The Demographic Divide

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We’ve never shied away from the discussion of immigrants and understanding the necessity for them that the so called ‘developed’ nations are beginning to realise but not yet appreciate.  Like many others, I’ve previously covered the way our government should address illegal and legal immigrants, and I stand by it being in an inclusive and empathetic manner, with the thought of how Britain, like many of our European neighbours, would benefit from including others.

It was once again brought to our attention that the reliance on immigrants is only going to continue, and for reasons we hadn’t thought of, or expected. There’s been recent studies on UK birth rates and by 2100, Britain and 198 other countries are expected to have fertility rates below what is needed for a sustainable population size. Although that sounds like a long time away yet, the decline in the rate has been apparent and growing fast for many years.

Western European countries are predicted to be hit drastically by the decline and many studies are suggesting leaders must become more open to immigration going forward.

In the UK alone, the fertility rate has dropped from 2.19 in 1950, to 1.85 in 1980, and in 2021 it had dropped to 1.49. If we have a desire to maintain our ability to service our needs, especially with having a much larger older generation and a much smaller younger generation – we need a steady population size and growth which needs to rise to 2.1. This shortfall has traditionally been fulfilled by immigrants.

With it predicted that sub-Saharan Africa would account for one in every two births in the world by the end of the century, researchers are struggling to understand how many Western Europe countries will sustain their population without significant immigration.

I’m aware this is beginning to sound like a fact and figures argument, but it’s necessary for us to understand why and just how important immigration is going to be for many nations, including the UK.

There are an incredible number of factors as to why birth rates are falling in the UK and it’s hard to look past the lack of desire people have when it comes to wanting children, more specifically, wanting children at a younger age than we are used to, and raising a family in the UK. Quite simply, it is becoming extremely hard for people to do so – the lack of strong, compassionate leadership has decreased the ability to live in stability without family responsibilities, let alone with them. Both of which do go hand in hand too – the studies are continuing to show just how damaging low birth rates can be for economic growth, yet many would argue that it’s the current economy making it less desirable to have children, we are caught in a vicious cycle.

With the current decline, our future will rely on much better leadership initiatives – it is said that policies to promote reproduction such as parental leave, free childcare and better employment rates will only increase the birth rates in a small way. A much more progressive approach to immigration seems to be the best option in the future. The majority of populations are ageing, but sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia have youthful populations, which will play a pivotal role in population sustainability across many regions.

The last thing we need is loss of reproductive rights, which is unfortunately likely if countries fail to sustain their population growth because of self-harming exclusion. There is no room to go backwards with our living.

The usual bigoted loud voices in our society that are always far too quick to exclude, and the more populist leaders are quick to pass laws or initiatives without thinking (or sometimes caring) about the immediate effects it can have. Understandably, immigration has become a touchy but essential subject and can spark many fierce debates.

It is vital for our international leaders to think about the bigger picture and accept our world is constantly evolving and changing, meaning we must adapt to these new circumstances. Our society here in the UK has been good at embracing difference and has always benefitted from attracting foreign talent. Today we must be so honest that it will make some feel uncomfortable.

Doctors, demographers, and researchers are giving us the warning signs and the opportunity to maintain our nation’s continued growth in a sustainable manner. This means making some tough and well-informed calls and avoiding short-term high-profile decisions that are actually self-defeating and make no sense whatsoever. There are increasing concerns over women’s rights and careers in the future because of these declining rates – a worry that shouldn’t occur, especially with how far we have come.

It’s once again time to call out political leaders of all persuasions everywhere, especially the UK government, to put aside empty short term political dog whistles against immigration and take a long-term view. With many more people living far longer and birth rates declining, it may not be about pushing the desire to have families, but maybe it is about promoting and increasing the ability to be able to. It’s about time that prices changed, homes are made affordable, wages increase, and people are supported more than ever.

Now is the time for us to stop trying to avoid the future and begin to use our initiative to create the future. We can only walk through the tough times together.


Thought of the week:

Your future can be anything you can imagine.

Tips for becoming an A player:

  • Take a risk and see how you develop
  • Never let others kill your dreams
  • Be accepting and adapt to change
  • Be a voice for those that are silent


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