NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 20, 2004

Despite scares of overpopulation, the reality is that many developed nations are incapable or barely able to replenish their own populations, writes Tom Bethell in the American Spectator.

According to the United Nations, if all women of child-bearing age had 2.1 children on average, the population would become stable, reaching the replacement fertility rate. Here are the current figures for certain developed regions:

  • The United States has a fertility rate of 2.1, though it still enjoys population growth due to the steady flow of immigrants.
  • France has one of the highest fertility rates in Europe at 1.8., with Great Britain having a rate of 1.6, Germany 1.4, and Spain and Italy both with 1.2.
  • South Korea has a rate of 1.14 children per woman of child-bearing age, while Japan has a rate of 1.3.

It has gotten so bad in Japan that its foreign minister has recently said that every Japanese citizen at the age of 65 should be shipped permanently to the Philippines, presumably because the Philippines have lots of low-wage people to take care of the elderly.

Similarly, population declines in Europe threaten to make its welfare programs unsustainable. Bethell says that taxes cannot be raised any higher and politicians do not want to reduce benefits because old people vote heavily. Similarly, refugees and immigrants are unpopular because they qualify for welfare benefits.

Over the next 50 years, it is estimated that the European population will fall by a hundred million while that of America will go up by a hundred million people.

Source: Tom Bethell, "Our Self-Inflicted Wounds," American Spectator, October 2004.


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