Why Lower Birth Rates Are Beneficial: Dispelling Economic Myths
As birth rates continue to lower across the world, national governments are panicking. They promote the idea that this is a large crisis that needs to be dealt with immediately. High importance is placed on raising the birth rates to sustain the economy. A quote from an article from FiveThirtyEight showcases the fears that some have about low birth rates:
They could count on new generations of workers and taxpayers to keep the economy humming and government programs funded when older people stopped working.
Propaganda has made citizens fear that lowering birth rates is a problem with dangerous ramifications on civilization, when in fact lowering birth rates are actually a large positive. Fortunately, reforms promoted by politicians to raise the birth rates have been largely ineffectual. However, the economic myths of low birth rates also need to be examined, so more people can feel at peace with the new trend and learn to accept it and embrace it.
In this article I will examine some common myths about the lower birth rate.
Will Lower Birth Rates Burden the Social Security System?
The Social Security Office of the United States wrote:
Due to demographic changes, the U.S. Social Security system will face financial challenges in the near future. Declining fertility rates and increasing life expectancies are causing the U.S. population to age. Today 12 percent of the total population is aged 65 or older, but by 2080, it will be 23 percent. At the same time, the working-age population is shrinking from 60 percent today to a projected 54 percent in 2080. Consequently, the Social Security system is experiencing a declining worker-to-beneficiary ratio, which will fall from 3.3 in 2005 to 2.1 in 2040 (the year in which the Social Security trust fund is projected to be exhausted). This presents a significant challenge to policymakers.
It is true that lower birth rates will make Social Security and many benefits systems unsustainable. However, this is the problem with their creation in the first place.
Governments around the world built social systems like ponzi schemes, requiring an ever-increasing population to ensure that payouts could continue. These systems were very poorly designed because there is no way to guarantee a specific future population. It was also unnecessary to create systems like Social Security in the first place because if people were just allowed to keep their money, it wouldn’t matter what the population was in the future.
World governments put themself into a quandary because they created social security and pension systems that over-promised things that aren’t mathematically feasible. As a result, they need to encourage breeding so that the illusions that these systems work is maintained.
It is important to remember that people are individuals and not economic slaves that should exist for the purpose of paying benefits for older generations. Many are beginning to realize that they should not create new beings just to prop up the low quality systems that the government created. It is certainly unfortunate that some older citizens won’t be able to retire as planned due to the collapsing systems, but this is the fault of the government for taking their earnings and placing them into an unreliable ponzi-scheme system.
So in a sense, a lower future population is only damaging to old people because governments structured it this way in the first place. Continuing to have children just to continue these systems would prevent the proper changes from being made. If citizens could just keep their earnings instead of relying on government benefits systems, generational resentment would decrease as older people wouldn’t feel they were a burden, and the younger wouldn’t feel that they were slaves.
Will Low Birth Rates Effect Economic Growth?
There are fears that lower birth rates will effect the economic output of countries. An article from The Dallas Morning News describes thoughts on the potential trend:
Future labor shortages caused by a long-term birth rate decline would cause a similar impact, leaving businesses short of hands to help keep them open and growing.
One thing we have to question is if we need growth for the sake of growth. What is more important overall is worker well-being. Dowells Myers of the Population Dynamics Research Group was quoted as saying the following:
Recruitment will be more competitive in terms of pay and benefits. Thus, there will be a greater need to cement worker loyalty with a superior working environment.”
A lower birth rate means that each potential worker will have access to a better quality of living. Even the economists that fear the lowering population often agree that companies will have to focus more on paying better wages and creating an improved working environment for its employees. Already, there are companies around the world that are thinking of lowering hours while keeping the same amount of pay. Recently in the news was Atom Bank, which adopted a four-day work week while keeping the pay equivalent as before:
Atom Bank announced on Tuesday that it had also reduced the weekly hours of its 430 staff to 34 from 37.5 and expected most workers to take either Monday or Friday off. The change is voluntary and would mean staff working slightly longer days.
