November 23, 2013


To ensure prosperity, immigration reform must not halt the flow of newcomers (JOHN IBBITSON, 11/20/13, The Globe and Mail)

For decades, now, European countries have struggled with the risk of a shrinking population, which happens if women have fewer than an average of 2.1 children and the pace of immigration doesn't make up the balance. European governments have done everything in their power, through daycare and early childhood education programs, to increase the fertility rate, with some success.

But with the onset of the recession, Europeans once again stopped having babies. "Whether countries have high fertility rates, like Britain, or low ones, like Hungary, the trend is similar," the Economist reports. "A 10-year fertility rise stopped around 2008 as the economic crisis hit, and started to slide in 2011."

There are two reasons for this: With the onset of the recession, young couples decided to put off having children, and immigrants remigrated because there were no jobs for them.

In a long-term, global context, depopulation can ease pressure on the environment. Short-term, however, demographic decline can be devastating. Low birth rates and little immigration leave too few young workers to pay into pension plans on which older workers depend. There are too few consumers buying homes and cars and dishwashers, forcing builders and manufacturers to shut down.

Japanese economists cite aging and depopulation as major contributors to that country's decades' long economic decay.

A strong economy and a robust immigration policy have protected Canada from the demographic shock of decreasing fertility. The latest Statistics Canada data show that our birth rate actually improved from 1.5 in 2000 to 1.7 in 2011. Nonetheless, by 2030 any increase in the Canadian population will come almost entirely from immigration. That is why it is so vital to keep the public onside.

Posted by at November 23, 2013 9:44 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus