Has anyone an idea of the consequences of the collapse of fertility in the developed countries?
These consequences are many and varied and are ever foreseeable now. In a general way a demographic imbalance between North and South cannot be seen as reassuring for the future of human society. The demographic collapse of the North would certainly entail a general weakening of the vitality of all of humanity.
Two consequences deserve, however, to be set in relief, for they concern the future of Europe and in particular of Western Europe:
a) The first is that the demographic collapse of Europe is going to reinforce the non-Europeans in their migratory tendencies. This is particularly true regarding the relationship between Europe and the Maghreb in North Africa. While in Europe the work force is decreasing, the population of the Maghreb, younger and more fertile, will bring an ever greater pressure on Europe, particularly Latin Europe. This population will be either underemployed in its own countries or employed via the European circuits of production. In both cases the problems risk being all the more delicate to manage as the experience of the recent past shows that Europe is not anxious to favor the integration of the Maghreb workers already established in its territory.
b) The second consequence is by far the more serious, and it is also the least easily perceived by the public at large. This consequence, as Pierre Chaunu has often insisted, is the exhausting of the tradition of culture and science. In effect, in the final analysis, man is the sole, unique bearer of culture and knowledge. Culture, science, morals, and religions are not transmitted except through the intervention of men who endlessly enrich them. Humanitys memory is a living memory, that is, creative and inventive. Written documents, the various "monuments" are dead realities if no one is there to interrogate them, dialogue with them and go beyond them. The major risk that Europe runs in its declining population, is that its culture will languish. Absent will be the numerous exchanges which a large and dense population stimulate. Culture and science run a double, mortal risk: first, repetitious stagnation, and finally, shipwreck.
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