The dividing population

Keith Hudson

What is going on in the larger advanced countries — and which is much more powerful than Steve Hilton’s wise words of the preceding post — is a dividing population.  This itself isn’t new. There has always been a “them” and “us” . . . situation in human society (or, rather, since the dawn of civilization and cities).  Aristocrats and serfs.  The governors and the governed.  Capitalists and workers. Where a minority of the population have most of the wealth and power and the remainder have almost none.

The enormous difference between former times and today, however, is that in countries such as the US, UK, Germany, France, etc. the superior part of the population is not a small, or very small (microscopically small in very ancient times) minority, but a sizeable minority — a minority that is quite large enough to breed within itself without genetic deterioration — but indeed to concentrate its beneficial genes (such as those for intelligence) — and thereby able to become even more distinct from the masses from generation to generation.

In the case of the UK, where the phenomenon first occurred during the industrial revolution take-off at almost precisely 1780 and has knitted together even more intimately since, presently involves about 15% of the population. It has expanded from about 5% of the population at around 1900 and may, in fact, grow a little moe to, say 20% or even 25%, in the coming few decades, but it still remains a self-breeding minority of the total UK population.

A term that explains all this and is hardly known to the wider world at present is sympatry. the word itself being a compound of Latin and Greek for “same” and “fatherland”.  But the term has a wider meaning.  It refers to a situation in which a species, living in largely the same environment, region or, these days, nation-state, nevertheless gradually teases itself into two parts.

In this country, for example, we have a situation in which there is a clear income, health, educational and cultural divide beween about 15% of the population and the rest.  We only need to consider brief examples of these features.  On a graph of family incomes, they rise from the poorest families in a steady, straight line through all the middle and then higher social classes through to families at about 15% away from the highest paid.  From that 85% point onwards family incomes start rising up smoothly, but increasingly steeply in a curve which ends with skyscraper incomes of those at the highest social levels.

Healthwise, it is well known that the highest social classes are heavier (but not obese!), taller, and healthier, and also live longer — 15 to 20 years longer –than the poorest people in the country.  Educationally, the core of the top 15% of the population — half of them — will have had a far superior private school education (of about a score or so schools in the country out of several thousand) than the bulk of the population in state schools (of which only about a score or so anywhere reach the quality hinterland of the previously-mentioned private schools)  School-leavers of the privately-deducated upper group enter Oxford and Cambridge Universities at something like 20 times the rate of the young sons and daughters of the hoi polloi, even those who are equally bright.

Culturally, the difference between the top 15% and the majority of the population is harder to define accurately but they’re clear enough to observers when considiring the goods and houses they buy, the way they dress, talk and hold themslves confidently when in social situations which intimidate most of the population. They raise their children differently, read distinctly “quality” newspapers and attend different artistic events.  They have wide social networks, immensely wider than those of most people, and have little trouble founding new enterprises or worthy causes when they want to.

All of the Sunday Times Rich List, has all our senior judges, senior army officers, top departmental civil servants (and their deputies), senior diplomats, top university chancellors, heads of public bodies and quangos of the top 15%.  As are appreciable proportions of our business leaders, senior bankers, newspaper columnists, MPs, BBC executives, cabinet ministers (and shadow cabinet minisers, too)

All this is grist to the mill of older-fashioned, class-conscious sociologists and politicians — and certainly to trade union leaders of lesser intelligence and even less knowledge of history — but it’s actually much more significant than that.  There’s little or no social mixing between the top 15% and the rest.  A recent large-scale survey of people born beweeen the late 1940s and the early 1980s by Prof Erzsebet Bukodi, [publsihed last year, shows that, over the whole of the country’s population, socal mobility is approaching zero — few people make the transition from the majority segment to the 15%.

The reason is that most of the young people of the 15% over-class meet one another at the choice universities and fall in love there.  Considering also that most young women choose partners from within their social and cultural class — and upwards rather then downwards — and the lack of social movement between the two populations then the total population is now becoming two separate in-breeding groups.  As the minor sub-population is plenty large enough to avoid any deletrious effects of in-breeding then we have the beginning of two potential ethnic groups growing apart from each other.

This, to return to our new word, is a classic case of sympatry — which biologists know all abut and which has occurred many times in mankind’s past. And, as social mobility has been decling for the last 50 years, and probably for the last 100, then unless something miraculous happens then these two populations will steadily deepen their respective cultures with the chance of even less breeding between them

The sympatric separation that is going on is something that doesn’t surprise biologists or those who study the DNA of past hominem species and sub species. Our present sympatric populations are not reaching yet anywhere near being sub-species yet,  but they’re certainly going in the direction whch all sub-species take.

The deciding factor that expedites the process of separation are differential fertility rates  If one part of the population is breeding below the replacement rate of 2 children per woman, and other is above it then the ultimate extinction of one part of the population is certain.  At present the fertility rate of the major sub-population is around 1.6 cbildren per woman and is still declining.  As for the upper 15% of the population, evidence from IVF clinics in this countrhy and, in America, actual ferrtility rates (for which we don’t yet have the official data in this country), suggests that they are reversing the country-wide trends of the last century and are now moving towards the replacement rate by havng sufficiently-sized families again.

We are probably going to hear more of the biological fact of sympatry in the coming years, so it would be a good idea to be prepared now for the political ructions that will ensue — even though the lack of sufficient numbers of good schools and good teachers to go with them will prevent politicians being able to do anything about it, except make sure that the areas in which the 15% live are adequately police-forced.

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