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BLOM & BELL: Abortion-immigration dynamic
Birth dearth threatens to depopulate nations that refuse immigrants
Question of the Day
President Obama recently made an appearance at the Group of 20 summit, and the conventional wisdom was that Germany, the United States and other relevant economic power players would broker a deal that would save the euro from looming disaster. Then the European Union (EU) can go back to growing their economy in peace.
Do not believe a single word of it.
The EU is heading over an economic cliff. And no one wants to admit it.
They are going where only Japan has ever gone before: first into entrepreneurship decline (predominantly people aged 25-45), then into labor force decline (predominantly people 18-65), and ultimately, into population decline (no explanation needed).
Japan was the first to go all the way through the process. Now, the declining population has resulted in declining real estate value. Every family with a house or business with some property is finding that its most fundamental investment, real estate, is losing value every year. The aging population has caused Japan to have a debt to gross domestic product ratio of 197.5 percent. The Japanese have almost twice as much debt as their entire economy produces in a year. And they are paying interest on all that debt.
Europe is walking down the same path.
What caused the decline in birth rates pushing the developed world toward population decline?
John Mueller analyzed this in his recent book, “Redeeming Economics” (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2010). The United States’ pregnancy rate has remained doggedly more than 3.0 per woman. However, since Roe v. Wade, roughly 1 in 3 pregnancies in the United States ends in abortion. The baby dearth has caused a slow and steady aging of the U.S. population that is just now catching the attention of Americans in light of the imminent retirement of the baby boomers.
But the entire developed world - except for a few outliers, such as Poland and Ireland - has legal abortion. What makes the United States different? Why aren’t we going over the demographic cliff, too? Does something set us apart from Japan and Europe?
Yes. Japan and the nations of Europe were built on ethnic nationalism - the idea that because they share the same culture and heritage, they should act in collective self-interest. The United States was founded on the ideas found in the Declaration of Independence. English writer G.K. Chesterton said, “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” Because of this, immigration is a rich part of American heritage. Immigrants who believe the creed can truly become Americans. The same is not as true of an immigrant to an ethnic nation like France. Waves of immigrants - Germans, Irish, Italians and Hispanics - have entered this country and now serve as a shield against the effects of abortion. Japan has no legal immigration, while Europe’s immigrants are insufficient to even partially mitigate its median age.
Does this mean that the United States was not hurt economically by abortion?
Absolutely not. When Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, the workforce did not immediately feel the adverse effects of abortion. The United States last reformed its immigration laws in 1986 (which included the Reagan amnesty for the 3 million illegal immigrants here at that time). However, in the early 1990s, the economy began to feel the pinch. A third of the workers that would have entered the marketplace at that time had been aborted.
Now, decades after Roe, the median age of whites in the U.S. is 41. However, the median age for Hispanics in the country is 27. The U.S. business community has become fiercely pro-immigration - lobbying for non-enforcement of punitive immigration laws, increased guest worker passes and increased levels of legal immigration. As the United States ages (albeit more slowly than the rest of the developed world), the marketplace is increasingly ravenous for young workers. As many as 20 million illegal immigrants currently live in the country. They tend to be young, work hard and pay taxes. Hispanics also have significantly higher birthrates than whites.
Americans are sympathetic to the need to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and protect American sovereignty. However, controlling the border alone would deny a ravenous market demand for young workers utterly unsatiated by current levels of legal immigration. Advocates of border security without any accompanying reforms of legal-immigration levels or guest-worker programs might as well openly advocate “controlling the market first.” In order to make border control both affordable and desirable long term, the United States must enact market-based immigration policy to achieve the levels of legal immigration and guest-worker passes necessitated by the demographic shift caused by abortion.
Then, on to the larger battle of overturning Roe v. Wade.
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