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Britain should follow Russia’s lead and urge its citizens to have more children

You don’t need to ask the experts for a solution to population decline. It stares one in the face: more babies

By on Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (Photo: PA)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (Photo: PA)

The recent annual speech to the nation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has caught my eye. In it he urges Russians to have more children. He declares: “In the next 15 years we will feel the demographic effects of the 1990s when the birth rate was low. This is a serious threat. It is a challenge to our whole nation. According to the experts, a good way to get over the demographic crisis is to radically increase the number of families with three or more children.”

You don’t need to ask experts the answer to this problem. It stares one in the face: more babies. Of the European countries, Russia, Italy, the Ukraine, Spain and Germany are the worst affected by the fall in the birth rate – but it is happening here too. Improved healthcare means an increase of the elderly population; the routine use of oral contraceptives since the 1960s and the routine acceptance of abortion when contraception fails account for the lack of population replacement at the base.

I have some sympathy for President Medvedev’s plea. He is a child of the former Soviet Union, that gigantic failed experiment in Communism, when both men and women worked punitive hours, families lived in tiny, cramped apartments shared with other families and the number of abortions exceeded the number of live births. Russia was not a happy place in which to raise “three or more children”. Now, with a steadily shrinking population and with its demographically swollen neighbour, China, gazing hungrily at Russia’s empty eastern provinces, the president can be forgiven for feeling scared.

But we in Britain, without having experienced anything like the social sufferings of Russia, also have a declining population – only checked at present by immigration. The Government talks grimly of pushing back the age of retirement and cutting back on state pensions; as well as this there is a growing lobby to “ease” the elderly and frail into the afterlife because they are becoming too expensive to keep going.

Instead of managing this demographic decline, why doesn’t the Government offer incentives to married women to stay at home and have larger families? By the same token, why don’t our bishops, instead of simply managing the decline of parishes, tell parish priests to urge parishioners to chuck away their pills and potions (“clanking to bed” as Victoria Gillick, a mother of 10, once described it) and fill the pews with new faces? This would not only be in line with Church teaching (remember Humanae Vitae?), it would also reinvigorate society at large – and as a spin-off, might even produce more priests.

Once, when visiting a French colony, General de Gaulle surveyed the barren landscape, then ordered palm trees to be planted. “But it takes 100 years for a palm tree to reach its full height!” he was told. “All the more important to plant them immediately,” the general replied. It takes 30 years to renew the younger generation of the active population, according to demographic expert Gerard-Francois Dumont, who works for Human Life International. All the more important to plan for it now. Otherwise, as Dumont states in a fearsome image, we might in years to come be “celebrating” the “Feast of Kronos” – that figure from mythology who rejected the future by devouring his own children.

  • paulsays

    I agreeing with Louella I now question your level of intelligence, you might want to read what she has written again.

  • louella

    The Philipines is a developing nation……and like Brazil extreme poverty will soon be a thing of the past there. They will need their own children to drive the economy and development……or like the West they will be forced to import the children of other nations.

    In fact …..prosperity comes after population growth…..and poverty follows population decline. History shows it.

  • louella

    I am not deluded! A young population is full of energy and motivation……and it has a future. Unlike ageing populations! Congo has recently experienced a terrible civil…..but it can have a great future once peace has been restored. There is no need for your gloom over their future. They don't share it with you. War leads to famine and death…..not population growth.

    And the relatively high birthrate in East London is due to family oriented Muslim women! And don't try to dictate the best birthrate….the best birthrate is God's birthrate. You still haven't answered my question as to why if an ageing population is so good……we have so much immigration.

  • louella

    And haven't you heard of the next great and amazing step in food production……taking a stem cell from an animal and growing it into muscle tissue ie meat in the lab!! Think of the possibilities of that!!

    There is no reason to limit population…..it leads to creativity energy and new possiblities. Population decline leads to death and stagnation. It is the problem to end all problems!

  • louella

    Actually my posts are not racist….only to those who want to keep me quiet. The fact is the Government has found a solution to the problem of the ageing society that it created in the first place by it's evil legislation of abortion birthcontrol and undermining of the familiy…….that solution is immigration to replace its indigenous population that isn't capable of replacing itself anymore. So they are not particularly interested giving out incentives for having more children.

    And I bet you anything that looking at the birthrates they have in front of them…..the government fully expect that the future will be Islamic! But they say nothing obviously!

