This is not the first time I have mentioned such matters, but here it is again, a newstory on the world-wide population decline in The New York Times. Paul Ehrlich was stuffed down our throats in several courses when I was an undergraduate. It was, of course, a political act warning of catastrophe. A few lines from the piece:
"As late as 1970, the world’s median fertility level was 5.4 births per woman; in 2000, it was 2.9. Barring war, famine, epidemic or disaster, a country needs a birthrate of 2.1 children per woman to hold steady.
The best-known example of shrinkage is Italy, whose women were once symbols of fecundity partly because of the country’s peasant traditions and partly because of its Roman Catholicism, which rejects birth control. By 2000, Italy’s fertility rate was Western Europe’s lowest, at 1.2 births per woman. Its population is expected to drop 20 percent by midcentury.
Italy plummeted right past wealthy, liberal, Protestant Denmark, where women got birth control early. Denmark was below population replacement level in 1970, at 2.0 births per woman, and slid to 1.7 by 2001. In Europe’s poorest country, Albania, where rural people still live in armed clan compounds, the 1970 rate of 5.1 births per woman fell to 2.1 in 1999." And:
"Alarmed by the trends, many countries are paying citizens to get pregnant. Estonia pays for a year’s maternity leave. The treasurer of Australia, Peter Costello, introduced $2,000-per-baby subsidies in that country’s 2004 budget. He told his fellow citizens to ’go home and do your patriotic duty tonight.’"