Skip to comments.Endangered Species: The Coming Crisis of Underpopulation (Including Moslem Iran)
Posted on 11/09/2001 7:56:47 PM PST by gusopol3
Endangered Species: The Coming Crisis of Underpopulation. By Tom Bethell .
Ben Wattenberg is an optimist by nature. For years he corrected gloomy conservatives who thought they were losing the war of ideas. Capitalism was winning , he said, and the Cold War would soon be won. The title of a book he published in 1984 gives the flavor: The Good News is That the Bad News is Wrong. He has been proved right far more often than not. Although he is not a professional demographer, the study of population has long been one of his interests and in 1987 he wrote The Birth Dearth-"A speculation and a provocation," he called it. It was based on the remarkable facts of demography that were already available by the mid-1980's. All the predictions of the "Population explosionists"were not only turning out to be wrong, they were if anything the opposite of the truth.
For this he was called an alarmist-the wrong kind of alarmist; for the field of demography has long been overpopulated with alarmists. Demographer Michael Teitelbaum called the book "Seriously exaggerated. " but as we shall see, the fertility declines that were apparent by the 1980's had only begun their fall. Steven Sindig, an establishment demographer at Columbia University, formerly with the Rockefeller Foundation, confirmed recently that the world is indeed turning out much as Wattenberg said it would. The downward trend of the 1980's has continued since then. The birth dearth is upon us. Its consequences cannot easily be foreseen, but they are likely to be less benign than the environmentalists have led us to believe.
Disappointed by the failure of the New Soviet Man and other fantasies, the Western intelligentsia have substituted for their lost faith in progress a cosmic pessimism. Having failed to become Superman, humans are denigrated as pollution sources. The anti-human propaganda of the environmentalists has become so fervent that we need to be reminded of an elementary truth: people are good. Without "Human capital," there would be no wealth. Where people are sparse, countries are usually impoverished. Youth itself is a talent, as a longshoreman and philosopher Eric Hoffer said, and in the years ahead, as young people in Western societies become scarce relative to their elders, it seems likely that innovation will diminish. Intergenerational resentment may rise.
Amazingly, the turning point that now confronts the Western world has received a very little attention. Few analysts other than Wattenberg, and his colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, Nicholas Eberstadt, have publicly drawn attention to it. But Wattenberg told me recently: "I think it may be the major turning point in the history of the species. " In a newspaper column on the latest population figures from the United Nations population division (the source of almost all the figures in this article), he wrote that Europe by the year 2050 will be a "Senior theme Park of castles and cuisine, pretending to be a continent. " When I read that sentence, I decided to go and see him.
He is 68 now, and he has a daughter who was born when he was 50. He is the moderator of "Think tank," seen weekly on PBS, and an author and columnist. He has been a senior fellow for over 20 years at AEI in Washington D.C.. When I saw him his spectacles were in their customary place-propped up on his bald forehead. On the walls of his office were mementos of his earlier career as a speechwriter and assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Senator Hubert H. Humphrey. He still calls himself a Democrat-another provocation.
I said that he had found a subject that surely challenged his customary optimism.
"I am still an optimist," he said. "But it is not an optimistic theme. Not for the Europeans, not for the Japanese. Insofar as there will be gains from it, and I am not sure there will be any, the United States will become relatively more powerful and influential. " For many other countries, he said the problems are going to be "Slow-motion brutal. " Fertility rates are now below replacement in every European country, with the exception of Albania, and this has persisted for long enough that within the last two years the overall population of Europe has started to decline in absolute numbers. That will accelerate dramatically in the years ahead.
Wattenberg leafed through a document on his desk. Every two years, the U.N. puts out a volume called World Population Prospects. The summary of its 2000 revision had just been released, and he had been pondering what he called "These incredible declines in fertility. " The news is that fertility rates have declined worldwide, just not in Europe. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 83 countries and territories, encompassing about 44 percent of the world's population, are now experiencing below replacement fertility. Nine of the 16 largest developing countries have fertility rates lower than that of the United States in 1965.
The key number that demographers watch is the total fertility rate. A couple must have two children to replace themselves. But as a some die before reaching child-bearing age, additional children are needed to replace them. Also, slightly more boys than girls are born all over the world( noone knows why). Therefore, each couple must on the average have slightly more than two children if a population is to remain stable. In the western world today, the average fertility level that yields a steady state population is considered to be 2. 1 children per woman per lifetime. In less developed countries, where infant mortality is higher, the required fertility rate is higher. (infant mortality ranges from about 252 per 1000 births in Afghanistan and Mali, to six in Scandinavia. ) In underdeveloped world today, 2.4 children per woman may be close to the replacement rate.
"When I wrote the birth dearth, only 15 years ago, the average European fertility rate was about 1.7," Wattenberg said. "Now it is about 1.4. Remember 1.7 was already 20% below replacement. Go to the international conferences, and listen to some of the demographers. The word they keep coming up with is "Unsustainable. " That was what Antonio Golini, a demographer at the University of Rome, told Wattenberg . In Italy, the average fertility rate has declined to an amazing 1.2. "In 1964 we had 1 million live births in Italy, while today we have just a bit more than 500,000," said Golini. "We are seriously wondering if fertility is sufficient to sustain the Italian system from the social and economic viewpoint," Golini said. "There is real concern that it simply isn't. "
"I tried to think of ways to express this," Wattenberg said. "If you were on the Washington Post News desk and you had a story whose headline would appropriately be "No More Babies," where would you put it? But that is what's happening, only in slow-motion. Or perhaps not so slow.
