May 23, 2021
Demographers are now saying that by the middle of the 21st century there will be more deaths globally than births. The replacement rate is 2.1 children per family and many countries are already falling below that rate. South Korea is below 1.0 now. Even China and India are dealing with declining birthrates in some regions of their countries. Western countries in Europe are already straining. It’s interesting to think about how this problem of people will change politics and do so radically.
Japan’s cultural opposition to immigrants is already threatening politics there. Opposition to immigration on the right is going to be under pressure everywhere though, including places like France, Poland, Hungary, and the United States where right and far right parties have made anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-anyone with a different color and culture their primary platform.
There will be no changes like those that impact on the role of women. Some countries and regions have already tried to offer various incentives, including cash, to encourage women to have more children. Interestingly, so far, it’s not working. It seems women can’t be nickel-and-dimed into deciding to have more children. To me, this seems to signal an increasing demand, both implicit in the issue now, and likely to be increasingly explicit over coming decades, by women demanding fundamental change in their world and the world in general, in order for them to have more children. This is already a problem the anti-abortion advocates are having, and there’s evidence that increasingly there’s a split in their ranks. The hardliners keep trying to legislate the solution by stopping access to women’s health centers. Others are realizing that to encourage births, policies have to be genuinely pro-life, and that means raising the support for women and families.
It’s hard not to believe that universal daycare for children that supports births, but also allows women to work, is inevitable in the coming ten or twenty years, especially in developed countries on the losing side of the replacement rates. It’s also impossible not to believe that higher and higher wages are now going to be standard throughout care giving industries for childcare, senior care, whether in nursing homes or home care, and everything to do with healthcare. These women-dominated jobs are going to have to be made much more attractive to entice workers, especially as the general shortage of labor intensifies. It is hard not to imagine that in the same way the US is talking about child support now under the Biden plan for the first time in fifty years, that the day is now coming when all women will be paid a living wage in order to decide to have children and stay at home to raise them. Mark my words, it’s coming, and, if these population trends develop, it’s just a matter of time.
Benefit programs like social security are based on the presumption that young workers will pay for the old. Benefit programs for women have been based on a system that privileges men. All of this is about to be flipped on its head. The day is coming when women and their demands will hold up way more than half the sky and most of the world, and everybody, especially men, need to get ready or suffer the consequences of change almost impossible to imagine now.