I just finished reading the most fascinating article I have read in recent memory. Stanley Kurtz of the Hoover Institution at Stanford wrote a thought-provoking review of a number of recent studies about population decline, it’s effect on civilization, and possible solutions to the problem. Please read the article in its entirety here, I would love to hear your thoughts.
If you’re like me, you probably grew up hearing that the world is involved in a population explosion, and that it’s irresponsible of people to have more than a kid or two because of overpopulation. Turns out that is flat wrong. Fertility rates have been on a steady and steep decline over the past two generations, even in the developing world. At this point NO industrialized nation has a birthrate at replacement level, and even third world countries have seen drastic declines such that they are barely at replacement level and certainly not far enough over to make up for the shortfall in the rest of the world. This is serious for a number of sobering reasons discussed more fully in the article, but the gist is that the numbers are not in question, rather the question is how the problem will be resolved.
Kurtz discusses three main ideas being advanced as solutions, which are that population decline coupled with surging populations of the elderly will cause global financial depression and crisis, eventually leading to the fall of modern life as we know it because nations will be unable to corral the problem (this seems likely in democracies where older people vote more often than younger and the political will to accomplish true reform is unlikely to materialize). The possibility that has liberals running scared is that there will be a resurgence of fertility. What? Why would they care? Because either that resurgence will mean a rise in religious families (who tend to have more children and also to be more conservative) or at least a rise in more families in general and parents tend to be more conservative than single or childless adults. On the other hand, conservatives and, surely, ALL rational people would be freaked out by the possibility of a solution driven by Brave New World-type eugenic projects.
In any case, the article is quite well written, and would be worth your time. This is an issue I had not considered previously, other than in a cursory fashion, and I’d be interested to find out if any readers have thoughts or insights on the topic.