Crisis: not enough babies

It’s a serious problem, finally getting serious attention:

Throughout the developed world, lowered birth rates and family breakdown will have a devastating effect on the global economy and the welfare state’s viability, says an international study released Oct 3.

“On current trends, we face a world of rapidly aging and declining populations, of few children — many of them without the benefit of siblings and a stable, two-parent home — of lonely seniors living on meagre public support, of cultural and economic stagnation,” says the study, entitled “The Empty Cradle: How Contemporary Trends Undermine the Global Economy.”

Co-sponsored by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) and pro-family groups in the United States, the Philippines, Spain and Colombia, the study shows even developing countries such as Iran, Lebanon, Chile, Thailand and South Korea have seen their lifetime births per woman shrink to fewer than two from averages as high as six. Canada’s birth rate is only 1.5 children per woman.

While fewer children are born overall, increasingly higher numbers are born “out of wedlock,” either to single mothers or co-habiting parents whose relationships studies show are less stable than those of married couples, the researchers say. In Canada, 25 per cent of children are born outside of marriage, but in Quebec that figure rises to 63 per cent.

The study examines how urbanization, higher education for women leaving them options outside of marriage, the high cost of raising children and tendencies to delay child bearing to years when fertility naturally falls all play a role. The study also notes that social-security systems and private pension plans “paradoxically provide incentives to remain childless or limit family size.”

“In advanced economies, citizens no longer must have children and raise them successfully in order to secure support in old age,” the study says. “Instead, the elderly in developed countries have largely been able to rely on health and retirement benefits paid for by other peoples’ children: that is, working-age adults who are currently paying the taxes for public pensions.”

But as the birth rates fall, the study shows, there will be fewer and fewer of these workers to support the needs of a growing cohort of retiring seniors.

Read the rest.


  1. I’m no expert on this stuff, but it seems to me this will result in a greater push for legal and more frequent arguments for euthanasia, unfortunately, as upcoming generations wonder why they have to work harder to support more elderly, particularly as it was the choices of the older generations that resulted in a smaller workforce.

  2. Deacon Norb says:

    I’m not that sure I want to start the discussion on this article but apparently the role has been given me whether I want it or not. Some observations:

    –Yes; the average age of engaged couples I see is mid-twenties (out of my last fifty engaged couples, I can count two where the “bride-to-be” was under 20 and one where the groom-to-be was). Thus, both of the couple usually are well educated and have careers that are stable and fulfilling.

    – A few — but not as many as you might think — have children already.

    –We do have a large and growing percentage of Hispanic folk in our area of the country — most of whom have Roman Catholic roots — and we have a growing percentage of Islamic folk. Couples in both of these sub-cultures tend to marry earlier in their lives and have more children than comparable “Anglo” couples. I have no idea how extensive these two cultural minorities are in the Canadian milieu but Canada does have a higher per-capita penetration of “Plain-People” than we have here in the US. (These are folks from an Amish/Mennonite sub-cultures — they also tend to marry younger and have larger families).

    Interesting data — but like all data, it is important not to read too much into it.

  3. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    Two points–Maybe Social Security payments to members of the older generation should be based on the number of children they raised to do the work that needs to be done in society and provide the payments to keep Social Security afloat. (With provision made for giving help to those who physically could not have children).
    Second, this burgeoning serious problem highlights the fact our “individual rights” trumps all American and Western extremist mentality has been far more destructive of community than anyone ever realized could or would happen. Noone will say it in the media or the presidential debates, but we –and Europe –desperately need millions of immigrants to flood our countries because we have been committing self-genocide at the demand of organizations like Planned Parenthood, etc. all in the “holy” name of individual rights and at the expense of the community’s very existence as well as financial well-being.

  4. We need Dr. Conrad Murray to take over health care for all those over 40!

  5. Fiergenholt says:

    Hmmmm. Not sure I agree with you, Deacon John.

