Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Latest from the Vatican

ROME, FEB. 8, 2010.- Bankers are not the cause of the global economic crisis, according to the president of the Institute for the Works of Religion. Rather, the cause is ordinary people who do not "believe in the future" and have few or no children.

"The true cause of the crisis is the decline in the birth rate,” Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, said in an interview on Vatican Television's "Octava Dies."

He noted the Western world's population growth rate is at 0% -- that is, two children per couple -- and this, he said, has led to a profound change in the structure of society.

"Instead of stimulating families and society to again believe in the future and have children […] we have stopped having children and have created a situation, a negative economic context decrease," Gotti Tedeschi observed. "And decrease means greater austerity."

“With the decline in births,” he explained, “there are fewer young people that productively enter the working world. And there are many more elderly people that leave the system of production and become a cost for the collective.
I suspect that falling birth rates create economic stresses of various kinds, but since we had several several economic recessions in the 1800s, the time of the western world's fastest population growth, and then the Great Depression at a time of more modest population growth, and more recently very robust economic growth in the 1990s, the argument that economic performance is related to the birth rate needs more evidence before I will take it seriously.

The notion that people who don't have children don't "believe in the future" is very strange. The control of family size represents a determined effort to shape the future, to build a world in which we and our children both have a chance to live full lives. I believe very much in the future, thank you, and I think our future will be better with fewer than 10 billions humans on the planet.

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