Immigration and the baby shortfall



It seems like immigration hasn’t been seen in a positive light of late. Control over immigration has been a central theme in the successful Brexit bid in the United Kingdom. America elected a president who suggests tougher laws and screening for immigrants. Syrian refugees were welcomed by the thousands into Canada (46,700 in 2016 alone to be exact *1) not without considerable controversy.

ABC officeOf course with the entry of new immigrants comes the culture. Clearly they simply do not know of any other way to live until they move into new land and set roots. Learning another Language and assimilating into another culture takes time and requires patience of the guests who welcome them.

In some places, it seems, they aren’t necessarily welcome. There appears to be an immigrant backlash brewing in many of the wealthiest countries. The demographics are changing drastically and quickly. In 2012 in America, the census bureau reported that for the first time there have been more minority births than white births. *2

What becomes disturbing is that the glaringly obvious seems to be overlooked. Caucasians are having less babies. We need an abundance of young people for the economy to work. If we have less children we need to import them.

Every healthy economy regardless of society which runs it (within a more left wing society or more to the right) requires a pyramid shape in order for it to work. The tip of the pyramid being those who are not generating income (from the disabled, to young children, to the elderly), casual workers would be found somewhere below the tip, further down from casual comes the part time employees and somewhere halfway down the pyramid being the civil servant who receive revenue from public funds, yet redistribute it into the economy. The base of said metaphorical pyramid are the full time workers of various classes who work for private industry and generate the revenue which works its way up to the very tip and sustains the entire society within.

What becomes abundantly clear when visualizing this pyramid is that every society needs a healthy dose of working, young, able bodied people to sustain the economy and, most importantly, there has to be many more at the base than at the tip for the society to exist at all.

For the longest time it was a non issue. Forty years ago it was nothing to see a family with four or five children and was quite unusual for anyone to reach the age of 40 and be single without multiple children.

As was often the case. Many years ago you had no choice but to have multiple children but then along came contraceptives and women entered the workforce en masse. Now people had the choice if and when they had children. Women had options. They could wait until later in life to have children and focus on their career. To see a person reach the age of 40 without a child and single in the first world now is quite common.

This person will need young people to continue to generate revenue for when he or she retires. Police are still needed, and roads need to be paved.


"Xenophobia is essentially a demographic nightmare waiting to happen for any first world country."


This is why we need immigration. The alternative is simply to make more babies. That doesn’t appear to be an option. Most people simply are not willing to make enough babies to keep the engine running (or can’t due to shrinking wages or unstable work) so therefore we need to take in young people to make up for the loss.

There are still many countries with large families of 4 or more. They are countries who are culturally distinct from us so as they come in, they change the landscape.

Ultimately if we curb immigration we need to make more babies. If we don’t, eventually, the metaphorical pyramid will change shape with the base of the pyramid becoming narrow and the aging population making the tip wider. It’s a demographic nightmare that countries like China (with their one child policy) and Japan (statistically the oldest population on earth and a country not built on multiculturalism) are currently struggling with.

Xenophobia is essentially a demographic nightmare waiting to happen for any first world country. Generally, the local populations have been steadily decreasing as the desire for large families have diminished. Without the immigrants to inject new fresh young workers into the economy our social services will erode quicker than you could say ‘build a wall’.

So we are left with little choice but to embrace immigration and while we may change immigration policy to be more efficient and attract more of the people each country is desperately looking for in regards to age, family size and qualifications, there is no question that we need a healthy number of new young people in just about every first world nation on earth and that will indeed change each nation that welcomes them.

It should go without saying that immigration has been a continuous process in Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia for centuries now. Various waves have come and gone and from various ethnic groups and they have made their mark and changed the country.

As a Canadian I’m hard pressed to believe that our much more diverse, multicultural country would go to war for the queen and the ‘motherland’ as we have in the past because, of course, the demographics have changed and now the majority of the population cannot identify with a cause such as that.

One thing that is clear is that more young people from afar are more crucial than ever to maintain our society and the standards we have come to expect within it. What must be understood is that for the majority of the first world in general and former British colonies in particular it has played a vital part of our society. It has in fact built the society itself.