    “. . . we have been committing self-genocide at the demand of organizations like Planned Parenthood, etc. all in the “holy” name of individual rights and at the expense of the community’s very existence as well as financial well-being.”

    I do not think it is being honest to give Planned Parenthood all the credit for something they did not really have a direct impact upon — although they likely think they did have.

    What was the more than likely cause is that Roman Catholic pastors and moral theologians started to teach that it was NOT Roman Catholic teaching to insist that married couples have as many children as possible. Married couples were to be responsible about their child-bearing activities — not to “pass the buck” onto the bishops and priests. It was NOT mandatory to have seven – ten or more children to prove your orthodoxy.

    While one can argue about whether the “artificial means” of birth control are really any different morally than the “natural means,” what is clear is that Catholic couples took their pastors at their word.

    For what it is worth, I can recall all the various deacons in our area who had children — including some who had young families when they were ordained. The lowest number of children any deacon had was three — the highest was seven.

  6. Unapologetic Catholic says:

    This “problem” has a built-in solution that will take thirty years at most.

    I see no apocalyptic future based on this article.

  7. This is sad. Studying geography, I’m convinced the problem is real, real enough in some countries that they are trying to reverse the trend. Sex has become a recreation for pleasure and exploration. More marriages succeed that people realize because of people reading statistics fail to understand. So now, out of false fear, people are beginning to grow afraid of marriage, yet they still want their fun, which is sex out of wedlock. It’s a disturbing phenomena. The legitimization of same sex relationships, pedophilia and all sorts of immoral distortions is what’s partly driving this trend. Objectifying women and women who play along with it further the problem. And now the technology industry is playing games with creating artificial beings to replace problematic relationships between couples with fantasy grounded robotic partner with no commitment. Read comments under the article. Sad.

  8. I find it sad that we now see our children as the coin of a gigantic Ponzi scheme. Financially, Ponzi schemes are illegal because in the end they run out of people to supply the input that is required to support them. Will this also be true of our population?

    It also seems to me that such an outlook is inherently selfish, it is about me and not about loving my children. No wonder the population growth is slowing when we see our kids only as our retirement policy.

    Mike L

  9. 1. big government nanny state programs are filled with fraud, waste and abuse. These programs should not have been allowed if we simply followed the constitution as written. Now, despite the obvious problems in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, and many others, this administration is trying to add more government programs, regulations, and spending. Not sure if we will have to have complete collapse before people finally understand this does not and never has worked in the history of the world.

    During my life, we sacrificed even when the pay was small to set something aside to care for ourselves in our elder years. Now, many live a lifestyle they cannot afford and put little to nothing aside with the full expectation that someone else will pick up the tab. We have to end this love of oursleves at the expense of others and learn personal responbility all over again.

    2. Humane Vitae was a document that has shown itself to be prophetic in every way on much of what we are seeing today. I agree with what Fiergenholt said above “Roman Catholic pastors and moral theologians started to teach that it was NOT Roman Catholic teaching”. If they had supported the full teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, not only the birth issue, but many other areas would be better today. Many of our Church leaders are mistakenly in support of the nanny state big government programs that are killing us economically and to develop required responsibility in life.

    3. I am seeing many of the younger generation who have studied Theology of the Body and other Catholic teaching starting to have large families. Not only that, but they are bringing these children up around the full scope and beauty of all Catholic teaching. No cafeteria catholics in this group.

  10. There are cafeteria Catholics on both the right and left.

  11. Fiergenholt says:

    10 Will

    You are 100% right on!

  12. Will, I agree with you as well on the fact that there are cafeteria catholics on both sides. My post did not suggest otherwise.

    Fiergenholt, sideways comment on my post. And here I thought you were not going to comment because I am rude. I would suggest this method of comment is far more rude than anything I have posted.

    I listed three items and under 500 words just for you and all relevent to the post.

  13. pagansister says:

    Then you have the Chinese who punish couples who have more than 1 child!

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