December 22, 2004


Unto Canada, Too Few Children Are Born (David Frum, December 22, 2004, National Post)

Christians this week celebrate the most important birthday in the history of the world. Christmas is a glad event even for those of us not of Christian faith. And yet there is a hint of sadness in all these nativity scenes: For in our day-to-day secular context, nativity is becoming a rarer and rarer event.

Canada's birth rate now hovers at about 1.5 per woman. For people interested in the science of population, that simple statistic portends catastrophe. But statistics don't mean much to most people. Let's look at the raw numbers instead.

In 1959, the peak year of the Baby Boom, almost 480,000 children were born in Canada--a country of about 17 million people. With rare exceptions, the number of births has been declining ever since. In 2002, there were only 328,000 children born to the 31 million people of Canada.

Canada's population continues to rise of course, and will continue to rise for some time to come. Because Canada's population is so much bigger now than it was when today's elderly were born, births still exceed deaths by a substantial margin. But the number of deaths is increasing even as the number of births drops. Twelve years from now, the first of the Baby Boomers will turn 70, and after that the number of deaths will begin to increase rapidly.

While the suicide of the rest of the West may seem almost incomprehensible to us here in America, it's worth considering that it's a perfectly rational decision not to want to bring a child into the rather ugly world the secularists have created.

More holidays means more babies, government officials believe (AsiaNews, 12/22/04)

The Japanese government is increasingly concerned the country’s plummeting birth rate will, on the long run, spell social and economic disaster. To counter it, it plans to insist workers take longer leaves, this according to leaked information reported in the daily Yomiuri. The set of measures the Ministry is expected to take has been dubbed ‘Angel Plan’.

Although the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has refused any comment, officials are worried about the effects of a rapidly aging population.

In the last financial year, the figure for the average number of children born to a Japanese woman during her lifetime fell to just 1.29, down from 1.32 in 2002 and 1.50 in 1994. This is well below the level of 2.08 needed to replenish the country's population.

“It is a very complicated problem,” said Manabu Yoshida, a spokesman for the ministry, but “it is also a question of whether a man and a woman want to have children or not."

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 22, 2004 1:34 PM

You know what?

Until every country arranges to have exactly the same birth rate, there will always be a country with the highest birth rate, and all the others will be relatively disadvantaged (if lower birth rates are disadvantageous).

The only solution would be to leapfrog ahead.

But this won't work, because there's a limit to how many babies a woman can have.

There has always been a relative disproportion in birth rates, too; but there are still lots of countries around with people in them.

This obsession with demographic trends is weird.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 22, 2004 1:51 PM

Neanderthal Man said the same thing.

Posted by: oj at December 22, 2004 1:56 PM

The ugly world secularists have created?

You must mean the one with ever increasinglife spans and nearly complete absence of hunger.

While no world with humans in it is going to be perfect, calling it a perfectly rational decision to avoid bringing children into this world--their worst fear would be what?--paints religionists as hothouse flowers.

While ignoring a trend that has been ongoing since the Industrial Revolution.

But if we are in the hunt for things to blame, I wonder what the correlation is among economically advanced countries' marginal tax rates and birth rates.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 22, 2004 2:54 PM


Yes, it turns out those economic issues don't matter as much as Marx thought. Confuses the heck out of the Left too.

Posted by: oj at December 22, 2004 2:56 PM

Perhaps as a solution the Canadians, Europeans, and Japanese ought to think about promoting polygamy. At least in the cases of Canada and Europe they can rationalize that it's already allowed for under Sharia law.

Posted by: MB at December 22, 2004 5:39 PM


I don't think it would help, because how would it create more live births per woman? If anything, it would be likely to lower it.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at December 22, 2004 8:24 PM


Ah, but if you require polygamy because you're selectively aborting 2/3rds of mail fetuses, you only need 1.3 live births per woman: problem solved!

Selective abortions seem to slant the other way, though.

Posted by: Mike Earl at December 22, 2004 9:58 PM


In the States, there is a direct correlation between taxation and having children. The states with the lowest rates of child birth have generally high rates of taxation, those with low taxes have more kids. Nevada, Florida and Texas, the three fastest growing states, have no state income tax and below average property taxes. States that are losing population or growing at a snail's pace like Massachusetts, NJ or NY have high income and property taxes. Even in Red State America, high tax states like Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana have below average population growth.

When Americans take child-rearing into account, they consider the costs involved in raising the kid. In America, the price of housing, medical care, and education is off the moon. Thus, Americans are reticent to have kids.

Sadly, the permanent American underclass, which has paid for housing, health care and education, doesn't have these concerns and breed like rabbits, merely increasing the tax burden on the rest of us. Religious institutions, whose tax exempt status does not apparently keep them from hectoring the productive for not paying enough taxes, wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by: Bart at December 23, 2004 6:48 AM