Empty continent

Empty continent December 19, 2011

In his recent Republic of Grace , Charles Mathewes describes the widely known but still startling demographic crisis of Europe: “By midcentury, including immigration, Europe’s population is projected to be 13 percent smaller, with the working age population declining by 27 percent, and the median age increasing by a third, reaching fifty years . . . . compared to the rest of the world, European shriveling is even more prominent. By 1950, the population of Europe accounted for about 22 percent of world population; today it is about half that, 12 percent; and by 2050, Europe’s population is expected to be about half again – 7 percent of the world. By 2050, the population of Yemen – Yemen! – is expected to exceed that of Russia.”

The continent in emptying, and aging: “Today about one-sixth of Europe’s population is sixty-five and older, but by 2030 that will be one-fourth, and by 2050 almost one-third.” What happens to the generous pensions of European social democracies then?

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