“Greetings dear neighbors this is your mayor speaking,” the Mayor’s voice breaks through the cold Slovakian village early in the morning, as it does every morning. “Let me tell you I haven’t felt this angry in a long time… you slave all day long swamped with work… my struggle…is above all a struggle against loneliness…” Mayor Josef Gadjos finds his beloved village much in the same plight as many other European nations: a rapidly decreasing population.
Since the 1990s demographers began to see what a social trend tending towards smaller families, increased birth control, fewer marriages, less stigmatization towards cohabitation and a rise in abortion rates. This has resulted in a massive decrease in population, if you can follow a simple syllogism, this should not be hard to understand.
For a population to maintain, it is estimated that each couple needs to produce at least 2.1 children. During times of intense famine and war, nations naturally drop below this necessary quota. But in recent years Europe has sustained an average of 1.3 children per woman. To be succinct, this will cut the population in half in less than 50 years – a 50 years we are more than a decade into.
I recently had a classmate state that “population control is our number one problem on earth,” or something extreme like that. I was not surprised to see him enjoined by others who threw their latest pop-culture fact or opinion about the matter in a volley of seemingly noble misanthropy. I am not sure how many people are under the sway of Paul Ehrlich and his ignominious Population Bomb, or how many just buy into the population explosion rhetoric first inaugurated by eugenicists at the turn of the 1900s and is now being repackaged for modernity. But the truth remains: this is simply not the case, at least for Europe and, in the past few years, North America.
We must be wise with our resources and be wise and discretionary in how we live, but I think we have bought into ideologies that have not only left us bereft of children, but have left us lonely.