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Age Pyramid


The Problem

When the natural balance of generations, as well as that of genders, is disrupted in a society, serious and challenging problems arise. In our era, there is observed a dangerous decline in birth rates in advanced countries and an abnormal increase in population in poorer ones. In Italy, the decline in birth rates seems more acute than elsewhere, but looking at the data, the differences are not that significant. Indeed, the phenomenon affects all advanced countries, from Europe to Japan, and even China. The natural age pyramid is reversing in the advanced world with potentially catastrophic consequences. Life is getting longer, but the number of children is decreasing. At some point, society may no longer function. Awareness of the problem at the public opinion level still appears modest. Often in politics, we focus only on the present moment and give little thought to the future or historical times.

The problem is addressed with partisan controversy: it's blamed on the right, the left, the center, etc. However, the fact is that there is a lack of awareness among the people (the voters), and therefore, political parties, which are an emanation of the public, don't consider the problem seriously. Everyone says they want to be free to do what they want in their private lives, but societal awareness is necessary, and it then transfers to political parties.

To illustrate: roughly, in Italy, over 60 years, from the '20s to the '80s (our peak), the population increased from 36 million to 56 million. In the last 60 years, in Nigeria, the population went from 40 million to 220 million; in Egypt, during the same period, it increased from 25 million to the current 105 million. It is essential to note that, as Malthus pointed out a long time ago, population growth (and decline) follows geometric progressions, while resources follow arithmetic progressions.

The phenomenon of demographic explosion in one part of the world and collapse in another is a new occurrence, never before seen in history, due to the simultaneous decline in infant mortality and the spread of contraceptives. However, the diversity is not due to the two phenomena common worldwide but to the different reactions of various cultures.

In the past, society followed the natural impulse, conditioned in a certain way to maintain a demographic balance. This balance is now disturbed, and we should strive to find a new equilibrium in the modern era, different from the past. In the past, by nature, there were many children because infant mortality was high, and thus, women were unavailable for other activities. Then, infant mortality declined: in some populations, demographic development became catastrophic, while in others, a decline in birth rates, although not perceived as a problem at the moment, is equally catastrophic. Contraceptives enable a decline in birth rates, but the crucial factor is the prevailing mentality.


The Causes

 It is also true that birth rates have always been much higher for the poor. Children entered the workforce early, while the wealthy had to provide them with a high standard of living. Having many children meant lowering the economic level due to the division of assets. There was primogeniture, which forced younger siblings into monasteries or military careers, and dowries for daughters without which they would enter monasteries (recall the Nun of Monza). Currently, in advanced societies, it is necessary to raise and educate children until they become independent, and the more evolved society becomes, the more complex this process is. Nowadays, children become economically independent around the age of 30; sometimes, grandparents provide an indispensable contribution.

The problem is to maintain stable society, without excessive decreases or increases, something that in the past was ensured by high birth rates and high infant mortality, whereas now demographic balance is in danger. The inversion of the age pyramid will be a serious problem for future generations, perhaps a true catastrophe. The problem is not the decrease itself, which could even be a good thing, but the alteration of the natural age pyramid, where the productive part decreases, and the unproductive part increases. This is not, as some believe, a contingent fact of this historical moment but a geometric regression: the fewer children are born today, the fewer will be able to procreate in the future. It is a trend that is not easy to reverse because it is a geometric regression. Perhaps it is already too late to stop the process. If every woman, as is currently the trend, has only one child, it means that in a generation, the number of elderly doubles, and that of the young is halved: continuing like this leads to disaster. If 100 people have 50 children, it means there will be twice as many old people as young ones. In the next generation, with the same rate, we will have 25 young people and another 12.5. In practice, in three generations, Italy, from 60 million, would become 15 million, and in the fourth, 7.5. In essence, we would disappear from history if this continues. No one here is saying we want to return to the past, to the subordination of women, but it is NECESSARY to find demographic balance. A specific and immediate problem we already have is with pensions. Apart from a few wealthy individuals, the elderly live on pensions. In theory, these pensions would be funded by the funds that pensioners set aside during their working lives, but in reality, it is not like that at all. Pensions are paid by those who work: it is said to be a pact between generations. If the natural numerical ratio between workers and pensioners is reversed, the system no longer works, and even today, pensions of the past are not possible. In the past, the average age was 70 years, and retiring at 65 meant enjoying it for only 5 years. Now, the average age exceeds 80, and therefore, for the same number, three times the resources of the past are needed. Add that living 80 years is not due to genetic mutation but to medical treatments that have a very high cost. Of course, we can streamline the pension system, which is often chaotic and irrational, but the essential problem remains. But this is only the economic part of the problem. Remember that while children require a lot, like the elderly, unlike them, they are an investment.


The Remedies

 To increase birth rates, government measures such as childcare centers, family allowances, parental leave, and others are considered. Indeed, state benefits can help demography, but resources are scarce here; we are poorer than France and the Scandinavians who can afford more. An excellent measure, it seems to me, is family allowances for minors regardless of occupation. On the other hand, it's not that those with more economic resources here have more children; on the contrary, it seems to be the opposite. Undoubtedly, society must provide assistance to families; however, these can have a certain impact, but the problem essentially rests on parents who must raise and then support their children until they become independent. This happens later and later. I believe a change in mentality is necessary. In the end, everyone, even Meloni, wants a child, but they get there late, on the verge of menopause. The problem is that one child is not enough; two are needed for demographic balance. Of course, we can say that motherhood (better: male and female parenthood) must be a free choice, but every decision is made within a culture, a mentality. The holy war is no longer chosen by anyone in the West, but in the Islamic world, it still has a large following because the mentality is different. Instead, we can say that in today's West, choices are more varied (free) than in any other context of time and space, and it is not so certain that it is a good thing. Everyone makes their choices, but this does not happen in abstraction and solitude, but there is a whole world, a culture that pushes in one direction or another, so we can predict and/or determine people's choices in static proportions. Girls behaved differently in a world that celebrated the virginity of brides from one where virginity is almost considered a deviation. If society emphasizes the professional success of women rather than their role as mothers, it is clear that statistically, women will be less inclined to motherhood. A solution that some propose is immigration: I don't know if and I don't think it's the right one. We cannot compare current immigrations with those of the past, like those to the Americas or Europe or even from south to north: in the past, immigrants easily found jobs, while currently, it is increasingly difficult. In fact, the entire advanced world, from the USA to Europe to Japan, is raising increasingly high barriers. Ethnic replacement is not an easy and automatic thing, and especially newcomers after the first generation adapt to the mentality of the country they are in, so the remedy would only be temporary. However, immigration could be more than a solution; at some point, it might be inevitable. In some states (Netherlands), they have decided to encourage the emigration of women: it seems to me a suitable initiative because immigrants are mostly male; women are the ones who give birth, so male emigration would not help birth rates at all, regardless of the problems that masses of young men without women have.

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