Many commentators, the great and good Mark Steyn pre-eminent among them, have been sounding the alarm over Europe’s demographic “death-spiral.”
I don’t need to reproduce in any detail here the frightening figures which Mark Steyn has quoted in America Alone and elsewhere (a book I consider absolutely indispensable reading today). Suffice it to say that most of Western Europe’s populations are now below replacement rate, with Italy at 1.2 births per marriage and Spain at 1.1 — that’s a population at least halving every generation. At that rate the Muslim re-re-conquest of Spain demanded by Osama bin Laden and others or a repetition of the Muslim sacking of Rome in 846 (the latter never mentioned by the Crusade-guilt industry) will soon be unnecessary: the land will be empty for anyone to walk in. The U.S. is at about replacement rate, with 2.07 births (its actual population growth due to immigration), and Canada is at 1.5.
The fact that countries whose religion and culture have been overwhelming Catholic are among those closest to or actually on the death-spiral suggests the crucial factors in this population collapse are not religious but economic, or rather that the Catholic church’s disapproval of birth-control and support for large families is not enough of itself to prevail against secular economic pressures. Catholic or Protestant, it is much the same. It is easy to argue that in an affluent society with plenty of entertainment, pleasures and distractions available, if you’ve got the time and money, children are too costly.
There is, however, a bit of positive news from Australia, suggesting the disease may not be incurable. To give myself a pat on the back, it looks like the vindication of something which I have been arguing for some time, not that it should take an Einstein to figure it out: Western governments can encourage greater fertility in their populations by baby-friendly taxation policies, bonuses, and other incentives.
It has now been found that in Australia an A$4,000 (about U.S. $3,600) maternity payment introduced by the Government in 2004 has helped to accelerate the nation’s birthrate with more than 10,000 extra babies born in the past year.
Australia is not unlike Western Europe in relevant ways: it is an affluent country, where it costs a great deal to educate a child. The great objective of most Australians is to own the family home freehold, and two-incomes are generally thought necessary to keep a mortgage under control. Most people consider at least one, and preferably two cars, a necessity of life. A boast on a trailer on the nature-strip is desirable too. Holidays are very generous and Australians love to travel and to spend when traveling. This all militates against child-bearing.
However, since the present “baby bonus” was introduced, government data on the number of parents claiming it strongly suggests that the birthrate is rising at a much faster rate than previously thought.
Claims were made by 268,667 parents for newborns in 2005-06, an increase of more than 10,000 births on the previous year and more than 16,000 on 2003-04.p>The national daily the Australian , which uncovered the figures using Freedom of information legislation, reported: br> /p>
Demographers suggest the maternity payment — worth $3000 when it was introduced in July 2004 but increased to $4000 in July this year — combined with low interest rates and low unemployment, may be driving the baby boom.br> The number of claims jumped again in 2005-06 to 268,667, perhaps because some parents failed to claim in the first year.
Australia’s fertility rate, which reached 1.8 babies per woman last year, is up from 1.72 in 2003 and is well above rates of between 1.2 and 1.4 in many other developed nations …
There were 235,299 claims for the bonus — comprising 194,342 couples and 40,957 single parents — in 2004-05.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?