In a well-known urban legend, college students simultaneously flush all the toilets on campus and break down the town’s sewage system. While this story about overtaxing a sanitation system may be a myth, real-world Germans have learned what happens when you don’t tax the system enough. It’s a vivid example of the damage caused by the “birth dearth.”
The “birth dearth” is what demographers call plummeting birth rates in most of the industrialized world. Throughout Western Europe and East Asia, the birth rate is well below 2.1 births per woman—which is the minimum needed to maintain a stable population.
Environmentalist dogma argues that plummeting birth rates are a good thing: People cause pollution, we’re told. Well, officials in countries like Japan, Korea, and Germany now know better. In these and other so-called “advanced” societies, shrinking populations threaten their way of life and their cultural identity.
In Japan, for example, a birth rate that is barely half of “replacement level” has forced the closure of more than two thousand schools in the past ten years, with hundreds more closures to come. It’s left the government wondering who will support Japan’s aging population. These and other concerns, like the possible extinction of the Japanese people, have prompted older Japanese to call their childless children “parasite singles.”
In Germany, the population of some villages has shrunk so much that “there are now too few people flushing for the sewage to properly flow.” As a result, the government has had to spend scarce resources on retrofitting sewage systems.