Nicholas Eberstadt, 45, has an office down the hall from Morton Berger. I went to see him a few days later. He, too, frequently writes on demographic trends. Since 1999, he has held the Henry Wendt chair in Political economy at the American Enterprise Institute, which he joined in 1985. He is also a visiting fellow with the Harvard Center for population and Development Studies. I began by asking him if there was any historical precedent for the population declines that confront us. "No, not at all," he said immediately. "Voluntary sub replacement fertility? Not at all. " populations have declined before. "But it has always been catastrophic "War or failure of harvest. " In the 1930's fertility rates fell below replacement. In Vienna, for example fertility was remarkably low, Eberstadt said. Perhaps as many as a dozen countries for a few years experienced below replacement fertility rates at that time.
Nothing like the population explosion ever happened before either, Eberstadt added. "We had more than a doubling of human life span in the course of the 20th-century. Average life span for the entire world is now are around 65 years. The best guesses are that in the year 1900 it would have been around 30. " What we have seen over the past two centuries he said "Is the gradual spread of voluntary reduction in family size through deliberate family limitation. With more and more parents across the world, we're seeing a regularized, systematic preference for reduced family size. " A noteworthy exception is China, where a one child policy has been pursued coercively for the past 20 years.
Among industrialized countries, the U.S. has been a partial exception to the steady downward trend of fertility. In the 1970's it moved rapidly below replacement, then recovered somewhat. "There was a big shift in timing of children," Eberstadt said. "Parents were choosing to have children at older ages. Now we're back up to a total fertility rate of just over 2.0. " Another reason for the recent revival is that first generation Mexican-Americans tend to have more children than Anglos. In Mexico itself meanwhile, the fertility rate has plunged. It is one of the many countries were birth rates have fallen more rapidly than the poverty rate. With a population of 100 million, Mexico may actually be at the replacement fertility right now.
Ever since the time of the Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus, whose Essay on the Principle of Population was published in 1798, the idea that people are reproducing too rapidly for their own good (or for ours, or the planet's) has been an enduring concern of a gentleman of leisure. Their anxiety seems to rise in proportion to their bank balances. Malthus a comfortably situated parson with a Cambridge degree in mathematics, overwhelmed his disputants with technical sounding arguments about geometrically increasing population and arithmetically growing food supply. He blinded them with science you might say but he was wrong. The food supply more than kept pace but he prospered mightily in the history books, and in the 20th century he attracted endless disciples. The best known is Stanford University doomsayer Paul Ehrlich, who revived Malthusian arguments with his best seller, The Population Bomb. Among his scenarios was one in which 65 million Americans died of starvation 1980's-the age of overweight welfare moms. Yet, hardly year goes by when Ehrlich does not receive another award or prize. Overpopulation remains an imminently fashionable cause. The foundations would hardly know what to do without it. From the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth to Al Gore's Earth in the Balance, the focus of concern may shift from famine to non renewable resources to the earth's supposedly fragile ecology, but the remedy never varies: population control, birth control, and the world-wide distribution of condoms.
The population controllers will tell you that the world population continues to increase. Indeed, the population of the country will continue to rise for number of years after fertility has fallen below replacement. This called momentum. Because the women of child-bearing age were born 30 years earlier, at a time when the age groups were larger, the total population will slowly increase, even though the new child bearing cohort has fewer children. Meanwhile, the population ages. That is the stage many countries are in now. But the older generation dies off eventually, and then, with the next cycle, smaller cohorts have still smaller numbers of offspring. Then the population starts to shrink dramatically.
A decline in births can of course be offset by immigration. But immigration to Europe is low. To Japan, it is nonexistent. The Europeans are beginning to talk about small increases. In Germany, for example 20,000 qualified high tech workers may soon be admitted annually. The UN estimates that net migration from the rest of the world, including refugees to the whole of Europe is less than a million a year. If the inflow continues at that rate, it will not be nearly enough to offset the decline in births. At the moment, the U.S. is the only country where immigration levels are high enough to do so.
Ironically, the Malthusian bogyman of geometric progression will indeed be upon us if present trends continue. But it will be a ratcheting down, not up. "If you take half of a half of a half it starts to go down real fast," Wattenberg said. He added that he does not believe we will end up with no people: the present trend will surely turn around. But when ? That is what nobody knows. One of America's leading demographers, Sam Preston of the University of Pennsylvania, said that if European fertility rates were to return to 2.1 mark, the continent would still lose about 100 million people in the next 50 years. "But it is not going back to 2.1," Wattenberg said. "There is no sign of it. "
If the present fertility rates persist, Europe's population, currently 727 million(including Russia), is expected to decline by 171 million people, or 24%, by 2050. Population is declining now in the following European countries: Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Ukraine. It has either peaked or in a few years will start to decline in: Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Germany, and Greece. Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Switzerland are probably also on the verge of decline.