  • louella

    Actually in Brazil there are no more slums! I'm not sure about the Philippines….but it couldn't be too far behind! All nations have experienced terrible poverty for most of their existence…..and the nations of Europe are no different. Population growth however has brought untold benefits…..

  • paulsays

    You are quite paranoid, and I presume you must read the Daily Mail.
    Statistically Camera reduce crime as they deter it from happening and that's why many residents want them.

    Democracy is not the same as personal freedom; democracy means voting in a elected representative to represent your interests. If you want a government that respects your personal freedoms more, then you have the opportunity to vote for such a political party at election time.

    I highly doubt a Catholic State would less intrusive, they wouldn't just put cameras in the street they would implant chips in you brain to see if you are committing any though crimes and they would ask you about what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom. They would probably fine you for using a condom.

  • TreenonPoet

    So these wealthy are so so stupid that they think others will not see their 'obvious' deceit?

  • RJ

    I would have thought it is for individual families, not for governments, to plan their families, as they are the best judges of how many children they can support at any one time. Many people are keen on allowing governments to dictate family size, but, how many of those same people would like it if some official turned up on their doorstep to tell them how many children they could have or even to coerce them into arranging an abortion?

    The Catholic Church is not against family planning, provided it remains compatible with right intentions and moral means – i.e. it rejects means of family planning which contradict the principles of natural law. It promotes natural family planning (NFP). There is a lot of prejudice against NFP but my information is that it is relatively reliable. (“NFP can be 89% effective (comparable to that of barrier methods) when couples are properly trained and strictly follow NFP techniques.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu… (US Government agency) There are many different sources of statistical information, some giving figures in the 90% range and above; “A 2007 study in the Journal of Human Reproduction suggests that symptothermal methods of NFP are as effective as the birth control pill.” http://www.dioceseofraleigh.or…/) This would not be regarded by the Church as equivalent to contraception. I am not saying that “effectiveness” is the only issue.

  • louella

    I do not worship democracy….do you?! Democracy is a means to an end…..not an end in itself. And that end can quite literally be anything.

  • louella

    Does a democracy deliver what is in your best interests……or what you merely want?! They are not the same thing you know. And secular democracies are in meltdown the world over! They are failed systems.

  • TreenonPoet

    You say “Don't be as short-sighted as the Tudor thinker who declared that the population of England could never exceed 5 million people lest every tree in the land be cut down for firewood”. Did this thinker add “unless there be some unforeseeable advance or catastrophe”? I think that, while there was no other plentiful source of fuel, it would have been prudent to sustain woodland. It is easy to scoff at Tudor thinkers in retrospect.

    Predictions are worthless if they hide unfounded assumptions. What is short-sighted is to assume that, just because science seems to be doing well in in coming to the rescue at the moment, it will continue to be able to do so. There is no natural law that says it will. It is short-sighted to assume that, just because we are not being hit too badly by climate change at the moment, that this will continue to be the case. It is much better to base predictions on the best current knowledge, and adjust them as new knowledge is acquired.

    Based on current knowledge, estimates of sustainable population levels are much lower than current populations levels, both globally and in the UK. The Optimum Population Trust calculates that, if the UK relied solely on its own resources, it could sustain between 17M and 30M people. (The current UK population is over 61M and projected to rise.) One cannot rely on individual families to see the big picture; pressure from Government is needed to guide behaviour (and this should be designed not to skew the population in favour of less responsible cultures).

  • louella

    Population growth comes before scientific advance. If population growth ie if everything is at sustainable level…..there is no incentive or point to scientific progress….and no change will occur. It's called stagnation.

    And there is no such thing as an Optimum population. Who are these people to put themselves up as promoters of such?! They are also basing their stats on old fashioned food production methods. I bet they never mention that. What of the new meat production techniques from stemcells in the laboratory! Bet they didn't take that into account. And again you ignore the fact that while the government might lecture about curtailing the number of children we have out of a false sense of responsibility…….they then go and make up the population shortfall with immigration. Time for joined up thinking and stop the self deception!

  • louella

    The teachings of the Chruch derive from God Himself. Jesus Christ God Made Man instituted the Catholic Church (Matthew 16:16) as His type of office on earth……roughly speaking. And God ie the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church on matters of Faith and morals. This is the source of Church teachings and authority!

  • louella

    I mean…..if population growth doesn't occur and everything is at a sustainable level……no progress will occur. There will be no incentive for change and development. Population growth is the wind in the sails of economic and scientific development. Without it…….there is no change. It's called stagnation.

