These Fourteen European Countries are Disappearing

(sorted by population growth rate):

Pop Growth Rate 2018

[Note: Fertility Rate is the ratio of ‘total children born’ to ‘all women’ in a given population. In order for a given population to stay constant (not counting net migration) the ratio needs to be between 2.0 and 2.1.]

What can we surmise from viewing and correlating these figures with what we see happening in the world today?

No. 1: Germany needs to increase the number of its permanent immigrants in order to maintain or grow its population, despite that it already has a relatively high net migration rate: 1.5 net new migrants per 1000 population. But, politically, there is currently a movement away from increased immigration which has created a problem for the current leadership of the country. Note that Germany records the highest median age and the largest percent of the population over 64, in the list above.

No. 2: Greece’s high net migration rate (2.3 per 1000) is barely adequate to keep its population stable. But the ability of Greece to accommodate large numbers of new residents and citizens is problematical, given its current economic distress. What is not known at this point, is the long-term effects of the tens of thousands of refugees who have recently arrived in Greece. 

screenhunter_453-oct-16-09-36No. 3: The three, small Baltic Sea countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are seriously losing population (-0.6% to  -1.1% annually). Further, their fertility rates are low (1.5-1.6), and immigration from elsewhere is not occurring. What can be the future of these countries if they continue to fade away? [Note: they all share a border with Russia.] Despite different cultures and ethnicities in these three countries, their age measures are almost identical. In that they were dominated and occupied by the Soviet Union, I wonder if there is a uniting thread resultant from this. There are no separate measures available for the entity named ‘Kaliningrad’, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, around one-third the size of the neighboring Baltic States. According to the 2010 Census, its population was 431,902

No. 4: The neighbor countries of Bulgaria and Romania, like the Three Baltic states, are losing population and are not gaining immigrants. Their current populations are much larger than the Baltics so it will take longer for them to “disappear.” In that they border the Black Sea, Russians flock to these countries during the tourist season and have bought many properties along the coast. Russians are a palpable presence in these two countries, which unofficially affects national politics. Their net migration rates are only slightly negative, but their fertility rates are very low, below 1.5.

screenhunter_452-oct-16-09-36

No. 5: Four of the six former provinces of united Yugoslavia, which have reverted to their former independent states, are losing population: Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Slovenia is growing slightly at 0.3%.  Macedonia (not in the above chart), is also slowly growing, despite negative net migration and low fertility rate. (I suspect the data provided by Macedonia to the CIA are not accurate).

Of the six countries of the former Yugoslavia, only Slovenia has a positive net migration rate.  The bottom line: the former Yugoslavia is slowly fading away, as are Bulgaria and Romania, above. [Note: The present-day state of Kosovo was, until recently, a province of Serbia. We have no data for Kosovo, other than population: 1,907,592]. The populations of the other five are slightly younger than others on this list, but they are not reproducing. Their fertility rates are at or near the bottom of the list.

No. 6: The remaining two states in the above chart are Hungary and Poland. Both are currently aligned politically to resist immigration from non-European countries. But, unless they reverse this position, they will fade along with the others mentioned here. Hungary’s fertility rate is 1.45 and Poland’s is even lower at 1.36.

Of Note: Germany, Greece, and Portugal all have net positive immigration rates, yet they still are losing population. They all have extremely low fertility rates, around 1.4 births per woman. (Reminder: a country needs between 2.0 and 2.1 births per woman for the population to stay constant, assuming no migration in or out of the country).  

On the other hand: These 14 countries in Europe are currently growing at an annual rate between 0.5% and 1.9% (sorted by population growth rate):

Pop Growth Rate 2018 up

Why are these countries not fading away like the others?

The quick answer is immigration. The net migration rates for all are relatively high, ranging from 2.1 in Denmark to 15.5 in Luxembourg. The highest fertility rates are in Iceland and Ireland; the lowest are in Cyprus, Malta, and Spain. In the latter three, if their current fertility rates and immigration rates continue, the indigenous Cypriots, Maltese, and Spaniards will be in the minority within a lifetime. Is this a problem? I guess it depends on the person viewing the situation. Such things have happened many times in the past, peacefully and otherwise.

Not Reproducing

Only one European country in the forty studied here has a positive fertility rate: France, at 2.06 births per woman.  

Pop Growth Rate 2018 France

rvxnf4bujdek3kcm2dwdq6jy France has had waves of immigration from North Africa in the past and, more recently, from the Near East whose birth rates are higher than the indigenous population. These people, in my intuition, are responsible for France’s higher fertility rate. Nonetheless, France’s annual population growth rate of 0.37% is not remarkable or significantly different from other European countries. The non-immigrant residents are reproducing at a much lower rate than the immigrant population. The accompanying chart was for the year 2004, and the ensuing fourteen years have seen a significant rise in the immigrants from ‘Asia.’