When I spoke to him one day, Wattenberg pointed out that the U.N. projections of future population have to some extent hid the coming crisis. Its projections-high, medium, and low-are based on different assumptions about future fertility. Inevitably, the "medium variant" seems the most probable. It is presented first in the tables and exclusively in the press releases-and gets all the press attention. But in recent decades, the low variant forecasts have come closer to describing what actually happened. For many countries (wherever fertility rates have fallen below replacement), the medium projection arbitrarily reflates the fertility rate to something closer to replacement, without any factual basis. Even the low variant projections in the developed countries pump up the fertility rates a few decades out. It is hard not to conclude that politics , not science, explains the statistical massaging.
The news media have fallen for this three card trick. In the early release of the UNPD's 2000 revisions, for example, only the medium current projections were included. They showed world population, currently 6.1 billion, growing by 50% to 9.3 billion in 2050. That number is a "Science fiction,"Eberstadt said, because no one knows how many children unborn children will have. But all the news stories were able to give that figure as evidence that world population is climbing as rapidly as ever. The essentially political decision to revive the fertility rates in the years ahead was not mentioned. The U.N. low variant projections show world population peaking in 2040 at about 7.46 billion people.
Brazil, the sixth largest country, illustrates the manipulation of the numbers. "Brazil is hitting replacement now," Wattenberg said. "Its fertility rate is 2.15. But over the past the 35 years that number has dropped from over 6 children per woman. And what do you know? U.N. figures show that 50 years from now their fertility rate is still at 2.1. Because it's a less developed country, and they don't take it below that. " That's the rule they follow. And that is why the medium variant projection shows continued growth in world population. Or take Italy, where fertility is now 1.2. The U.N. medium variant projection restores that number to 1.6 by 2050. But in the maternity wards of Italy, there is no sign of any such restoration. (in the low variant projection, Italy's fertility rate is unchanged, and the country's population drops from today's 57 million to 40 million by 2050. )
Below replacement fertility has been going on for 25 years, Wattenberg added. "No one expected it or thought it would go this deep, or expected it to stay there that long. No one knows how much further it may go. And there is no good theory as to why it might go up again. "
The many organizations dedicated to spreading alarm about population growth shown no sign of acknowledging what is happening. John Baird, formerly the head of the China division of the U.S. Census Bureau, and now retired, is an expert on China's one child policy, and since his retirement he has kept up with the demographic trends. I asked him if population control organizations like the International planned Parenthood Federation express any concern at all about the worldwide trend.
"They don't seem to," He said. "They tend to dismiss it, because the priority attached to their funding is based on the public's sense of alarm over population growth. " Talking instead about the low replacement throws in a very different alarm and one that does not serve their purposes at all. "
Demographers themselves have been backing away from the population crisis idea for several years. "But they are not advertising the fact," Baird said, "Because demography gets a good deal of its funding from the public perception that population is a critical issue. If you downgrade it, there are other critical issues, and the funds will go elsewhere. So you have a basic conflict of interest that affects both humanitarian and professional interests and causes them to behave publicly in ways that are not entirely forthright. "
Today, the Environment (rather than famine) is the overriding rationale for promoting population control abroad, and it is the theme song of all the major population control groups. "The finite resources of the world cannot support an infinite number of people," intones Zero Population Growth. "World population will continue growing," warns Population Action International. "More people means more pollution," says Negative Population Growth, which lives by the rhetoric of crisis. "Rapid population growth continues to be a significant worldwide problem," says the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, despite "The impact of organized family planning programs. " The David and Lucille Packard Foundation believes that "Continued growth of the world's population places unprecedented demands on the earth's resources, and impacts the quality of life for both present and future generations. "
Ted Turner has spoken of mankind as " breeding like a plague of locusts," and his foundation "sees the whole field of environmentalism and population as nothing less than the survival of the human species. " Bill Gates wants to "Expand access" to family planning, while Warren Buffett is another billionaire who favors fewer people. The Population Research Institute's Steven Mosher, who was expelled from China when he drew attention to the country's coercive policy, says of Buffett: "It is hard to understand why a man like him, so blessed with material goods, should take so misanthropic a view of the people with whom he shares the planet, and from whose existence the profits. "
What are the causes and consequences of these remarkable declines in fertility? And can anything be done to reverse them? When I asked Wattenberg if he could assign a cause, his litany told me that there was no easy answer: "Modernism, in its many facets. The move from the farm to city. The education of women. Legal abortion. Better contraception. Television-a big one in my opinion. Modern communications. This situation as much as you can say about any demographic trend, is universal. The one out lier may be sub-Saharan Africa and even there you have the beginnings of dramatic declines. " In answer to the same question, Eberstadt said: "If you can find the shared, underlying determinants of fertility decline in such disparate countries as the United States, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tunisia, then your Nobel Prize is in the mail. "
Trying to find a "A general theory" has proved to be frustrating, Eberstadt said. "One gets back to the tautology: fertility is declining because desired family size is declining. But why is that happening? Long term fertility decline started in France around the time of the Napoleonic wars. But why not in England? If one takes the view that says socioeconomic improvements lead to lower family size why would it have been the France of Victor Hugo rather than the Dickensian England? France was a lot poorer than England, a lot less educated, a lot more rural, a lot less industrial, and of course it was Catholic, which supposedly impedes changes in family size. Yet it was France that came first. "
It's hard to believe that abortion and contraception, not to mention the World wide anti-natalist propaganda, have not played a role. A unified theory of fertility decline could simply be this: propaganda works. The antinatalist campaign of the last 35 years has indeed delivered its barren fruit. But Eberstadt withheld the Nobel. Fertility has dropped to just as fast in Brazil, where there has been no National population control program, as it has in Mexico where there has been a "big, and muscular government program. " On the date that I saw Eberstadt, it was reported in The New York Times that Malta is now the only country in Europe is still prohibits abortion and divorce. He promptly looked it up on a website. Malta's fertility rate is 1.9 and falling.
