Friday, September 23

Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity

South Africa is enchanting. I just got back from visiting a small private game reserve in the outsides of Durban, and just the landscape is amazing. It feels like you are live on the set of Lion King. The diversity in the culture, the richness of languages, and the history--both good and bad--is quite evident all around me. I do hope I have the opportunity to return some day soon.

I had some time, so I thought I would check in and post some thoughts. I was doing some of my regular reading, and I came across this interesting book by Phillip Longman on birthrates and its effect on global economy. The book is called "The Empty Cradle:How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity" and it is next on my must-read list.

This is interesting when you consider the traditional Hispanic family has much more children than most other cultures. I wonder what this is going to mean as far as helping Latinos move forward economically, in societies that are largely ignoring the problem of falling birthrates, despite government's best efforts. Here is an interesting excerpt from an article by Candice Watters, editor of, refering to Longman's book. She is undoubtedly my favorite author on the issue of being single and getting married. If you are a young single man or woman, you need to read her stuff.

Severing the link between marriage and children is a modern concept, born of material wealth, political freedom and technological advancements. But just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. God has not revoked His charge to the first couple, Adam and Eve, to be fruitful and multiply. (And contrary to public opinion, we're in dire need of more, not fewer, people on this earth.) When we marry and choose not to have children, we violate our very design and disobey our God. (We've talked at length about this on Boundless, including articles by J. Budziszewski and Matt Kaufman.)

But this is not simply an issue of faith or Biblical teachings. As I said before, there are serious economic consequences. The Dallas Morning News had an interesting article, which at the end, focuses on the main issue at hand--people delaying marriage and child bearing until it is much to late!
Bad timing

"People, particularly in Europe, aren't producing as many children as they would like to have. The economy is asking them to do more and more in their best reproductive years. They're expected to get educated, get a job, find a nice neighborhood, etc. By the time they do that, they've missed their best years for reproduction. Basically, our societies have put a tax on nurture. Parents create value, but they get little of it."

I asked how the nurture tax could be measured.

"Parents are effectively taxed in several ways. They pay the same Social Security taxes as others. But at the same time, they produce the children that will secure the future of Social Security. And children are an enormous investment. The government estimates it's about $200,000 in direct expenses. "There's also an enormous opportunity cost - the forgone wages. Even if the wife doesn't stay home full time, the part-time work is an opportunity cost."

The Empty Cradle captures a lost truth: There's more to life than investments. And there's more to investments than money.
Here is what Peter Peterson, author and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, had to say.
"A must read for all who care about their own and our nation's financial future. It shows conclusively that the strength of America's financial institutions ultimately depends on the strength and fertility of American families."