Happened to run across this while researching global macroeconomics.....interesting.
By Lilia Borlongan-Alvarez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:08:00 02/01/2010
Filed Under: Nature, Climate Change, Economy and Business and Finance
ONE of the most startling and chilling revelations related to the global economic downturn pertains to a link between the current crisis and a phenomenon known as “demographic winter”, which refers to a worldwide decline in birthrates by more than 50 percent in the last 30 years.
A documentary, titled “Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family,” essentially debunks the popular myth that the world is overpopulated and drives home the point that if there is any global crisis, it is not global warming but rather, a global decline in human birthrates which, if left unchecked, will have severe social, political and economic effects.
In his talk before the World Congress on the Family in Amsterdam last year, Steven Smoot, head of FamilyFirst Foundation, says the film exposes the folly behind the idea that food production cannot keep pace with population growth and that by the 1980s, hundreds of millions of people would starve to death because of overpopulation and resources necessary to sustain population growth.
“Has society been so indoctrinated with the idea that the world is overpopulated and we are now willing to sacrifice children and a proven economic model that is essential for the growth and economic prosperity of every nation? Today, it takes 2.1 children to replace the previous generation and all of Europe is only at 1.36. Below-replacement fertility and its effects on the global economy have led to a demographic winter which has serious social and economic consequences,” he says.
“Some people would say, well, isn’t that good? Less people, less carbon footprints to pollute mother earth,” Smoot says. “But if we were to take the world population (which is approaching 6.8 billion) and gave every man, woman and child a quarter of an acre of land, giving a family of four an acre of land to cultivate, we would be able to put the entire population of the world in just one of the 11 countries of South America, Brazil, leaving the rest of the world totally uninhabited and leaving almost one fifth of Brazil in open space!”
Smoot also says that if a country’s population declines, so does a country’s economic future. “The findings of many scholars that we interviewed show that a country’s economic future is tied closely to its demographic makeup and that as population increases, so does the stock of human ingenuity,” he explains in his talk.
He cites three concrete examples: one was the baby boom in the United States after World War II, which led to 40 years of prosperity owing to an increase in consumer spending, which represented over 70 percent of the US’s gross national product.
The other was Japan, which did not enjoy a similar baby boom after the war and which now has a markedly aging population.
“They had women in the workforce to clean up the ashes of destruction of World War II. Thus, they didn’t have a lot of children, but with everyone in the workforce, their economy did extremely well for the next 30 plus years, but they forgot one thing—children for their future. So from their market peak in the late 1990s, their stock market
, the Nikkei, dropped 80 percent of its value over the next 14 years and their real estate values dropped 60 percent across the board during the same period,” Smoot says.
The third example is Russia where its birth rate has stood at only 1.17 percent and where more children are aborted than they are born.
Smoot quotes Dr. Victor Medkoft of the University of Moscow: if the present trend continues, within 43 years, Russia will lose almost half of its population. “Today, Russia’s population is declining by over 750,000 a year. At this level, how will Russia be able to man its factories, farms or even an army to secure its borders?” Smoot asks.
Breakdown of the family
Documentary producer Barry McLerran says the film tells of the deterioration and breakdown of families that have affected the global economy. This has had some connection with the population control policies enforced in many states.
He commented on a London Times article about a meeting of liberal billionaires (called the Good Club) which has aggravated this ’demographic winter.’
It was a gathering of some of the wealthiest people in America—among them Microsoft founder Bill Gates, philanthropist David Rockefeller, media mogul Ted Turner, and media icon and celebrity Oprah Winfrey—who pitched for “charitable initiatives such as better reproductive health care (code words for contraception and abortion).”
The documentary also paints a grim social and economic scenario if the current trend in the global decline in birthrates continues:
“Even immigration cannot replace aging populations (such as those in Japan and Europe), thus sapping the strength from developing countries.
“There will be 248 million less children under the age of 5 in 2050 than there is today, according to estimates of the United National Population Division.
“The world economy will continue to contract as “human capital” diminishes.
“The skyrocketing ratio of old retirees to the young workforce will render social security systems completely unable to support the aging population.
“More children will grow up in broken homes with absentee parents leading to disconnected generations and severe psychological, sociological and economic consequences. (A case in point is the diaspora of overseas Filipino contract workers to countries where they have slaved for many years.)
“In the history of mankind, there is no instance of economic growth accompanied by population decline. The film poses this question: how can an industrial economy be run with fewer and fewer workers and consumers?
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