Monday, May 10, 2010

Out of Date and Out of Touch: the Anti-Natalist Movement in Liberal Protestantism

Joe Carter at First Thoughts can't understand why Australian Anglicans are calling for Australians to have fewer children at a time when birth rates have been well below replacement levels of over two decades. I sympathize with his confusion. One supposes that the 60s have never ended for the aging hippie Anglican leadership, but wouldn't you think that concern for their pensions might have intruded on their utopian dreams somewhere along the way?

Joe quotes a report in the Sydney Morning Herald which tells us that:

The Anglican Church wants Australians to have fewer children and has urged the federal government to scrap the baby bonus and cut immigration levels.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church has issued a warning that current rates of population growth are unsustainable and potentially out of step with church doctrine - including the eighth commandment "thou shall not steal", Fairfax newspapers say.

In a significant intervention, the Anglican Public Affairs Commission has also warned concerned Christians that remaining silent "is little different from supporting further overpopulation and ecological degradation".

He then cites an Australian government website which discusses the demographic challenges of Australia's ageing population, which informs us that:

In the past Australia was a relatively youthful country. In 1970-71, 31 per cent of the population was aged 15 years or younger, while by 2001-02 this proportion had dropped to 22 per cent. The proportion of Australia’s population aged over 65 years has grown from 8 per cent in 1970-71 to 13 per cent in 2001-02. The IGR projects that over the next 40 years, the proportion of the population over 65 years will almost double to around 25 per cent. At the same time, growth in the population of traditional workforce age is expected to slow to almost zero. This is a permanent change. Barring an unprecedented change in fertility rates, the age structure of the population is likely to stabilise with a far higher proportion of older Australians.

It then goes on to explain that the reason for this change is that the birth rate has fallen well below replacement level (to about 1.7) and states that:
In 2002 there were more than five people of working age to support every person aged over 65. By 2042, there will only be 2.5 people of working age supporting each person aged over 65.
I wonder what the Anglicans advocating lower birth rates would say if they were asked to explain just exactly why the scenario described here would be beneficial and for whom. I wonder it they would care to explain how the welfare state would be sustained in such a scenario. Or are they secretly all devotees of Ayn Rand? Does the worship of Mother Gaia demand more human sacrifices? Or have they just dug themselves into an ideological hole with no way of getting out?

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