Brink Lindsey’s 1/3/23 post is “The Global Fertility Collapse”.
Declining global fertility is an overdetermined trend. The Prime Minister of Japan just announced that his country is “on the verge of societal collapse” due to the plummeting birth rate. It’s Ross Douthat’s second horsemen of decadence from my 4/28/20 post.
…society, has become quiescent (in a state of inactivity or dormancy). Douthat’s conclusion is depressing but screams to the fortunate few – count your blessings! We should be grateful for our lucky position in the hereditary aristocracy, while the bottom 80% settles “into the senility of repetition, content to live despairingly but peaceably, paying down, for the last few decades, the accumulated capital of its vigorous and vanished past”.
Sad but true. Thank your lucky stars for who and where you are.
The cause of the collapse of fertility may stem from the other causes of decadence and declining dynamism. In other words, economic stagnation may cause sterility, not the other way around. Arnold Kling citing Limon Stone on 1/7/23 writes:
Actual fertility has fallen even as desired fertility has not in most of the high-income countries of the world. Thus, as with marriage, the likeliest story on falling fertility in the last two decades is not one of people simply freely choosing not to have so many children. Rather, fertility has most plausibly fallen because of economic “failure to launch” among young people, long delays in career stability, excessive housing costs, exploding childcare costs, rising student debts, and other adverse circumstances, not least the oppressive panopticon of social media which makes prisoners of us all.
The decision on whether or not to have children is strategic, based on one’s circumstances. Our current socio-economic environment makes young people today think it’s not worth it, not in their best interests to “launch”. That same strategic, interactive calculation impacts all of Brink’s enumerated causes for capitalism’s crisis:
- Exhaustion of low hanging fruit
- Mass affluence leads to caution – psychological loss aversion is a powerful force
- The anti-Promethean backlash caused a cultural aversion to new technology
- Mass affluence changed our orientation from the real world to the virtual world
- Capitalism has no systemic competition – there is no rival system
- The global fertility collapse means a lot less people to work and innovate
Next week, we get to the million-dollar question raised by the above. Is Capitalism doomed?
P.S. The only solution, or at least amelioration, of The Permanent Problem must involve a change in our cultural attitudes, mores and family values (not Government policy).