Saturday, November 08, 2008

Demographic Winter

I am always a bit anxious about the racialist implications or under-currents of films like this, which is presumably why academics do not take up the issue. It can be presented easily in terms of white Christian Europeans/Americans are not reproducing, whereas other races are.

The response of most governments is to allow economic migration, which gives us a pool of educated trained taxpayers, who support the economic needs of an increasingly ageing and long lived population. Of course what we tend to do is take the best from those nations that are reproducing, healthcare workers from Africa and Asia, are an obvious example.

The other side of the coin is that we discourage the growth of the "native" population. In this parish I think the largest family living in the parish has three children. Here it is in part because of the housing stock, so many small flats in old town houses with steep stairs and no gardens means larger families move out, cities everywhere are not child friendly.

But there is something more fundamental, some term it the "contraceptive society" or "contraceptive mentality". There is a prejudice against couples who have more than the two point whatever children.

Legislation is increasingly anti-family and anti-child, so much so that it sees children as not being integral to the family, or the family as being primarily about producing and bringing up children.

The Catholic understanding of children as a blessing, a gift that should be welcomed, is easily turned on its head by economic pressures, so children become a burden, a financial handicap. Green politics, an increasingly strident voice among the young, see children as a pollutant, as a source of destruction for the planet.


Fiorella said...

Fr Ray, as the (immigrant) mother of two babies and counting, I would agree that economic policies make it very hard for families in this country but that is not the real issue, it is the social expectation that 'two children are enough' and that babies are a burden who cramp your lifestyle. I come across this attitude among Christians all the time, including among 'orthodox' Catholics.

My children are mixed race and I have no time whatsoever for people who moan about shrinking indigenous populations when those populations themselves are contracepting and aborting themselves out of existence. God is merciful, nature is harsh.

Andrew said...

Family size is often directly correlated to economic prosperity. It's the same with Japanese and Singaporean society. In Malaysia, the more affluent Chinese have less kids than the economically poorer Muslim Malays. So, it's not a purely European or American thing.

miss book said...

We live in a world that talks of 'making a baby' or 'trying for a baby' or uses other metaphors. Few see the baby as God's gift and blessing on a marriage.It is a sad symptom of the contraceptive mentality that seems to have captured very many people.I am the proud mother of eight, following each birth, I was invited to consider my contraceptive requirements; I think they were a bit flummoxed with me when I said I had already done my family planning with my future husband,and with God, before we were married.

Fr Ray Blake said...

miss book,
Such phrases indicate a default position of not wanting children.

Ponte Sisto said...

You have an award to collect here.

This award is given in recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.

I hope that you will accept it.

In Domino,

Phil Andrews

gemoftheocean said...

It's been going on for a long time, minimally 40 years, if not longer for those ideas to germinate and take hold.

gemoftheocean said...

Well, I'm not so sure about the "trying for a baby" part of being a default position for not wanting any.

I know 2 good married Catholics both from large families who wanted children but couldn't have any. His sperm count was low, and she also had factors that didn't help physically.

It's sad that people who want them too many times can't conceive them, and people who wouldn't think twice of chopping them up to be left in a pain in an abortion factory have had multiple abortions in many cases,

"Unwanted child?"

"Unwanted" by whom?

Part of the reason the liberals hate Sarah Palin so much is she DID have a retarded child. She walked the walk.

Last week before the election, some bat of a woman said to me (not having any clue I favored the GOP ticket) said "Hey, you know the baby that Sarah's been lugging around? Not hers."

The EXACT word "lugging" was used.

A retarded child, to these people is a child which will be "lugged around." A "useless eater" I think was the Nazi phrase.

If a child in the womb isn't safe. No one is.

miss book said...

Yes such phrases do indicate that, Fr., and that 'Humanae Vitae' sadly fell on mainly deaf ears.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Phil, thank you of course I accept it.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

A big part of the demographic winter problem is that contraception has created a trap. As couples have been "liberated" from their fertility, the default position is that they will both be in full-time employment.

The Pill is both cause and effect: the more households have two full-time breadwinners, the more prices rise because of the increased affluence and affordability. Look at house prices for a start -- they are far higher (adjusted for inflation) than they were 40 years ago, even after the recent decline. In fact, the price of nearly everything today contains a "contraceptive premium." It is this factor above all which causes women to go straight back to work after a brief period of maternity leave in order to maintain living standards.

The two-income/ two-child model has therefore become a self-reinforcing structure. The only way out of this mess is for Catholic couples to act heroically, by reverting to the old lower-income/ more-children model. This will mean giving up a lot of luxuries and even security. But it's the only escape from the wider malaise, and people will start to see that larger families, far from being oddities, are generally happier and more cohesive than smaller ones.

If the proponents of the "LiveSimply" campaign could integrate the teachings of Humanae Vitae into their initiative, we might have the beginnings of a properly grounded Catholic campaign against the root causes of the West's demographic winter.

Mary Martha said...

Andrew said that family size is related to economic prosperity... and it may be trues that for some people the more prosperous have smaller families. However, in my community the 5th child is the ultimate status symbol. Only the truly rich can pay for 5 college tuitions!

Seriously, I have found that the more wealthy and successful people can (and do) have larger families. It's the middle class who feel squeezed by the economy who feel they must limit their family size.

Jackie Parkes said...

Fortunately I generally have nothing but positive feedback & most people are could they be otherwise with such good-looking kids! lol

Jackie Parkes said...

Yes Francis! We started out as the double-income contracepting couple. We still went to Mass & even now I need to make reparation for sacriligious Holy Communions. Reading Victoria Gillick's ' A mMother's Tale' finally gave me the strength to leave teaching & raise a large family of our own. At the end of my life I will have no regrets on having used the great gift of fertility. I have friends who can't have of whom adopted six from overseas..heroism surrounds us everyday but the key is Humane Vitae.

Henry said...

This is a very diffult one. It seems to me that the population of southern England is about twice what it needs to be for comfort, although we make it worse by having a rotten public transport system and insisting on using cars. On the other hand, it is no good ending up with a country full of OAPs. Part of the trouble is the shortage of available land for houses of a decent size for a family, which is a peculiarly British problem. But there are all sorts of other problems which make it a nightmare to have a family, like the dreadfulness of the state school system. Where to start to unravel the mess?

Sucking in trained people from third world countries is not such a bad thing, though it depends where they come from. Education in, eg the Philippines, is much better than it would otherwise be because there are opportunities to work abroad, which means there are still well educated people who do not emigrate, so people benefit there also.

It is a strange state of affairs when some people are having abortions and others are having IVF treatment. Can't the people who are having babies they don't went be brought together with the people who want babies but can't have them?