Likewise, Wattenberg: "Population growth has gone down everywhere, including places with no population programs. Which undermines the U. N argument that if we stop population aid (which I favor) fertility will go up. " But he also said: "I do think that the Ehrlichs of the world have a lot to answer for. I've given speeches and women have come up to me saying that back when they wanted the second or third child but it was unpopular because of Ehrlichism. "
One country were a decline in childbearing occurred with amazing speed is Iran. It is now on the verge of sub replacement. In 1989, the mullahs admitted the family planners and the condom crowd and births duly plunged. Feminists and western journalists were thrilled. "Iran's campaign has won worldwide praise," said Robin Wright in The Los Angeles Times. "From Norplant to condoms, IUD's to the pill, including both male and female sterilization, birth control products are free to all takers. In the process, sex has come off the list of taboo subjects in the Islamic republic. "
"Quite a bit of intellectual gymnastics were needed to explain exactly how an anti-natal family planning program comported with the teachings of the prophet" Eberstadt said. "There are so many arguments that modernization is the driver of fertility change. But you have to have an elastic definition to see the role of imams over the last 22 years as a modernizing forces. Economic growth has been close to zero for this period . "
It is conventional to think of child bearing today in economic terms. It is not how we would have thought about it earlier, but for journalists and analysts in our day is second nature. The idea is that the "Costs of having children" (or the marginal cost of having one more) is high compared to the benefits. There's no way of measuring all these costs and benefits, so the theory is to some extent self-fulfilling. In cases where it doesn't seem to hold-when parents have several children-we simply assert that the overall benefits of children (including the joy they bring to their parents) are high compared to their costs. As no meter can measure subjective things, the underlying theory can never be falsified. So it does have its problems. But it also has its uses. Some costs and benefits-in particular those associated with buying things for children, educating them, working, paying taxes, and receiving benefits from the welfare state-can to some extent be measured in money terms. And when we look at them, particularly those associated with the welfare state, we can see just how much the cost of bearing and raising children has risen over the past 30 to 40 years.
One economic demographer who proposed a theory of fertility decline associated with the rise of the welfare state is Michael Bernstam of the Hoover Institution. Straggle bearded and Russian accented, Bernstam stresses that he quit the field of demography 10 years ago, and today he calls themselves simply a "Thinker " (not normally permitted at think tanks. ) He points out that the great consequence of the welfare state was to "Transfer income from people of childbearing age to older people. " Before that happened, he argues, the U.S. fertility rate had been at replacement level for a long time. Its drop in the early decades of the century accompanied a parallel drop-in child mortality rates, and meanwhile the population kept on expanding as a result of considerable immigration (concentrated in the first two decades of the century).
By the late 1960's, however, the welfare state had been expanded dramatically, and the burden of taxation rose commensurately. That was achieved mostly by stealth, with inflation moving employees into higher tax brackets. The unadjusted dependent child deduction was dramatically reduced by the same subterfuge. Increasingly, women entered the labour force to help alleviate the burden, and not surprisingly the preferred family size felt the same time. Birth control allowed sex to be separate from procreation, and a constitutional right to abortion was conjured out of thin air by a politicized Supreme Court.
The transfer of cash benefits to older people made them increasingly independent of their children, and, by the same token young people foresaw the new system would give them independence when they came to retire. The consequence (unintended) was to remove what has historically been seen as one of the most important " economic " benefits of childbearing: children return the favor by looking after their parents in their old age. Now, the old folks were being looked after by the state, and so an important incentive for having children was removed. Not only were the costs of child bearing increasing, but the benefits were diminishing.
We are all in now beginning to realize that because the system of intergenerational transfers resembles a Ponzi scheme, its long run stability depends on an ever-increasing supply of children who become good taxpayers in turn. The last 25 years of shown that this simply is not happening. The first consequence of the birth dearth, then is that welfare states are in jeopardy everywhere. Paul S. Hewitt project director of the Global Aging Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, testified before Congress last September that global aging has the potential to be "A first rank crisis, one that wipes out the modern welfare state as we know it. " The underlying problem is consistently misrepresented. It is attributed to "The aging of the baby boomers," Wattenberg says. "Wrong. This shortfall is principally driven by the fact that the boomers didn't have enough babies to support them in their old age. "
On this analysis, birth rates will eventually recover if the welfare state collapses. Bernstam believes that with the end of income transfer from young to old, fertility will return to replacement levels. In a roundabout way the welfare analysis is confirmed by examining this question: what would it take to restore Western fertility rates to replacement level? What " benefit " would be high enough to overcome the "Costs" of childbearing? "There is a point, let us say $64,000 a child, where it is going to work," Wattenberg said. Parents would have more children. "That doesn't mean that it's affordable. But it deserves investigation. "
To some degree it has been investigated. In European countries, and in Japan, incentives and bonuses for additional children have been offered. These have had minimal impact, however, showing that the incentives, if they are to work at all, have not to date been strong enough. Eberstadt said that for program to achieve the desired result, the government would have to "devote a large portion of national output to employing women as child bearers instead of office workers. You can appreciate what extraordinarily expensive project that would be. Modern Western women have alternatives to childbearing. You would have to offer them competitive or even superior wages simply to stay at home and have children. " In the years ahead, such a project will become even more expensive. As the working population shrinks, as is already happening in Europe and Japan, r rising wage offers will attract more women into the work force. The cost of getting them to stay home instead, and have more children, will have to exceed those foregone wages. Japan illustrates the problem. "The more Japan worries about labor shortages, the more interest there is an increasing women's participation in the workforce," Eberstadt said. "As their participation increases, you can guess what that does to childbearing. So it's a vicious circle. "
Suppose we have a system where couples with a fourth child would cease to pay taxes, I asked. What effect would that have?
