"Grandfather Boom" or Lost Generation?

Published in the September 14, 2005 edition of Christian Renewal magazine.

On Sunday, July 17, French news agency AFP published the story, “‘Grandfather boom’ as world population heads for nine billion.” The article described the aging of societies worldwide as a “demographic time bomb” that is “putting pressure on health care and pension systems.” This population trend “will introduce a delicate balance between the working and the non-working” and “challenge national budgets—as well as private arrangements for health care and retirement—as expenditures increase for a large non-working population with a falling working population.”

This “grandfather boom” has become a serious political issue in the United States, particularly in the fight over Social Security. But “the aging of the population has started to affect the developing countries” also. For example, “this growth is going to occur particularly in the countries of Asia and Africa, which need to be supported and to develop much more than they have during the 20th century,” and “health systems in India and Pakistan will come under increasing pressures over coming decades as the population increases in the plus-60 age group.”

More than 2,000 demographers, economists, geographers, and sociologists from 110 countries assembled on July 18 in Tours, France, for a four-day conference on this issue. It was interesting to note that none of these experts questioned whether our increasingly top-heavy population is at least partially caused by the worldwide spread of abortion and planned parenting. No one was willing to ask, are we are now reaping in Social Security and health care what we sowed through the population control and abortion rights movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s?

It seems obvious that there would not be such a “delicate balance between the working and the non-working” if we still had with us the multi-millions of workers who have been killed while at least partially in the womb over the past 32 years. Add to that number the potential multi-millions of workers who never even came into existence because of population control practices adopted in the first-world and pushed on the third-world as the solution to their poverty and health problems (note how little such measures have worked), and there would be no “grandfather boom.”

Population control in all its forms came into being because of a supposed excess of children, which was said to be the cause of various worldwide economic and social problems. Now we have an excess of grandfathers, which, unless we experience a radical global change of ideology, will inevitably lead to euthanasia when the governments and working people of the world become too taxed to care for these “non-workers.”

One key principle of economics is that in the end the market never lies: prices might be artificially high or low for some reason for a time, but ultimately the market will correct itself and prices will again reflect true value. With one exception, the purchase price of every natural resource in the history of the planet has fallen over time, indicating that either supply of every resource has waxed or demand has waned.

That exception is the resource of human labor, the price of which has been on the overall increase as far back as economists can calculate. Therefore, either demand for human labor has ever been on the increase or supply has been continually decreasing. So much for the too many people, not enough resources mantra of those who push population control.

It seems that this “demographic time bomb” is not as much a “grandfather boom” as it is the price we pay for decimating a generation.

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