Vor ein paar Tagen hörte ich im englischsprachigen Dienst von Radio Vatikan ein Interview mit Professor W. Bradford Wilcox, Soziologie und Direktor des National Marriage Project an der University of Virginia. Der Soziologe zog in diesem Interview die Verbindung zwischen der gegenwärtigen Finanzkrise und der demographischen Entwicklung in den westlichen Industriestaaten – ein Thema, das mich schon länger beschäftigt.
What’s happening right now in Europe is related in large part to what’s happened demographically in Europe during the last forty years, and by that I mean we’ve seen the baby boomers now aging and they are requiring more public support from the state in Italy, the state in Germany, the state in Greece. And yet, because of unsustainable fertility in countries like Greece and Italy and Spain, to some extent there are fewer workers in the workplace to pay taxes, to pay for public policies and public benefits for those who are retiring or who are already retired in those countries.
Das National Marriage Project hat vor kurzem die Studie The Sustainable Demographic Dividend publiziert, deren Kernthese lautet:
The long-term fortunes of the modern economy rise and fall with the family. The report focuses on the key roles marriage and fertility play in sustaining long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the profitability of large sectors of the modern economy.
Einer der Autoren der Studie, Phillip Longman, bringt diesen Zusammenhang in einem Interview auf den Punkt:
The first order effect of a decline in the birthrate tends to be positive for the economy. A society finds it has fewer children to raise and educate. That tends to free up a lot of female labor to join the formal economy. But with the next turn of the screw, things change. As fertility rates remain below replacement levels, you still have fewer children but now your workforce is beginning to decline and you’ve got more and more seniors as a percentage of your population. And so around the world today we see many countries struggling with their fiscal situation largely because of the exploding cost of pensions and the relatively slow growth of their labor forces.
Die Studie kommt zu diesem Fazit:
Business, government, civil society, and ordinary citizens would do well to strengthen the family—in part because the wealth of nations, and the performance of large sectors of the modern economy, is tied to the fortunes of the family.