Europe's Little Problem
At a November 10, 2004, Brookings Institution-Hoover Institution panel discussion on the future of European-American relations held in Washington, D.C. (broadcast over the weekend on the ever-indispensible CSPAN), Walter Russell Mead offered the following pithy analysis of Europe's demographic timebomb:
The fourth thing Europeans have just got to do is make babies. I tell Europeans there are a lot of Americans who would be happy to give them some technical assistance in this matter, and they only have to call upon our assistance, but, in fact, the demographics of Europe are appalling. I've seen some projections that France could have a Muslim majority on present trends well before the end of this century, but the fact that the non-Muslim Europeans are failing to have babies, and we're facing falling populations, aging populations, falling labor forces, and therefore also slowing or even receding economic growth down the road.A profound question for Europeans, especially in this period of rising Islamic fundamentalism within Europe. But also a profound question for Americans during a time of massive illegal immigration, which threatens to fundamentally change the culture and demographic profile of the U.S.
I've seen figures from the European Commission that project, by the year 2050, the U.S. share of global GDP will rise from 23 percent to 26 percent of GDP, while the European share will fall from 18 percent to 10 percent, I think, of GDP. That is remarkable, and it is largely driven by demography. So they've got to make more babies.
The other thing they've got to learn to do is either assimilate the kind of immigrants they're getting or stop those immigrants and start getting some immigrants they can assimilate; that, it you look at the polarization and alienation ... it's clear that Europe is failing to reproduce its culture, to maintain any kind of identity, to manage a sort of basic ... you know, the question one has to ask sometimes is, does Europe have the biological and cultural will to live?