"Some, not much, " Eberstadt said. "The highest fertility population in the U.S. at the moment is probably Mexican-Americans. When talking about a group that currently has over 3 births per woman per lifetime. As a group they are also relatively low-income in the U.S.. So, with the promise of a tax break of a couple hundred dollars a year encourage them to have a number of additional children? Not if they are calculating at all. What about Anglo-Americans? Maybe some impact but I think it would be marginal. "
As to the European experiments, Eberstadt said that Sweden had carried out the most expensive campaign, in the early 1990's. "Family support for each child, a paid bonus, and so on. I think they devoted 5% of GDP to it. The immediate result was a jump in the birth rate, followed by a slump to even lower levels. What happened was that people who had been vaguely thinking about having a child a few years down the road decided, well, let's do it now before the incentives go away. The timing changed, but not the number of children. Now Sweden's fertility rate is lower than ever. The European experience more generally has shown how expensive it would be to get the state into any sort of a successful program. "
Alan Freeman of the Toronto Globe and Mail published a detailed report on family allowances in France and Germany, noting their "Huge cost. " France's welfare state "Will spend a mind-boggling 290 billion francs (about $70 billion) on its family policy this year," he reported in 1999. "That's more than the country's budget on defense. " Family allowance had been in place since the late 1930's in France. Still, fertility in France has remained below replacement. Parents receive $165 a month for the second child, $204 a month for their third child any subsequent child. Parents are also eligible for $2,000 subsidy every quarter for a child under 3, and $1000 for a child from 3 to 6. There are back to school allowances, housing allowances, creches, day care, subsidized rail travel for large families, and so on.
Family allowances in Germany, in place since 1955, are comparable to those in France, or perhaps somewhat smaller. Clearly, they have not been sufficient to revive fertility.
"So the argument is that pronatalism doesn't work," said Weinberg, reviewing the European experience. "Well, it doesn't prove that because you don't know how far would have gone without it. So it's an open question. " In fact, France is one of the few countries in Europe where population is not now dropping. Its family policies may have succeeded in warding off something worse.
Japan where the work force has been shrinking since 1995, has offered childbearing incentives, with little effect. The New York Times reported 18 months ago that a toy making company in Tokyo had offered a $10,000 bonus to employees who have a third child. None of the 950 employees had qualified when the article was written, but the company estimated that "4-5 workers a year" might do so eventually.
The European and Japanese experience has shown that the point at which many couples could be induced to have a third or fourth child is so high that the welfare state would have to be shut down to pay for it. Raising taxes in these countries is not an option. But raising the subsidy high enough to induce significantly more births is also unlikely. Current retirees, and those who expect to retire soon, have the political clout to ensure that benefit levels remain untouched. Only in a climate of crisis will the necessary reforms occur, and the stage of crisis is not yet been reached. For one thing, government officials no doubt realize that saying that there are too few people, soon after the hue and cry about there being too many, would destroy their own credibility.
When I suggested to Nick Eberstadt that a successful pro-natalist policy might spell the end of the welfare state, he said:"You would be talking about sums comparable to what the welfare state absorbs. And as you think through the expense of any sort of serious pronatalist policy, you are led to the alternative of immigration. If you are trying to stabilize the country's work force, it is much easier to import than to produce. "
America's birth dearth is less dramatic than that of other countries because it takes in far more immigrants than any other country (about a million a year). Europe fears immigration from outside the continent -within the European Union there is free migration-while for Japan exclusion of foreigners is a "Religion," as Wattenberg put it. The country deports more people than it naturalizes. With about 126 million people in a country the size of California (population 34 million) Japan has the same population density as India. Only 1.2% of the country is foreign born, compared with over 10 percent for the U.S. in nearly 20 percent for Switzerland.
A rarely noted point is that the welfare state makes its own contribution to xenophobia, and this in turn greatly complicates the task of admitting immigrants. Citizens who may tolerate transfer payments in principle will be less disposed once they perceive that, to qualify for support, a foreigner needs only to his foot across the border. Those who are welcomed when doing manual labor that others shun will be less kindly regarded as they seek to live at the taxpayers' expense. It is striking that race relations in Britain, a country that is regarded as generous with benefits for refugees, and where less than 4% the population is foreign-born, are considerably worse than they are in Switzerland, where the foreignborn percentage is five times higher than it is in Britain. In Switzerland, a severe obstacle course confront all welfare seekers. Foreign nationals must have lived in the country for 10 years without interruption to qualify for "Supplementary benefit," and Social Security goes to citizens only. In some Swiss cantons 30 percent of the workers are foreign born and a nationwide referendum to reduce the numbers was defeated in 2000.
