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What's Really Behind Europe's Decline? It's The Birth Rates, Stupid
The labor demonstrators, now an almost-daily occurrence in Madrid and other economically-devastated southern European cities lambast austerity and budget cuts as the primary cause for their current national crisis. But longer-term, the biggest threat to the European Union has less to do with government policy than what is–or is not–happening in the bedroom.
In particular, southern Europe’s economic disaster is both reflected — and is largely caused by — a demographic decline that, if not soon reversed, all but guarantees the continent’s continued slide. For decades, the wealthier countries of the northern countries — notably Germany — have offset very low fertility rates and declining domestic demand by attracting migrants from other countries, notably from eastern and southern Europe, and building highly productive export oriented economies.
In contrast, the so-called Club Med Countries– Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain–have not developed strong economies to compensate for their fading demographics outside pockets of relative prosperity such as Milan. Spain was once one of Europe’s star performers, buoyed largely by real estate speculation and growing integration with the rest of the EU. Six years ago the country was building upwards of 50% as many houses as the US while having 85% less population. Roughly six million immigrants came to work in the boom, even as roughly seven to eight percent of Spaniards preferred to remain unemployment.
Across Europe, birth rates are falling and family sizes are shrinking. The total fertility rate is now less than two children per woman in every member nation in the European Union (see Figure 1). As a result, European populations are either growing very slowly or beginning to decrease.
At the same time, low fertility is accelerating the ageing of European populations. As a region, Europe in 2000 had the highest percentage of people age 65 or older — 15 percent. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, this percentage is expected to nearly double by 2050.
These demographic trends portend difficult times ahead for European economies. For example, a shrinking workforce can reduce productivity. At the same time, the growing proportion of elderly individuals threatens the solvency of pension and social insurance systems. As household sizes decrease, the ability to care for the elderly diminishes. Meanwhile, elderly people face growing health care needs and costs. Taken together, these developments could pose significant barriers to achieving the European Union (EU) goals of full employment, economic growth, and social cohesion.
Concern over these trends has sparked intense debate over the most effective policies to reverse them or mitigate their impact. The policy debate has focused on three approaches: (1) promoting increased immigration of working-age people; (2) encouraging more childbearing, especially among younger couples; and (3) reforming social policy to manage the negative consequences of these trends — including measures that could raise the retirement age or encourage more women to join the workforce. To date, this debate has produced more heat than light, and solid research-based evidence to inform the debate remains sketchy. Many aspects of the relationship between national policies and demographic trends are either disputed or not well understood, and it remains difficult to disentangle the effects of specific policy initiatives from the effects of broader social, political, and economic conditions.
Originally posted by manykapao
reply to post by LittleBlackEagle
true, but the situation Europe is in doesn't exactly help when there is no one left to challenge the threat. Everyone is just trying to enjoy their last years and not rock the boat.
old men do not make war.
Well they do, but they don't fight it.
Kind of pointless when there is not enough people to send.
They can't risk a large social upheaval. There is no one left with the will or the fight to challenge anyone. Mortality is foremost on their minds right now. Not the future they will not see.
edit on 4-11-2012 by manykapao because: (no reason given)
what you call soul searching is what mankind has been doing since its inception. Having more leisure and being disconnected from life is counterproductive when you search for wisdom. Once you find it you rest. You do not find it in repose.
and yes. Male and female sexes are here to make babies, not enjoy leisure. if everyone before you thought only about their comfort, you would not be here.
I think it is a product of modern day socialism. People want to live life and enjoy themselves.