The Thinking 

Few Babies in Countries Great for Babies

November 29, 2012


JAMES P. writes:

The Economist has an article that ranks the countries of the world in order of “which country will be the best for a baby born in 2013.” The rankings incorporate a number of factors: GDP per capita; life expectancy at birth; the quality of family life, based primarily on divorce rates; political freedom; unemployment rate; climate; crime rate; quality of community life (based on membership in social organizations); governance (measured by ratings for corruption); and, gender equality (measured by the share of seats in parliament held by women).

What I found supremely ironic is that in the countries of the world where it is supposedly best for babies to be born, very few babies are actually being born.

Below you will see the “most desirable” countries in the order The Economist lists them, along with their total fertility rate (TFR). Very few of the countries exceed the replacement rate (these are the countries in bold below), and most of them are at the bottom of the list in terms of desirability. In fact, this list of the “top 40” countries in terms of desirability is almost exactly the same as the list of the “bottom 40” for fertility – the countries in red are in the TFR “bottom 40.”

The unwillingness to reproduce is the product of the liberal obsession with “freedom” – which in practice means narcissism, materialism, and hedonism. The focus of life is maximizing material pleasure as soon as possible, and children are regarded as a wearisome, expensive obstacle to achieving this. Of course, the short-term economic success of the “desirable” countries is unsustainable over the long term, as demographic decline will lead to slower economic growth, greater spending on the immediate needs of the old, and a reduction in the innovation generated by the young. Hedonism and materialism thus contain the seeds of their own destruction.

Country TFR
Switzerland 1.42
Australia 1.79
Norway 1.85
Sweden 1.80
Denmark 1.80
Singapore 1.26
New Zealand 1.99
Netherlands 1.72
Canada 1.53
Hong Kong 0.97
Finland 1.83
Ireland 1.96
Austria 1.42
Taiwan 1.10
Belgium 1.65
Germany 1.41
USA 2.05
UAE 2.31
South Korea 1.21
Israel 2.75
Italy 1.38
Kuwait 2.18
Chile 1.94
Cyprus 1.61
Japan 1.27
France 1.89
Britain 1.82
Czech 1.24
Spain 1.41
Costa Rica 2.10
Portugal 1.46
Slovenia 1.28
Poland 1.23
Greece 1.33
Slovakia 1.25
Malaysia 2.60
Brazil 1.90
Saudi Arabia 3.35
Mexico 2.21
Argentina 2.25


—- Comments —–

Inez writes:

Given your latest entry, you might be interested to know (perhaps you already do) that the U.S. counts infant mortality very differently from most European countries, resulting in its relatively higher infant mortality statistics. For example, babies born before 26 weeks of pregnancy are automatically considered stillbirths by most European countries (not so in the US). Additionally, many European countries don’t count babies who die within the first 24 in their infant mortality statistics.

Which tells us what we already know – the U.S. healthcare system is probably not actually worse than European ones when it comes to infant mortality.

A reader writes:

Regarding the birth rate in Singapore, in a UK Guardian survey last week, Singapore was ranked first among the least emotional people in the world. Singaporean women are the most career-oriented, ball busting women in Asia. They too don’t smile but walk with the typical feminist scowl. They are very materialistic as well.

The reader adds:

Hong Kong is headed towards extinction with a birth rate under one.

Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Seoul, South Korea; New Delhi and Mumbai, India are joining their careerist sisters of Japan & Singapore. Some of them have resorted to freezing their eggs too. New Delhi has a divorce rate of 80 percent, highest in all of India.

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