In welfare states, therefore, a rational sense of limits to the states redistributive powers is apt to be construed as racism, particularly by those who adamantly support state "Generosity" to foreigners. The New York Times paid little attention to the birth dearth until recently. When it did, in a recent editorial, it right away perceived the looming threat to Europe's welfare states, which will need "75 million immigrants" if business as usual is to be preserved. So large an influx seems politically unlikely, and the underlying problem was tagged as one of "Racism and xenophobia"-categories much more comforting to to the New York Times than a strange notion of welfare states devouring their own children. The truth is that welfare states don't just undermine fertility; they stymie its most obvious remedy-immigration.
Europe's fate in the next decade will be interesting to watch, for the crisis will certainly arrive in that period. Problems will be equally severe in Japan. We are beginning to see analyses of "Global aging" from investment houses. Goldman Sachs report earlier in the year ("Global aging: capital market implications"), took a relatively benign view, foreseeing that "Global aging should have a positive effect on the capital markets between 2001 and 2010 as baby boomers and governments focus on saving for retirement. " Flows into financial assets of the eight leading industrial countries "Should grow from $65 trillion to $144 trillion by the end of the year 2010. " Thereafter, a decline in economic growth and equity returns is foreseen. But the assumptions underlying the Goldman Sachs report are murky, and cause it to posit too optimistically steady state productivity and labor-participation rates.
Other analyses are less optimistic. The decline of human capital in the aging of population can not augur well for economies that depend on creativity for their advancement. In congressional testimony last year, C.S.I.S.'s Paul Hewitt pointed out that in the next 25 years, the elderly populations in the industrialized world will rise by 120 million people, while those of working age (all of them in the U.S.) will rise by just 5 million. He foresaw that within two decades much of the industrial world could find itself in a "Aging recession. " It would be marked,Hewitt said, by: declining asset values, falling levels of consumption, spikes in precautionary saving by aging workers, falling growth rates and hence tax revenues, chronic budget deficits, declining returns to investment, capital outflows, and currency crises. If this sounds familiar, it should. Japan, in my opinion, it already is in in aging recession. Its population has leveled off and soon will decline. Consumer spending has fallen for 29 straight months. The property values have collapsed. The retail and construction sectors are on deficit financed life support. In its flagging currency, the Euro, Europe, too is beginning to exhibit the symptoms of decline. Capital is fleeing the continent at an unprecedented rate. Despite today's favorable exchange rate and the supposed overvaluation of U.S. equities, German companies announced $94 billion in U.S. acquisitions in August  . One reason for this is that European companies face the prospect of declining sales as far as the eye can see. A real estate shakeout is also on the horizon. Italy, Germany and several smaller countries will experience dramatic declines in the household forming age groups-Italy could have 30 percent fewer persons aged 25-40 by 2020.
If this is borne out, it will adversely affect the whole world. Declining Japan and Europe will hardly leave the U.S. untouched. That assessment may be too pessimistic, but we surely need to be reminded that we are entering into a phase of history unprecedented for the modern developed economy. Ben Wattenberg is right to warn that we may be at a " major turning point. " Recall also that we are immersed in a climate of opinion formed by ideologues who are utterly convinced that fewer people is what we need and who are as blind to the danger of demographic contraction as they have been hostile to the benefits of expansion. The press is their plaything. We may expect, therefore that adverse consequences will not be anticipated, and, when they come, will be blamed on almost anything other than "Too few people."
There are only two shortages on earth.
The first one is a shortage of Capitalism.
The second is a shortage of enough people to take advantate of what little Capitalism we have left.
From the frequently posted article by Sobran, "Belloc's Prophecy." Sobran doesn't do his homework.
Just make your kids go out and get jobs.
I believe that about Mexico, even here in the US, it's pretty hard to find a Mexican family with more than 3 kids. And early premarital sex has them getting chlamydia infections before high school which leads to infertility, the highschools here (on the border) are reporting epidemic levels of chlamydia.
Please explain this to me. :)
I get it now. It's still worded quite poorly. The word "each" doesn't belong in there. It should say something like, "Therefore, couples must on the average have....."
See "The Skeptical Environmentalist", a scientific book debunking modern science myths.
I tried that line with my wife and it doesn't work. :-(
Its darn hard to have a baby. Being a man, I can't say that I've done it, but my wife is currently 7 months pregnant with our second child (a boy). Physically, she has had a variety of health problems caused by this pregnancy (esp back problems). Bearing children isn't easy, and I think that given the choice, most women will opt for fewer rather than more. And nowadays, they have a choice.
Kids used to be the mechanism that people used to save for their old age. The capital which was spent raising them was returned as profit when you were an old koot and they had to take care of you. Now people can just use 401K's instead....which require a lot less diaper changes (unless the market collapses...then you may need to change your own diaper).
Feminism is partly to blame as well. Its no accident that Hillary only had one child. Many women believe that their real purpose in life lies in the professional/work world. Children are a hinderance to obtaining that law firm partnership. This is especially bad in that it disproportionately affects high IQ women.
