You’re driving in your car, family in tow, heading straight toward the edge of a cliff… what would you do?
Course correct, obviously. You want to live, after all. So you hit the brakes and turn away from the cliff. Drive in a different direction. Your life, and your family’s future, are saved.
We are running straight toward a demographic cliff in the West due to a collapsing birth rate. Yet, no one seems too concerned because the implications of a declining birth rate, both economically and from a civilization standpoint, won’t be felt for at least a few decades. We’re kicking the can, as we’ve done so many times with important and challenging issues.
The data, and the long-term trend, suggest our existence is under threat because of our collapsing birth rate. Would you say this is an important issue?
The root of the problem: we aren’t having enough babies.
You see, there is a thing known as replacement-level fertility or total fertility rate (TFR). And the key number to remember is 2.1. A 2.1 TFR represents the average number of children women need to have to sustain a country’s population (assuming no immigration). Drop below 2.1, and your population declines.
The problem is, when the birth rate drops below 1 child per woman, the damage is done, and it’s virtually irreversible. So, how close are we?
In 2020, America’s TFR fell to its lowest recorded level: 1.64.
That same year, Italy reported its all-time lowest birth rate (1.2), leading to more deaths than births in 2020. Euro News stated that at this pace, Italy’s population will decrease from 54.2 million in 2050 to 47.7 million by 2070.
England (1.7), Australia (1.6) and Canada (1.4) are not far behind, either.
For some context, in the early 1960s, the average TFR for the countries mentioned above sat around 3.3… the declining birth rate has been sharp and dangerously fast. This has caused most western nations to look to immigration to grow their population. But does that get to the root of the problem?
While immigration is critical and can provide an economic boon, it can’t be our solution to a collapsing TFR…
This is a systemic issue caused by the cost of living in western countries. And eventually, new citizens (immigrants) will face the same challenges in these western nations and opt not to have as many kids, just like everyone else.
This isn’t a cultural issue; it’s a cost of living problem… it can potentially ignite a collapse of our economy and civilization.
Enjoy the pod.