The Death of Birth — Our Dismal Fertility Rates

Through Collapsed Fertility Rates, We Are Self-Exterminating

South Korea’s Baby Boom: Does It Really Exist?

A hearty dose of caution is in order, when considering today’s so-called baby booms. Numerous governments have both introduced and increased payments to couples and, in some cases, single women for having children. Needless to say, little time passes before politicians start to trumpet their “successes.” When there is any true success, it’s generally a tiny bump in the fertility rate.

South Korea has been boosting its child subsidies, and the country’s fertility rate has risen a small amount. But what is the real cause of this improvement? Are the subsidies a partial solution to the nation’s growing crisis, or do they compound the problem by raising government expenditures without actually serving to cure anemic birth rates?

One of the greatest challenges created by collapsed fertility rates is the growth of unsustainable government deficits. On average, it costs more to support a senior citizen than a youth; as societies age, an increasing amount must go toward transfer programs to the elderly, such as (in the US) Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In addition, labor-shortages occur, as the working-age percentage of the population shrinks. The situation could lead to a death spiral, if matters get to the point where adults in their reproductive years spend so much to support the elderly that they can’t afford to have children. Increased government expenditures, targeted to encourage childbearing, will only exacerbate the problem, if they don’t significantly augment the number of births.

South Korea faces a massive demographic crisis as a result of adults having so few children for so many years. As stated in this article, “Amid the low birthrate, South Korea’s population is projected to diminish by two-thirds in the next century, dropping to 16 million from 48 million and creating a national economic and labor-shortage disaster.” “Disaster” is the operative word. No society on earth has ever thrived with such a collapse of population. This is equivalent to a plague of biblical proportions.Unfortunately, though the fertility rate of South Korea has lifted in recent years, the rise might not be due to any social efforts. It may simply be a result of a recent, and temporary, increase in the number of women in their prime child bearing years.As the above linked article points out

experts say that it may be too soon to declare an end to the country’s “baby strike.”
“The boost might be temporary, as it occurred mainly because the children of baby boomers, born shortly after the Korean War, are now of childbearing age,” said Lee Jin-man, an official at the National Statistic Office (NSO).

The following graph from the U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base, shows the male and female populations of South Korea in 2000 as a function of age. Note that the largest female cohort (right side of the graph) falls in the 25 through 29 age group. In 2005, this group ran from 30 through 34. A graph of this form is typical for developed countries today. With women having most of their children in their very late 20s and during their early 30s, the overall fertility of a society will swell as a relatively large number of women pass through these years. Unfortunately, fertility rate may well fall again, when these women exit their prime childbearing years.


Is the problem a lack of money in the hands of potential parents? Apparently not. As the article states:

While the country’s new president is seeking to raise per capita income to $40,000 within a decade, the current birthrate is barely over 1 child per woman. Yet back in the 1970s, when South Korea’s per capita income stood at a mere $250, the birthrate was an average of 4.5 children per woman.

Some pundits maintain that women will want more children, if more child care is provided, so the women can spend their days at work rather than with their children. But do women really want to have children, only to turn them over to others to raise them. Perhaps not.

Yoon Young-in, a 32 year old female office worker quoted in the article, states that “What we really want is a change in the social concept that childcare is no longer solely the family’s job, but that of the whole society.” It seems, however, that she wants her extended family to care for her children, while she works.

“I am worried because both my mother and mother-in-law put their foot down, saying they don’t want to take care of the grandkids… I don’t blame them since it wasn’t their job to begin with, but it has made the decision-making much harder,” Yoon added with a sigh. “I am not about to leave my baby in the hands of a stranger, but I don’t want to give up my job either.”

The solution to collapsed fertility rates certainly isn’t obvious, and the causes are many and varied. But with far higher standards of living corresponding to fewer children, it doesn’t seem that an inability to afford children is the fundamental determinant. Nor is an absence of programs to get more women out into the workforce.

More on Robotics and a Lonely, Aging Society

According to research, appearing in the March issue of the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, robotic dogs may prove to be as effective as real dogs, when it comes to assuaging the loneliness of the elderly.

