Originally Posted by lah7
Concerns over negative population growth within single, developed nations aren't really just about preserving culture. In fact, this is the first time I've heard that argument.
What is a real concern, and is already happening in some parts of Europe, is the lack of young people available to help take care of the infrastructure as well as the needs of the aging population. The same problem is being seen in China. We are seeing it in a small part in North America, and it will be getting worse. Even as a small-scale example, the fundamentals of things like Social Security are based on a pyramidal base. When SS was set up, it was with the idea that 15 young people would be paying into the system for each retiree taking out. Within the next few years (sorry, don't remember the date), those numbers will have declined to 2 paying in for each 1 pulling out. That's just a concrete example of what is happening to the social infrastructure of more developed nations as we see population replacement growth or negative population growth. Immigration could be one solution but that isn't without huge costs, both for immigrants and the receiving country.
This isn't meant to be an argument for or against a 2 child household, just an explanation of one reason some people are opposed to it.
I've heard this argument before, and I agree with it to some extent. At the same time, if our culture wasn't so consumerist, perhaps it wouldn't be as much of an issue. So, then, I suppose it goes back to sustainability and standards of living, and whether or not our culture is truly "advanced" if we can't sustain it throughout a typical life span. And this, I realize, is a far more complex issue, with a LOT of cultural issues tied up into it.
I think it has to be one or the other. If we, as a culture, lived a radically less consumerist lifestyle, then, yes, having many children would make more sense. Look at the Amish, for example. Relatively simple lives compared to most of America, usually have many children, but also have the means to support the elderly DUE TO their simple lifestyle.
I think the problem, however, is that we're not even close to living that lifestyle. If a culture/community is living in a nearly self-sufficient way, then, yes, many children makes sense.
Additionally, some of the technological advance do go hand in hand with the rapid consumption of natural resources, as well as less need for more children. Most of us in the US are no longer agricultural workers; we don't need 8 children to run the farm. Additionally, medical advances ensure more infants/children survive until adulthood, so, we don't have eight children expecting that at least four will probably die before they are adults.
I think it's kind of one of those trade-offs. Yes, technological advances are great. For real - I'm not being snarky. But, in many cases, those advances result in greater consumption of natural resources, and just aren't sustainable for a large population over a long period of time. I think except for a very few people in the US, most of us aren't living a nearly subsistence lifestyle. What's that saying? With great power comes great responsiblity? And I'm not saying that if you have six children, you're irresponsible. I'm saying, however, that, as a culture, we're not very responsible, and to say that "oh, well, we're environmentally conscious" is great, but, it doesn't come near approximating the lack of consumption in less developed countries.
Where the balance between consumption and production (of ideas, art, advances, etc) is, I don't know, but, I don't think it's occuring here in the US. Just some thoughts. And now I'm going to start dinner.