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  1. #1
    now! in shell form INA's Avatar
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    Default Tradition, Modernity and Shrinking Birthrates

    I found this article interesting. It addressed the shrinking birthrates in Europe and parts of Asia. The decline is bad enough to be below replacement figure for a good chunk of them. What interested me is how the article undermined many of the clichés offered, for example, about how feminism is destroying the family, how European socialism is either the worst.idea.ever. or a good idea that is a no-brainer for non-fascists.

    Highlights:
    • The figure of 2.1 is widely considered to be the “replacement rate” — the average number of births per woman that will maintain a country’s current population level. At various times in modern history — during war or famine — birthrates have fallen below the replacement rate, to “low” or “very low” levels. . . . For the first time on record, birthrates in southern and Eastern Europe had dropped below 1.3. At that rate, a country’s population would be cut in half in 45 years, creating a falling-off-a-cliff effect from which it would be nearly impossible to recover.
    • Around the time that President Kennedy went to Germany and gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, Europe represented 12.5 percent of the world’s population. Today it is 7.2 percent, and if current trends continue, by 2050 only 5 percent of the world will be European.
    • In the 1960s, the overall fertility rate in Italy was around two children per couple. Now it is about 1.3, and for some towns in Italy it is less than 1. This is considered pathological.”
    • A 2002 study found that 27.8 percent of German women born in 1960 were childless, a rate far higher than in any other European country. When European women age 18 to 34 were asked in another study to state their ideal number of children, 16.6 percent of those in Germany and 12.6 percent in Austria answered “none.”
    • Setting aside the special case of countries in the east, the lowest rates in Europe — some of the lowest fertility rates in the world — are to be found in the seemingly family-friendly countries of Italy, Spain and Greece (all currently hover around 1.3)
    • This spring, the Japanese government released figures showing that the country’s under-14 population was the lowest since 1908. The head of Thailand’s department of health announced in May that his country’s birthrate now stands at 1.5, far below the replacement level. “The world record for lowest-low fertility right now is South Korea, at 1.1”
    • According to Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennsylvania, analysis of recent studies showed that “high fertility was associated with high female labor-force participation . . . and the lowest fertility levels in Europe since the mid-1990s are often found in countries with the lowest female labor-force participation.” In other words, working mothers are having more babies than stay-at-home moms.
    • If this reading of southern European countries is correct — that their superficial commitment to modernity, to a 21st-century lifestyle, is fatally at odds with a view of the family structure that is rooted in the 19th century
    • All of these are societies still rooted in the tradition where the husband earned all the money. Things have changed, not only in Italy and Spain but also in Japan and Korea, but those societies have not yet adjusted. The relationships within households have not adjusted yet.”

    --
    LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/ma...pagewanted=all

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Immigration helps. Countries that are poor and overpopulated send cheap labor to countries that are rich and have low birth rates. It works out nicely. And let's not harp on women about how many children they have, unless they can't afford to take care of them. There is a creepy undercurrent in the arguments about "too low birth rates" that A) sees women as mere reproduction machines; and B) seems unheathily concerned with how few white Europeans there will be in the future.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  3. #3
    now! in shell form INA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Immigration helps. Countries that are poor and overpopulated send cheap labor to countries that are rich and have low birth rates. It works out nicely
    Does it? One problem is the culture-clash. Euros don't relish the specter of large, assimilation-resistant Muslim hordes. Japanese and Koreans are not known for domestic xenophilia.

    The second problem is that the demographic problem is worse if the immigrants assimilate too well:
    while immigration helps fill cities and schools and factories in the short term, the dynamic adjusts over time. Immigrants who come from cultures where large families are standard quickly adapt to the customs of their new homes. And eventually immigrants age, too, so that the benefit that incoming workers give to the pension system today becomes a drag on the system in the future.

  4. #4
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IF3157 View Post
    Does it? One problem is the culture-clash. Euros don't relish the specter of large, assimilation-resistant Muslim hordes. Japanese and Koreans are not known for domestic xenophilia.

