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July 21, 2010

Column #1,508

Demographic Winter – Answers

(Part II of two parts)

By Mike McManus

                A haunting DVD, “Demographic Winter,” states: “When there are many too many old people and not enough young people, which is on the books, now, mathematically speaking… there will be an economic collapse.”

Consider Japan.  For years, it seemed to be booming. In 1989 only 11.6 percent of its population was over age 65.  Less than 20 years later that figure doubled to 21.1 percent.  Why? Japan’s birth rate is an extremely low 1.25 births per woman, while 2.1 births are necessary for the population to replace itself.

Result:  Japan’s stock market plunged 80 percent in the 1990s and real estate lost 60 percent of its value. No one mentions Japan Inc. anymore.

“The industrialized world will soon face severe labor shortages.  The European

Union estimates a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030,” according to Don Feder of the World Congress of Families. That’s why Europe is accepting so many Muslim immigrants.

                “Demographic Winter” even predicts, “It’s possible that the French will disappear. There will be no native born French population.”   

“The demographic winter of western society is happening in rich countries, poor countries, Catholic countries, Islamic countries,” the DVD asserts.  “No one wants to have children and no one wants to get married.”

                These are overstatements.  The French fertility rate is 2.0, but immigrants, who are only a tenth of the population, produce a disproportionate number of those babies. 

However, in less than 40 years, world fertility rates have fallen by 50 percent.  “Europe might as well hang a `Going Out of Business’ sign on its door, ” states “Demographic Winter.”  The average birth rate for the European Union is 1.5 births per woman, well below replacement.  In Italy it’s 1.2.

 Taiwan has a similar rate, where many elementary schools have closed.  Of the 9,123 new teachers graduating from college, only 270 could find jobs.  Government just increased the age of retirement by five years.

                Though the U.S. fertility rate is now 2.06 (thanks to Hispanic immigration), the 76 million baby boomers gave birth to only 49 million kids, and wonder why there are no customers for their big houses, so they can retire. Housing sales are down a fifth this year.

                What are the answers   to Demographic Winter?

                “There is only one solution.  It is for people to love children,” says Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America.  “The ultimate problem is that people are rejecting children. They are more focused on their own lifestyle, their own comfort.”

                She acknowledged that having children requires sacrifice, but produces “tremendous joy and social stability. If we want a society built on Judeo-Christian principles, we need to have a generation that comes after us.”

                “People are making a choice to not have children. They are looking at short-term benefits, of having an easier lifestyle and more money to spend. They are not looking ahead to when they are older, and will then wonder who will take care of them.

                Phillip Longman of the New America Foundation suggested another answer inadvertently in a USA Today column where he pointed out one difference between Seattle and Salt Lake City:

                “In Seattle, there are nearly 45 percent more dogs than children.  In Salt Lake City, there are nearly 19 percent more children than dogs.”  Why?

                “It’s not that people in a progressive city such as Seattle are so much fonder of dogs than are people in a conservative city such as Salt Lake City. It’s that progressives are so much less likely to have children.  It’s a pattern found throughout the world.”

                He notes that in America, 47 percent of people who attend church weekly say their ideal family size is three or more children, while only 27 percent of seldom church attenders want that many kids.

                In Utah where two-thirds are Mormons, 92 children are born each year for every 1,000 women, America’s highest fertility rate. “By contrast, Vermont – first to embrace gay unions – has the nation’s lowest rate, producing 51 children per 1000 women.”

                For the past two months, my wife and I have been blessed, having our youngest son, his wife and three children live with us as he moved to the area to accept a new job.  They will soon move to a new house they have bought.

                They have brought home to us the wisdom of Scripture: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen.1:28).

                And Proverbs 17:6: “Children’s children are a crown to the aged.”

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