Allow me to repeat. We are running out of children. We are not running out of people – just young people. The world population is continuing to grow. The ranks of the old, among whom I am counted, gets bigger and bigger. I just got back from a trip overseas. Germany, the land of my ancestors, is a retirement home. The countryside of Spain is depopulated. One can drive for miles without seeing a soul. Whole towns are for sale in Spain and Italy simply because they are uninhabited.
Again, let me refresh your memory of some basic demographic concepts. First there is something called replacement fertility rate. To keep a stable population every single woman in a given population must have a minimum of two children. One to replace her and one to replace her knight in shining armor who is at the present unable to give birth. There are many people who do not have any children, slackers like myself who am celibate. The generous woman who must already have 2 children must now have 2.1 children in a developed country or 2.5 in an undeveloped country where the mortality rate is higher. If this fertility rate slips below a certain level under 2.0 some researchers theorize that the fertility rate cannot rebound. People get used to being spoiled, only children. I know a number of people who, when asked if they have children say, “Yes!” and show you a picture of their dogs or cats while cooing, “Aren’t my babies’ precious??” Have you noticed that the pet food aisle in some stores is much larger and more fully stocked than the baby aisle?
Lots of young moderns don’t want to be bothered with babies when you can get just as much love from a pet. Let’s look at some 2016 Total Fertility Rates. (Source: CIA World Factbook) Poland, 1.34 children per woman, France 2.7, Italy 1.4 Japan 1.4, Hungary 1.4, Germany 1.4. Europe is dying. Let’s look at the Americas. Cuba 1.7, Puerto Rico 1.6, Mexico 2.25, Costa Rica 1.9, Brazil 1.76. That’s 1.76!! And our own beloved USA? 1.87.
All these nations will soon face a shrinking labor force and increasing rate of dependent old people. Fewer workers must care for more old folks (like me), by paying into the pension funds and social security accounts. That means if you have 1.7 children you are expecting someone else’s kid to pay for your retirement benefits. The countries are increasing where old people face a poor and lonely life, where medical services are rationed and resources are increasingly scarce. This is not just happening in the developed West.
Iran had a total fertility rate in 1960 of 7 or 8 children per woman. In 2016, they had a total fertility rate (TFR) of 1.83. Do the Math. Those 7 or 8 children born in 1960 are now almost 60 years old. They are past the time of childbearing and will soon have to depend on the 1.8 children born last year to take care of them in their old age. I don’t think the 1.8 children are going to like that situation. Things are similar throughout the east. Bangladesh has a TFR of 2.2. They are definitely an undeveloped country and need 2.5 just to keep up with things. India 2.45, Saudi Arabia 2.1, Morocco 2.1, Indonesia 2.1! The only people who are still having children are sub-Saharan Africans, Afghanis Iraqis and, God bless them, Filipinos. You cannot have an economy without children. Old people own enough stuff. Young people need and buy stuff. I don’t think that 1.5 self-absorbed children are going to want to maintain 5 or 6 old folks.
I’m just not that optimistic about human nature. Much of the unrest of times may in fact be a result of depopulation and not overpopulation. Syria is a shrinking country between death and emigration. Things are bad all over the world, and the European world, the Americas, Australia, are quickly committing demographic suicide.
Why am I whining about this? I have heard that a “study group” is looking at a new interpretation of the infallible encyclical “Humanae Vitae” which forbad the use of artificial contraception by Catholics. Don’t these fools understand that the coming dystopia (a fancy word that means rotten future) is not the result of overpopulation, but under-population? These addled experts are like people who think it’s a good idea to light a cozy campfire in a burned-out building. The canoe is already over the waterfall and they are still planning the canoe trip. Should they make it easier for Europe and its former colonies to commit narcissistic demographic suicide?
What would I suggest? Move to the country and learn to grow chickens. By the way, thank you to those parents who are brave enough and responsible enough to have large families. I believe that nations and churches will survive and flourish only to the degree that they accept the wisdom of “Humanae Vitae.”
the Reverend Know-it-all.