientific papers who support my claims - and those which contradict it.

      A good book on this (and many other things) is probably Steven Pinker's "How the Mind Works". He's a rather respected scientist, I think.

      One of my favourite quotes is from this book:
      "When it comes to a cheating partner, men are upset about affection, because it could lead to sex; women are upset about sex, because it could lead to affection."

      And yes, I have some personal experience, too. Ultimately this isn't a science blog. All I do is tell you my opinion. And then you can decide whether you think that there's something to it, or whether it's non-sense.

    2. There are tons of studies to show this.

      Larry Young of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, whose team found the association between the vasopressin polymorphism and pair bonding in voles (ScienceNOW, 9 June 2005), it shows how a brain system developed early in mammalian evolution has been retained over the millennia and continues to play "a critical role in social relationships in both rodents and man."

      This is just one study. But you can easily do a google search and find dozens of studies that show the evolutionary ties for why men want to spread the sed and why women look for a caregiver type.


      There are some indications it's changing but if you read this article all the way through it points out that the more successful a woman is the higher her expectations so the more likely they are to get divorced. Pretty less successful women are easier to marry and more likely to have a long term marriage.

      Very successful women have more options and higher expectations. I'd argue that's the reason you see very beautiful, successful women complaining they cant find enough eligible men. It's because their standards are on a sliding scale that gets harder to meet the more successful they are.

  8. I'm not so sure this all is as applicable anymore. As a relatively young person, given the increase in secularization, the increase in divorce, the ever-changing hookups, to me it seems people have greatly lost a value in the idea of marriage and committing to just one person forever.

    A lot of people don't plan on getting married, or if they do they're likely not in a rush and don't see it as the end of the road by any means. A lot of people are content with perpetual dating, and even many mothers are raising kids with a 'boyfriend', who could change at any time, and not a 'husband'. People are much more individual and much less reserved.

    You're also assuming that every man is actively pursuing a wife or actually wants a wife. I have a feeling some of the most successful people are the ones who don't bother with any of that, at least until later, but even then, their work and success was never in service to this end.

    1. I would agree that this sentiment exists and grows, Gilded. But I don't think it prevails in the 'less advantaged' parts of society.

      It rather seems to be prominent among people who don't really worry all that much about their future.

  9. When this kind of thing gets discussed a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that "conscious" choices are involved: People don't consciously choose to maximise their reproductive fitness, otherwise contraception would be very unpopular. All that's needed for a man (or woman) to be unfaithful is that when/if an opportunity arises, the desire for sex outweighs the guilt of being unfaithful (which no doubt varies with the possibility of being caught).The factors that contribute to desire and guilt are probably a mixture of genetic predisposition and environmental (cultural) influences and their balance would have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, in environments that are totally different to those that exist today. So it's a combination of factors as they expressed themselves in the primitive environments in which we evolved, combined with the cultural feedback that existed then, that would have been subject to evolutionary selection - there's no one gene for having more babies! And note that you can't clearly separate cultural and genetic influence, because culture is part of the context in which genes evolve.

  10. 1)

    I agree with roqoco that the key distinction is between conscious and unconscious choices.
    If you ask most people if they want to be 'happy' (define as you wish), they will say yes.

    Yet you will note that people repeatedly make decisions which stand counter to your long-term happiness.
    Infidelity is a classic case of this, but you could also refer to eating chocolate.


    Status doesn't always mean money.
    In high school, the sports jock or the talent young musician have high status and get the girl, regardless of their wealth. In adult life, fame is more important than looks, money or your ability to financially or emotionally provide for a potential family.


    Good Family Values Also Make You Poor

    According to UK insurer LV=, the cost of raising a child to their 21st birthday is now 218k GBP.

  11. Bernard is correct that it's better for your financial well being to not have kids. Of course we are all wired to reproduce so that means in a married couple you have to fight genetic programming twice.

  12. Also the flip side to that is a properly built family unit provides you with support when you are old and unable to provide for yourself. There is some evidence to suggest this is why modern man was so successful. Well built family units provide a foundation for easier success because you have more resources available when you need them.

    1. > There is some evidence to suggest this is why
      > modern man was so successful.

      It is irrelevant if you starve to death or not after you've finished reproducing. At least from evolutions point of view.

    2. Well, you should at least be old enough to raise your offspring and educate it. ;)

    3. Sure. :) But that's not what sam said.

      > Also the flip side to that is a properly built
      > family unit provides you with support when you
      > are old and unable to provide for yourself.

  13. I said a "properly built family unit". I.E. You with resources have children raise them, help them find a job they have grandchildren and do the same and then you have extended resources to help you out......

    I' a little confused as to how you got to starve yourself reproducing from a thought that started as "properly built".