Readers of The Death of Birth may have seen this post on robotics, in which it was reported that companies in Japan are leading the way in developing robots for both service and companionship. It should come as no surprise that Japan is at the forefront of this field, partly because the nation is so advanced technologically but also because it is aging so severely as a result of its decades-long anemic fertility rates.

According to this article,

To test whether residents responded better to Sparky, a trained therapy dog, or the Sony-made robot dog, researchers divided 38 nursing home residents into three groups at a trio of long-term care facilities in St. Louis.

Though the results are not conclusive, it seems that, once they warmed up to the mechanical pooch, residents found as much comfort in its company as in the company of a real dog.

With a dearth of children in much of the developed world, the elderly may at times need to find companionship in robots. Now if we can only get the robots to pay the necessary taxes to support us in our elder years.

The $4 Trillion Headache and What the Government Isn’t Doing about It.

Have you noticed how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) so often predicts near term federal deficits to be followed by surpluses beyond the current or even the next presidential term? Have you also noticed that those surpluses almost never arrive? And have you noticed that, when the forecasted federal fiscal boom fails to materialize, the CBO releases yet another forecast of near term deficits followed by surpluses, scheduled to appear after what is now the current or even the next presidential term?

Well, those folks are at it again. CNNMoney reports:

“According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the annual budget deficit will improve during the next president’s four-year term and end in a surplus of $61 billion by 2013.”

That’s right. The surplus will arrive not during the current or next presidential administration, but during the term after the next.


…baseline projection is based on financial assumptions that no one expects to pan out. Two of the biggest roadblocks threatening to upend budgetary nirvana: What to do about the looming expiration of tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, and the growing cost of fixing – or nixing – the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).Depending on how you address them, those two factors alone could add close to $4 trillion to the federal budget deficit by 2018, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center.

Add in the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the growing costs of Medicare and Social Security, and you end up with something more like a budgetary nadir.

As pointed out in that last sentence, the forecast fails to consider the effects of committed transfer programs — the ones that will slam us over the coming decades with the retirement of the Baby Boomers and the aging of our society.

Unfortunately, the two major political parties are sticking with their standard approaches — the Democrats continue to call for new programs and the Republicans further cultivate their visceral aversion to taxes.

The last line of the CNN article sums up matters well:

The political friction over which route to take will play a big part in shaping the next president’s initiatives. Gordon of the Concord Coalition said it’s not hard to find ways to balance the budget mathematically. But, he said, “it’s hard politically.”

Demographic Winter: The Movie

According to press releases and this website, a soon-to-be-released documentary will reveal the gravity of collapsed fertility rates and the associated aging and shrinking of populations. The hour-long film points out that a worldwide economic and social upheaval will result from the millions of individual decisions to avoid both marriage and having children.


As stated in the trailer to “Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family,” “Never in history have we had economic prosperity accompanied by depopulation.”

In other words, we will be faced by “economic collapse. There won’t be enough people to run the trains or to pay the taxes.”

Written and directed by Rick Stout, “Demographic Winter” dares to question political correctness, the movement that has done so much to bring us to this brink — the movement, which demands that we continue its practices despite their being so clearly discredited.

According to Kay Hymowitz, of the Manhattan Institute, young adults, especially men, now choose to marry later or not at all. As readers of this blog are aware, the phenomenon of men avoiding marriage is known as the “marriage strike.” This growing trend contributes markedly to the demographic winter.

Societies would do well to turn from attempting to shame men into marriage; aside from its injustice, the tactic isn’t working. Rather, cultures need to examine the changes in marriage, especially in family law, that are leading men to re-evaluate and reject the institution.

ASIMO the Magnificent: A Japanese Solution to Dismal Fertility Rates?

When it comes to the developed world’s descent into demographic winter, Japan has, for years, been a leader. Already the world’s oldest society, and continuing to age, the nation recently tipped over the numbers-cliff. The population started to contract three years ago.


Japanese men and women have drawn apart and, despite efforts by the government to bring them together for procreation, show no signs of reversing the vogue. According to the Washington Post, “With a surfeit of the old and a shortage of the young, Japan is on course for a population collapse unlike any in human history.”

