Sunday, February 12, 2017

Has childlessness peaked in Europe?, Jan. 2017 paper in Population & Societies, French publication

[Copy-pasted on 12th Feb. 2017 from post of my miscellaneous blog, http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2017/02/has-childlessness-peaked-in-europe-jan.html.]

The abstract of the paper mentions that number of childless European women born in 1900 to 1910 was high (around 25%). But the childlessness among European women born in 1940s came down to around 10%. In later year cohorts in European women, childlessness increased to 15% and 18% in northern and western Europe respectively. But in recent times, childless women born in the 1970s in southern Europe is touching 25%!

The paper tries to analyze why these changes in number of childless European women has happened over the 20th century and now (early 21st century). I think it is worth reading for those interested in demographic changes/stability and associated probable causes. I certainly found it to be very interesting. Though I must also say that I am saddened by the number touching 25% in Southern Europe now as it seems to be a reflection of difficult economic times there due to which significant number of women (and their partners) are not willing to take on the burden of raising children. I hope that things improve in Southern Europe and elsewhere in Europe to make it easier for women to marry and have children and raise them.

Full paper (4 pages) can be viewed here: http://www.ined.fr/fichier/s_rubrique/26128/540.population.societies.2017.january.en.pdf

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Some thoughts from me on related stuff:

I think the overpopulation of human beings on planet earth needs to be understood not just by mere numbers, but by a more complex factor taking in a measure of the burden a type of person places on planet earth.

The typical poor rural Indian in Andhra Pradesh state where I live places a much, much smaller burden on mother earth than a typical rich urbanite in USA or Western Europe or even India!!

And then there is the population density issue which varies widely in various parts of various land masses of planet earth. There is also the matter of adaptability of certain ethnic people to certain climates and lifestyles.
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I now have the view that history teaches us that civilizations and communities need to have a certain level of fertility (average children per woman) to thrive over generations. I don't think the truly mindboggling advances made in medical science and in general science & technology in the past few centuries, leading to far longer and more comfortable lives for many of us in this early 21st century, alters significantly the history lesson about need for certain level of fertility for civilizations and communities to thrive.

And yes, civilizations do change or adapt to new influences, as can be very well seen in Indian history across millennia. So European civilization in the 21st century may adapt to immigrant influences from Asia and Africa, and come up with some way for Europeans to thrive in a multi-ethnic, multi-religion (including no faith) way. The Sathya Sai movement (including the medium following) shows a good example of at least some Europeans, including youngsters, young women, and young women with children, finding the Sathya Sai multi-ethnic multi-religion way to be attractive. BTW over the past few months, which is winter in India, and so a good climate for Europeans, I have seen quite a few young white European women in outside ashram Puttaparthi with most of them seeming to be quite happy to be in Puttaparthi (for a short term visit perhaps). Perhaps some or most of them are from Eastern Europe. But they are from the European continent not American or Canadian or Latin American or British, and white, and probably Christian.

What is astonishing for me is to see the way the youth can adapt. As we age I think we significantly lose that adaptability at least in our minds. Maybe we get set in our ways and in our worldviews. But the youth are different! I think I too was very willing when I was young, to challenge things and explore novel solutions and approaches to various problems including life problems.

Let us see where this period of churn that Europe and the USA is going through, takes us. The churn and resultant changes will surely impact the rest of the world, including India.

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