The policy, which took effect on November 1, was introduced to support Atom’s employees’ “mental and physical well-being,” and improve productivity, the company said. The majority of its workers have switched to the new work week.
As the pool of available labor drops, more companies will likely consider the four-day work week. It is certain that many living around the world are unsatisfied with their current labor conditions. Working standards in China are an egregious example of this. The system of working hours there is looked upon so unfavorably that it was given a term, “996”. The term refers to working from 9 AM to 9 PM for 6 days a week, or 72 hours in a week. Despite widespread opposition to this, it is commonly expected by employers in China. With such a large population to choose from, people begin to become seen more as units rather than individuals. For employers, they are easily replaceable, forgettable, and easy to control.
Fears of a lowering economic output seem to be based more on misplaced nationalistic pride rather than the betterment of the individual’s position. It matters not if there’s economic growth for example if the individual has a reduced quality of living.
Additionally, there doesn’t need to be a goal of achieving a specific economic output. Even if there was, it’s far easier to achieve this without promoting an increase in birthrate. It would be much simpler to find ways for current workers to be more efficient, utilizing automation and teamwork so that they could earn more. Instead of focusing on how to double the population for double the output, why not find ways to train the workers now to be able to do the same?
Children require extensive funds to raise and a lengthy period of education. The money that goes into this could very easily double the wages of current workers. Plus, no one would be very excited about being born just to support an economic system. We already see that many of Generation Z are retreating online to video games and social media because they do not like the system that they were born into. Certainly the talk of birth rates and economic output often doesn’t consider the people that they actually want to be created. I’ve yet to seen proponents of raising birth rate questioning what these future people may need or want. Yet, pushing for lower birth rates gives consideration now for both the people in the present and the future.
Lets ensure that each individual is well off. Despite the growth of the economy, there are high rates of homelessness, lack of direction, and depression. Putting new people in the world in pursuit of some GDP or economic numbers makes little sense when we can devote our resources to ensuring a better well-being for those that are here already.
Will Low Birth Rates Lead to Extinction?
Pat Buchanan wrote the following in his book The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization:
The Death of the West is not a prediction of what is going to happen. It is a depiction of what is happening now. First World nations are dying. They face a mortal crisis, not because of something happening in the Third World, but because of what is not happening at home and in the homes of the First World. Western fertility rates have been falling for decades. Outside of Muslim Albania, no European nation is producing enough babies to replace its population. … In a score of countries the old are already dying off faster than the young are being born. … There is no sign of a turnaround. Now the absolute numbers of Europeans have begun to fall.
Similarly, news media often makes the issue appear to be negative, using alarming headlines. An article from Quartz was titled “South Korea’s birth rate just crashed to another alarming low” and contained the following passage:
The latest data released today (Feb. 27) show that the fertility rate — the number of babies a woman is expected to have during her childbearing years — fell below 1 to 0.98, a new low for the demographically challenged country. That means that only 326,900 babies were born last year in the country of just over 51 million, down 8.6% from the previous year.
Those who are alarmed by lower birth rates seem to fear the idea of changing demographics or extinctions of cultures. Yet, this is in reality far from being a problem.
The issue is that there are still far too many children that are unwanted. According to Worldwide Orphan Statistics, 153 million children worldwide are orphans. Many of these children are utilized as child laborers. The total amount of child laborers is 168 million, and this accounts for 11% of all children in the world.
With a lowering of birth rates, this issue can be focused on more intently. Those who don’t have biological children are often more interested in adoption, or may have more financial resources available to dedicate to solving these issues.
Furthermore, fears of erasures of culture are unfounded, because people may choose to abdicate from having children because of the exact culture they are in. Nations like Japan and South Korea for instance have an extremely intensive work culture and heavy social isolation. Many have realized that this is not something that they want to pass on to their children.
Lower birth rates themselves are actually a sign of improving culture because they show that people are adopting a worldview beyond that of having children. While women in the past were limited to being a mother, now they can enjoy additional economic opportunities and pursue a variety of different careers.
