The Perils of Low Western Fertility Rates (and 3 solutions)
When you really take the time to observe the discourse regarding the trajectory of humankind, the hysteria which pervades the secular world may seem to have some initial validity. After all, we are told that resources have global scarcity, and that we directly imperil humanity by continuing to recklessly reproduce. We are inherently inclined to exhibit sympathy for such hyperbole, because if true, the externalities of overpopulation can presumably produce an apocalyptic global circumstance with the capacity to diminish our civilization to a bleak primitivism. However, these life-threatening predictions fall upon skeptical ears. The secular left has an extraordinarily low batting average on big issues, and we know that their most effective modus operandi is hysteria and hyperbole. Left-wing environmental hysterics have every incentive to raise the stakes artificially high, because it is infinitely easier to justify state control of the private sector within an absolute state of emergency. Although it could be possible to conceive of a future situation in which overpopulation can be a legitimate concern, I will not spend time making a strong environmental argument in favor of increasing fertility rates. Even far-left news site Vox has made an environmental argument against the obsession with overpopulation , making the case that the real climate change “issue” cannot be solved by reproducing in lower numbers. With the premise that we are not on the verge of a global apocalypse, declining western fertility rates, especially relative to the rest of the world, are certainly a problem.
The minimum fertility rate needed to replace a generation is 2.1 (at least two children per couple). These rates in western countries are falling to a point from which there cannot possibly be an opportunity to rebound within a lifetime. A rapidly decreasing emerging population, alongside an increasingly aging elderly citizenry, can inevitably lead to a crisis of pension. The population disparity will make it difficult to guarantee social security to retirees, and leave western nations with the option of incentivizing immigration to supplement an impotent workforce. Since they will never give up their welfare state, they will inevitably use it as a means of advertisement to new immigrants. The problems with this sequence of events are both cultural and economic. Western nations will have experienced a culture shock that emanates largely from the left wing Latin Americas and the authoritarian disregard for enlightenment values from the Middle East. The economic consequences are similarly frightening, especially if recent trends continue.
Business Insider reported in 2016 that “the number of migrants claiming German welfare benefits soared by 169 percent last year”, and according to the Federal Statistics Office “975,000 migrants were receiving benefits in accordance with the Act on Benefits for Asylum Seekers at the end of 2015”. This increase in migrant welfare spending marked the “sixth consecutive yearly rise and compared with 363,000 in 2014.” The generous welfare state provided by European nations tend to increase demand for lower skilled work.
According to Migration Policy and the Generosity of the Welfare State in Europe” by Assaf Razin and Jackline Wahba, “Immigration regimes affect the skill composition of migrants. When migration is free as in the case of mobility within the EU, the generosity of the welfare state attracts unskilled immigrants, whilst when migration is restricted and is demand driven by the host country and its voters, immigration tends to be more skilled.”
It’s not difficult to conclude that with the given parameters of the welfare state, demography, and fertility, Europe will most likely not rely on restrictive immigration policies that incentivize the most productive workers of the third world. As it stands, low western fertility is an impending problem that will exacerbate if not addressed. Furthermore, it is a symptom of a decaying moral fabric of society. Aside from affluence, this recession of population can be most closely attributed to the dynamic duo that will almost always ensure societal collapse: Secularism and Feminism.
Here are the 3 best ways to increase the rate of fertility in the West.
Raise Real Wages
Focusing on purely economic issues, one reason women have had less time for raising children is their burgeoning frequency in the workforce relative to more traditional eras. While it is true that several first world countries have seen their female workforce participation dwindle since the 90’s, there is still no comparison to their participation in the workforce of yester century. If we can raise real wages, there would be an organic incentive for more women to work fewer hours, or not at all. For the middle class at least, this would certainly imply that women would have more time at home to raise children, and not have to take a job to supplement her husband’s inadequate income. But how do we do it? Well, it’s actually quite easy.
In the later half of 2018, Trump received good news on wage growth.According to Bloomberg, “Average hourly earnings for private workers increased 2.9 percent from a year earlier, a Labor Department report showed, exceeding all estimates in a Bloomberg survey and the median projection for 2.7 percent. Nonfarm payrolls rose 201,000 from the prior month, topping the median forecast for 190,000 jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.9 percent, still near the lowest since the 1960s.”
This was not made possible by collective bargaining, unions, minimum wages, or any other type of government coercion. Probably the most productive legislative victory for Trump in the economic arena, was the corporate tax cut. By cutting taxes on corporations, they [corporations] were incentivized to invest in capital to increase the productivity of their workers. This, along with a blooming marketplace, allow businesses to reward their employees with their increased profit. Furthermore, demand for labor increases when the economy is operating at full employment, which means that businesses are willing to pay higher wages for a scarcity of labor. In the words of Ludwig Von Mises, father of the Austrian school of thought, “What makes wages rise and renders the material conditions of the wage earners more satisfactory is improvement in the technological equipment. American wages are higher than wages in other countries because the capital invested per head of the worker is greater and the plants are thereby in the position to use the most efficient tools and machines. What is called the American way of life is the result of the fact that the United States has put fewer obstacles in the way of saving and capital accumulation than other nations.” In other words, with great capital comes great productivity, and transitively produces higher effective wages.
