Given the precipitous decline in the birthrates of European countries, all anti-natal programs funded by the United States should immediately be replaced by pro-natal programs, one top population expert recently told the U.S. Senate.
“It doesn’t matter whether we call them reproductive health programs, family planning programs, or population control programs,” said Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI). “They all have the same effect: they force down the birth rate in countries that are already dying. Such programs are only making a bad problem worse.”
The hearing before the Senate Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe focused on the implications for the security, as well as the economic and social developments in Europe, due to demographic decline marked by diminishing and rapidly aging populations, in most of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) 56 participating states.
Commission Chairman, Rep. Chris Smith noted that the member states – every country of Europe and the former Soviet Union, as well as the U.S. and Canada – are already seeing dramatic demographic changes that are “sure to have dramatic consequences for the security, economic, and human dimensions of the OSCE.”
“The fact is that most OSCE countries are in demographic decline, many of them in rapid decline. Only a handful of the OSCE’s 56 member states are at or above replacement level,” Smith observed.
Mosher agreed. “Five centuries after the Black Plague devastated Europe, a White Pestilence is now decimating that same continent,” he said. “Many nations, especially in Europe, are already in a death spiral, losing a significant number of people each year. Listen closely, and you will hear the muffled sound of populations crashing.”
The commission heard that the pattern of demographic decline will likely have significant social, economic and security consequences for countries throughout the region. States will become increasingly dependent upon foreign workers in the coming decades, while there will be a dramatic decrease in the pool of potential recruits for military service, resulting in mounting social tensions “as demonstrated by clashes in some participating States in recent years,” according to Smith.
“It is alarming and sad to see xenophobic and ultranationalist violence fueled by one nation’s perceptions of long-term decline vis-a-vis another group,” Smith said.
“Likewise with the economy,” Smith continued. “It is far from clear how, in many of the most rapidly declining countries, how economic growth can be sustained by a declining population – or, to touch on the most pressing specific, how the numerically smaller younger generations will even begin to provide for the larger older generations.”
Steven Mosher, whose presentation to the Commission concluded that the downward spiral of fertility decline and resulting demographic collapse is almost beyond reversal, began his address with a quote from ancient Greece:
“One remarks nowadays all over Greece such a diminution in natality and in general manner such depopulation that the towns are deserted and the fields lie fallow. Although this country has not been ravaged by wars or epidemics, the cause of the harm is evident: by avarice or cowardice the people, if they marry, will not bring up the children they ought to have. At most they bring up one or two. It is in this way that the scourge before it is noticed is rapidly developed. The remedy is in ourselves; we have but to change our morals.” (Polybius, 204-122 B.C.)
A transcript of the Commission hearing titled, “2050: Implications of Demographic Trends in the OSCE Region” is available here.
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