  • louella

    Another great quote from Pope John Paul II………A nation is only as strong as its families!!

    Pity our know-it-all leaders wouldn't grasp this. But of course their main aim is keeping themselves in power.

  • paulsays

    Sure I don't disagree if that is the case, I wasn't standing up for those scientists, I am not suggesting scientists run the country in the same way louella suggests a Catholic run state.

    I was pointing out that the Church does not have a good record at looking at the science. It was the Church who locked Galileo up for the rest of his life and forced him to publicly declare his findings to be wrong – all in the name of 'truth', – how ironic, scientists may have mocked but they didn't lock him up.

  • TreenonPoet

    Since 2005, the population of Japan has been declining (despite having high longevity), yet Japan is one of the world leaders in scientific research. I observe with awe (via sciencedaily.com) the number of advances being made there. I think they have their priorities right in this regard. The total amount spent on the Papal visit to the UK is still secret, but it is likely to be many tens of millions of pounds. I would have preferred the money to have been spent on science, to the potential benefit of all. I think the UK has its priorities wrong. Obviously there is some correlation between population level and the level of investment in science, but why should there be a strong correlation with the differential of population level? Benefits are gained from scientific advances whatever the population level is doing.

    Rather than betting (which you seem to do a lot of on this thread), why not visit optimumpopulation.org to see for yourself the basis of their calculations?

  • paulsays

    For their sakes just not your extremist view of Christianity. liberation theology would be quite apt for those in such abject poverty

  • paulsays

    there are 4 stages to the economic development of countries, which are well acknowledged, recognized and most countries are proven examples of the fact.

    1. poor health and hygiene – high birth rate and high death rate = stable population
    2. nutrition and health improve – high birth rate and lower death rate = rising population
    3. rise in education and wealth – lower birthrate and lower death rate =stable population
    4. developed society with pension/social security system – low birthrate and low death rate = stagnant/negligible growth

    History shows you are wrong
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D

  • paulsays

    The population of Brasil will decline as it becomes more prosperous, as it stands their birth rate is at 1.5% much less than in the past. Larger families were needed in the past to care for parents in their old age, now with health plans and government assistance this is no longer the case and families no longer need the financial burden of larger families. This leads to wealthier families with more expendable income and therefore a more buoyant economy.

  • paulsays

    That makes sense, but you are suggesting that larger families would inherently be stronger and I see little evidence to support that theory.

  • paulsays

    You are promoting stem-cell meat production, the Church is highly against any stem-cell research didn't you realize!

  • paulsays

    no I'm not 'paulpriest', I'm just Paul, we have argued before, I'm a very liberal Catholic, with sympathies to atheist ideas and philosophy. The username Paul was already taken hence the new name!

  • paulsays

    'the source of the information I gave should not matter one iota' – just from doing o-level history I realize that the source of the information is of vital importance. Would you believe information from Dr. Joseph Goebbels regarding the Jewish people? Exactly. Everyone should treat information with extreme caution until its source is resolved.

    'Facts are facts' – well the video showed no statistics or figures to know of and I found an entirely contradictory article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L
    equally I could ask you if YOU are intentionally disbelieving this information.

    Thank you for the thou provoking information nonetheless; interesting reading. Don't get me wrong my position on population control is that it should be voluntary, I do not agree with hideous mass sterilization programmes and a recognize in the Western world it is an issue that needs to be tackled. I also believe rising world population could become an issue to. My exact position is not entirely clarified as you might have guessed, but what I do object to is a position of 'God will solve all' which I see as being entirely un-respecting of creation and not good for the health and wellbeing of the earth's population. I also see that very large families are not good for economic growth

  • paulsays

    which government? You do realize that the country has had many different governments with many different views over the 20th century. The current or last government has had nothing to do with legalizing abortion, that happened back in 1967.

    Whatever your views on abortion, which I respect as there are a multitude of different views;
    does prevent unwanted children – which would have been unlikely to create happy cohesive families that stay together. It could be argued that they are pro-family even, as they allow parents to wait until they are ready, (and possibly married also, which I see as a benefit), to bring up a family.

    Incentives have actually already been a part of the last Labour government's policy, the Child Trust fund and increases to the Child tax credit encourage couples to have children through financial incentives.

