Fertility in the Age of Demographic Maturity: An Essay
it demographic maturity, the emerging demographic configurations –
generational sub-replacement fertility, advanced aging and potential
population implosion – call for new ways of thinking about population
and new policy approaches. While we live longer and healthier, we also
reproduce less and less. We are stuck in a culture of low fertility. The
strong motivations for foregoing motherhood are financial: a two-salary
wage is better than one even for the higher middle class. No less important is the woman’s financial independence in a societal environment where marriage as an institution is under considerable stress. Motherhood is to be rewarded adequately for its highly important social role and it has to be sufficient to reassure potential mothers of their financial concerns. What is required is a more balanced resource allocation between production and reproduction. The old welfare type hand-outs like child bonuses do not work. Societies, particularly the rich, ought to realize that to raise fertility, even to generational replacement level, not only is a much greater financial effort called for but some of the tenants of the liberal economy need to be put into question to make room for social concerns such a renewal of generations, if they want to survive as national entities. This essay advocates a stationary population as the best response to challenges such as ecological health, national identity and cohesion, and possibly world peace.
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