When your country wears more Depends than Pampers, economic disaster is soon to follow. In 2012, adult diapers outsold baby diapers in Japan. The statistic is an unnatural stunner and points to a population chart that has literally been flipped: In 30 years time, Japan will have three people over 65 for every one person under 15.
Japan’s situation is not unique. Diapers aside, many Western countries are racing down the same path toward shrinking populations.
Western Europe’s birth rate averages 1.5 and the endgame is clear: An increasing number of retirees must be maintained with labor generated by a decreasing number of workers. Take economically ravaged Greece as an example, a birthrate of 1.4 results in 100 grandparents for every 42 grandkids — a recipe for extinction. As Mark Steyn writes in the OC Register, “The family tree is upside down.”
Europe is already swimming in panic and reacting by offering major childbirth incentives: cash perks for each baby, major tax breaks, transport breaks, subsidized childcare, and lengthy maternity leaves combined with income maintenance. But when the fertility rate of the under-40 crowd has been on a sustained crash for decades — it’s too late to do anything.
The United States, with a birthrate that hovers around 2.0, is one of the few developed countries maintaining its population, but there is no guarantee that the U.S. rate won't fall in coming years.
The U.S. is squeezed by a demographic gamble. Social Security, welfare, healthcare, and a litany of other government programs are set up with the birthrate assumption that there will always be a consistent number of bricks to hold up the walls of the system. A system of massive debt and massive spending requires the masses to draw financial blood from. So what happens to a cradle-to-grave system if the birth rate falters? Ask Greece.
America should never take the stability of a constant birthrate for granted; it’s a crippling assumption that Europe and Japan have already bought into and there will be an economic day of reckoning for both. When roughly 25 percent of Western European women end childbearing years without conceiving, or when Germany, for example, embraces a 1.4 birthrate over a 40-year run — it’s demographic suicide.
What a glaring irony that as the Western world is slouching toward a population collapse, Western agriculture is charging ahead in a race to feed exploding populations in the Third World, which will push the global tally close to 9.5 billion mouths to feed by 2050. Sub-Saharan Africa’s birthrate is a smoking 4.5 and countries like Nigeria, Tanzania, DR Congo, Ethiopia and Uganda are leading the charge, along with India, Indonesia and Pakistan in Asia.
Birthrates are tied directly to a nation’s destiny. By 2100, Japan’s current population of 128 million will have dropped to 91 million. Tokyo, with 13 million residents today, will be at 7 million — a number not seen in the city since before World War ll. By 2100, Western Europe’s current population of 450 million will have plunged to 350 million.
Who will fill the government coffers?
As Steyn writes, “If 100 geezers run up a bazillion dollars’ worth of debt, is it likely that 42 youngsters will ever be able to pay it off?”