  • paulsays

    you are only going to reach other planets by rockets and technology from the scientific community, so you better start listening to them

  • paulsays

    what happens if we don't manage to develop this technology quick enough? Since the Moon landing over 40 years ago we have barely progressed in terms of human space travel at all. Think of all the hundreds of billions it would cost also, when that money could take the entire population out of starvation and vaccinated from disease – surely that would be a better spend of the money – to reduce suffering, pain and death rather than to increase it?

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT

    Well, as someone with Higher history, and a couple of degrees, I appreciate what you say about sources, of course.

    However, the source I provided IS a sound source. Just because it is a Christian source, doesn't make it unsound. Are you saying that scientists who are Christians are not to be trusted? Their findings are not as reliable as the findings of atheists or Jews or Muslims? Or whoever? Theere is a real anti-Christian agenda at work in the UK right now – I'm disappointed you appear to have fallen prey to it, you bearing the name of one of Christianity's greatest saints, an' all.

    I note your remark about only supporting voluntary birth control. However, history proves that what is presented to the world at large as a temporary, even voluntary means of lowring the population, ALWAYS ends up being an oppressive, forced regime – China being a prime example in our own times.
    Imagine, Chinese children being denied even one sibling! Shocking stuff. Yet we have government ministers here (like Clare Short) who have defended this evil policy – and make no mistake about it, they would love to impose it here.

    It's a very dangerous philosophy, the birth control mentality. It's author, Margaret Sanger, said openly that she wanted to breed out the undesirables. Heard that before?

  • paulsays

    Euthanasia is a personal choice, it is not meant to be forced or decided for you. That is why you swallow the poison for yourself whilst still conscious or if you are not in the state to do that Doctors follow what you have asked to happen in what is called a living will which is a document in which you explain what treatment you would want or not in a position in which you cannot communicate.

    We have 67 million people in Britain, doubled over the last century, in that period the world population has quadrupled, so please don't delude yourself or any of the readers that there is a true issue with population right now.

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT

    I don't read the Daily Mail. So you presume wrong.

    “Cameras reduce crime is the reason given by the politicians to explain why we are the most watched nation on earth. And isn't it just great to live in a crime-free land?

    And isn't it even better to live in a land where our MPs represent our interests? What on EARTH are all these rioters about, then, don't they know they elected MPs who are reprsenting their interests? Silly beggars.

    A Catholic state is one, by definition, where Christ the King rules. That's the nub of Catholic Social Teaching. But, paulsays, can't you hide, even slightly, your contempt for the Catholic Church, especially since you are taking advantage of the hospitality of a Catholic blog to air your views?
    Here's a suggestion. Why not pretend we're all Muslims, and that way you won't say anything offensive. You do want to wake up tomorrow, don't you?

  • paulsays

    Democracy is not perfect, but it is the best system so far. Name me a dictatorship that has served the people better than a democracy and you'll not find one.

    Democracy serves our collective best interests, not our individual self interest – which generally provides fair policies for the people, that have moral standards

  • louella

    Funny then isn't it that modern science developed in Christendom only under the nose of the Church. If the Church had been such a handicap to scientific advance…….science would have developed somewhere far from Church influence ie China!

    History shows….Christianity and science go hand in hand!

  • louella

    The best and only way out of poverty is economic and scientific development…..precipitated by population growth……and dare I say it….Christianity.

  • louella

    Yes….Brazil already has an ageing population which will impede continuous growth. They followed the doctrines of secularism too closely……..should have stuck with Catholic doctrines for a future and continued expansion.

  • louella

    And number 5 is…..the return of the Catholic State again…..for those who don't want to perish under secular demographic decline and takeover by fecund Islam.

  • louella

    It is the opposite way around. Stronger families produce larger families! Because there is more love for new children in strong families!

  • louella

    Sorry….but science is at a bit of a stand still at the moment….especially in the world of physics….the basis of all technology. While scientists today consolidate old (Christian) science….they haven't made any new breakthroughs since the early 70's. (BBC Radio 4 )! I wonder why……hmmmmmm!

    Maybe they need the monk scientists to help them out again….eh?!

  • louella

    All governments that are secular is what I mean! Abortion is the greatest evil known to mankind.

    And don't think for one moment that aborting nations have a future! Even if you don't believe in God….Mother Nature and the biological laws will see to it that such societies are eliminated. Mother Nature….as God's lieutenant of the biological world…..will never forgive aborting nations! Justice will be done.

