Monday, January 14, 2013

More on Demography

I posted last week about trends in world depopulation, and how America needs immigrants as a result.  In a review of a book by Jonathan V. Last, Heather Wilhelm argues that even having a high immigration rate won't necessarily hold off the impacts of low birth rates forever, because it is a global trend.  Further, because the causes of low birth rates (i.e. below replacement levels)  are cultural, and immigrant women assimilate the culture, their birth rates drop as well.  Near the end of the review, she gives us this food for thought:
The best arguments for having children, unfortunately, run opposed to modern, secular American culture. Good reasons to have kids tend to be about delayed gratification, prioritizing family, putting others first, transmitting serious values and beliefs, focusing on something larger than yourself, and understanding the difference between joy and fun. Perhaps this is why, as Last notes, "American pets now outnumber American children by more than four to one." It's also why, if American fertility continues to slide -- and, as the author notes, that's still an "if" at this point -- there's little the government can do.
Indeed there is not.  Just one more area where culture has its consequences.  The falling birth rate is going to wreck the welfare state, and world wide, not just in America.  We are already getting a taste of it now, as the demographic bulge of baby boomers starts to enter retirement and medicare costs continue to ramp skyward.  Immigration could hold off the trend for a while, but eventually birth rates must return to sustainment levels for modern humanity to survive.

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