Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Demographic Difficulties

Many elderly citizens in my small western Maine town of Lovell were summer people from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island who always planned to live here full time after retirement. I expect that’s true in other towns in a state where “Vacationland” is stamped on our license plates. I’m semi-retired myself and part of my income, aside from my teacher’s pension and Social Security, is from managing vacation properties here. It dovetailed nicely with teaching and I kept doing it after retiring in 2011. The small contractors I use for plumbing, excavation, carpentry, etc. tell me often how hard it is to find help — especially competent help.

Maine is the oldest state in the country, demographically speaking. According to a recent Boston Globe article: “Maine is one of only two states, along with West Virginia, where deaths now outnumber births,” and “many young people move away in search of opportunity,” further exacerbating the problem. Counties in northern Maine see declining populations while York and Cumberland counties in southern Maine are increasing by three and six percent respectively. Median age is 44 statewide. There are more people over 65 than under 18. The over 65 demographic is predicted to rise 37% by 2016 while all other age groups decline, according to the Globe.

Maine people are having fewer children and New England, according to a New York Times article, is “the least fertile region in the U.S." Without immigration, which is at record levels, regional population would very likely be declining. People I meet in the Portland area who are in their twenties and thirties are more likely to have dogs with them than children and I’ve written about that several times over the past fifteen years. Nationwide, according to, “there were about 60 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 [in 2017], which is 3 percent lower than the rate in 2016, and the lowest recorded rate since the government started tracking birth rates in 1909.”

Why don’t 21st-century Americans want to have children? When I looked into the problem for previous articles, opinions varied. Some young people said openly that it was selfishness — that children are expensive and require a lot of work for a long time. Some women said they wanted to avoid stretch marks and saggy breasts. Some had parents who divorced and didn’t want any of their children to go through that painful experience. Some said the earth’s environment couldn’t handle too many more people and they wanted to reduce their carbon footprint.

Catholic pundits suggest it’s a lack of hope. Young celebrities like the 29-year-old Congresswoman Alexandria Occasio Cortez (D-NY) declared recently that the world will end in twelve years if we don’t take drastic steps like passing a “Green New Deal.” That certainly lends credence to the no-hope theory for her demographic. The Catholic Church taught (I don’t know if it still does) that despair is a sin, and that suicide — the ultimate despair — is too. AOC recommends that her cohort forego having children and eating meat as well because of the methane cows expel from their rear-ends. She wants us all to be childless vegetarians.

The Catholic Church’s influence with young people has seriously declined in America and in the entire western world. The liberal Pope Francis has made several public statements against abortion, but I don’t believe he’s said anything about artificial contraception. That too was declared sinful by his predecessor, Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical: Humanae Vitae. Never have I heard a sermon on that teaching in any Catholic Church I’ve attended, it being politely ignored since its issue fifty years ago. Pope Francis has spoken out about climate change, about which he’s a fellow traveler with the Democrat Party, but nothing about the “carbon footprint” of more children — not yet at least.

The unemployment rate is so low now that we’re essentially at full employment all across America. There are more jobs than people who want them. Although you may not believe it if you look out the window here in western Maine, summer is right around the corner. Building contractors, landscapers, restaurants, resorts, and many other businesses will be desperate for workers and we’re simply not producing them. Savvy business people are recruiting in eastern Europe and elsewhere for seasonal employees. Fewer high school or college kids want to work the way they did decades ago.

What are we to do? Some European countries offer financial incentives for women to produce more children. Maybe we can do that here too but it won’t be enough. Our culture has changed from one that encouraged couples to have children to one that discourages them. For that trend to reverse will take a very long time.


Brian said...

Well, good thing that immigrants are keeping up the population in Maine....right?

R. D. King said...

Ascendant civilizations that cannot find a way to continue doing their own work with their own people, and that come to depend more and more on labor imported from very different lesser civilizations, are doomed to become lesser civilizations themselves, or disappear altogether like the once-mighty Romans, Egyptians, and others. Defense of one's civilization against destruction from without or within should be the first duty of all living in its embrace and enjoying its blessings. But what we are seeing instead is a prevailing impulse toward self-doubt and complicity in civilizational self destruction.

Anonymous said...

I can’t get away from Comrade AOC, who should be dismissed as highly irrelevant, in the mainstream media and now in your blog?

Westerners having less children has been pushed since the Vancouver Conference and Agenda 21. Not only do the globalists want to re-distribute wealth but the same goes for populations. Those coming here from 3rd world countries certainly didn’t get the memo about their family size.

I’m in sunny So. Florida where there are TOO many people especially middle-aged ones. Can’t wait to get back to Maine. Might even consider the Lovell area where someone from my generation who has a work ethic could easily get a job and keep it.

Kevin said...

Then there are us younger generation folk who want to have more kids, but do not feel like we can. We simply do not have the money to support it.

We live in a society where it's not just that both adults can work, they are expected too. When women entered the workforce, they cheapened labor. This is not too say women are ruining the labor market. However, when you double the work force, workers are now competing with each other for jobs instead of employers competing for good workers. Wage stagnation may also be caused because of this.

When the typical house has two incomes, cost of living goes up making it impossible to survive on one income. Then when both adults have to work, there is not enough time to raise children.

Then there is how our culture is abandoning the family. Relationships are for love, not pro creation. Ben Shapiro covers this point beautifully in his most recent book, "The right side of history."

CaptDMO said...

Ah yes, the "Summer Place", the lake?
Somewhere to retire to... full time?
Now add:
Spawn without commitment to a place/ family of their own.
(Starting with an impressive "education" bill onus)
"Special" taxes for waterfront real estate.
Zero insulation.
Exposed plumbing
Limited electrical amperage
MAYBE one fireplace-6 cords of wood shifting.
Snow management

Nick Peace said...

Other than your cheap shots at AOC, this is a pretty good column. You nail many of the causes. Finances is a large one. What's the cost of day care if a parent doesn't want to stay home? What's it cost to send a kid to a 4-year college these days? $200,000? Meanwhile studies show many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck , never mind saving up enough for retirement. A lot different from when you and my parents were growing up.

The other problem you touch upon is the nature of seasonal employment in vacation areas. It is usually low-wage and it is temporary. You can't support a family and live in those towns year-round on those wages. This is nothing unique to the Mount Washington Valley and nearby lakes regions. Cape Cod also faces these problems as do many destination ski areas in the winter months.

CaptDMO said...

Offspring? The next generation?
See: "Idiocracy"-the first five minutes. VERY progressive!
ALSO SEE: SCIENCE! has what plants crave!