Why are birth rates plummeting all over the world?
Something very unusual is happening that is not being discussed very much. Global birth rates are plummeting. I even did a documentary about it, focusing on Germany and Italy, with interviews from a few years ago, pre-Covid. The problem became much worse since then, of course.
People are just not having many children anymore. In most European countries, the fertility rate is about 1.5 child per woman, and in some countries it’s around 1.3. In Italy it’s 1.24 and going down. In Japan it is also about that low, between 1.3 and 1.2, and the Japanese Prime Minister recently sounded the alarm about the problem. He said the country might cease functioning if things go on like that.
South Korea’s situation is even worse, an appalling 0.79. Russia has a TFR of 1.5, the U.S. 1.6, not a lot better. But even China is having trouble, and right now they also have sub-replacement levels. (A TFR has to be higher than 2 just to keep the same population.)
It’s not just the developed world. It’s happening in South America too (Brazil’s rate is 1.8), as well as in most of the Arab/Muslim world. The only exceptions are Israel (well, the Haredim there), then a few, still more rural regions of India (but India’s total average is 2), and subsaharan Africa, which still have higher rates, at least for now. But the rates will probably or hopefully get lower there too, as those countries urbanize more.
What is going on?
There is no single answer. Many factors seem to be the cause, including, as mentioned, urbanization (the more people live in cities, the less children they have), education (the more educated women are, the less children they have), leaving marriage and children until later (when the fertility is lower), economic/time issues (if both partners have to work, there is less time to take care of too many children), feminism and abortion (no need to explain that one), destruction of the family (lots of policies towards that end lately), loss of religious faith (religious people tend to have more children), massive immigration (it helps to lower the native birth rate), and a culture more based on individualism than on social bonds (although that is more true of Western countries than Asian ones, but both have a birthrate problem), and also some biological issues (processed foods and chemicals in the air/water reducing our “precious bodily fluids” — yes, that was a classic conspiracy theory, but it seems to be at least partially true now.
So, what is to be done?
Many so-called experts, not to mention the billionaires at Davos, keep complaining about the evils of overpopulation and “climate change”, so it would seem that less people would be a good thing. On the other hand, these same people keep pushing for more and more immigration, so it’s a bit confusing.
The main problem seems to be that average population is getting older, and someone needs to pay for the pensions and the health care of old people. If you have more old people than young people in a country, it can be a big problem. (In South Korea, some abandoned old people have to survive by rummaging through trash cans, because neither their families nor the state takes care of them).
However, this seems to be a type of Ponzi scheme that will one day crash. You see this happening in Canada. Because the number of older people has increased, the government has also increased the number of immigrants they are receiving, with a target of half a million new immigrants every year now. I suppose they will have to increase it to a million every year at some point. But then someone will have to pay for their retirement and healthcare, and so on.
From my point of view, low birth rates s a problem, but population replacement by foreigners is an even worse problem that will lead to potential conflicts later on. I can understand why a closed, insular nation like Japan prefers not to chose the road of immigration as a “solution”. It doesn’t really solve anything, and in some cases it makes things worse. Japan works because it’s Japanese. But I can’t see it functioning as a multicultural nation, like the nations in the West.
But what’s the solution then? Paying couples to have more children isn’t working either. Several countries, from Russia to Japan, have tried it, and the results are not very satisfactory. It seems that not everything is about money. (That makes sense, because in fact poor people tend to have more children than middle-class and richer people, at least in the modern world.)
I suppose shutting down education for women, as the Taliban are doing in Afghanistan, is another possible “solution”, but I don’t see it happening in the Western world. Europe had the first women in universities already in the Middle Ages, even if most of them did not attend.
You can’t force people to become more religious either, it has to be organic.
I think the most likely possibility is that at some point there will be some kind of catastrophe — a new world war, global economic depression, hunger, or maybe a new pandemic, only a real one this time — after which the current globalized world order will collapse, and then there will be a rebirth, and people will start having children again. Like when people started having children again after the Black Death, or after World War II. But yeah, that doesn’t sound so cheerful…
So perhaps there is another way?
6 comments on “"Be fruitful and multiply" – or else?”
In an age of contraception without a religious imperative or an economic necessity, birth rates are going to drop. If we add to that, the Influencers promoting feminism, homosexuality, hedonism and the dysfunctional family, birthrates will drop even more. As you say, the proposed solution is for developed countries to encourage immigration from less developed ones. But as conservatives we will agree that cure is worse than the purported disease. But is it a disease, let alone a serious disease? Sure, it’s a decline, but freed of the negative/fearful judgments, it could be something happening naturally, like old age.
So what if our population dwindles? Can’t we prosper with a smaller economy? Do we need to keep growing in order to live comfortably? The age of mythological/archeological giants has passed. Excessive biological growth is not good for health. Why should that stage of a cycle be different for economics or demographics? A return to half the population size with the addition of our accumulated technology gains sounds like a recipe for a good life to me. And isn’t that what the elite are plotting for themselves only to be accomplished in more drastic terms?
Yes, I don’t think we need perpetual growth, so, going back to the population levels we had, say, 100 years ago, might in the end be a good thing. On the other hand, it is a bit concerning that the average population in most countries is getting older and older, with younger people having less and less children. This will have many social and economic repercussions too, many of which we don’t even know yet, as I don’t think this has happened before in human history, at least, not at this level.
Yeah, the younger folks are in a bind and the race will suffer because of it. Their mentality has been complicated in ways the other races haven’t been so much. Japan notwithstanding.
Are you familiar w/ the incels? I’m just becoming aware of it as a culture not as a cult. I blame feminism for half of the trauma around sex habits. Pornography is the other half. I think normal sex relations have to be re-established before motherhood will become viable again.
I remember first hearing the F word used by pro-sex feminists, as in “I f’d him” or “wanted to F him”. And thinking that’s not right. Shouldn’t you be saying I wanted him to F me? One can appreciate women have desire w/o endorsing their equality in role or agency. I think Christianity/Catholicism makes a mistake, takes celibacy too far, but feminism goes too far in opposite directions – femcels and ho’s.
The “incel” phenomenon is basically the other side of feminism, but also a result of a lot of other issues, including social atomization, the digitalization of culture, and yes, the normalization of 24/7 hardcore pr0n. I’m old enough to have grown up before online pornography became mainstream. I think the damage pr0n did and still does, in particular to young men, is terrifying. It’s really, really bad. It’s not like, you know, erotic art books or old Playboy magazines, which weren’t that bad. Now you can find basically anything, no matter how extreme, and for free, 24/7. And it’s just accepted, even girls taking part in things like OnlyFans is becoming something socially acceptable. The other day I saw a guy with a Pr0nHub t-shirt, as if it was a cool brand. I haven’t watched pr0n in ages, but I did for years when I was young, and I wish I could get all that wasted time back. In this case at least, I think E. Michael Jones is right, pornography is a mind weapon and is used as such. And yes, together with other things, it reduces the will to reproduce too.
Jones talks about how the old regime at Twitter used explicit porn (I’m assuming ads) like pop-ups.
I knew a younger guy who would wear an “I heart camel toe” as a cool t shirt. Never liked him before. That confirmed it.
I’m older still. I never even liked Hustler. Penthouse was as far as I got. Not did I consider looking for porn on the net. If something came my way… that was different and that to me was what was so insidious about Twitter.
Do you not dislike feminism?
The tragedy of feminism, and in particular the current third (fourth?) wave feminism, is that it not only made men unhappier, it made women unhappier too. No one seems happy in the current zeitgeist, and the sexes are more apart than ever.
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