European Demographics and Migration

September 4, 2019

The essay European Demographics and Migration, by Christopher Caldwell. Hoover Institution, February 4, 2019, is an excellent read. It discusses Europe's population decline, and misguided efforts to replenish European population via mass migration.

It has been observed that "demographics is destiny." Those who espouse mass migration strictly for economic gain fail to acknowledge that wholesale replacement of the people of a country necessarily results in wholesale replacement of the country's culture.

Excerpts from this thought-provoking essay are included below:

... In Spain there is a real estate company called Aldeas Abandonadas that sells not abandoned houses but whole abandoned villages, starting at around $35,000. There are 3,600 such abandoned settlements in the region of Galicia alone.

The population decline now underway is not Europe’s most spectacular problem. It is, by its nature, something that happens not with a bang but a whimper. It may nonetheless be Europe’s most deep-rooted problem, and its most serious. It touches everything. A declining population is by definition an aging population, straining the 20th-century welfare state on which the European way of life rests. A decline in the number of workers and taxpayers makes government debt harder to service... For a long time, the need for infusions of labor and tax revenue led Europe’s politicians to turn a blind eye to a consistently unpopular century-long wave of mass immigration. In Europe, immigration means Islam and racial difference, the accommodation of which brings its own costs....

Eurostat, the statistical agency of the EU, predicts that its population will likely creep up to 518m by the year 2080. Europe will need to import people in order to do that. Without migration, Eurostat shows, Europe’s population in 2080 would fall back down to 407m, roughly where it was in the middle of the last century..

Other things being equal, for a population to remain stable, the average woman must have about 2.1 children in the course of her life. At that level she can “replace” herself and her husband. Europe’s birthrates fell sharply in the 1970s and towards the end of the century reached steady and sustained lows. Women in Italy, Spain, and Germany have averaged 1.3–1.4 children in recent decades, with Spain briefly plumbing a level of 1.1. That means trouble. Each generation is followed by another that is only two-thirds its size....

For a long time, Europe’s demographic downward momentum was disguised by immigration and by increases in longevity...

Americans are not immune to these trends. Their life expectancy has regressed in recent years, too, due to falling longevity among whites....

Most Western pension systems were set up as if they would have no effect on the size of the pool of those paying into the system. But in fact they incentivize childlessness. Once the society adjusts to these new incentives, by reducing births, the pool of support shrinks and the system must be reformed, whether by lowering benefits, raising retirement ages (as Germany is now gradually doing, from age 65 to age 67 by the year 2029), raising contributions, or recruiting new payers into the system (as Angela Merkel’s massive admission of Middle Eastern migrants into the country did, among many other things)....

European societies have chosen a different solution: immigration....

Africa is adding people at a rate never before seen anywhere on the planet. In 1960, the so-called “Year of Africa,” the continent had 278 million people. Its population has since quintupled to 1.3 billion—and by mid-century, only a generation from now, it will double again, the United Nations Population Division predicts. The drama lies not only in the absolute numbers but also in their interaction with the opposite dynamic of western Europe...

When we look at contemporary Africa and Europe we are looking at two continents that are, by historical standards, wildly out of balance, age-wise. It would be prudent to expect both sides to react in ways that don’t resemble our inherited conceptions of society rationality. A society as young as Africa now is—and the modern West has never encountered one—will likely be demanding, rash, and ready to provoke crises. A society as old as Europe now is—and we’ve never known one of those either—will be short of energy, short of idealism, and more likely to explain away crises than to respond forcefully to them....

By the second decade of the twenty-first century there were two radically different paths to dealing with Europe’s crisis:

First, to keep doing what Europe had been doing since the 1960s, accepting that we lived in an age of mass migration and trusting in integration to make it manageable...

Or:

Second, stop or slow migration, trusting in a combination of inducements to natality, longer working hours, labor-saving technology, and new ways of thinking about the economy, including the vogue for “benign de-growth”...

 

Read the complete article: European Demographics and Migration, by Christopher Caldwell. Hoover Institution, February 4, 2019.

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