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Interesting Recent Articles on the Ongoing Global Demographic Decline

November 18, 2019 18 comments

Recently, I came across a number of articles about the ongoing demographic decline in developed countries all over the world. FYI- I plan to write a short series about this topic soon.

Link # 1: The End of Babies

If any country should be stocked with babies, it is Denmark. The country is one of the wealthiest in Europe. New parents enjoy 12 months’ paid family leave and highly subsidized day care. Women under 40 can get state-funded in vitro fertilization. But Denmark’s fertility rate, at 1.7 births per woman, is roughly on par with that of the United States. A reproductive malaise has settled over this otherwise happy land. It’s not just Danes. Fertility rates have been dropping precipitously around the world for decades — in middle-income countries, in some low-income countries, but perhaps most markedly, in rich ones. Declining fertility typically accompanies the spread of economic development, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. At its best, it reflects better educational and career opportunities for women, increasing acceptance of the choice to be child-free, and rising standards of living.

Link # 2: The Global Fertility Crash

While the global average fertility rate was still above the rate of replacement—technically 2.1 children per woman—in 2017, about half of all countries had already fallen below it, up from 1 in 20 just half a century ago. For places such as the U.S. and parts of Western Europe, which historically are attractive to migrants, loosening immigration policies could make up for low birthrates. In other places, more drastic policy interventions may be called for. Most of the available options place a high burden on women, who’ll be relied upon not only to bear children but also to help fill widening gaps in the workforce. Each of the following indicators tells a part of the global fertility story: not just how many babies women have on average, but also how well women are integrated into the workforce, what slice of the income pie they receive, and level of educational attainment.

Link # 3: Armenia’s Looming Demographic Crisis

The sharp drop in births seen in 2001 has continued for another decade. In addition, the births are heavily weighted toward male children (15% more males than females). One can easily understand the additional strain this will cause by 2030 in family formations. Diasporan communities being formed today, who are prospering in their host nations, offers no guarantees of repatriation to Armenia, or even of having close ties with a country their parents chose to leave. The first 30 years of independence set in motion a demographic crisis so deep and lasting that it is unclear whether anything can be done today to rectify it. The resulting national security issues for Armenia are so serious as to jeopardize the viability of the country for the next 30 years.

Link # 4: How to Overcome Losing 600,000 People a Year

A banner at a traffic roundabout urges onlookers to marry North Koreans. Another, with a photo of a pregnant woman, reminds passersby that freelancers and self-employed female workers can benefit from government stipends for expecting mothers. A church hall contains a busy office, staffed by government social workers, that supports brides from Southeast Asia who wed lonely farmers unable to find a local mate. Uiseong’s efforts are laudable, but government programs like these have done little to address the commonly cited barriers to having children. The cost of living, particularly in urban areas, is astronomical; meanwhile the brutal competitiveness of the education system and a work culture that has traditionally placed a premium on long hours leaves little time for family-rearing. Last year, President Moon Jae-in reduced the maximum work week to 52 hours from 68, though not all firms are covered by these restrictions.

What do you think? Comments?