19 March 2013

Stop Having So Many Kids

Among my favorite authors is Paul Theroux, but only his travel stuff; not so much his fiction. C-SPAN2/BookTV cover many, if not all, book festivals, generally live (thence repeated). Within the last year or so, he appeared at one such festival, blurbing a book I suppose; I don't recall because the most important thing he had to say, in response to a question from the audience, was: "stop having so many kids!". It might even have been, "damn many".

It is an article of faith, and data, among economists that as a group/society/country moves up the development pyramid, breeding recedes. The typical explanation, based on US experience at least, is that as farming transitioned from subsistence farming to commercial family plots to industrial farming on mega-acreage, fewer kids were needed to provide both child and, later, adult labor. One might also note that the migration from farm to city reduced the *need* for kids; modulo welfare gaming, if you believe in the existence of such. I don't, but that's another episode.

An R builder, Markus Gesmann, has been working googleVis for some time now, and has just released another version. googleVis is an R package that enables motion charts with Google Chart Tools from R in the browser. A link to googleVis proper is in the posting.

If you toddle off to his blog, you'll see his demo. As it happens, the data he uses is fertility and life expectancy (the latter a common surrogate for development). QED.

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