Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Europe and the Culture of Death

Oscar Wilde once said "you can survive anything, except death". That might be true for individuals, but nations operate under a different maxim. Nations can survive anything except a sustained decline in fertility.

In Europe, Italy is the poster child for catastrophic demographics. For every 8 births, there are now almost 11 departures. The Italian population would be rapidly shrinking were it not for migration. Two of those dearly departed Italians have been replaced by migrants. Even with migration, the Italian population has slowly begun to shrink.

I recently received a comment questioning whether declining birth rates and ageing populations were a bad thing. "More resources for the rest of us" sums up the gist of the argument.

Don't count on that. Resources tend to gravitate to the most productive economies. Countries with ageing populations are unlikely to be well positioned to compete in the increasingly globalized economy.

However, this isn't what really bothers me about the worsening population demographics in Europe. There is something much more disturbing behind that chart. These numbers reek of despair. Italians, and Europeans generally, can not be bothered to defer sufficient current income to ensure that there are enough offspring to maintain current population size.

It can not be a lack of resources preventing procreation. Apart from the odd famine and plague, Europeans had no problem producing children in previous centuries when incomes were lower. As any teenage mum will tell you, children are extraordinarily robust, and can thrive in the most adverse environments. Moreover, children aren't as bothered by poverty as adults might think.

In cultural terms, a society that can not reproduce itself is in a very dark place. This is why I have absolutely no time for Europeans whingeing about migration. Europeans have collectively decided to vacate the continent. Europe has literally lost the will to survive. If that is the decision of the majority, then we will all have to tag along for the ride.

Procreation takes sacrifice. It has rewards too, but it means spending money on others. Europeans, for the most part, don't want to do it. They would rather avoid changing diapers, waking up in the middle of the night to placate a crying baby, cutting back on expenditures to ensure that the kids have piano lessons.

This might sound a little melodramatic. Nevertheless, it is important to focus on European fertility rates. Forget about what people tell you, look at what they do. Europeans don't produce children.

Look at that chart again. In Italy death is more popular than birth. This culture of death is obscured by the arrival of migrants. To which I say we should welcome them. For they appear to be less selfish and less despairing than the current residents of the continent

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