    The second problem is that the demographic problem is worse if the immigrants assimilate too well:
    I wouldn't look to continental Europe as an exemplar of tolerance of immigrants. Japan and South Korea's attitudes should catch up with the times, as their populations age rapidly.

    I am not in favor of government pension programs like Social Security, so the issue of immigrants eventually becoming citizens and being eligible for those pensions doesn't bother me in the least. And it makes sense that immigrants adjust their family sizes, if they now live in countries in which a large family isn't beneficial (no longer needing children to work at young ages). They still do important work for the economy, and their willingness to work cheaply helps to keep down wage inflation.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  5. #5
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    Psssh... I honestly wish people would stop having so many children. I think it should be like getting a driver's license that you can't obtain until age 25. Everyone is sterile unless their license is approved. Then, if they really want them after growing up a bit, apply for the license, and become fertile.

    I had an ex gf (ISFJ) that worked at a youth abuse recovery center. The babies that end up in the garbage dump, or other unfortunate circumstances, are taken to centers like that. It's kind of horrifying to hear some of the stories and I don't care too much for children.

    People really need to think about giving birth. It amazes me how many people say the child they had was an accident.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minako-bot View Post
    I had an ex gf (ISFJ) that worked at a youth abuse recovery center. The babies that end up in the garbage dump, or other unfortunate circumstances, are taken to centers like that. It's kind of horrifying to hear some of the stories and I don't care too much for children.
    How many children does that happen to? It must be something like 10%.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  7. #7
    Sniffles
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    There are several flaws in the analysis as far it concerns Eastern and Southern European nations and their value systems. There's far more complexity to the issue than what's presented. Italy has a long tradition of tension between the religious culture and the secularist state.

    Indeed, a traditional culture and a "modern" economy are incompatible. Rather traditional culture is more compatible with the kind of system advocated by Catholic Social Doctrine; which among other things, calls for a living wage where a man is able to support his family without both parents being forced to work outside the home.

    There are other reports showing that the more religious people in Europe have the higher birth-rates.

    I'll have to address more of this later. There are several pieces of the puzzle they've left out.

  8. #8
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Immigration helps. Countries that are poor and overpopulated send cheap labor to countries that are rich and have low birth rates. It works out nicely.
    No it doesn't. It's largely a vicious cycle that goes nowhere. For one thing; many of jobs in the developed world are outsourced to the Third World, yet at the same time those same developed nations need to import workers from these countries - which means competition with the indigenous workforce.

    Not to mention that many of the employers of these immigrants in the first world are often tied to the policies implemented in the Third World that forces these people to migrate in the first place.

    The only people who benefit from all this shit is Big business and big government - nobody else. Not the native workforce, and certainly not the immigrants themselves.

    Immigration is needed to sustain the economic status quo, yet that status quo is ultimately unstatainable in the long-term.

    A better solution is to devise a more just economic system that would render such migrations unnecessary in the first place.

    There is a creepy undercurrent in the arguments about "too low birth rates" that A) sees women as mere reproduction machines; and B) seems unheathily concerned with how few white Europeans there will be in the future.
    And what exactly is wrong with being concerned about how few white Europeans there'll be? Oh let me guess, fascism and all that.

  9. #9
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    I've been talking about the ideas expressed in this article for a few years now. People usually just ignore it even though it's glaring and in their face. My prediction is that we are going to see a gradual (yet quicker than we think) shift in race and culture in Western countries, as immigrants from Non-Westernized countries, who don't mind breeding, move in and become the majority. I have no problems with this happening really, cause I think mixing is good, however, it does slightly irritate me that westerners sit back and do nothing about it (read: go extinct) because they value their material possessions and individual pursuits more. There was a film made about this. I'll try to remember it and post the link.

    Edit: Found it, here's the link. It's pretty good: YouTube - Intro Idiocracy (IN ENGLISH)

  10. #10
    Content. Content? DigitalMethod's Avatar
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    All of this reminds me of why it'd be nice to colonize another planet. It'd be certainly risky though.
    "The life of the individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful."
    - Albert Einstein

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