Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Italy, the Coronavirus Pandemic and Demographic Winter

COMMENTARY: Demographic winter is a slow-moving train wreck. It has been for some time.

by Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.

This article was first published April 3, 2020, at NCRegister.com.

Heartbreaking stories have emerged from the coronavirus pandemic in Italy. Hospitals are too full. Doctors are overworked. People die alone. Coffins pile up. The Pope walks through empty Roman streets, praying alone.

The coronavirus has created these scenes. Yet, behind the scenes of the crisis is another one. Slow-moving, largely hidden, yet destructive both physically and socially, a problem people prefer to ignore. I am speaking of demographic winter: the worldwide fertility decline. This problem aggravates the coronavirus crisis.


The coronavirus is especially lethal for the elderly. The death rate (deaths per number of cases) is 15% for people over 80, 8% for people in their 70s, 3% for people in their 60s and less than 1% for people under 50. The countries with the highest number of cases and fatalities per capita are countries with a large percentage of elderly people. For instance, Italy’s fertility rate is now 1.33 children per woman, far below the replacement level of 2.1. As a result, Italy has a rapidly aging population. Almost a quarter (23%) of Italy’s population is now over 65 years of age. In 2019, the median age was 46.3, projected to rise to 51.4 by 2050. An aging population is creating and will continue to create rising costs for both pensions and health care.

But beyond the dollars and cents are the human costs. Low fertility rate means fewer young people to take care of the increasing number of older people. Even if the fear of contagion had not prevented family visits, more and more people have no young relatives to come visit them. Even without coronavirus, for example, Japan has so many childless elderly people who die alone that the culture has developed a special term: “lonely death.” People die in their apartments, alone, sometimes undiscovered for days or more, sometimes much more. The first person to whom the term was applied, evidently, was a man who was discovered three years after his death.

We are so accustomed to hearing about “overpopulation” and “The Population Bomb” that we scarcely consider the opposite problem of underpopulation. Yet the fact is that birth rates in most of the world are well below replacement rates. And the problems are becoming harder to ignore and harder to solve.

Political scientist Nicolas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute stated in a depressing article entitled, Growing Old the Hard Way:

“Left unaddressed, the mounting pressures that population aging would pose on pension outlays, health care expenditures, fiscal discipline, savings levels, manpower availability, and workforce attainment could only have adverse domestic implications for productivity and economic growth in today’s affluent societies.”

These pressures have been pretty much “left unaddressed” during the 15 years since Eberstadt penned those words. Public policy around the globe still emphasizes the need to slow population growth. The problems created by population decline never seem to get the same attention.

You may reply that lower fertility is one of the costs of women’s greater participation in higher education and the professions. Women are choosing delayed and reduced fertility, because they believe they will benefit from it. That is only true up to a point. What kind of “choice” is it, when we women hear all about the benefits of delayed fertility and never hear about the costs?

Did you know that most college educated women end up with fewer children than they originally wanted?* Most people don’t know this. Yet this is the case in pretty much every rich country. The “fertility gap” is highest in Southern European countries, such as Italy and Spain, where the coronavirus just happens to be the most virulent.

There is no world overpopulation crisis. The bigger problem is that we don’t have enough people. We cannot solve this problem overnight. There is nothing we can do today to increase the number of 40 year-olds we have tomorrow. Sure, we could increase immigration. But that is neither a global, nor a long-term solution.

In fact, we know today with absolute certainty the maximum number of 40-year-olds there could possibly be in the world in April 2060. (Demography is predictable that way.) We can’t do anything about that. But we can do something about how many 40 year-olds there will be in January 2061 because we can do something about how many babies we have in January 2021.

The COVID-created enforced “social isolation” could well result in a baby boom. Some “experts” offer you a free abortion as a “solution” to your “unwanted” pregnancy. I offer a different suggestion: Have the baby. Pull yourself together to take care of that baby, even if you didn’t “plan” it. Lots and lots of people who didn’t “plan” their babies will tell you later they don’t regret having them.

We baby boomers were, frankly, idiots on this point. We thought we were so smart, putting off our pregnancies and “planning” our families. We planned ourselves right into the personal heartbreak of infertility and the social crisis of demographic winter.

Of course, we as good Christian citizens must do our best to limit the spread of the coronavirus. But we must also understand the role of demographics in making us more vulnerable to this pandemic. A nation without children has no future, no matter what diseases may emerge.

