jump to navigation

Fantastic article describes the imminent human population implosion October 13, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, sickness, Society.

It’s not just “advanced” countries that aren’t having children – the total fertility rate for the entire human population  has dropped to its lowest rate since at least the dark ages.  That was a great time, wasn’t it?  The US is on the cusp of facing a very dire problem.  With the birthrates of other countries collapsing, the internal pressure that has led to immigration, largely to the US, will also collapse, and the immigration we need to sustain our slowly growing population will end.  Then what?  Native born white women presently average 1.7 live births per woman per lifetime.  With that kind of birthrate, we can expect a steadily shrinking population, and economic ruin:

From a combined TFR of 3.7 in 1960, U.S. fertility halved to 1.8 in 1980. It has rebounded slightly during the last few decades, but that upward movement has more to do with Hispanic immigration than with increased native fertility. In 2006, the fertility rate of non-Hispanic whites was 1.77; the fertility rate of blacks was 2.0. Of America’s major demographic groups, only Hispanics are above replacement, with a TFR of 2.3. Yet even the Hispanic population has seen its fertility rate fall some 8 percent in the last decade. Indeed, the problem with immigration as it relates to fertility isn’t the old complaint that the newcomers are out-breeding the natives. Rather, the problem is that the newcomers start behaving like natives too soon, with their TFR regressing quickly to the mean. If we are to maintain even our modest 2.06, we need an ever-greater supply of immigrants. 

Today there are 26.6 million legal immigrants living in America and roughly 11.3 million illegals. We need these workers to prop up the entitlement programs we’re no longer having enough babies to fund. In order to keep Social Security and Medicare running, we need a stable ratio of workers to retirees. If we were to keep the ratio at the present level of three workers for every retiree—already lower than it has ever been—America would need to add 44.9 million new immigrants between 2025 and 2035. If we wanted to keep the ratio at 5.2 workers for every retiree—about what it was in 1960, before the collapse of our fertility rate—we’d need to import 10.8 million immigrants every year until 2050. At which point the United States would have 1.1 billion people, 73 percent of whom would be the descendants of recent immigrants.

Putting aside questions of cultural coherence—remember the joke: “Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism: You may pick two”?—it would be logistically impossible to add 10.8 million immigrants a year. As demographer Phillip Longman notes, “such a flow would require the equivalent of building another New York City every ten months or so.” 

There is a supply-side problem, too. Immigrants began streaming over America’s southern border in the 1980s for several reasons. America was safer and freer. There were more and better jobs. But there was also an enormous surplus of labor in Latin America as a result of high fertility rates. In Mexico, for instance, the fertility rate was 6.82 in 1970. It dropped to 5.3 in 1980, 3.61 in 1990, and 2.75 in 2000. It now sits at 2.1. You see this trend across the entire Latin world. Some countries, such as Chile and Costa Rica, are already well below replacement. And when a country’s fertility drops below replacement, people tend to stop emigrating. Consider Puerto Rico. In 1955, Puerto Rico’s fertility rate was 4.97. (The major Puerto Rican migration to America began in the 1950s.) Over time, Puerto Rican fertility diminished. By 2000, it had dipped to 1.99. For 2010, it is estimated to be 1.65….

Our challenge is to balance three needs: (1) a stable population, (2) a plausible ratio of workers-to-retirees, and (3) a manageable number of immigrants. Yet, for instance, to keep the worker-support ratio at high levels would require, as we saw earlier, gargantuan levels of immigration. Keeping immigration at a reasonable level (the U.N. uses 760,000 immigrants a year as a baseline) would mean that our population would increase to 349 million in 2050, but that our worker-support ratio would be cut in half. If we cut off immigration altogether the worker-support ratio would be even lower, and in addition, we’d face rapid population decline.

The simplest answer is for Americans to have more babies.

Well, I certainly agree.  But trying to get people to have more babies is a bear.  Even when I have argued with others on the level of practical merit, and explained that all these social programs everyone is terrified to let go of (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) will simply be unaffordable if we, as Americans, don’t have far more children, at best I get a shrug.  At worst, I get hostility – it’s too expensive, it’s no fun, we can’t go on vacation, we can’t afford the house we want, the car, the pool, the day care!  It’s a matter of religious faith – those who practice a deep religious faith have the hope in the future and the selflessness to turn over to God this part of their lives, and they tend to have large(r) families.  There won’t be a change in birthrate unless and until we have a sweeping re-evangelization of the culture.  I will do my part, and then some, but our neo-pagan hedonist narcissistic culture can only be changed by the action of the Holy Spirit. 

In short, we need a miracle.

%d bloggers like this: