Hey! Randy

Where Have All the Babies Gone?

Posted by heyrandy on January 2, 2012

How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying Too), Daniel Goldman 2011

Are you future oriented or present oriented? This is the crucial issue for modern society. How you regard the future is affecting that future. Goldman’s thesis is that modern societies are very present oriented. This orientation has caused a reduction in the birth rate that is below replacement levels. Western civilizations are dying as a result. Faith in the future became faith in the present. Children lost their value.

It is not just the West that is in decline. Japan is facing catastrophe. Its population’s average age is rapidly increasing, but its birth rate is barely above one child per woman. This means that there will be a small producing generation taking care of a very large elderly generation.

China is worse. Its one child policy has given it a 14% to 17% men to women differential. A large population of men who will never marry and have children will bring revolution. China is doomed.

The Muslim world reflects the same trend (hence the subtitle of the book.). Iran is in such decline that the current Iranian President has publicly call for an increase in the birthrate. The public responded by increasing the use of contraception.

The only bright spot is America. Here the birthrate is just above the 2.1 child per woman necessary for a stable population. This is largely due the evangelical wing of Christianity. The old “Mainline” denominations are shrinking. Most of their members are either moving to evangelical churches or just not going anywhere. But the evangelical churches are growing by evangelism and child birth.

The mainline problem is also a problem for the Roman Catholics. Birthrates and church attendance have collapsed in such former Catholic strongholds a Quebec, Canada and Ireland.

Why is all this happening? Using United Nation’s statistics as well as those of the World Bank and other groups, the author sees women’s education as the primary cause. The more education a woman has the fewer children. Time is school delays marriage and shortens a woman’s effective child-bearing years. Education also changes one’s outlook on life and circumstances. Modern life in the city has replaced traditional life of the village. Modern life is very present oriented. However, education indicates future orientation. Education has costs in time, effort, and money. Education is a sacrifice now to get a later reward. I think the women’s education hypothesis does not explain all the problem.

This dearth of children is not a new phenomenon. Goldman cites ancient Greece and Rome. Both empires collapsed because they ran out of military age men. The were no armies to repel the invaders. Women’s education was not a factor in these ancient cultures. These cultures lost faith in the future. If there is no future, why have kids?

The West has developed a Now philosophy of time. We are the Me Generation. Technological advances have helped foster this Me-Now view. The effect is population decline.

While this is all bad news for many traditional groups, the future is not all gloom. Wars, famines, and plagues have reduced populations. Populations have rebounded. “The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse,” as the author calls the birth dearth, will not destroy the world. Civilizations die. They all have. New civilizations are born to take their place. Those with large families look forward to a future they will rule. Now you know what to do to rule the world ten generations from now.

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