Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Study Gives Hope to Industrialized Nations Facing Population Declines

The latest research shows that although developed countries are experiencing decreased birth rates, there may yet be hope that "once a nation achieves an especially high level of development, women appear to start having more babies again."

No surprise: The liberal journalists don't even mention that abortion terminates a large share of the unborn in these same developed countries.

-- From "In Reversal, Highly Developed Nations See Rise in Fertility" by Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer 8/10/09

While the trend [of lower birth rates] cheered some environmentalists worried about overpopulation, it stoked increasing concern among policymakers, demographers and social scientists about the long-term impact on societies as their populations aged and sometimes began to shrink.

"This is something like a light at the end of the tunnel for some of these countries whose populations were on the path to decline," said Hans-Peter Kohler, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania who helped conduct the research. "We project a more optimistic future where fertility will go up, which reduces fears of rapid population decline and rapid aging."
Other researchers praised the new analysis as a milestone with potentially far-reaching political and social implications.

"This is very significant," said Shripad Tuljapurkar, a biology and population studies professor at Stanford University, who wrote a commentary accompanying the new research in the scientific journal Nature. "This debate has been going on for some time about these amazingly low fertility rates in some of these countries. It's been a classic policy quandary that people tend to sit around and shake their heads and worry about."

The concern has focused on a nation's "fertility rate," which is generally considered desirable by demographers and sociologists when it hovers around the "replacement rate" -- when the average number of babies born to each woman is about two. That means a country is producing enough young people to replace and support aging workers without population growth being so high that it taxes national resources.

Throughout the 20th century, the fertility rate has generally fallen as economic prosperity has risen, sometimes far below the replacement rate in some of the world's most highly developed nations, such as Japan, South Korea, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Resistant to the notion of replenishing their populations through immigration, some countries, such as Sweden and Italy, have become so concerned about their stubbornly low fertility rates that they have tried offering women financial incentives to have more babies, without significant success.

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