Saturday, October 13, 2007

Religious Cause of Global Declining Birthrates

Babies at a Premium: Canadian Women Opting out of Motherhood

Most of Europe, Scandinavia, many countries in Asia, Australia, and dozens of other nations are experiencing birth rates well below replacement levels. . . . The situation in Russia. . .was declared a national crisis by President Vladimir Putin in 2006.

Canada's fertility rate, which has been plummeting for decades, has now reached a low of about 1.6. Demographers say that in order for a population to replace itself, there needs to be a birth rate of 2.1 children per woman.
. . .
A federally funded study released last week cited work stress as a contributing factor. Twenty-eight per cent of the 33,000 people surveyed said they were delaying having children, having fewer children, or not having children at all because of high levels of work stress.

Faced with the difficulties of balancing work and family, the study found that three times as many Canadians are choosing to make work their top priority, rather than family.
Well, they have now taken family=children to new heights. If, as many have done, these couples are choosing to spend the free time left after work with their spouses (or parents, or siblings, etc) instead of raising children, that is not decreasing the priority of family. It is merely focusing it on a smaller or different selection. Those relationships are not harmed by one having a career.
The article goes on to quite the author of a Christian website, who blames the decline of religious belief in Canada. He claims the comprably high religiosity in the US is one cause of our higher birthrate. Several studies show that couples who go to church have more children

"America is reputed to be one of the most religious countries in the world—it has a vibrant Christian community. It's quite clear that these kinds of marriages tend to have more children than do married couples who do not go to church or identify with a particular organized religion," he says. According to Statistics Canada, in 2005 Canada recorded its highest number of births in seven years, thanks mostly to women in their 30s. . . . In order to boost dwindling populations and head off labour shortage crises, some provinces have begun offering incentives for women to have more babies. Last month, Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams, announced that families would receive $1,000 for every baby born or adopted in the province. "We can't be a dying race," Williams said.

Looks like I have a lot to learn about our neighbors to the north. I wasn't even aware Newfoundland was a race.

Quebec, which has one of the lowest birth rates on the continent and the highest abortion rate in Canada, has introduced several incentives over the years including a four-day work week for parents with children under 12. But although fertility rates have risen, they still fall far short of replacement levels.

"Quebec is the most liberal part of Canada in every way," says Jalsevic. "Quebec has more or less led the flight away from faith in Canada."
. . .
While some demographers recommend increasing immigration as a remedy for low birth rates, that may not be a long-term solution. Statistics Canada says studies have shown that while immigrants have higher fertility rates than Canadian-born women, those rates decline to Canadian levels with the second-generation.

Dowbiggin notes that countries that are becoming rapidly industrialized like India and China are starting to keep their best and brightest at home, leaving only the "less desirables" available for immigration. Post 9/11, security concerns are also an argument against increased immigration, he says.

The article concludes by making suggestions about allowing couples to pool their income for tax purposes, making childrearing less putative. However, it concedes that tax incentive programs have not had success in all countries - such as Japan. And yet it fails to ackowlegde that finances may not play a key part in the decision to become a parent for many couples. As a Christian site, they do not disguise their adgenda, and this serves to reinforce the charge in the beginning of the article that childfree people are simply motivated by "selfish" desires to save money.

I'm not sure their rejecton of immigration as a solution makes sense. The argument that immigrants' decendants will not continue high birth rates says nothing about the possibility of immigration as a continuing source of new citizens and residents. Their argument that immigrants will become less desirable is pragmatic, but borderline offensive. There indeed may be an issue with drawing a significant portion of a country's population from countries with poor education systems, and yet haven't undereducated immigrants who are willing to take a wider range of jobs been the key to much immigration? It only becomes a real problem if the country is drawing a higher portion of its population than the portion of its labor that does not require higher education - AND there are not enough educated immigrants to fill that gap.

I often grow suspicious of pleas to help increase the "native" race; it is hard to tell when latent issues of racism or other prejudices underlie the opposition to immigration as an alternate solution. With the current supply of immigrants with college degrees or manual labor skills, it is hard to craft an argument that doesn't boil down to "But we need more Germans." This argument about future effects when changes take place in home countries does present one exception, but is still of quetionable validity.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Twenty-eight per cent of the 33,000 people surveyed said they were delaying having children, having fewer children, or not having children at all because of high levels of work stress."

So that means for 72 percent of people surveyed, "work stress" is NOT a factor in delaying breeding, breeding less, or not breeding at all. I always wonder in these surveys if "just not interested" is offered as an option.