Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sexy Education European Style

Some of the highest birth rates, leading to a Malthusian outburst of over-population, are in the developing world, but there is a distinct trend, in some of the most expensive cost-of-living countries in the world of declining, often severely declining, birth rates. Even in the United States, but for immigration, we would have a declining population. And for the developing world, that statistic creates another huge issue: a large number of older, retired workers supported by a shrinking younger work force.
Japan has one of the more severe population shrinkage problems on earth. “Based on the latest data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan's population will keep declining by about one million people every year in the coming decades, which will leave Japan with a population of 86 million in 2060.   By that time, more than 40% of the population is expected to be over age 65. In 2012, the population had for six consecutive years declined by 212,000, the largest drop on record since 1947 and also a record low of 1.03 million births. In 2014, a new record of population drop happened with 268,000 people. In 2013, more than 20 percent of the population are age 65 and over” Wikipedia. But there are other developed nations facing their own brand of population shrinkage.
“This is creating big changes throughout the developed world. The replacement rate—the reproduction rate that keeps a population stable—for developed countries is 2.1, yet nearly half the world’s population has birth rates lower than that. The U.S. has a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.0—nearly the replacement rate—with Hispanic immigrants leading in birth rates. The U.S. is aging but not as fast as many other countries. A 2010 census showed that 31.4 million Americans live alone—27% of all households (equal to the percentage of childless couples). Living alone allows people to pursue individual freedom, exert personal control and go through self-realization, but these people have fewer children.
“Western European countries have low fertility rates, below the replacement rate of 2.1. Germany: 1.4 (its total population is 81.9 million, of which 8.2% are foreigners). Holland: 1.8
(16.5 million, of which 4.4% are foreigners). Belgium: 1.8 (10.8 million, of which 9.8% are foreigners). Spain: 1.4 (46.1 million, of which 12.4% are foreigners). Italy: 1.4 (60.2 million, of which 7.1% are foreigners), the Pope’s views notwithstanding. Sweden, which provides deep support for parents, has a high TFR of 1.9 (9.4 million, of which 6.4% are foreigners), but that’s still below the replacement rate. Ireland and the U.K. also have high TFRs, at 2.1 and 1.9, respectively, but these rates are derived from non-European immigrant parents.
“During the 21st century the U.S. could become the slowly aging leader of a rapidly aging world… Singapore’s experience is no different from that of these countries. Our birth rates have been steadily declining. The fertility rate of the Chinese segment of our population is the lowest, 1.08 (2011), with the rate for Indians 1.09 and for Malays 1.64. In other words, the size of each successive generation of Chinese Singaporeans will halve in the next 18 to 20 years.” The late Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore’s Prime/Senior Minister) writing for Forbes.com, October 16, 2012.
So contrary to the admonitions to the poorer, developing world to reduce birth rates, many of these nations are seeking new policies to increase their birth rates before they face really severe internal economic problems, including being overwhelmed by massive, starving populations in developing countries with little to lose. Which brings me to a rather strange reversal in some countries about the morality of birth control and the joys of pregnancy.
“Recently, Sex and Society, a nonprofit group that provides much of Denmark’s sex education, adjusted its curriculum. The group no longer has a sole emphasis on how to prevent getting pregnant but now also talks about pregnancy in a more positive light.
“It is all part of a not-so-subtle push in Europe to encourage people to have more babies. Denmark, like a number of European countries, is growing increasingly anxious about low birthrates. Those concerns have only been intensified by the region’s financial and economic crisis, with high unemployment rates among the young viewed as discouraging potential parents.
“The Italian health minister described Italy as a ‘dying country’ in February. Germany has spent heavily on family subsidies but has little to show for it. Greece’s depression has further stalled its birthrate. And in Denmark, the birthrate has been below the so-called replacement rate needed to keep a population from declining — just over two children per woman — since the early 1970s.
“‘For many, many years, we only talked about safe sex, how to prevent getting pregnant,’ said Marianne Lomholt, the national director of Sex and Society. ‘Suddenly we just thought, maybe we should actually also tell them about how to get pregnant.’” New York Times, April 8th. Wow, and some of these are devout Roman Catholic nations…
Recent efforts to increase birthrates around the world have been creative, if not necessarily effective. President Vladimir V. Putin declared 2008 the Year of the Family in Russia, and his political party employed touches like a curving park bench designed to get couples to slide closer together. There was a double-entendre-laden Mentos commercial in Singapore featuring a rapper urging residents to do their civic duty with lines like, ‘I’m a patriotic husband, you my patriotic wife. Lemme book into ya camp and manufacture a life.’
“In some countries, the issue can have a broad effect on policy debates… Zsolt Darvas, a senior fellow at Bruegel, a research organization based in Brussels, said the shrinking population issue had contributed to an aversion in Germany to public spending, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty. The link between the two topics has been made more than once by Jens Weidmann, president of Germany’s Bundesbank.
“If you listen to the German argument — why Germany doesn’t want to have a larger budget deficit now to stimulate the economy — the argument they are always saying is that Germany has a very bad demographic outlook so they don’t want to burden future generations,” Mr. Darvas said.
“Anxiety in Danish society has spawned no shortage of creativity. One priest made headlines for his enthusiastic writings on sex and eroticism. An entrepreneur created a pro-procreation dating site… Spies, a Danish travel company, began a ‘Do It for Denmark!’ promotional campaign last year aimed at increasing getaway bookings to European capitals. A racy commercial featured a young Danish couple going to a hotel in Paris to do their part to lift the nation’s birthrate. ‘Can sex save Denmark’s future?’ the campaign asked, claiming that Danes had 46 percent more sex on holidays.” NY Times.
Talk like that in a nation where 26.8% of the population or 94.38 million people are Evangelicals would be unheard of, so don’t expect any of this to happen any time soon in the United States. But ironically for social conservatives, the growth rates in the United States are not only heavily dependent on immigration, but on a huge number of births that seem to violate their most basic mores: “The number of first-born U.S. babies born into a home with a married mother and father has fallen below 60 percent for the first time, the Census Bureau said [July 8, 2014], while more than one in five first-born children are now born to cohabiting parents…
“The report finds that most American women still are married when they give birth to their first child, but the margins are steadily declining… During the 1990s, around 70 percent of first-time mothers of all ages were married, with about 18 percent single and the rest cohabiting, the report said…By the years 2005-2012, however, data showed that a significantly smaller majority of new mothers — 55 percent — were married, while 25 percent were cohabiting and 20 percent were single and without a steady partner.” WashingtonTimes.com July 8, 2014. Hmmm…. All that conservative opposition to any form of public school sex education seems to be having… er… the opposite effect. Even diluting their political power accordingly… slowly over time. Oh well, just goes to show how trying to impose morals by legal fiat just plain doesn’t work! But don’t expect these folks to change anytime soon.
I’m Peter Dekom, and it is amazing how facts so interfere with the way so many of us want things to be.

No comments: