With fertility rates dropping in most parts of the world, what should young people be thinking of for the future?
The enormity of the ageing population on young people is inestimable.
Some countries such as Sweden, Germany, Norway and several in the developed world offer cash assistance for having babies. The question is where does the money for the assistance come from?
Obviously, via taxes from those who are in the working age group and government debts which only go on swelling.This, with the intention of creating those little, little ones who will be potential workers and taxpayers.
Some governments are going a step further to offer a basic income and are testing it to be followed as a national policy. This is particularly being tried out in Finland, Ontario, the Netherlands and Kenya.
The thought behind it is most honourable but the same question pops up. Where will the money come from?
And then there is one particular country with a far right government that’s been contemplating the possibility of it’s workforce putting in six days a week in order to keep immigrants out since these foreigners might pollute their culture.
While all of the above happens, there are countries in this world where a large population of the young is being misused and huge numbers remain uneducated.
These nations in particular are Niger, Mali, Chad, Angola, Uganda, Somalia, Congo, Burundi, Burkina Faso and Zambia. In percentage terms India and Indonesia come far behind but well ahead in absolute numbers.
An ageing population costs and costs dearly, causing pressures through increases in health and social care expenditure as well as heavy expenses on pensions.
On The Decline
Depending upon the country and the society we live in we see several social factors at play which are related to race, education, religion, contraceptive use, abortion, marriage, cohabitation, divorce, age at the time of moving in together or marriage and female participation in the labour force.
There are other factors that have a role in fertility such as use of non-stick cookware, use of suntan lotions and even such things as exposure to high temperatures in sauna and steam baths that kill sperm and cause infertility.
Contraceptive use also declines in the lesser educated societies both on account of education and availability. There appears to be a stigma attached to use of contraceptives in many societies especially by those who are not married.
The ‘reproductive culture’ in these societies is entirely different from those where sexuality is rightly realised as natural and healthy.
In the more educated societies the age of moving in together or marriage is also higher resulting in reduced fertility.
As for use of non-stick cookware, use of suntan lotions and exposure to high temperatures in sauna and steam baths that kill sperm and cause infertility will only go on spreading depending upon affordability.
All in all it’s safe to say, fertility will continue declining in many parts of the world and the population will go on ageing and it’s the young who will have to bear the burden.
There are other important aspects to infertility among the educated young. Though the exact percentages are not known, a fair number of the young are what are called ‘Antinatalists’ due to ethical reasons emanating out of, among other issues, concerns about the deteriorating environment and the spectre of AI taking over jobs in the future.
Add to that the financial pressures that the youth of today face.
There are also those who are clear about not having children only because it is the convention and rightly so. These are the young who would rather focus on themselves and not go through the worries and anxiety of having offspring.
This PEW research puts it succinctly: “The Millennial generation is forging a distinctive path into adulthood. Now ranging in age from 18 to 331, they are relatively unattached to organised politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry – and optimistic about the future.”
Even though the research paper we are talking about touches on the situation in the US, with minor adjustments the percentages in the rest of the developed world would be similar.
A little off the point but pertinent. Industries are currently facing a workforce deficit in many countries due to the outflow of foreigners on account of Covid and have begun to stagnate.
This itself should be a lesson to our “leaders” about the importance of immigrants towards supporting economies. Their programs of cash for having babies are clearly meeting with very little success. It’s not just about “leading” but more about “management”.
There is no utopia but here’s hoping for one world that might be a solution to many of the problems being faced by humankind, including fertility. If nothing else, this would be out of the desire to nurture our youth and the younger ones to come.
Once again, the numbers are not known but a larger percentage of the youth compared to any time in the past are the one world kind of people.
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