May 17, 2005

Declining European Population

The EPPC has an excellent article posted entitled “Where have all the children gone?” Despite all the hyped concerns about over-population, it seems that most developed countries are not even replacing the people they have. (The United States is an interesting exception—there are probably others; I have not done any sort of an analysis of the statistics.)

The article is actually a review of two books discussing the problem—but it also points out some of the philosophical issues that might underlie this surprising information.

And while many individuals and couples believe they are having fewer children (or none at all) because of the expense of raising children responsibly, their behavior has much deeper roots: It is not fundamentally an economic issue, but a cultural one. For those who see children primarily as sources of personal fulfillment, other routes to happiness may seem more trouble-free. Children will often lose out in this utilitarian calculus, even if the state makes raising them less expensive.

Yes, we want to live in a world in which we are free to live, think, and do as we please. I certainly am not suggesting that everyone must go out and have more children. But I wonder if this is just another area in which humanity is not willing to be content with the consequences of its choices?

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