People now live much longer, making high birth rates unnecessary, in fact it would be better if they went much lower. Increasing the lifespan of current humans so they can continue to pursue their knowledge is a much better route than creating children that must learn everything from anew. Because lifespans were more limited in the past, it was necessary to have children in order to continue the process of human growth and evolution. However, we are living longer and longer now, and aging is likely to be completely solved within the next century.
Even now, the benefits of longer lifespans have compounding effects. As less people need to have children, more people, especially women, have time to devote to innovations that benefit humanity. As a result of these societal benefits, others continue to need to have children less and less.
And what about the idea that someone must have a child that is their own?
The fear of humanity becoming extinct often ties in with the supposed importance of having a biological child. People often believe that they must do their part in sustaining humanity and want a child with their traits.
A good way to prevent humanity from degrading would be to engage in actions that bring positive benefits to people’s lives. Choosing to adopt an orphan for example would save humanity from extinction much more than the act of breeding, because that child may be saved from child labor, abuse, or other negative situations.
As far as traits, it’s not necessary to have a biological child to find those. It’s likely that for even the most choosiest parents, there are orphans out there that will fit all of the traits that they want. Some parents may even want traits they could not produce themselves, such as wanting a certain eye or hair color when they wouldn’t be able to have a child this way biologically. Adoption can be beneficial from this aspect as well.
What Is Another Benefit of Lower Birth Rates?
One issue that is central to this generation is the problem of unaffordable housing. Decades earlier, it was possible for one worker with a standard job to buy a home for four people on their own. Now, even with multiple people working together, owning a home or paying rent can be difficult.
Many believe that this issue is down to greedy landlords and lack of regulations on housing, but in reality the issue is that the population has increased exponentially in a short period of time while housing supply has failed to increase.
I believe that even with a growing population, there are ways to make housing much cheaper that are often not discussed, such as repealing restrictive zoning laws.
However, the prime reason for such an increase in prices to begin with is due to growing population and limited supply. The North Texas area for instance has seen tremendous price increases recently, with prices increasing as much as $750 for one renter. It was projected that in 2022, the real estate prices would continue to increase by 37%. This increase is largely driven my migration to Texas from California and other areas, but it displays what can occur when there is high demand and a limited supply. The increase in population has caused this to occur gradually over time around the world, with the result that home ownership or affording a rental is extremely difficult for most of the current generation.
Due to lower birth rates, this trend will eventually reverse, leading to decreased housing prices and likely better quality of housing. Similarly to how the conditions at a career can increase when there are less available workers, property owners will have to offer better terms and amenities when there are not as many people vying for the same options. As of now rent prices are still continuing to rise, but eventually they will peak, and as the generation of boomers begins to die off, the prices will begin to decrease.
Many would like their own place to call home, but it is exceedingly difficult for now. With time though, this dream can be a reality for more people. Lowering birth rates combined with continued construction is likely to lead to a better situation in the future for everyone.
We must keep in mind that the people who promote higher birth rates are often those that benefit off the exploitation of others. Governments often see citizens as nothing more than tools to keep their poorly designed structures running.
It’s important that we think of the real human condition. Human beings do not exist simply to achieve economic goals for others. For very long, women have often had little choice in the world. In many countries today, this is unfortunately still true. But with lowering birth rates, things are at least beginning to improve for all areas around the world.
The only issue with low birth rates is that they are not low enough still. Italy had reached a birth rate as low as 1.27, and despite media fears, this is likely to be a very positive development for the people there. However, with the magnitude of the issues of the world in mind, it is likely that birth rates of 0.5 or lower are truly needed. I believe this is likely to happen in many Western nations as we see Generation Z and Generation Alpha grow older. These generations are the most aware so far, and they highly consider the impacts of having children. As a result I have high hopes for what they will accomplish.
Ultimately, there is one key thing that we must remember. It is the quality of life, not the quantity that matters.