Musk and the Pope are right about the need for more children | VICTOR JOECKS

Elon Musk and Pope Francis may not have much in common, but they’re right: the world needs more children.

On Monday, Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur, tweeted, “We should be much more worried about the population collapse.” It was not the first time he had spoken on the subject. “If people don’t have children, civilization will collapse. Note my words,” he said in December.

Two weeks ago, Pope Francis echoed similar themes. Today, there is a “demographic winter”, he warned. “People don’t want to have children, or just one and no more. And many, many couples don’t have children because they don’t want to, or they only have one, but they have two dogs, two cats.

The catchy part of his remarks was the dichotomy he established between children and pets. While you might agree or think that’s too broad a generalization, he’s right that today’s families are smaller.

In 1970, 37% of American households had four or more people, according to Statistia. By 2020, that number had dropped to 22%. In 1970, 11% of households had six or more people. In 2020, it was only 3.5%.

Many variables, including the rise in divorces and single parenthood, influence this. But the driving cause is simple. Our country’s birth rate has plummeted.

In the 1960s, the fertility rate in the United States was 118 live births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. In 2020, the fertility rate was 55.8 births. Again, there are many factors here, with birth control and abortion topping the list.

The United States is not alone. In the developed world, the fertility rate is often below replacement levels. The Census Bureau predicts that Japan’s population will fall from 127.8 million in 2008 to less than 73 million in 2100. Spain’s population is expected to peak in the early 2040s at around 48 million before dropping to 10 million before 2100.

If you think labor shortages are serious now, just wait a few decades.

It’s only partly a joke. Gone are the days when families produced most of their needs by farming and raising animals. In the modern economy, we depend on other people growing, packaging, delivering and selling everything from food to luxury goods. As we are currently experiencing, a reduced workforce hurts everyone and the economy in general.

Then there are our legalized Ponzi schemes. You may know them as Social Security and Medicare. A lack of young workers means benefit cuts, higher taxes, or both. Or runaway inflation as the government prints more and more money.

Things would be worse if it hadn’t been for immigration. Newcomers from foreign lands are the reason the US population is expected to grow, not shrink.

There is no easy solution. European countries have tried financial benefits with, at best, mixed success. It is likely that any reversal will be cultural, not political.

People often wonder what they can do to help the country. Here is a concrete suggestion. Have one more child. If you’re past that stage in life, see if you can offer practical support, like childcare or tutoring, that would help another family grow.

Here’s one thing to remember about children: civilization can’t survive without them.

Contact Victor Joecks at [email protected] or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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