Tarry for the Nonce

June 27, 2006

The U.S.A. is 2.03

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 2:47 pm

I am confused by the confusion that surrounds falling birth rates.

Japan’s fertility rate slipped to 1.2888 in 2004. Demographers say a rate of 2.1 is needed to keep a population from declining.

Policy makers who once shied away from proposals to boost the birth rate for fear of echoing wartime nationalist propaganda have become more outspoken in recent years about the search for solutions.

“At the same time that we come up with appropriate support to enable people to raise children and work, I think it is also important to make people aware of the value of families and the of the joys of having children,” [Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo] Abe said . . .

Japan’s slumping birth rate has been attributed to long working hours for both men and women, the high cost of putting children through a highly competitive school system, and barriers to women advancing in the workplace while raising kids.

What about the promotion of contraception? And abortion? What about the lower social status of stay-at-home mothers? What about the societal pressure of “achievement now and family later.”

It’s really not surprising that marriage and family are taking a backseat to personal achievement in industrialized nations. The consumerist culture demands it.

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16 Comments

  1. Um… why is this a bad thing?

    Comment by Tim — June 27, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

  2. Japan’s fertility rate slipped to 1.2888 in 2004.

    man, the jokes I could make with this sentance alone. we like Japan…I think.

    Comment by Alistair A. — June 28, 2006 @ 7:14 am

  3. Um… why is this a bad thing?

    ummmmmm…. perhaps because, without at least a replacement population and with an increasingly older population -the nation will not be able to sustain itself economically?

    Comment by auntlori — June 28, 2006 @ 9:04 am

  4. Really? So the population should just go on growing forever, then? I can’t imagine any problems that might cause…

    Comment by Tim — June 28, 2006 @ 10:39 am

  5. Um… why is this a bad thing?

    Japan sees it as a bad thing because, as auntlori states, the economy won’t be able to sustain itself. Since most developed nations have a system where the current population supports the older population (in the case of the USA, through programs like Medicare and Social Security,) the aging population will sink further into poverty since there won’t be enough workers to pay for the continued comforts of the senior members. In order for the population to be sustained, a birth rate of 2.1 per couple is necessary.

    I suppose one could argue that it is natural for the population of a developed nation to peter out as the less developed nations rise to prominence, but I think that Japan is trying to avoid the awkward and painful transition for the elderly who will have no one to support them.

    Comment by laura — June 28, 2006 @ 10:54 am

  6. Exactly… so instead of being irresponsible and espousing the “benefits” of huge families, why not do the responsible thing and call for two children per family?

    Or we can just do what’s best economically — has anyone ever seen Logan’s Run?

    Comment by Tim — June 28, 2006 @ 12:36 pm

  7. “why not do the responsible thing and call for two children per family”

    Who else called for that? oh, yeah that’s right-Communist China.

    Comment by Alistair A. — June 28, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

  8. Wait, are you being serious?

    Comment by Tim — June 28, 2006 @ 3:45 pm

  9. It seems to me that population is becoming increasingly decoupled from economic growth, at least in developed countries. I.e., unlike the days of Adam Smith, not all growth is directly due to human labor. Given the problems resulting from population growth (environmental destruction, overcrowding), I would also welcome a decline in fertility rates even if my retirement income (social security and/or investments) take a hit.

    Alistair, I also don’t know if your message was meant to be toungue-in-cheek, but the United States government already engages in its own form of family-size policy-making, e.g. child tax credits. One non-draconian way to promote 2 kids might be to limit the tax credit to 2 kids, or use other tax incentives. Given China’s population size and history of problems with food supply, one could argue that its strict limits on the number of children is the only rational policy.

    Comment by Troy — June 28, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

  10. “Alistair, I also don’t know if your message was meant to be toungue-in-cheek”

    It was and it wasn’t, more of a point. but really Tim you don’t win people to your side by acting high and mighty as you are.

    Comment by Alistair A. — June 28, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

  11. This entire conversation brings only one thing to mind…… a paraphrase, at that….

    Keep your laws off my ovaries.

    Comment by auntlori — June 28, 2006 @ 6:25 pm

  12. has anyone ever seen Logan’s Run?

    yes. stupid movie. bad acting too.

    Comment by auntlori — June 28, 2006 @ 6:27 pm

  13. Given China’s population size and history of problems with food supply, one could argue that its strict limits on the number of children is the only rational policy.

    You do recognize, don’t you, that this “rational policy” involves forced abortions and sterilizations? It is horrifying to me that supposedly rational human beings can speak so coolly about implementing these draconian abuses and eugenic discrimination within my own country.

    But, hey! China “has solved its population problem!”

    So much for choice.

    Comment by Janice — June 28, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

  14. yes. stupid movie. bad acting too.

    To say nothing of the hair decisions!

    Comment by Janice — June 28, 2006 @ 6:38 pm

  15. Janice, I don’t think that there is necessarily any contradiction in believing that something is both rational and immoral or disgusting. Take war, for example. Or abortion. Or the death penalty.

    Comment by Troy — June 29, 2006 @ 4:05 pm

  16. supposedly rational human beings

    Hey, wait! This is an insult, isn’t it?! 😦

    Comment by Troy — June 29, 2006 @ 4:08 pm


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