For the love of God and all mankind, be not afraid! Have the baby! With any luck, and by the grace of God, Italy and all of us, will experience a post-COVID baby boom.

 


Our Annual Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution is Coming!

 

Educating yourself is the first step in fighting the effects of the sexual revolution in your life and among loved ones.

The Ruth Institute is hosting its Third Annual Awards Dinner and Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution, and you're invited.

Learn how to confront and survive trends in transgenderism, the LGBT subculture, the pitfalls of population control, post-abortion trauma, same-sex parenting, childhood sexual abuse, and more.

The summit will include various sessions loaded with information. Have you ever wondered, for example, how pornography is affecting people’s lives? The Summit’s class “Protecting Our Children from Our Pornified Culture” will open your eyes. These and other facts about pornography will be discussed:


  • The average age of first exposure to porn is 11 years old
  • 25% of search engine requests are related to sex
  • 35% of downloads from the Internet are pornographic
  • 40% of Americans say they regularly visit porn sites
  • 70% of men aged 18 to 24 visit a porn site at least once a month
  • One-third of all Internet porn users are women
  • Conditions frequently associated with porn addiction include depression, anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, memory problems, and erectile dysfunction
  • In the United States, 68% of divorces involve one party having what is described as an obsessive interest in pornography

For this and many other well-researched presentations, save the date:

Third Annual Ruth Institute Awards Dinner and

Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution

PROTECTING CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

July 17-18, 2020

 


 



Philippine Phertility Phacts

In my last post, I asked, “Where are the libertarians when we need them?” (Metaphorically, by asking about Libertarian icon, Murray Rothbard.) I was looking at the truly appalling Reproductive Health Bill, foisted on the people of the Republic of the Philippines, by the United Nations Population Fund, aided and abetted by the United States government.

When the government is taking such a heavy-handed approach to “reproductive health” as to insist on a “Certificate of Compliance” before couples can get married, or to mandate “age-appropriate” sex education, one naturally wonders: what is the problem this legislation is designed to solve? Is there an over-population crisis in the Philippines?

The Philippine Archipelago

What are the facts?

In the Philippines, the Total Fertility Rate is (are you sitting down? Are you ready for this shocking over-breeding?  Drum roll…..)

3.06 births per woman.

 In the US, the TFR is 2.01 births per woman, considered to be exactly “replacement” fertility.

Let’s take some additional factors into account.

The typical “demographic transition” works like this.  In pre-modern societies, families have children to help on the farm and care for parents in their old age. People tend to give birth to more children than they may ultimately want, because they expect some of those children to not survive until adulthood. When the infant and child mortality rates decline due to better health care, people begin having fewer children.

Somehow, women and their families figured this out, some centuries ago, even without hormonal contraception, and even without the UN Population Fund looking over their shoulders.

So, what is the infant mortality rate in the Philippines?  Within the first year of life, 17.64 children die per 1,000 live births.  For the sake of comparison, the infant mortality rate in the United States is a mere 6. 17 deaths per thousand live births.

In the Philippine flag, blue stands for peace and justice, red symbolizes courage, the white equal-sided triangle represents equality. Where are these virtues when the UN Population Fund imposes on the people?  
In the Philippine flag, blue stands for peace and justice, red symbolizes courage, the white equal-sided triangle represents equality. Where are these virtues when the UN Population Fund imposes on the people?   

In other words, Filipina women have just one more baby over the course of their lifetimes than do American women, in spite of the fact that their babies are almost 3 times more likely to die.

In the Philippines, the mothers’ mean age at first birth is 23.1 years old, not dreadfully young. And the life expectancy at birth for the people of the Philippines is 72.48 years of age. By comparison, the median age at first birth in the United States is 25.4 and the life expectancy at birth is 79.56.

True enough, the people of the Philippines have less money income than people in the United States. But the overall picture is hardly a desperate over-population nightmare, or of people dropping in the streets from starvation.

The Reproductive Health Bill is a totally unwarranted intrusion by the Philippine government into the private lives of its citizens. And the interference of the United Nations and the United States in the internal affairs of this sovereign nation, which was absolutely necessary to get this bill passed, is an affront to common decency.

(All statistics for this article come from the CIA Fact Book.  The US statistics are here, and the Philippine statistics are here.)


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