  • louella

    Secular democracy is just bringing about the death of your nation……and you call it the best there is! Talk about blind!! It is the greatest failure in history. History will judge it severely.

    Secular democracies are amoral……and amoral societies fail to flourish.l

  • TreenonPoet

    Scientific progress can be thwarted for a number of reasons, but the presence of the church has definitely impeded science because it is opposed to the process of science. For example, if science disproves a hypothesis, the only sane options are to modify or discard that hypothesis in the light of the new knowledge. To persecute a scientist for having disproved a hypothesis is insanity, yet this happens when the new knowledge contradicts church doctrine.

    It is clear that you are not eager to discard or change your hypotheses in the light of contradictory information presented to you by other posters.

  • paulsays

    are you for real? how old are you

  • TreenonPoet

    I referred you to a web site (http://www.sciencedaily.com) at which it can be immediately seen that there is a torrent of scientific advances (including major advances in quantum computing), but you close your eyes and apply the religious method of making stuff up by declaring “science is at a bit of a stand still at the moment”, just as you closed your eyes to my comments about Japan because they contradict your hypothesis about the relationship between population growth and scientific advance.

    There is no such thing as 'Christian science'; it is an oxymoron because Christianity is opposed to the scientific method, requiring special dispensation from certain facts.

  • paulsays

    You would certainly enjoy reading the daily mail I can tell you that.
    Crime rates have been falling since the end of the major government; people are paranoid of crime because of the reactionary and predominately right-wing press, the fear of crime is much higher than the rate of crime itself.

    Protests must be allowed to occur in a free society. People need to get their voices heard if their lives, livelihoods and future education may be destroyed by government proposals. I believe that is only fair. I am not condoning violent behavior, I am standing up for the majority of peaceful lecturers, teachers, parents and students at the protests.

    The politicians who are putting these changes in all got their university education for free, so you can see why students feel it id wrong to be lumbered with upwards of 50,000 of debt.

    They also have a further right to protest in that they have not been represented by their representatives fairly, Liberal Democrats backtracked on their election platform of removing fees within 6 years to now allowing fees to be tripled. In many people's eyes this is not a representation of their interests whatsoever.

    Where is Christ the King now? If he is not here in person then who will represent him? – Vincent Nichols? You have not answered the question in practical terms.

    By no means do I hate the Church, I just realize that the majority of Catholic thought is nothing like as extreme as true Catholic teaching. Most Catholics use and agree with contraception within marriage, don't necessary disagree with abortion if early in the pregnancy, believe condoms will help in Africa to combat AIDs, believe in evolution and the big-bang and have no issue with homosexuals.

    At our Parish Church it is well know that our priest would like to see changes in terms of allowing women into the Church as priests, and sold and performed in the Church we had music from a young musician that is quite clearly gay.

  • paulsays

    Thats why secular democracies have the lowest crime rates, infant mortality rates, highest family income and best healthcare then?

  • Bob171

    Are you crazy? Trying to inflate the population at a time when climate change and competition for resources are some of the biggest issues facing us is extraordinarily blinkered. The Catholic Church should be addressing issues such as population, not attempting to create an even bigger population bubble. And, as your correspondent points out, immigration which is real, should be taken into account in the bigger picture.

  • louella

    Galileo was arrested because he taught Copenican theory without proof. And he broke an agreement he had with the Church forbidding the teaching of Copernican theory as fact until he had proof. In fact this little spat did nothing to arrest scientific progress…….which happened in Christendom ONLY…..right under the auspices of the Church and Christianity.

    On the contrary it is clear that YOU are not eager to discard or change your hypotheses in the light of contradictory information presented to you!!

  • louella

    There is only the consolidaton and development of old (Christian) science….but no new breakthroughs…..(BBC Radio 4 Today Programme)!!! In this most important sense….science is scarily at a standstilll…..and the world awaits the next major breakthough that will deliver us new technology never before imagined.

    Christian science is that science discovered and developed by Christians within Christendom! With the aid of some honorary Jewish scientists too of course!

  • louella

    Secular nations only have these because they are living off their long and illustrious Christian pasts! When that's finally gone…….so will secular nations!

    They even fail to secure their futures!

  • eboy70

    More babies = more human suffering: starvation, disease, poverty, economic & social decline, environmental collapse, extinction of endangered species, demand for natural resources & energy, conflict, war…need I go on?
    No god will save you, in this the only life you have.
    You people are idiots.