Some might say that the only real way to raise wages is to force corporations to pay higher wages. After all, corporate profits are at an all-time high! While this is true, regulations and minimum wages will most likely hinder the profit motives of these businesses, and further discourage them from making necessary capital investments. We should also keep in mind that corporations tend to pay far better than small businesses and award more in fringe benefits. According to a document from the U.S. Census Bureau, Statistics of U.S. Businesses Employment and Payroll Summary: 2012, The average pay per employee for “very small business with 20 employees or less” was $36,912. “For small firms with 20 to 99 employees, it was $40,417”, and at “medium-sized firms” it was $44,916. Large companies paid $52,554. The simple answer to this first prescription of the wage increase necessity : Free-Market Capitalism.
2. Structurally Dismantle Feminism
In the general culture, feminism has successfully indoctrinated women into believing that children and family are a non sequitur to a happy life. Unsurprisingly the gains in women’s “liberation”, for which feminism so valiantly fought, have actually led to less happiness among women. In its vitriolic destruction, feminism has taught women the ultimate stupidity: That men and women are inherently equal, and therefore disproportionate male success in a given profession normatively implies that men are a source of grave injustice. While women constituted a majority of the electorate since 1964, and then proceeded to outvote men on a per capita basis in 1980, the legal policies began to fall in the favor of women.
According to US News, this is an abbreviated timeline of feminist accomplishments since 1964. I’ve only included the legal entitlements given to women which are directly or possibly associated with a lower fertility rate. There are multitudes of laws and legal precedents I removed to make this compilation.
1973 – Landmark Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade makes abortion legal. The Supreme Court in a separate ruling bans sex-segregated "help wanted" advertising.
1974 – The Supreme Court rules it is illegal to force pregnant women to take maternity leave on the assumption they are incapable of working in their physical condition.
1978 – The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women.
1985 – EMILY's List is founded, its mission to elect Democratic, pro-abortion rights women to office.
1989 – The Supreme Court affirms the right of states to deny public funding for abortions and to prohibit public hospitals from performing abortions.
1992 – The Year of the Woman: Following 1991 hearings in which lawyer Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, record numbers of women are elected to Congress, with four women winning Senate elections and two dozen women elected to first terms in the House.
In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey, the Supreme Court upholds Roe v Wade but allows states to impose restrictions such as a waiting period and parental consent for minors seeking abortions.
2005 – Congress passes the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the first law to ban a specific abortion procedure. The Supreme Court upholds the ban the following year.
2017 – Congress has a record number of women, with 104 female House members and 21 female Senators, including the chamber's first Latina, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
The legal comfort of having accessibility to abortions, no-fault divorce laws, child support laws, combined with the cultural disgust toward traditional gender roles are driving the fertility rate down. As an aside, Ireland has one of the highest fertility rates in all of Europe, and just this past year, Ireland amended their constitution by referendum to include abortion rights. It may be safe to say that Ireland could see a diminishing fertility in the near future.
If you’re a liberal reading this who rejects my general conclusions, but also happen to share a concern for declining fertility rates, you may differently see the locus of society. You may argue that the Welfare State, which exists in its current manifestation as a byproduct of women enfranchisement, incentivizes women to have children because of the monetary reward for every child they have out of wedlock. I concede this point, and admit that the expansion of the welfare state may be a good direct solution to raising the rate of fertility. However, this does not take into account the externalities of a welfare state, which include higher divorce rates, higher rates of single motherhood, higher frequency of degenerate daughters and delinquent sons, and institutionalization of generational poverty. Quite frankly, the welfare state is one of the greatest consequentialist evils in the past century inasmuch as it facilitated the institutional destruction of the lower social classes. Furthermore, even as we expanded welfare to the extortion of the taxpayers, the fertility rate in the United States has has not managed to budge.
Feminism will have to be defeated culturally too, but today’s focus is merely on the institutional incentive structure.
3. Returning to Religiosity
It is impossible to overstate the threat to Western Civilization that secularism poses. Even many secular conservatives admit what the religious West has always known: Christian culture is irreplaceable as a foundation of our social fabric, and it is impossible to make a good society without the centrality of God in our understanding of the world. I say this with the same certitude I have that murder is morally wrong. Secularism, although healthy for Islamic nations, has been a destructive force across Christian societies, serving as the impetus for socially progressive movements and philosophies. By removing God we have allowed post-modernists, leftists, and egalitarians, to disintegrate the dichotomous distinctions once held by western thought. Among these, the distinction between man and woman, the distinction between excellence and inferiority, between beauty and profanity, the ideal nuclear family and an artificially assembled “progressive family”. All of these, eviscerated by a widespread disbelief in God and traditional social structures. Even disregarding the ideological threat secularism poses to the the West, the secular world poses a threat to Western fertility. It is truly a nihilistic source of narcissism and broadly descriptive degeneracy, convincing people to live a life of material excess as a substitute for the interference that a child would have brought upon one’s life. To the religious, children are a blessing; to the secular, children are a nuisance. This insight alone, explains why secular people and self-described “atheists”have fewer children.
This one will entirely be a cultural battle against those who do not recognize the need for objective and divinely elevated standards for a wise society. I do not believe in an institutional enforcement of Christian theology, but hopefully by structurally disincentivizing feminism and economic egalitarianism, Christianity and its concomitant culture will have the opportunity for civilizational prevalence. Fertility is not only an abstract economic necessity; it serves as somewhat of a societal urine sample. The lab results are in, and we are in dire need of a miracle.
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