VATICAN CITY, July 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Europe’s ongoing economic crisis is due to more far-reaching problems than credit and massive national debt, said the head of the Vatican bank. The “true origin of the current economic crisis” is Europe’s aging population and low birth rate, according to Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.
In an op-ed piece for the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Tedeschi writes that “children are the engine of recovery” and warns that an aging population and shrinking work force offset by mass immigration will inevitably produce social instability.
Those in power who hope to create a stable economy in Europe, he said, must “define a strategy to concretely support families in their natural vocation to have children.”
They “must invest in the family and in children in order to generate rapid economic growth, thanks to factors such as increased demand, savings and investment.”
“Older people would thus be more accepted and not just tolerated, as sometimes happens today.”
The increasing taxes that prop up Europe’s welfare states have placed a burden on young families, he said, to the point where “a two-income family today earns less than the same family thirty years ago earned with only one income.”
“This is the consequence of the growth of taxes on the GDP, doubled in the same period, precisely as a means to absorb the consequences of aging due to the decrease in births.”
Aging populations, he writes, consume fewer manufactured goods, save less money and have less disposable income.
“Summarizing in a slightly brutal way, one could say that we buy fewer cars, but more medicine. The cycle of production of savings is also changing and will continue increasingly to do so; it is in decline and destined to crumble: first because it had to sustain consumption, now because of the drastic reduction in income.”
With the exception of Ireland, all of the European countries that have been most affected by the EU’s economic crisis have had extremely low fertility rates. Greece, Spain and now Italy, are facing massive debt crises and bailouts from the International Monetary Fund and the EU. Greece has a fertility rate of 1.38 children born per woman, Spain’s is 1.47 children born per woman and Italy’s is 1.39. The number of children needed to sustain a steady population base in developed countries is 2.1 per woman.
Demographers have warned for years of the inevitable economic trouble that will follow upon such drastically low birth rates. Some countries, including Russia, are beginning to consider restrictions on abortion in an eleventh-hour attempt to stave off economic disaster. Economists say the main problem is that countries that have massive public debt have borrowed against the potential earning power of future generations who are no longer being born.
Industrialized economies with large public welfare systems, such as those of nearly all EU member states, depend heavily on rising tax revenue generated by a continually expanding population base. A declining population means fewer taxpayers and shrinking government revenue to maintain social benefits programs. This will create increasing problems as the population ages and comes to depend more heavily on government-funded medical and pension benefits.
Countries that have legalized divorce and abortion and have widely promoted contraceptives, are attempting to bribe women to have more children but with little result. France, Italy, Germany and Poland, have all offered cash and benefits to women to encourage them to have more children.
Anti-euthanasia activists have warned that the increasing pressure on a decreasing workforce, combined with the shift in public opinion, will create even greater demand for legalized euthanasia and more coercive tactics to convince elderly people to commit suicide.
Tedeschi writes that these consequences are already becoming manifest in Europe and in the next decade, the effects will become “no longer bearable.”
“The ever-increasing percentage of people who retire from their productive phase becomes a fixed cost which is impossible to absorb and sustain by those who produce.”
He notes, “The costs of an aging population cannot be sustained by young people, who, in addition to being fewer, might also ask themselves why they should do so, especially if they are immigrants.”