But I think that one of the major causes of this trend is the materialism inherent in modern "McWorld" culture. Our consumer/producer oriented society boils everything down to a transactional, profit-loss relationship. Children are bad because they hinder the efficiency of this system, and are thus discouraged. Everyone knows that for all of the "family friendly" policies of various corporations, they all basically view such relationships as a nuisance. As they used to say in the Navy "If we wanted you to have a family, we'd have issued one to you".
Companies reward those employees who are most compulsive about their work...which means they reward those who spend the least time with their families. And less kids require less time.
Our economic and social system boils down to this: Work all the time, spend all your money on worthless consumer goods, max out all of your credit cards, and have no kids which distract from the cycle. And when you die, you can be replaced by a new cohort of immigrants to begin the cycle again.
Problem is...when this system extends everywhere, where will the new immigrants come from?
Also, humans are not interchangeable robots. They have culture, religion, etc. You just cannot import vast new populations to replace your existing, sterile one and not expect to suffer major dislocations.
The issues of populations, immigration, and differential growth rates, will dominate this century...and it may not be pretty.
6.199 billion - now
3.912 billion - jan 1970
Then there was that pesky birth-control pill, invented about the same time....
Historical National Population Estimates: July 1, 1900 to July 1, 1999
Source: Population Estimates Program, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau
Internet Release Date: April 11, 2000
Revised date: June 28, 2000
National Population Average Annual
Date Population Change Percent Change
July 1, 1999 272,690,813 2,442,810 0.90
July 1, 1998 270,248,003 2,464,396 0.92
July 1, 1997 267,783,607 2,555,035 0.96
July 1, 1996 265,228,572 2,425,296 0.92
July 1, 1995 262,803,276 2,476,255 0.95
July 1, 1994 260,327,021 2,544,413 0.99
July 1, 1993 257,782,608 2,752,909 1.08
July 1, 1992 255,029,699 2,876,607 1.14
July 1, 1991 252,153,092 2,688,696 1.08
July 1, 1990 249,464,396 2,645,166 1.07
July 1, 1989 246,819,230 2,320,248 0.94
July 1, 1988 244,498,982 2,210,064 0.91
July 1, 1987 242,288,918 2,156,031 0.89
July 1, 1986 240,132,887 2,209,092 0.92
July 1, 1985 237,923,795 2,098,893 0.89
July 1, 1984 235,824,902 2,032,908 0.87
July 1, 1983 233,791,994 2,127,536 0.91
July 1, 1982 231,664,458 2,198,744 0.95
July 1, 1981 229,465,714 2,241,033 0.98
July 1, 1980 227,224,681 2,169,194 0.96
July 1, 1979 225,055,487 2,470,942 1.10
July 1, 1978 222,584,545 2,345,120 1.06
July 1, 1977 220,239,425 2,204,261 1.01
July 1, 1976 218,035,164 2,061,965 0.95
July 1, 1975 215,973,199 2,119,271 0.99
July 1, 1974 213,853,928 1,945,140 0.91
July 1, 1973 211,908,788 2,012,767 0.95
July 1, 1972 209,896,021 2,235,344 1.07
July 1, 1971 207,660,677 2,608,503 1.26
July 1, 1970 205,052,174 2,375,228 1.17
July 1, 1969 202,676,946 1,970,894 0.98
July 1, 1968 200,706,052 1,993,996 1.00
July 1, 1967 198,712,056 2,151,718 1.09
July 1, 1966 196,560,338 2,257,375 1.16
July 1, 1965 194,302,963 2,414,172 1.25
July 1, 1964 191,888,791 2,646,993 1.39
July 1, 1963 189,241,798 2,704,061 1.44
July 1, 1962 186,537,737 2,846,256 1.54
July 1, 1961 183,691,481 3,020,323 1.66
July 1, 1960 180,671,158 2,841,530 1.59
July 1, 1959 177,829,628 2,947,724 1.67
July 1, 1958 174,881,904 2,897,774 1.67
July 1, 1957 171,984,130 3,081,099 1.81
July 1, 1956 168,903,031 2,971,829 1.78
July 1, 1955 165,931,202 2,905,348 1.77
July 1, 1954 163,025,854 2,841,662 1.76
July 1, 1953 160,184,192 2,631,452 1.66
July 1, 1952 157,552,740 2,674,851 1.71
July 1, 1951 154,877,889 2,606,472 1.70
July 1, 1950 152,271,417 3,083,287 2.05
July 1, 1949 149,188,130 2,556,828 1.73
July 1, 1948 146,631,302 2,505,231 1.72
July 1, 1947 144,126,071 2,737,505 1.92
July 1, 1946 141,388,566 1,460,401 1.04
July 1, 1945 139,928,165 1,530,820 1.10
July 1, 1944 138,397,345 1,657,992 1.21
July 1, 1943 136,739,353 1,879,800 1.38
July 1, 1942 134,859,553 1,457,082 1.09
July 1, 1941 133,402,471 1,280,025 0.96
July 1, 1940 132,122,446 1,242,728 0.95
July 1, 1939 130,879,718 1,054,779 0.81
July 1, 1938 129,824,939 1,000,110 0.77
July 1, 1937 128,824,829 771,649 0.60
July 1, 1936 128,053,180 802,948 0.63
July 1, 1935 127,250,232 876,459 0.69
July 1, 1934 126,373,773 795,010 0.63
July 1, 1933 125,578,763 738,292 0.59
July 1, 1932 124,840,471 800,823 0.64
July 1, 1931 124,039,648 962,907 0.78
July 1, 1930 123,076,741 1,309,741 1.07
July 1, 1929 121,767,000 1,258,000 1.04
July 1, 1928 120,509,000 1,474,000 1.23
July 1, 1927 119,035,000 1,638,000 1.39
July 1, 1926 117,397,000 1,568,000 1.34
July 1, 1925 115,829,000 1,720,000 1.50
July 1, 1924 114,109,000 2,162,000 1.91
July 1, 1923 111,947,000 1,898,000 1.71
July 1, 1922 110,049,000 1,511,000 1.38