So we should embrace it, because, unless you’re going to make more babies, we simply don’t have a choice.



Rohan SalmondSean Cowan has spent 15 years in the Canadian military.



Topic tags: Rohan Salmond, postal vote



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Existing comments

Japan is not struggling. Economically now improving despite a falling population! It has a unified peaceful, law-abiding safe country. It decided it did not want immigrants and has managed to avoid the UN agenda, I guess because it already has a high population. Its falling population is long term a good thing on a FINITE planet.

Anne | 27 August 2017  

History (eg the Black Death) tells us that when the population goes down living standards of the lower classes go up.

Geoff Mosley | 27 August 2017  

What will inevitably happen is that countries in the not too distant future will actually compete more for immigrants. To a small extent we already do. In the not to distant past, Australians with appropriate qualifications could and did travel the world employed. The shift is on. We now import over a hundred thousand immigrants per year to fill our shortfall. Without these people our economy would already be in a huge mess. The major political parties realised it a long time ago. John Howard denigrated refugees, using Hansonite garbage as a red herring to distract from the potential damage to an immigration program for the skilled and wealthy that was constantly expanding. Then he had the gall to complain about economic immigrants queue jumping. Talk about Orwellian Newspeak.

Bruce | 27 August 2017  

This article does not make reference to the impact on natural resources globally of a the current population with the current resource use per person. We need all societies to have very small families and to create a society where all types of caring needs within that society are largely met without huge cost. Resources of the world are already overstretched dangerously.

Dallas Elvery | 28 August 2017  

Sean, you are right, population growth drives economic growth in most western economies. However, the "population-growth complex" is not nearly as simple as you might believe or have us believe. The first way to understand the limit to this argument is to assume that populations always grow. Eventually, of course, we run out of space and resources. Dallas correctly makes this point. So at some point in time, your argument is false. The question is understanding when that time occurs and what human factors will drive different behaviors before those limits are reached. Another consideration is the cost of adding people to the infrastructure grids. Water, power, roads, sewage, health etc. In Australia, every addditional person added costs well over $100,000 AUD to the taxpayer. Consider this as a loan made to the incoming person by the country ( taxpayers). Now of course we have to understand what the persons productive contribution is... do they pay the loan off over time ? Or not ? Lack of integration ability, lack of education, learning, skills, language, these all add to the cost and put more pressure on your assumptions. Japan is an industrialized nation that has chosen a non immigration growth strategy as correctly exampled by Ann. More and more western voters are choosing to have smaller families because of the cost of having children. In addition, people are starting to understand the real cost of population growth as the infrastructure grids become crowded. Technology, export markets and productivity improvements across labour all provide more income from a smaller labour force to fund your "trickle up" theory.

Patrick | 29 August 2017  

What seems to be misunderstood is that the author never refered to an increase in global population but rather a redistribution of the current population which is, in effect what immigration does. I find it bizarre that so many are commenting on population growth. In fact immigration would offset population growth by negting the need to start a family.

Michael Boudreau | 29 August 2017  

It’s reasonable to conclude that we need immigration to make up for falling birth rates in order to maintain the shape of the metaphorical economic pyramid. But it’s not only Caucasians who are having less children. In his book, “How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too)”, author David Goldman says, “By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as grey as depopulating Europe.” Iran’s current ratio of 9 people of working age to 1 elderly dependent, will plummet from 9:1 to 10:7 by 2050. In Europe, post-Christian secularists have 1.3 children compared to 3.5 for Muslims who are resisting integrating into the host societies. Today’s leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Holland, Scotland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Ireland are all childless. By the end of this century “Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia and Japan, among others, will cease to function. A century later they will have ceased to exist.” Dying cultures “embrace death through infertility, concupiscence, and war.” Where religion continues to play a major role in people’s lives, like the USA and Israel, birth rates are highest. Ironically, a century from now there could be more Jews than Germans.

Ross Howard | 29 August 2017  

"So we should embrace it, because, unless you’re going to make more babies, we simply don’t have a choice." A declining population is bad for Australia. An increasing population is bad for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as they become more numerically marginal. ATSIs should make more babies, preferably ones that don't grow up into a victim mindset.

Roy Chen Yee | 01 September 2017  

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