14 August 2013

More on Babies (Or the Lack Thereof)

Almost two months ago I posted "Stockton, Detroit, Pensions ... and Portuguese Babies" here. My thesis was that the unaffordable pension burdens of many American cities had both economic and demographic features. The economic features largely dominate in the discussion of Detroit given its shrunken economic base and population decline. Stockton's situation is more narrowly focused on the aftershocks of the Great Recession. But the popular discussion of neither case looks at the larger phenomenon of a shrinking population of workers vis-a-vis retirees. To be sure, Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code can't create a baby boom but read an article from today's NYT here for what Germany is trying to do about its declining population.

Thus far the government's policies are having little effect because, as the article points out, "the solution lies in remaking values, customs and attitudes." Indeed. As long as individual autonomy is heralded as the summum bonum of ethical thought and action we can expect investment in others and the future--children and families--to receive increasingly short shrift.

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