July 1, 1921 108,538,000 2,077,000 1.93
July 1, 1920 106,461,000 1,947,000 1.85
July 1, 1919 104,514,000 1,306,000 1.26
July 1, 1918 103,208,000 -60,000 -0.06
July 1, 1917 103,268,000 1,307,000 1.27
July 1, 1916 101,961,000 1,415,000 1.40
July 1, 1915 100,546,000 1,435,000 1.44
July 1, 1914 99,111,000 1,886,000 1.92
July 1, 1913 97,225,000 1,890,000 1.96
July 1, 1912 95,335,000 1,472,000 1.56
July 1, 1911 93,863,000 1,456,000 1.56
July 1, 1910 92,407,000 1,917,000 2.10
July 1, 1909 90,490,000 1,780,000 1.99
July 1, 1908 88,710,000 1,702,000 1.94
July 1, 1907 87,008,000 1,558,000 1.81
July 1, 1906 85,450,000 1,628,000 1.92
July 1, 1905 83,822,000 1,656,000 2.00
July 1, 1904 82,166,000 1,534,000 1.88
July 1, 1903 80,632,000 1,469,000 1.84
July 1, 1902 79,163,000 1,579,000 2.01
July 1, 1901 77,584,000 1,490,000 1.94
July 1, 1900 76,094,000 --- ---
National population data for the years 1900 to 1949 exclude the
population residing in Alaska and Hawaii. National population data for the
years 1940 to 1979 cover the resident population plus Armed Forces overseas.
National population data for all other years cover only the resident
population. Estimates of the population including Armed Forces
overseas are as follows:
National population data for the years 1900 to 1929 are only available
rounded to the nearest thousand.
Data for this table comes from Current Population Reports, Series P-25, Nos.
311, 917, 1095, and our National Population Estimates web page. All
Population Division publications may be obtained by writing to Population
Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C. 20233; calling the
Statistical Information Staff at (301)457-2422; or by e-mailing a message to
POP@CENSUS.GOV (please include telephone number).
Women who are *forced* into marriage as teenagers, who aren't allowed to finish high school or go to college, who are traded like cattle in these Islamic or tribal African countries have high birth rates. As soon as women are educated and *free* to reject marriage if they wish, or where marriage itself gets reformed so that their husbands don't treat them worse than the camels or goats, then family sizes decrease.
You can prove this to yourself by looking at the fertility and birth rates of countries in the 2001 CIA World Fact book. EVERY country that is on the road to civilizing itself has lower fertility AND birth rates than countries in which women are still brutalized and traded like animals.
This is considered an extremely politically incorrect assertion by the "right," because it goes against a particular conservative fantasy of a return to six and seven children per family. While there will always be a small percentage of people in the civilized countries who will *choose* to have large families, the general pattern seems to be that if women have the choice not to marry, or not to have large families if they do marry, that most will choose not to. In other words, to ensure a high birth rate on a population basis, you have to force women into it. This is what *conservatives* are going to have to deal with, rather than indulging in nostalgic 19th century fantasies, and I say this *as a conservative.*
Im confused here. The article mentions Irans birth rate, does it mention the birthrate for other Muslims?Islam is still weak, but it is growing. Never mind the terrorists; check the birthrates.From the frequently posted article by Sobran, "Belloc's Prophecy." Sobran doesn't do his homework.
Are you saying that Sobran is wrong when he states that Islam is growing? Even assuming Irans birthrate is almost below replacement (which it isnt yet, but apparently will be soon), Iran is still growing, much less Islam as a whole. Unless I'm missing an entire section of this article, it doesn't even stand for the proposition that the statement you quoted above is wrong, much less prove it.
Also, as a side note no one has mentioned on this thread. Very soon a very large chuck of the government's employee base is going to retire and the government is having a real problem finding people who want to work for the government.
What are your thoughts on this?
I agree with much of what you have said. Congratulations upon your planned New Years' event! I'm a father of four myself, and , yes, cuss myself every day for the time I'm not spending with the kids(as I sit here Freeping). It's just one of those things, though, man-- you either buy into the parent thing and say, yeah, this is what we chose to do, and God willing, we're going to--hang the rest of the stuff; or you don't. But note that these devices that are sitting on our desks, and have made this kind of discussion possible, really will impact the future and our ability to spend time with the family, maybe even more so now with anthrax blowin' in the wind.
What I worry about is that the average couple has 2.1 children. It's the .1's that cause all the trouble.
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