Dean Clough

June 24, 2024

Portico Darwin: Have a Baby! Please, No, Really!


2 Minute Read

Happy Monday, and no, today's topic was not just an excuse to run an adorable baby picture of myself.   

Instead, it is to remind you that the entire world is simply not having enough babies, adorable or otherwise.  Most of the rich world is getting older, fast, and that's not a good thing.

I have been seeing more and more about this, from sources I trust, including The Economist and The Washington Post.


A declining population specifically means there are fewer of working age to support the whole shebang - and by that I mean "the economy."  Among many other problems, like, "Where the hell is that Old Fashioned I ordered 10 minutes ago?"  Fewer people means fewer workers - and higher prices.

Things have radically changed because I remember when I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s the talk was the exact opposite.  Population explosion!  Not enough food to feed all of the mouths!  BILLIONS of people in China!  

Indeed, in 1979 the Chinese government forced a "one-child policy" upon its citizenry to avert this envisioned catastrophe. 

Now?  Most rich Western and Asian countries are suffering from the opposite problem: 

There aren't enough new people to replace those dying off.

From what I've been seeing and hearing, the reasons for this are many.  The obvious one is that women were rightfully liberated decades ago from the expectation they'd stay home and have babies.  Many instead now enter a profession and have one or no baby at all. 

It would be tempting to cite cost as another reason many are choosing to have one or none.  But the picture gets cloudy when you consider that even in enlightened Scandinavia - where things like child care and education are subsidized - birth rates have also plummeted. They have the same issues as in the sink-or-swim Good Ol' US of A.  So it's not just that houses and a college education cost much more than they did for previous generations.

There are no doubt others who go childless for the same reason as Julie and I:  We simply didn't want to have them.  I tell the story often of how, on our second or third date, the topic came up and it went something like:

"Do you want to have kids?"


"Me neither."


While women being free, the expense, and personal decisions all play a role in the global population decline, I am afraid most studies show that people are going childless because they're asking:

Why bring a new life into this world?

Consider climate change and the impact of wealth inequality. 

Unless we begin making changes yesterday, and based on the science, it is not clear there's even going to be a world. 

And I am not the first to observe kids aren't going to do as well as their parents.  For the first time in history.

I will brighten this dark picture with a reminder that a rational immigration system would fix most of this, at least in the USA.  Just such a system was proposed by President Biden but rejected earlier this year by Trump and a compliant House of Representatives.

We have the distinct advantage that people everywhere still wish to come to America and build lives.  And have children, that study after study show are fully assimilated Americans in just one or two generations. 

You know, just like you and your own family at some point.  And mine:  My own father was a first-generation American.  We're all immigrants and we need more, not less, now.

Well, unless you'll have a baby.  Preferably, two.

Editor's Note:  The inspiration for TODAY'S RAMBLINGS came from this podcast, by the brilliant Derek Thompson.  It's worth a listen if you made it this far and are still interested.

Have a great week.


Thank you for reading this newsletter.  


Apart from having the word baby in its title, this song has nothing at all to do with today's subject.  But I've been seeing a lot about Brian Wilson lately, and this was his favorite song.  Here are The Ronettes and "Be My Baby." 

If you find the musical connection tenuous, you could always start your own imaginary radio station.

About Dean Clough