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The Coming Demographic Implosion | Catholic culture

By Phil Lawler ( bio – articles – email ) | Sep 05, 2022

Sometimes the most important stories escape the attention of the mainstream media. Like this completely unprecedented development:

For the first time in the history of the world, there are now more living humans over the age of 65 than under the age of 5.

Think about it: there are more old people than little children in the world. The grandparent cohort is larger than the grandchild cohort.

This demographic shift is most dramatic in developed countries, where fertility rates have been falling steadily for years, while medical advances allow older people to live longer. In most European countries, birth rates are well below replacement level. In the United States, the overall population would be declining if it weren’t for the huge influx of immigrants.

The trend should not be reversed anytime soon. In the United States, the average age at which women marry has risen from 25 to 28 since 2000. This means the average bride can hear her biological clock ticking almost as soon as she walks down the aisle. And if she and her husband make the popular decision to “delay pregnancy” for a while as they settle into married life, her fertility will soon be on the decline.

In the two most populous countries in the world, China and India, there is another reason to expect a shortage of births. After decades of aggressive family planning measures, which discouraged the birth of female babies (and encouraged sex-selective abortion), these countries have a disproportionate number of young men who, by the natural order of things , will not have babies.

So the doomsday prophets who warned of the disastrous consequences of overpopulation were wrong. Paul Ehrlich, the famous author of The population bomb, who predicted world famines in the 1970s “despite all the emergency programs undertaken now”, was wrong. Even Pope Paul VI, to the extent that he incorporated overpopulation concerns into Humanae Vitae, was wrong. The problem the world will soon have to face is belowpopulation.

(And my late friend, Julian Simon, who made a devastating critique of Ehrlich’s work in his book The ultimate resourcewas right: the single most important factor contributing to economic progress, and therefore poverty law, is human creativity, which naturally tends to increase when there are more humans around to be creative.)

The overall world population has increased throughout recorded history, but not at a constant rate. Wars, famines and disease caused temporary declines. But today’s population decline is different, because when the elderly outnumber the young, there’s no way to avoid a massive contraction. Even if today’s school children have large families – something a generation of teachers steeped in “overpopulation” propaganda already tells them not to do – they are unlikely to produce enough children to compensate for the inevitable loss of dying baby boomers.

Meanwhile, these young people will bear the heavy burden of caring for their aging parents. And this burden, not to mention the colossal debt that countries like the United States have passed on to the next generation, will cripple their ability to produce new goods and services. So, with population contraction will come economic contraction – which could lead many young parents in the next generation to decide they can’t afford to have more children – further worsening the implosion. two-pronged.

Right now, the world’s population is at an all-time high, allowing mythmakers to continue spreading the fear of overpopulation. But the worrying trend is easy to spot, for anyone who wants to see the signs of the times.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for over 30 years. He edited several Catholic magazines and wrote eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is news director and senior analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full biography.

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