Steven Mosher

Opinion

Demographics as the Grim Reaper: The death knell of low birth rates

Steven Mosher
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August 29, 2012 (pop.org) - More and more countries are hearing the death knell of low birth rates.

We live in an age unique in human history. Per capita incomes have never been higher, lifespans have never been longer, and people are better fed and educated than ever before. At the same time, birth rates have fallen to historically low levels. In fact, they have fallen to levels so low that they will extinguish whole populations unless something is done.

The developed countries are suffering a severe birth dearth and, as a result, an enormous shift in global power will soon be upon us. Europe will recede demographically, while America will be hard-pressed to hold its own against younger and more populous countries. More and more countries are undertaking programs to raise their birth rates, although none of these policies has as yet made much of a difference.

Let’s take a quick tour around the world, thanks to the research of our own Elizabeth Crnkovich:

Asia

In Japan, the headlines are increasingly strident: “The Asian Tiger - Japan - is in Danger of Extinction,” “Number of Children in Japan Falls for 31st Consecutive Year,” “Japan’s Population Marks Sharpest Drop Since 1950,” and “Japan Underpopulation So Bad Families Resort to “Rental Relatives.” Even The Economist, normally staid, has noted that “Japan is ageing faster than any country in history.”

The bare facts are shocking enough: Japan’s fertility rate, at 1.1 children per woman, has never been lower, and it is still falling from year to year. Japan already has the oldest population in the world and, with virtually no immigration, there appears to be no way out of the looming democide. The elderly will die, and there will be fewer people and far fewer workers in the Home Islands in the years to come. The solution is obvious, but the Japanese people have to want more children for there to be more children.

China’s lower birth rates have a different cause. The Chinese people want more children, but the government for the past three decades has said no. The one-child policy has decimated China’s younger generations, and created a society where the young are not replacing the old.

While China currently has the world’s second largest economy, all bets are off if the birth rate remains depressed for another generation. The economy will follow the falling numbers of young workers downward.

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Taiwan’s birthrate is “dropping like a stone…” says an editorial in the Taipei Times. The majority of people realize there is a demographic problem. It could hardly be otherwise, since the total fertility rate—the number of children per woman—is an anemic 0.9. Few are motivated to do anything about it, however. Taiwan is now heavily urbanized, and city folk tend to have very small families. When asked, younger Taiwanese say that they are not interested in having children because they cost too much money, or take too much time. Women are more motivated to get a college degree and seek professional employment than to marry and have children. In this highly secularized society, children are not seen not as a blessing, but as a burden tying down the women who bear them. Goodbye, Taiwan.

Singapore, whose fertility rate stands at an anemic 1.1, is a dying city-state. The average Singaporean is now 39 years of age and climbing. While the city’s economy appears to be doing quite well, and the city itself is replete with new buildings, offers top-notch health care, and enjoys low crime rates, its population is aging fast. In order to keep everything running smoothly, Singapore must rely on immigration, the last resort of a once-reproductive population.

Hong Kong has a birth-rate of 1.09, slightly lower than that of Singapore. As a result, its government has reversed its policy on family planning. Instead of promoting smaller families, as it once did, the government now urges its citizens to have more children to help offset population aging.

It may be a matter of “too little, too late,” however. People already have ingrained in their heads that small families are better, or they just don’t think they have the means to support bigger families. Governments telling people to have more children is not going to change an anti-child mentality at this point. One might call this a voluntary one-child policy.

To illustrate this point, consider that the South Korean government beginning in 2010 has spent billions of dollars in an attempt to raise the country’s birth rate. The jury is still out on this effort, but the latest total fertility rate of 1.15 is still way below the replacement level. Seoul is spending money that it hopes will make it easier for young couples to make ends meet, and to support pregnant women. We at PRI are not sanguine that this belated effort will make much of a difference, since the birth rate was so low to begin with. The economy of this “Asian tiger” is hurting for lack of “cubs.”

Europe

The situation in Europe is no better. In Italy the dawn of the sexual revolution has meant the death of the family. Young people are now not as eager to start families, and the TFR is hovering at 1.4. Young people are happy living the single life and only marry, if at all, after they have reached their thirties and forties. Adult children see no shame in living in their parents’ homes well into middle age.

Venice, famous as a destination for honeymooners, is a dying city. It is losing inhabitants and becoming more and more just a tourist attraction. The city even held a mock funeral for itself when its population dropped below 60,000. Will holding a mock funeral boost the birth rate? It seems unlikely.

Another Catholic country with an anemic birth rate is Spain, whose TFR is 1.48. The Spanish parliament reacted to the problem by promoting births and instituting pro-natal policies. But the relatively small bonuses and benefits offered seem insufficient to resurrect population growth. The problem is exacerbated by that fact that many Spaniards, unable to find employment at home, seek it abroad in countries such as Germany. When the young flee, this hardly helps Spain’s declining birth rate and decreasing population.

We’ve told you before about Russia, whose women average 1.2 children. The nation is hemorrhaging people, a bleeding wound which a huge baby bonus has failed to staunch. The countryside is full of ghost villages as the remaining Russians move to a few large cities.

Germany’s fix for falling fertility, now standing at 1.4 children per woman, is to rely on immigrants, immigrants drawn in by the strong German economy. Spaniards and other Europeans help to bolster the German economy, to be sure, but that is not going to help their native countries.

Other countries with very, very low birth rates include, but are not limited to, England, Greece, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, and France. As the Telegraph put it: “We are not so much living in an age of crisis as facing a crisis of age.”

Where is the population bomb when you need it?

This article was originally published as the August 28 Population Research Institute Weekly Briefing.



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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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