White deaths exceeded births last year

The same failure-to-thrive cultural ennui gripping Italy, Japan, and a host of other “advanced countries” is evident among Americans of European descent. Katherine Peralta writes in US News:

For the second year in a row, the number of non-Hispanic white deaths in 2013 outweighed the number of white births, signaling an increasingly older and diversified American public. It is a trend that’s likely to continue for a while, as traditionally minority groups become the majority of the U.S. population.

As a result of its slower growth rate, compared with other groups, the number of non-Hispanic white individuals declined to 62.6 percent of the total overall population in 2013 from 63 percent in 2012, according to recent figures from the Census Bureau.

“As we move forward we’re probably going to continue to have a natural decrease of whites because it’s an older population and eventually, maybe in 10 years or so, we’ll have a decline in the white population,” says William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “That’s a scenario I think we’ll see for a while.”

Japan already faces an absolute decline in population, as it continues to prohibit immigration on a large scale, and having no land borders, is relatively immune from the sort of illegal immigration that has added untold millions to the United States population.  So for America, we face a demographic and cultural transition instead of a population decline. 

Those on the left informed by an ideology equating virtue with ethnic victimization will cheer this development. Whites, as the oppressor race (by virtue of having invented and first exploited the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions), are a parasitic disease inflicted on the rest of the world. Celebrating diversity rarely includes celebrating the achievements of the “dead white males” who gave the world the impetus out of the mass poverty and stagnation that characterized the New World as well as Africa and Asia prior to the advent of the modernity born of European genius.

But in the end, it must be admitted that the coming decline of the American European-heritage population is a self-inflicted fate. In order for any demographic segment of society to thrive, it must reproduce itself, and devote resources to the fostering of the next generation. Ever since the 1960s, American culture has focused not on the pleasures and satisfactions of parenthood, but rather on the pleasures of a “child-free” lifestyle, in which all of one’s income can be spent on oneself.

The continuous rise in the cost of raising child to middle class standards, in particular the cost of obtaining the college education that is a virtual prerequisite for a middle class or above standard of living, has served as a great disincentive to having children. For those on welfare (of any race), the incentives are quite the opposite: the more children, the higher the monthly checks from the state. This class issue is far more troubling than any racial component of the demographic transition underway.

And yet the childless feel persecuted. A remarkable essay appears in the Financial Times Magazine by Janan Ganesh, reviewing childlessness without ever once mentioning the impact on posterity of a population that refuses to reproduce itself.  The entire essay is worth a read, but this will give a flavor of the author’s perspective:

There are some hardy dissidents in this, the Age of the Child. “Ours is a culture not of ancestor worship but of descendant worship,” wrote the MP Rory Stewart, taking his career into his hands, last year. “Our opium is our children.” Which makes voluntary childlessness something like our hemlock. Over the past half-century, society has come to accommodate every human type and version of the good life but one. Gay rights proliferated, women were ushered into the workplace, racial discrimination was outlawed. We abased ourselves to “communities” and “faith groups” touting shopping lists of sensitivities, privileges and special dispensations.

We are no longer citizens, sporting just one indivisible identity. We have become our genders, pigmentations, sexual leanings, lifestyle choices and credal enthusiasms, and our expanding notion of rights is always taking in new minorities: transgender people, the depressed, the merely offended.

There is one exception to all this mutual reassurance. The tent of identity politics was never pitched wide enough to cover people who forswear parenthood. There is no childfree “community”, lobby or discourse to speak of. The childless are political unpersons – not persecuted but not noticed either. Politicians on the prowl for female voters invariably dangle pro-natalist policies, even though a fifth of British women have not given birth by the age of 45. The welfare state is disproportionately a resource for parents. Child benefit, subsidised childcare and the like constitute a prodigious transfer of money from non-parents to parents. Every other redistribution – from rich to poor, native to immigrant, young to old, region to region – is viciously contested. It is the stuff of politics. But not this, the silent subvention.

How can this be the Age of the Child when natality is dramatically declining among the most influential determiners of culture? The very contention bespeaks a narcissictic self-absorption.

Where will this all lead? Demography is destiny, but demography is subject to change. It would be silly to suppose that current fashions on childbearing are not subject to change.  Abortions are declining in number, for one thing. And the singles lifestyle, while materially beneficial, becomes less and less attractive with age, at least in my observation. I am a baby boomer, and know many, many childless, educated women now facing their ultimate fate with nobody left behind. Maybe I am imagining it, but I see a look of regret in most of their eyes. Perhaps we will see a literature develop of regret by women who have chosen to be what was called in an earlier, and more fecund, era “barren.” Boomers have never been shy about bemoaning their fate.

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