Ominous warnings of millions starving to death in a world overcrowded with people were prevalent in the late 20th Century. Panic struck. It was no coincidence that family planning programs—including abortion procedures—were developed and accepted at the height of this scare.
However, the 21st century brought the realization that the increase in population was actually due to dramatically increased life expectancies. Earth Report 2000 acknowledged that, ”World population increased not because people were breeding like rabbits, but because they stopped dying like f lies.“1
Although the world’s population has continued to grow, the number of children has decreased drastically and will therefore cause an eventual population decline.
According to Philip Longman of the New America Foundation, “Global fertility rates are half what they were in 1972.”2 To merely maintain its population, a nation’s fertility rate must be at least 2.1 children per woman.3
Unfortunately, every developed country is currently at or below this level.4 While the average fertility rate of the U.S. is 1.87,5 the current rate in Europe is a dismal 1.5.6 In addition, one must consider that 60% of the U.S. population growth since 1990 has come from immigrants and their children.7 With the acknowledgment of looming economic disaster,governments in Russia,8 Japan, Australia,9 and most European countries10,11,12 have initiated monetary “pronatal” incentives for having children—incentives that have not yet proven effective in raising fertility rates.
Global demographic trends are continually studied at the highest levels of leadership, dominating any discussion of the United States’ long-term fiscal, economic or foreign policy direction.13 These studies show that population growth, which supplies an increasing source of workers and consumers, is vital to maintaining a stable economy, national strength and security, and ultimately a free society.14 However, this information isn’t getting to theaverage citizen.
Maintaining sufficient workers to share the economic burden of providing Social Security and medical care for the elderly proves crucial to a population that exhibits increased life expectancy. When considering that there are currently 26 elders (those 65 and older) for every 100 working-age adults (20–64), the future looks bleak. Predictions show 42 per 100 by 2030 and 49 per 100 by 2050.15 Carl Haub, of the Population Reference Bureau, believes tinkering with the economy and adjusting the retirement age will not solve the problem. He says, “You can’t keep going with a completely upside-down age distribution... You can’t have a country where everybody lives in a nursing home.”16
1Bailey, Ronald. Earth Report 2000: Revisiting the True State of the Planet. 2000., 1999 Edited by: Ronald Bailey. McGraw-Hill (ISBN-13: 978-ISBN-10: 0071342605). | 2Longman, Philip. The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity. April 2004. (ISBN-10: 0465050506 ISBN-13: 978-0465050505). | 3“World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision Analytical Report” United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division 2004. Web. | 4Howe, Neil, Jackson, Richard. “Global Aging and the Crisis of the 2020s.” Center for Strategic and International Studies. 2008. Web. | 5“COUNTRY COMPARISON :: TOTAL FERTILITY RATE.” The World Fact Book. Central Intelligence Agency, 2015. Web. | 6“World Population Prospects Key Findings and Advance Tables 2015 Revision” United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division. 2015. | 7Demographic Winter: the decline of the human family. Dir. Rick Stout. SRB Documentary, LLC, 2008. DVD. | 8Graham, Stephen “Germans Get Incentives for Having Babies” The Washington Post. Jan. 4, 2007. | 9Chivers, C. J. “Putin Urges Plan to Reverse Slide in the Birth Rate.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 May 2006. Web. | 10Murphy, Clare. “The EU’s Baby Blues.” BBC News. BBC, 27 Mar. 2006. Web. | 11Bryant, Elizabeth. “European nations offer incentives to have kids” San Francisco Chronicle. August 10, 2008. | 12Meyer, Michael. “Birth Dearth” Newsweek, Inc. Sept. 27, 2004. www.newsweek.com | 13Jackson, Richard, Neil Howe, and Tobias Peter. The Global Aging Preparedness Index. Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2013. | 14Longman, Phillip. The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do about It. New York: Basic , a Member of the Perseus Group, 2004. Print. | 15Jackson, Richard, Howe, Neil, Strauss, Rebecca, Nakashima, Keisuke. “The Graying of the Great Powers Demography and Geopolitics in the 21st Century.” Center for Strategic and International Studies. May 2008. | 16Shorto, Russell. “No Babies?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 June 2008. Web.