How much blame for the low fertility of developed nations can be placed on the disappearance of the geographically convenient extended family? In all the debates about below-replacement TFR I’ve read, this angle is criminally under-explored.
Maybe it’s not just high housing costs (read: high diversity costs) that are the culprit of low TFR; maybe a primary driver of reduced family size and childlessness is the expense of out-sourcing extended family care to unrelated third parties (corporations, daycare, nannies, etc).
If grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins significantly contribute to easing the financial and emotional costs of having children, then their geographic dispersal and separation from any family connections would have a big impact on the willingness of young couples to take on child-rearing.
Globalism and its consequences (free movement of labor, job insecurity, fleeing from diversity) provides incentives to spread out geographically and away from the family “home base”. A low TFR decreases the number of extended family members with each generation, until even extended families that remain local don’t have enough members to assist young parents with the quasi-communal child-rearing.
The Abridged Family
C. Wright Mills can help us to understand why this has happened. Emphases mine:
On the one hand, those who share this feeling about big historical events assume that there is an elite and that its power is great. On the other hand, those who listen carefully to the reports of men apparently involved in the great decisions often do not believe that there is an elite whose powers are of decisive consequence.
Both views must be taken into account, but neither is adequate. The way to understand the power of the American elite lies neither solely in recognizing the historic scale of events nor in accepting the personal awareness reported by men of apparent decision. Behind such men and behind the events of history, linking the two, are the major institutions of modern society. These hierarchies of state and corporation and army constitute the means of power; as such they are now of a consequence not before equaled in human history—and at their summits, there are now those command posts of modern society which offer us the sociological key to an understanding of the role of the higher circles in America.
Within American society, major national power now resides in the economic, the political, and the military domains. Other institutions seem off to the side of modern history, and, on occasion, duly subordinated to these. No family is as directly powerful in national affairs as any major corporation; no church is as directly powerful in the external biographies of young men in America today as the military establishment; no college is as powerful in the shaping of momentous events as the National Security Council.
Mills, C. Wright. The Power Elite (p. 5-7). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
This needs to be slightly updated, but the principle holds. I hope you will forgive Mills for having written this in 1959.
Religious, educational, and family institutions are not autonomous centers of national power; on the contrary, these decentralized areas are increasingly shaped by the big three, in which developments of decisive and immediate consequence now occur.
Families and churches and schools adapt to modern life; governments and armies and corporations shape it; and, as they do so, they turn these lesser institutions into means for their ends. Religious institutions provide chaplains to the armed forces where they are used as a means of increasing the effectiveness of its morale to kill. Schools select and train men for their jobs in corporations and their specialized tasks in the armed forces. The extended family has, of course, long been broken up by the industrial revolution, and now the son and the father are removed from the family, by compulsion if need be, whenever the army of the state sends out the call. And the symbols of all these lesser institutions are used to legitimate the power and the decisions of the big three.
The life-fate of the modern individual depends not only upon the family into which he was born or which he enters by marriage, but increasingly upon the corporation in which he spends the most alert hours of his best years; not only upon the school where he is educated as a child and adolescent, but also upon the state which touches him throughout his life; not only upon the church in which on occasion he hears the word of God, but also upon the army in which he is disciplined. If the centralized state could not rely upon the inculcation of nationalist loyalties in public and private schools, its leaders would promptly seek to modify the decentralized educational system. If the bankruptcy rate among the top five hundred corporations were as high as the general divorce rate among the thirty-seven million married couples, there would be economic catastrophe on an international scale. If members of armies gave to them no more of their lives than do believers to the churches to which they belong, there would be a military crisis.
Humans can be very adaptive, but it’s not always a good thing.