A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of demographic suicide. Although the consequences of such a turnout could not be more serious, the problem attracts little public attention – indeed, most people may not even be aware of it. And experts can neither explain the cause nor prescribe a reliable remedy. The story is outlined in Population and Public Policy: Essays in Honour of Paul Demeny, published by the New York-based Population Council (2013).
Having too few children is a recent phenomenon. Sixty years ago, people worried about ballooning populations in the developing world resulting from high fertility rates and declining death rates (due to healthcare). The birth rate required to keep the population steady (replacement birth rate) is 2.1 children per woman, and this rate was set as the demographic goal to stabilise population.
The consequences of producing too few children to replace existing adults are extremely serious. Who will do the work, who will pay taxes, who will take care of the elderly, and, eventually, how will the state avoid eclipse? But the real question is this: why is this scenario on the horizon at all? Why would prosperous Europeans not wish to leave a posterity?
This question has stumped the experts and, in the absence of a credible cause, it is extremely difficult to prescribe a solution.
Full article: Is Europe on the verge of demographic collapse? (Irish Times)