MADRID, July 18, 2001 ( – Spain finds itself in dire circumstances as its birth rate of 1.2 (the world’s lowest) threatens to crash the country’s social-welfare system. The National Post reported yesterday that Spanish politicians are taking to the airwaves to pitch patriotism to women, urging them to have more children.

Demographer Juan Antonio Fernandez of Spain’s Superior Council for Scientific Research predicts that with the current state of affairs, the country’s population of 40 million will begin shrinking in as few as four years. “The problem is not the volume of the population. We could get by with as little as 30 million people,” Dr. Fernandez says. “It’s the age structure.” The Post reports that with fewer babies born each year, the population is aging rapidly. Generally, a country requires four people in the work force for every retiree drawing pension benefits. However Spain will require at least four times its current population by 2050 to support its retirees, says Dr. Fernandez.

Dr. Fernandez doubts women can be convinced to have more children and thus looks to massive immigration as the only hope. He says Spain needs to accept immigrants at a rate “about 10 times more each year than we are currently receiving.” He concluded, “It would mean a real change in Spain, and I’m not sure we are ready to face it.”

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