As a teenager growing up in the 1950s, I was taught that future runaway population growth would result in catastrophic food shortages and death on an unprecedented scale. Sixty years later, the opposite is proving to be true in many parts of the world. Two recent internet articles discuss the threat of a declining birth rate to the stability of Japan, Europe, and America. The abandonment of parenthood and a shrinking population is already having serious sociological effects on society today that will not bode well for the future.
In The Atlantic magazine in June 2017, Alana Semuels wrote an article entitled The Mystery of Why Japanese People Are Having So Few Babies. According to her research, the work culture of Japan contributed to fewer than 1 million births last year and the lowest number in over a century. “Japan’s birth rate may be falling because there are fewer good opportunities for young people, and especially men, in the country’s economy.” Unsteady part-time employment is taking the place of regular employment with good benefits and dependable raises. Men are not considered good marriage material for Japanese women unless they have job security. Women, too, are working long hours and are less likely to want to add children to their already stressed lives.
Europeans and Americans are postponing or abandoning marriage and parenting at unprecedented rates. In Europe, the citizens are only following the pattern of their leaders.
The eight leaders of mainline European countries have only two children among them.
Jeremy Carl writes for FOX online news, Here’s why it matters that Americans are having fewer children than ever before. He points out that “People having fewer or no children at all may seem at first blush to be simply making a personal choice, of consequence only to themselves. However, this decision is actually one with profound political implications.” Many in the higher income levels, who can afford to raise their children, are choosing to have fewer children or none at all.” Those in lower income levels or in single family homes are experiencing a higher birth rate with fewer financial resources to finance their upbringing. The political and cultural landscape will also be affected by a growing number of legal and illegal immigrants who tend to produce more children.
Another factor is the high abortion rate. Covenant Care Adoptions of Georgia posted the following statistic from 2014. During that year, there were 30,013 abortions in the state compared to 381 infant adoptions. 82% of people with unwanted pregnancies chose to abort their pregnancies instead of allowing those babies to be born and placed in loving families. It makes my heart hurt just to think about it.
What are the implications of those statistics? (three serious and one humorous)
- · No longer will society be structured around family units.
- · Future taxpaying workers will bear a greater burden to support an aging population.
- · Interaction between varying age groups will diminish.
- · More incontinence products will be sold than baby diapers.
I can’t imagine my life without my children and grandchildren. They bring so much joy and sometimes heartache to my life, but it is all worth it. Someone posted on Facebook that "the best part of growing old is grandchildren." It's is also a delight to be around the children in our church and to see the future in their eyes.
Two Bible verses sum up the importance of children for a fulfilling life.
Psalm 127:3-5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
“Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Genesis 1:28