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The Real Population Bomb

Quickly running out of people who could pay the costs incurred by retiring elders, the West is sitting on a population bomb: It is under-birthed.

Consider the figures: In bankrupt Greece, not only are entitlements too burdensome and costly, the number of people who might pay the entitlements have diminished considerably. In Italy, the Pope a few years ago was encouraging young people to have children, which raised a few protesting laughs. The birth rate in Italy is hovering between 1.2-1.3 children per couple – half the replacement rate. Half of Japanese women born in the seventies are childless. The number of childless Spanish women doubled from 30 to 60 percent between 1990 and 2000. The figures are not much different in Finland, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, where 20 percent of 40-year old women are childless. Of Germans asked to state in a recent poll an ideal number of children, 16.6 percent answered “None.”

When the birth rate falls below the population replacement rate, about 2.5 percent children per family, who pays for ever rising entitlements? The answer is: Nobody. When a nation passes this fail-safe point, bankruptcy is certain – and permanent.


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