Thursday, May 15, 2008

The low birthrate of Europe and Japan reflects a low value on life--could the US be next?

Below is an except from a fascinating briefing on life, birth rates, and euthenasia in Europe and Japan that one of my friends sent to me today. I'll make some comments after the article below.


Europe and Japan are dying because their populations are aging and shrinking. These trends can be reversed if the young people start breeding. However, the birth rates in these areas are so low it will take two generations to turn things around. No economic model exists that permits 50 years to turn things around. Some countries are beginning to offer incentives for people to have bigger families.

For example, Italy is offering tax breaks for having children. However, it's a lifestyle issue versus a tiny amount of money. Europeans aren't willing to give up their comfortable lifestyles in order to have more children. In general, everyone in Europe just wants it to last a while longer. Europeans have a real talent for living. They don't want to work very hard. The average European worker gets 400 more hours of vacation time per year than Americans. They don't want to work and they don't want to make any of the changes needed to revive their economies.

The summer after 9/11, France lost 15,000 people in a heat wave. In August, the country basically shuts down when everyone goes on vacation. That year, a severe heat wave struck and 15,000 elderly people living in nursing homes and hospitals died. Their children didn't even leave the beaches to come back and take care of the bodies. Institutions had to scramble to find enough refrigeration units to hold the bodies until people came to claim them. This loss of life was five times bigger than 9/11 in America, yet it didn't trigger any change in French society.

When birth rates are so low, it creates a tremendous tax burden on the young. Under those circumstances, keeping mom and dad alive is not an attractive option. That ' s why euthanasia is becoming so popular in most European countries. The only country that doesn' t permit (and even encourage) euthanasia is Germany , because of all the baggage from World War II. The European economy is beginning to fracture. Countries like Italy are starting to talk about pulling out of the European Union because it is killing them.

When things get bad economically in Europe , they tend to get very nasty politically. The canary in the mine is anti-Semitism. When it goes up, it means trouble is coming. Current levels of anti-Semitism are higher than ever. Germany won't launch another war, but Europe will likely get shabbier, more dangerous and less pleasant to live in. Japan has a birth rate of 1.3 and has no intention of bringing in immigrants. By 2020, one out of every five Japanese will be 70 years old. Property values in Japan have dropped every year for the past 14 years. The country is simply shutting down.


As I read this, I could not help but think how selfish all of this is and how it reflects misplaced values. Not having children so that you can live a more indulgent life at the beach. Not wanting to let in immigrants because they might contaminate the culture. Not going back to bury your father and mother because it would cut short your vacation. Why is this happening there? Because Europe and Japan, for all of their rich history and beauty, are godless nations. Church attend in Europe is almost non-existent.

Is the US so far behind? We are a nation of much smaller families than past generations. Part of this is birth control, but much of it is economic. Are we trading the joy of children for bigger homes and nicer cars? Have we placed things over humans? And if the crushing financial burden of retiring boomers and parents starts costing families their life fortunes, will calls for euthenasia be far behind?

I am not criticizing anyone in particular on this. I came from family of four children, and we only have two. We may or may not have more, a decision which is partly up to God. We have to balance Becki's stress level and my overachieving work schedule in this decision and waht God allows, but we have tried not to make economics a deciding factor in this. If we do not have more children, I hope that it will be for other reasons, not simply so that we have less cost and more income. But without valuing relationships (and our valuing of God is tied to this), why would a nation not place things above children?

Obviously, no matter what, we will not have nine children as people did in the past. With commutes, school schedules, etc., life really is different than Little House on the Prairie, where everyone was together on the farm. Time is as much of a factor as money. But it is a disturbing trend that birth rates in civilized countries are diminishing. And with the US driven by materialism, dropping in church attendance, and an aging population, could we soon reflect the values (or lack thereof) of Europe and China?

What do you think of the birth trends and attitudes towards life in Europe and Japan? Do you think the US will follow in their paths?


Eric said...

I don't think the US will follow this trend, if for no other reason than the fact that our population can be sustained by immigration (and the larger families that are often valued by immigrants) for quite some time in the future.

Europe is a tired continent. Its people will pass away and immigrants from other nations will come and replace its' cultures with their own, in much the same way that the Aztecs (who practiced child sacrifice) were destroyed in the face of the oncoming Europeans.

(Note that I'm not espousing any "manifest destiny" or rightness in the actions on the part of the Europeans, merely stating the facts).

Anonymous said...

I think the future of our nation's quality will depend more on how we deal with the influence of the Internet then on whether we have more or less kids.

I have just read an article by Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D entitled "The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial Pornography Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech." In this she points to the fact that Porn in the home is damaging the brains of many of our children to the point of severe consequences for this country. This article is based on Medical studies done with children.