Miranda Devine had an interesting piece about the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. She argued that although it gave women greater freedom it would be the cause of a great demographic shift that will cause severe imbalances in our society.
Basically she argues that because of the decreased birth rate since more dependable contraception, this declining birth rate will lead to the old rapidly outnumbering the young. The facts generally support her, the average age in the Western world is rising, not just because of the pill but because of increased life expectancy.
What could this mean? Well I have long feared when people my parents age start retiring. They still more or less control the business and political system and are used to getting their way. The increase in the age pension is just the beginning as this voting bloc starts to wield its power. As an age group they whinge better than any of us.
Regardless I’m not so sure the world would be a better place without contraception?
Whereas in 1979 the average woman on the planet had six children, today she has 2.8, and declining, according to the United Nations World Population Prospects publication of 2006.
If these numbers continued, would the world really be in a better place if the population was double or triple what it is now?
Miranda then goes on to praise Abbott as being a rare maverick who has foreseen the danger of ageing population.
Abbott seems to be rare among his colleagues as a politician who understands the dangers of the Demographic Winter.
With respect to Devine, Abbott’s generous and economically ludicrous paid parental leave scheme is clearly little more than a cynical vote buying excercise. If Abbott was really concerned about shifting age demographics then he wouldn’t have been banging on about cutting the migration intake and he wouldn’t be promising a smaller population than current demographers are predicting.
Miranda has a point when she brings up Japan in her article.
Japan, at 1.21, has lost 24 per cent of its people in 20 years. By 2050 there will be two senior citizens for every child.
But what she declines to mention is that one of the reasons Japan is in such a big hole is that they have next to no flexibility in changing their demographics because they have a political system and culture which will never accept a large amount of migration into their country. Yet this is the way Abbott and other conservatives want to go.
Abbott says he wants to cap the population (How the hell do you cap a population anyway? Annual bogan cull?) at around 29 million people. In reality this is little more than an empty sound-bite he is using to try and win an election. But even in magical Abbott land where we could keep the population stable we would still see the demographic winter Devine fears. Even with a stable population we would still see a rise in the average age because of increased life expectancy. That is why even with the population increasing in recent years the average age has still been increasing.
Not that any politician has all the answers to all these problems, but if we let lunatics like Tony Abbott, Andrew Bolt and Kevin Andrews set the migration levels our society would have the same problem as Japan. Increased government debt to pay for the welfare of pensioners, a shrinking work force and an economy falling backwards.
For all his dog-whilsting and whinging about brown people John Howard actually had the foresight that Abbott lacks. Although he talked tough on “boat people” he increased migration because he realised that trying to increase the birth rate is only one way to tackle demographic problems. Abbott is so backward he makes Howard actually seem kind of sensible.