HOUSTON (Christian Examiner) -- Dwindling populations among developed countries are creating concern among leaders worldwide, and causing desperate government efforts, including Denmark's advertising campaign encouraging procreation and eliciting remarks by Pope Francis who called child-free cultures "depressed societies."
A 2013 Denmark government report described the country's birthrate as so "dangerously low" that officials launched a "Do it for Denmark" campaign urging couples to have marital relations in order to boost its citizenship numbers. Dating sites have been created for those ready to have a baby now and free "date night" childcare is provided for parents trying to have a second child.
With a total fertility rate of 1.7 children per childbearing capable woman, some projections show the population peaking in 2034 and then sliding into a downward spiral. A minimum total fertility rate of 2.1 is needed to sustain a population with no growth and no decline (essentially, each woman bears a child to replace herseslf and her husband).
Concerns have risen to such levels that Denmark even modified its sex education curriculum. According to the New York Times, in addition to topics about safe sex and how to prevent pregnancy, content has been added "to tell them how to get pregnant."
But Denmark is only one of almostt half the world's countries facing depopulation.
A 2013 United Nations announcement estimated 48 per cent of the world's population now lives in "low-fertility" countries. The largest low-fertility populations are in China, the United States, Brazil, the Russian Federation, Japan and Viet Nam.
LOST INTEREST IN JAPAN
Among these, Japan has shown the most dramatic shift in population trends.
Its population is at a record low, ebbing to the same level as recorded in 2000 -- and the cause is couples are not being intimate.
The Japan Family Planning Association reported survey results in January 2015 showing that nearly 50 percent of all Japanese adults are not having sex. Women complained sex was "bothersome" (23.8 percent) and they were too tired from work (17.8 percent). Men also blamed fatigue as a factor (21.3 percent) and another cohort said they were not interested after their wives gave birth (15.7 percent). Even worse, a national social behavior is developing such that a growing group of young men (about 20 percent of males aged 25 to 29 years old) have little or no interest in sex, the report stated.
The result is couples are not having babies as evidenced by a 1.4 total fertility rate for the country -- which means the population will drop from 127 million today to about 84 million by 2060 and as low as 42 million in 2110.
China, now the world's most populous nation, also is facing declining numbers -- largely the result of its self-inflicted one child policy. Women are having children at a rate well below replacement levels, 1.7 children per child bearing capable woman, and many are having sex-selective abortions resulting in an imbalance between the sexes -- 116 boys being born for every 100 girls.
That means 14 percent of men will not even have a mathematical chance at marriage. At present, sociologists predict there will be 30 million adult men by 2020, a mere 5 years away, who will have no marriage prospects among Chinese women, simply because of the numbers discrepancy between the genders.
China will not just level off but actually drop in total population—to about 1.4 billion in 2025, dipping to 1 billion by 2100, according to U.N. data.
Importantly, it already has peaked in actual numbers of its working-age population (16 to 59 years old), and, it actually lost workers each of the last three years (3.71 million last year, 2.44 million in 2013 and 3.45 million in 2012 (the year of its first drop), Bloomberg News reported.
The combined information points to looming economic and social disaster for China in the coming years.
But China is not the only country facing a population crisis, or a gender imbalance.
India, which will overtake China as the most populous country around 2025 before starting to decline as well in 2060, is facing a similar gender gap (also, because of sex selection abortion which favors males) as well as a general flagging total fertility rate.
This is startling because China and India combined compose 37 percent of the world's population.
Social unrest is possible because of men not finding wives, and economic distress will come into play from neither having enough workers to support the very young and very old. A labor advantage is the locomotive for both economies.
MORAL POVERTY AT WORK
Ultimately the population problem stems from a pursuit of personal success and fulfillment that is a "self deception," according to an op-ed piece published by Damon Linker, senior correspondent for TheWeek. com, earlier this month.
Linker, in his recent response to a New York Times article and the book "Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids" suggested the root cause of these egocentric criticisms is a "poverty of our moral concepts."
Linker went so far as to call childless couples "hedonists" who aim to pursue the pleasure found in "material rewards along with the self-satisfaction that follows from achieving high social status through career advancement."
Drawing a contrast between a self-centered world view to the "intangible promises" found in sacrifices made for a noble cause (like children) Linker urged the childless pursuers of pleasure to maintain certainty in the limited impact in this life that without successors ends with their last breath.