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Wednesday, November 02 2011

Crisis in Europe: Not Enough Children

By Susan Roylance Notify me when this author publishesComment on Article
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While European countries are bemoaning the lack of children, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has projected October 31st – Halloween – as the day the 7 billionth baby will be born. 

As “ghosts and goblins” knocked on neighborhood doors, the UN attempted to scare the world into believing the myths of overpopulation.  “In particular,” said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, “the population projections underscore the urgent need to provide safe and effective family planning to the 215 million women who lack it.”

Actually, this is a contrived commemoration, as the baby will not actually be born until some time in March of 2012 – according to the population projections of the U.S. Census Bureau.

But, more importantly, a serious reality is underpopulation.  Most of the developed countries of the world, particularly  European countries, are experiencing depopulation.

“We need to turn out the lights at the UN population fund, and put that money into productive uses,” said Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (Washington DC), at a satellite news conference in Moscow last week – linking Moscow, London and Washington DC.

Mosher pointed out that the UN Population Fund was set up in 1968, “at the height of the hysteria over overpopulation.”

“The future of humanity passes through the family,” said Mosher.  “If you allow the family to dissolve, if you allow the birth rates to go to 0, a country has no future.  There are countries that are committing collective suicide.”

I was in Spain two weeks ago, planning for the World Congress of Families to be held in Madrid next May.  The organizers are concerned about the low fertility rate, and the increasing rate of abortions in Spain – and hope that as the conference focuses on the value and importance of children, it will eventually boost the nation’s fertility rate.   

In order for a country to maintain its current population, it needs a fertility rate of at least 2.1 births per woman.  The fertility rate in Spain is currently 1.4.  Three months ago I was in Russia.  They are very concerned about their population decline, with a fertility rate of 1.55.      

“We need to educate in parents the need for children,” said Ogla Antonova, head of the Department of Statistics for Population and Healthcare in Russia.  Her department conducted a survey and asked, “What would motivate you to have more children?”  They received the expected answers of better housing, benefits, material support and good wages.  But the answer that surprised them was “a fear to leave a child alone after the death of the parents.” 

What needs to be done is to convince people that they need to be thinking about their children’s generation, their grandchildren’s generation, and into the centuries that follow,” said Anthony Ozimic, the communications director for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (UK).  He quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If black people don’t see the needs of their children in the future, they will not have a future.  If they sacrifice that future for short term comforts then there will be no future for the advancement of their people.” 

Ozimic pointed out the concern of government leaders, as they see the increasing threat of the tax base being eroded, and an inability to provide for pensions, healthcare, and all the needs that government supports in society.  Because of the shrinking base of workers (reduced number of children), the revenue base for the support of the older generation and the basic needs of society are also


Following my recent trip to Russia, I was telling my son (a medical doctor who delivers babies) about the high rate of abortion in Russia.  He responded by saying, “The real question is, why don’t people want to have children?”  (See blog “Russia Promotes Big Families.”)  

A few weeks later I had the opportunity to visit again with Alexey Komov, the chairman of the recent Moscow Demographic Summit.  He said the problem was a “lack of values” (he specifically mentioned religious values).  He said the young people are not concerned about the future.  This comment was also echoed by Igor Beloborodov, the director of Demographic Research Institute in Russia. 

“It is important to impact the values.  It is only through values that is the salvation for humankind,” said Beloborodov.  “We need to demand from international institutions, including the United Nations, a family oriented policy to be pursued.  It is only through this we can prevent genuine depopulation.”


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