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DEARTH CONTROL

“Dearth Control” and if your knowledge of English is as limited as mine you do not know the meaning of “dearth”.  Well, it means scarcity and this leads to a book review I am reading in Commentary Magazine called “What To Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster” by Jonathon V. Last.  From my viewpoint Canada will face the same problem.
 
The average fertility rate since 1960 — the average number of children a woman is expected to bear over the course of her reproductive years — has dropped by almost half from 3.7 to 1.9.  As the birth rate falls and the Baby Boomers retire the U.S. will look like one large Florida.  The U.S. is not alone with this problem.  Italy and Japan have a fertility rate of 1.4 and their population is contracting.  In these two countries, in a reasonable period of time, the average person will have no brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.  It is hard to believe that in 2011 the Japanese purchased more diapers for the elderly than for the newborn.
 
Government entitlement programs could soon be in massive financial trouble.  Money, in taxes, is taken from existing workers and given to retirees on the implied promise that future workers will fund the present work force.  But the lack of new babies is creating problems.  In 1950 there were 16.5 workers supporting each retiree receiving Social Security.  By 2010, with the demographic shift, 2.9 workers do this job.  Medicare has shown even a worse outcome.  Each Baby Boomer uses an average $17,126 per year and the money is provided by two workers.
 
Why has this occurred?  There are many factors involved and I will list a few.  The birth control bill, legalized abortion, college educated women, easier divorce, and just a decline in the number of children families want to have.  The cost of raising a family is a major factor.  Over the life of one child, as a dependant, the parents could spend
1.1 million dollars.
 
Having children at one point, gave parents the security that their children would look after them in old age.  This is not now a necessity.  With Social Security the law, why not let somebody else’ children pay the way?  Change comes slowly and the results of the change take time to be acted upon.  The benefits of Social Security will be paid on an equal basis to people who never had any children.  Just as welfare became a disincentive to work, so Medicare benefits are now, in effect, discouraging the real need for children.  This does not take into consideration that people have children for more reasons than for them to provide sustenance in old age.
 
There is a history of fear about over-population.  Last plays down this problem as he imples that human prosperity requires more people, not less, and that global income per capita has actually increased and not only for the high earners.  Modern trends cannot be reversed and governments will find ways to accommodate change so that many more men and women of all strata of society benefit.

Name of author

Name: Murray Rubin

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