The article goes on to state:

Population shrinkage began here three years ago and is gathering pace. Within 50 years, the population, now 127 million, will fall by a third, the government projects. Within a century, two-thirds of the population will be gone. That would leave Japan, now the world’s second-largest economy, with about 42 million people.The workforce would shrink even faster, thanks to the dearth of children under 15, whose numbers have been falling for 26 consecutive years and now reflect a record-low 13.6 percent of the population.

Within 20 years, the workforce will fall by 10 percent, according to Goldman Sachs, the investment firm. It estimates that within 30 years, Japan will have just two workers for each retiree; within 50 years, two retirees for every three workers. Pension and health care systems will be at risk of collapse.

To cope with its bleak demographic prospects, the country is turning, in part, to robotics. Though the populace has a fascination with human-like robots, “engineers say it’s the ‘service robots,’ which can’t dance a lick and don’t look remotely human, that can bail out Japan… (One) can spoon-feed the elderly. Others are being designed to hoist them onto a toilet and phone a nurse when they won’t take their pills.”

Last December, the world’s largest auto manufacturer, Toyota, announced that it plans to make robotics a core business. It is Honda, however, which lays claim to what may be today’s most famous robot, ASIMO (an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility). Those in the US who would like watch ASIMO perform can visit the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, on or before Sunday, February 17.

A number of online videos exemplify the level of sophistication that this technology has achieved. This one, for example, shows how ASIMO can wait on us.

The military, of course, has contributed for decades to robotic R&D. In addition, many robotic advances are being exploited by other industries. Honda, for instance, is putting more of ASIMO’s abilities into its automobiles to make them safer. According to Bloomberg, Masashi Yamashta, general manager of Toyota’s Partner Robot development division, states that “We are not focused on making robots that look like people.” Nevertheless, many of the technological developments incorporated into these machines may serve well in androids.

The Bloomberg article goes on to state, “The robot (ASIMO) can walk alongside a guest, hold the guest’s hand, carry a serving tray or push a tea trolley. The robot is equipped with a memory and intelligence system equivalent to a three-year- old child and its strength and physical abilities are equal to a 10-year old, Honda said.”

Services are a major thrust of this technology, but, if adults continue to turn from marriage and children, robots may soon start to replace humans for companionship in much the same way that pets have. And matters may go beyond even that.

Judging by press releases and early reviews, this issue is the subject of a new book by David Levy, “Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships.”

Androids have begun to acquire forms that may someday appeal to a number of people. For example, there’s this model.

And then there’s Repliee Q1Expo.

This report states that humanoids will be used as companions to the elderly and bedridden. It will be interesting to see if societies, or segments thereof, fall into a feedback loop in which low birthrates lead to a greater development of robots, which leads to further estrangement of men and women and, as a result, even lower fertility rates.

According to the Washington Post article linked above, critics say “that robots are a politically expedient palliative that allows politicians and corporate leaders to avoid wrenchingly difficult social issues, such as Japan’s deep-seated aversion to immigration, its chronic shortage of affordable day care and Japanese women’s increasing rejection of motherhood.”

It may well be that Japanese women, but not Japanese men, are currently rejecting parenthood, but if western societies, especially the US, are an indication of the future, men may soon join in.

This blog has already mentioned the marriage strike in the US. The phenomenon is part of a larger social movement known as Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW).


International symbol of Men Going Their Own Way

As of this date, Wikipedia states, “A ‘marriage strike’ is the social phenomenon of men seeking to avoid marriage. The ‘marriage strike’ specifically refers to the action of men living within the Western world. Advocates of the marriage strike believe that after a considered cost-benefit analysis, the legal contract that is modern marriage no longer represents an attractive option for men living in the West’s changed legal, economic, sociological, cultural and demographic environment.”

MGTOW is not an organization. It is not even a movement in the sense of the black civil rights movement — an organized series of events aiming for particular goals. It is, rather, a movement in the sense of a social trend. An increasing number of men are individually turning their backs on society. Rightly or wrongly, they have come to believe that their cultures have turned against them, so they choose to decrease their participation in those cultures. This fact is demonstrated not only by the marriage strike but also by males’ high rates of suicide and collapsing percentage of college and university students.

We’re in for a hell of a ride. Please place your seatbacks and trays in their upright and locked positions. And be sure to take your dramamine, especially if you’re sitting next to me.

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