Saturday, December 29, 2012

Economy and Family

ByuTV is featuring a documentary highlighting the problems of declining fertility rates worldwide. World population has been stable for millennia however in the past several hundred years the population has experienced exponential growth. The reasons are not because women were having more children but because of modern sanitation, vaccines, and antibiotics, more children are surviving into adulthood and living longer.

A critical connection the documentary makes is that strong families are integral to a growing and prosperous economy. Consequently demographic and family considerations may be even more fundamental to economics than most economic theories.

GDP (economic growth) = population grown x productivity.

Therefore, if population is in decline, economic growth cannot continue unless there is an commensurate increase in productivity. However, the problem the documentary points out is the same factors that are eroding worldwide fertility rates and future population growth are also eroding productivity.

The major factor eroding worldwide fertility us the decline of family values. However, study after study also provide strong evidence that declining family values also limit individual productivity. Children born into broken homes and who are only children have lower IQ, lower cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Consequently, the social capital in the society is diminished.

The result is that several factors are leading to the weakening of families:

1. Sexual Revolution: reliable birth control has separated the idea of sex from reproduction has led to the exploitation of women where men co-habitate with women, get their needs for companionship met; but leave the relationship ambiguous for as long as possible, denying women marriage and children.

2. Environmental Extremism: With the booming population, public opinion shifted against family and children. Environmentalist started warning that people were liabilities and not assets and that overpopulation would put a strain on limited resources, pollute and destroy the environment. They even fear-monger that population would lead to catastrophe.

3. Feminist Movement: Education and voting rights are good, but women have been focused on education and employment and have put off or set aside concern for marriage and family. Less women are getting married. More women are getting married later in life and consequently having less children.

4. Illegitimacy: 40% of children today are born out-of-wedlock. Children born outside of traditional marriage have limited social and economic resources and will be, on average, less productive, more prone to addiction, less educated, less intelligent on average, and less happy.

5. Industrial Revolution: in an agrarian-based economy or a cottage-industry society, more children means more workers. In the machine age, child labor within the family is no longer required. Instead, modern families focus on increasing the productivity of children through education.

6. No-fault Divorce: Ronald Reagan passed the first bill as Governor of California making divorce cheap and easy to obtain for any or no reason. Easy divorce leaves children with a broken social support structure and limited financial resources. Also, expected divorce leads to children being seen as a future liability.

7. Pop Culture and Materialism: Advertisers target young adults while they are emotionally immature, have limited world experience, and long-term planning ability. Advertisers get young adults to focus on consumerism, materialism and hedonism over saving, planning, and making preparations for future family life. Pop Culture also reenforces all the other negative forces on the family.

8. Secularism: people of higher spiritual and religious faith tend to have higher birth and fertility rates, stronger families, and more productive, intelligent, and educated children. Secular people seemed to be locked onto being programed by the media and pop-culture telling them not to reproduce.

Consequently, the documentary says the cloud of of a demographic decline may have a silver lining. Because people of faith have more children, it may be that the coming secular-based demographic winter may be followed by a spiritually-based demographic spring.

[Optimism aside, some are not so confident about the conclusion, though, because the maintained or even increased birth rate among people of faith is so easily overshadowed by the high birth rate among the unwed, poor, and disadvantaged. I am not sure there will be enough of the faithful to provide a social support network for the needy.]

[Most of the needy are people of faith and are not taught virtue. I say, after some cleansing, the faithful will care for and convert the needy and return them to virtue]

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