The demographic winter: causes and direct consequences
Europe is moving towards equalization of birth and death rates, with the resulting stagnation of natural population growth (zero growth). In addition, it has a proportion of elderly population that will soon exceed 20% of the total population.
If current trends continue, Europe could move to a demographic regression phase, to an increase in mortality as a result of the aging of their demographic structures, to a still lower birth rate, and to an effective loss of population. It is urgent to recover the values of the person and family to counteract and reverse these negative tendencies and thus safeguard Western culture.
The collapse of the European birth It has been a reality for several decades now, applicable to all the countries in our area. For more than thirty years, generations have not been renewed in many European Union States (2.1 children per woman). And, due to the dynamics of demographic phenomena, over the years, this deficit is going to increase, to such an extent that, if it continues for another thirty years, the process of demographic depopulation could become irreversible. Europe.
Direct consequences of the collapse of the birth
The negative implications of all kinds that derive from a situation of this nature are incalculable. The unfavorable repercussions go beyond the limits of the demographic consequences and are fundamentally economic and social. In the strictly demographic, the prolonged downward trend in the birth rate will cause an increase in mortality and an effective decrease in the population, that is, a net loss of millions of European inhabitants in the first half of this century and an alarming aging of the population.
The situation is equally precarious in other countries of the West, whose dependence rates (relationship between the active and passive population) are increasing due to the imbalance in their demographic structures, which has dramatic repercussions for society as a whole. These negative repercussions range from excessive charges for Social Security with respect to pensions and the provision of social services, to serious imbalances in production and consumption structures, as well as to important ramifications with respect to social and economic areas that are closely related to age, such as, for example, education, housing and health care.
Overpopulation and birth control
With the breakdown of fertility in the West and the strong slowdown in the birth rate in the Third World, with a world average of 2.5 children per woman and an annual growth of just over 1%, we can hardly talk today about " population explosion "and less, of" overpopulation ". Those who still maintain this position are not based on science, but on ideology and the promotion of vested interests of all kinds.
In accordance with this, to argue that the many evils and the grave injustices that afflict the third World countries they are due to their high fecundity, and to seek supposed solutions through birth control in all its facets - often in a violent way, contrary to the will of the citizens of those peoples - it contains a strong dose of ignorance or cynicism . To try to make us think that the high level of the birth rate is the cause of the poverty of the less developed countries, is equivalent to the nonsense of saying that the high degree of aging is the cause of the richness of the developed countries.
Economic and social development, which implies more years of schooling and university, and the massive incorporation of women in the labor force, for example, cause marriages to fall behind and the procreative period is, in fact, shorter than in less developed countries. But the Bankruptcy of fertility in the West It obeys, above all, a profound transformation in the way of thinking and acting in terms of human reproduction, in accordance with the so-called "modern mentality", which negatively affects the birth rate.
How did we get here?
The factors of this mentality are of cultural, psychological and ethical nature: they are the new values of society that place other aspirations above and beyond the formation of families. The fall of the birth rate is also related to the institutional promotion and generalization, in the countries of our cultural environment, of demographic policies and actions of anti-natalist approach.
The causes of the collapse of the birth rate in rich countries, then, are rooted mainly in moral and psychological issues, including cultural and religious values. The serious deterioration of these values is what has generated the appearance and generalization of counter values.This is intimately related to the so-called "sexual revolution", which entails formalization and social approval for alternatives to traditional family unions.
The technical possibility of carrying out human reproduction apart from the physical union between a man and a woman - through genetic manipulation, in vitro fertilization and cloning - introduces, with respect to human sexuality, marriage and family, a new and worrying element of personal and collective disintegration.
Does the demographic winter have a solution?
The current dysfunctionality of the family is not resolved by simply reversing the terms of the evolutions and negative situations that are observed in the demographic field, through the contribution of official aid from the State or services to the family from society. These contributions are necessary and indispensable vehicles to remedy many of the ills afflicting the family at the present time, but they are not enough to reverse the demographic trends.
Any reversal of these tendencies can only come from a profound change of attitude towards the reality of the person, sexuality, marriage, procreation and family and, ultimately, before the deeper reality of what the human condition entails as to its very essence and its ultimate ends. Relying on other structures different from the traditional family necessarily leads to the great contradictions and atypical situations that are evident in today's world.
The eradication of these contradictions and these worrisome situations can only be achieved through the recovery of values that reinforce the family as an essential link for the full realization of the individual as a human person and as a basic and natural unit of society.
Alban D'Entremont. Professor of Geography of Europe, Place and Space in History, and Population, Resources and Environment of the University of Navarra