Sunday, December 12, 2021

The ugly dance between female infanticide and avoiding population overshoot

Strategies that soften population over-shoot also soften the resulting, catastrophic population crash that inevitably follows.

Professor Marvin Harris makes the case that many cultures developed strategies to soften population overshoot.

That is a simple, dry, factual sentence.

In point-of-fact, until very recently (the blink-of-an-eye in historical terms) the only way to "soften population overshoot" was to reduce the number of fertile women. That was usually achieved by creating conditions that made it economical advantageous to kill baby girls.

The dowry system in the Indian sub-continent is sufficient to drive a rural family into pauperdom if they have more than one girl survive. In some cases, even one girl is enough to drive a family into grinding poverty.

The cultural system in China results in the family of the son gaining his wife and her future labor. The family who sank resources into raising the daughter get nothing, not even the continuance of their "name".

In both countries, the mortality rate of baby girls is much higher than the mortality rate of boys. Accidents happen. They happen much more frequently to girls.

Both regions evolved unique cultural strategies that blunted human fertility and softened the consequences of population overshoot.

Extreme modesty as a method to eliminate fertile women

Religion falls into the category of "cultural adaptation".

Islam is THE most prevalent religion in dry, brittle environments. Dry, brittle environments are particularly vulnerable to population overshoot. A few decades of reliable rains or new lands irrigated with slightly saline water result in favorable conditions. The rains diminish or the salt build-up makes the land barren and suddenly the population is far above the land's carrying capacity.

Traditional Muslim women always wear clothing that completely covers their body when out in public. One name for that clothing is a "burka".

Extremely affluent Muslim families have a court-yard in their family compound where the extended family's women are not required to wear their burka.

Extremely poor Muslim women in rural areas are essentially invisible and they, too can get away with occasionally not wearing their burka.

The vast majority of the women in between those economic extremes have almost no opportunity to NOT wear their burkas while outside.

There is a modest amount of research that supports the contention that women who wear burkas have very low blood serum levels of Vitamin D and are MUCH more susceptible to preeclampsia (often fatal) and low-birthweight-babies.

It seems highly unlikely that killing off young, fertile women was the intension of Islam's draconian demand for female modesty. However, the practical consequence of that demand resulted in a competitive advantage for Islam in brittle, dry-land areas over the millennia vis-a-vis the damping of population overshoot.

African-Americans and Vitamin D

It is probably inevitable that some segments of the population will automatically jump to the conclusion that the higher African-American maternal mortality is solely due to "racism".

That claim is suspect given that preeclampsia is one of the high-runners among pregnant African-American women and that African-Americans, in general, exhibit lower Vitamin D levels than White women.

The reasons for the lower Vitamin D levels are many.

  • The higher level of pigment in their skin results in less UV light penetrating deeply enough to convert proto-Vitamin D into actual Vitamin D.
  • Higher rates of lactose intolerance result in more African-Americans avoiding liquid milk, the primary source of food-supplemented Vitamin D
  • There is a cultural bias among African-Americans that rate lighter-skinned African-Americans as more attractive. Consequently, many African-American women avoid the sun so they are less tanned and more pale.
  • Many urban African-Americans consider being outdoors as being dangerous. 
  • A higher percentage of African-American women (53%) are overweight compared to White women (33%). Vitamin D is fat soluble. The Vitamin D content of prenatal vitamins may be insufficient to service both the amount "sunk" into adipose tissue and still raise blood serum levels to be therapeutically beneficial levels.


  1. auep

    As I said.

    The lower Vitamin D also likely accounts for most of the disadvantage African-ancestered people have when it comes to Covid and other diseases as well.

    1. But healthcare providers dare not say "Look, as a Black woman lugging around more than 60 pounds of body-fat, you need to take four-times as much Vitamin D as a white person."

      Just isn't going to happen.

  2. With Muslim women, and in other areas also, restrictions mean less healthcare, lower life expectancy, and lower fertility as well, further restricting population growth.

  3. This is the same reason that areas with a large deer population have more tags available for does than bucks.
    Taking a doe out of the herd reduces population growth more than a buck.

  4. It takes a woman 9 months to make a baby, no matter how many men you put on the job.


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.