“For all M. de Villepin’s dreams of Napoleonic glory, his generation of French politicians will spend the rest of their lives managing decline. By 2050, there will be 100 million more Americans, 100 million fewer Europeans. The US fertility rate is 2.1 children per couple; in Europe it’s 1.4. Demography is not necessarily destiny, and certainly not inevitable disaster. But it will be for Europe, because the 20th-century Continental welfare state was built on a careless model that requires a constantly growing population to sustain it. — Mark Steyn
Across Europe, not one nation has a birth rate sufficient to replace its native-born population. The share that is of working age is shriveling, while the share that is eligible for state-funded pensions, social security and health care is growing. — Pat Buchanan
Mark Steyn has been beating the doomsayer’s drum about declining populations in the Western world for years. Although, in all fairness, pitchfork Pat has effectively made the same argument as well on a number of occasions. Sadly, as per usual, the elite reaction to inconvenient facts has been to ignore them as things have gotten worse. Unfortunately, Western Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States is starting to run into a demographic buzzsaw. It’s at the heart of our deficit woes and it also has a lot to do with why Greece, Spain, Italy, etc, are starting to circle to drain.
Well, the problem has now become so apparent that even the United Nations is starting to catch on.
A major study published by the United Nations has warned that the growing numbers of the elderly presented significant challenges to welfare, pension and health care systems in both developing and developed nations.
…Calling the ageing demographic a “megatrend that is transforming economies and societies around the world”, the report estimated that one in nine people of the world’s population of seven billion are over 60.
…The size of the elderly population is expected to swell by 200 million within 10 years past the one billion mark and soar to two billion by 2050, it forecast.
The number of centenarians in the world is projected to increase from fewer than 316,600 in 2011 to 3.2 million in 2050.
In Britain there are projected to be half a million centenarians by 2066, with one third of babies born in 2012 expected to celebrate their 100th birthday, according to Government statistics cited.
…Japan is the only country with an older population of more than 30 percent, but by 2050, 64 countries are expected to achieve that proportion including Britain.
The report warned that the skills and knowledge that older people have acquired are going to waste, with many of them underemployed, underactive and more likely to become a drain on a nation’s resources. Britain is among several European countries that have passed laws against employers discriminating against the elderly but progress has been uneven, said Mr Blewitt.
…Ageing, said the report, “is a triumph of development”.
“Increasing longevity is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. People live longer because of improved nutrition, sanitation, medical advances, health care, education and economic well-being,” it continued.
But it warned that the most serious impact of ageing populations would be in developing countries without safety nets or adequate legal protection in place for older people.
Ageing is indeed a “a triumph of development.” Unfortunately, Western civilization hasn’t adjusted to that development. In a society where most of the population is young and working, you can get by with long retirements for the elderly. On the other hand, when you have a much older population and a much smaller group of producers paying the bills, you can’t really afford to have people retiring at 50, 60, or even 70 while other people pay their bills for 10-15 years.
You may say, “But John, we are affording it!” Really? Then why do we have 16 trillion dollars in debt, a one trillion dollar deficit, and massive deficits planned from now until we can’t even borrow money any more and end up like Greece?
Eventually, Western civilization is going to adjust because it has no other choice; There simply isn’t enough money in the world to continue going forward in the same direction.