Friday, 2 November 2018

Children of men

P.D. James' novel presented a dystopian Britain with no children. The film based on the book showed graphically a Britain which was losing all hope because it had lost its children. The sad truth is that people do not generally realise that Britain is in reality losing its children, as are many Europeans.

Couples are delaying having children and many are not having them at all. Overall this means the average number of children per female head of population is below replacement level (1.7). As we are living longer because of the success of medicine, it means that this low birth rate is economically disastrous. Where people are free to move across country borders then this has meant that richer countries tend to drain poorer countries of their most enterprising and brightest citizens. The richer country replaces the 'lost' children with other country's children. This masks the problem of course and is very unfair for the poorer countries.

Some governments are waking up to this. Just recently I have read of two: Hungary and Italy.

Italy's populist government plans to reward parents who have a third child by awarding them a piece of land, in a bid to reverse the country's plummeting birth rate.
The plan, cooked up by the far-right League and included in the draft budget for next year, would see the state hand over parcels of agricultural land for 20 years to parents who have a third child between 2019 and 2021.
'They say that Italians have few children and that something is needed to turn the trend around,' said agriculture minister Gian Marco Centinaio.
'That's why the ministry wants to contribute, favouring rural areas in particular, where people still have children,' he added.
Italy has the lowest birthrate in Europe. 
Last year, about 464,000 births were registered, a record low, leaving Italy with a significantly older population and a demographic time bomb.

Meanwhile in Hungary the government has begun surveying households asking how they can help them have more babies:

The Hungarian government wants to reverse its own demographic decline the old fashioned way: by making it easier for the nation’s own citizens to have bigger families.   more... 

Sadly something similar has been happening amongst many Catholics since the rebellion against Church teaching on artificial contraception, after St Pope Paul VI published Humanae Vitae. The rebellion against the Church's clear teaching has meant catholic families having fewer children. Fewer children has also meant fewer priests and religious. And I would suggest it has also had a spiritual impact because the great sin of rejecting the teaching of the Church has meant a loss of faith and many Catholic children choosing to lapse as they grow older. What I wonder is whether the hierarchy of the Church is going to wake up to this and start encouraging Catholic couples to have more children?

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)