Why are European countries Not Reproducing?

The answer is given by Col. Robert de Marcellus (Ret.) in an article “Falling Fertility: The World at the Tipping Point,” in the online magazine of the Population Research Institute:

  • The great increase in the number of wives who must work in the paid economy to help support the family due to the loss of the “family wage” concept
  • The increasing cost of raising children
  • High taxation that reduces family disposable income
  • Educational debt
  • Lifestyle changes that increasingly cause luxuries to be considered necessities
  • More years spent by young people in higher education. delaying family formation
  • Older average marriage ages, which greatly reduce wives’ childbearing years
  • Less family support as young couples move far away from other family members

Please read the entire article for a lucid discussion of these and other factors.

My Final Intuitive Statements

Depressed spirits tend not to reproduce. Where is Europe’s ‘spirit’? 

We can point to European Culture, starting from its putative origins in Ancient Greece and Rome, then The Renaissance, then The Enlightenment, and so on—Art, Music, Literature, Philosophy, Science… and the relationship of the Church to any of these. But it all seems more and more like a museum.

The European ‘Union’ is reeling, nationalism on the rise, tribalism is more evident.

Popular arts are declining, public figures ever more powerless and ridiculous.

BUT…

Perhaps the above is providing something necessary for rebirth?

“Without mud, there can be no lotus,” Thich Nhat Hanh, a renown Buddhist teacher.

For comparison, here are other country statistics:

Pop Growth Rate 2018

The data are taken from the current listings, by country, in the CIA World Factbook.

The data for all European countries can be seen here: European Statistics 2018.

I analyzed all countries in Europe (41), not just those in the European Union (28). NB: Greenland is part of Denmark, but its numbers are not included in Denmark’s.

I excluded Russia and Turkey, even though some parts of these nation-states are in what is geographically determined as Europe,

I excluded five other “European” countries because they are dominated politically and/or economically either by Russia or Turkey: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine.

Posted in Demography, Geography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

“The Wretched Dimension of Politics.” Excerpts from Nobel Banquet Speeches of Literature Prize Winners

The Nobel Prize ceremonies will soon commence in Stockholm (and Oslo, Norway for the Peace Prize). I am reposting, below, and with some supplementary remarks, an article I wrote eight years ago which is still timely.


I could well have entitled this “A Disagreement with  John Steinbeck on remarks in his Nobel Banquet Speech.” You will see my critique of his speech at the end of this presentation which includes Banquet remarks by some of the other Nobel Literature Prize winners.

2010-03-22 Orpheus at Stockholm Concert Hall-2896

Orpheus and the Muses at Stockholm Concert Hall, by Carl Milles

The prize award ceremony in Stockholm takes place at the Stockholm Concert Hall, on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. (The annual Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway). In the Stockholm ceremony, presentation speeches extol the Laureates and their discovery or work, after which His Majesty the King of Sweden hands each Laureate a diploma and a medal. The Ceremony is followed by a banquet at the Stockholm City Hall for about 1,300 people, where the Laureates give a short acceptance speech. In addition, the Nobel Laureates are required to “give a public lecture on a subject connected with the work for which the prize has been awarded”.

The briefer acceptance speeches by the Literature Prize winners are the subject of this article

1970 – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn was critical of those writers who use current political struggles solely as the basis for their work:

We all know that an artist’s work cannot be contained within the wretched dimension of politics. For this dimension cannot hold the whole of our life and we must not restrain our social consciousness within its bounds. (Emphasis added).

Albert Camus and Ernest Hemingway were rather modest in their claims for the virtues of writers:

1957 – Albert Camus

Who after all this can expect from him (the writer) complete solutions and high morals? Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road. What writer would from now on in good conscience dare set himself up as a preacher of virtue?

1954 – Ernest Hemingway

A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it.

1946 – Hermann Hesse gave a gentle sermon:

(M)ay diversity in all shapes and colours live long on this dear earth of ours. What a wonderful thing is the existence of many races, many peoples, many languages, and many varieties of attitude and outlook! If I feel hatred and irreconcilable enmity toward wars, conquests, and annexations, I do so for many reasons, but also because so many organically grown, highly individual, and richly differentiated achievements of human civilization have fallen victim to these dark powers.

William Faulkner put Man on a pedestal, and John Steinbeck put the writer there. It is with Steinbeck I take particular issue with.

Steinbeck-horz

John Steinbeck (1902 – 1968)  —  William Faulkner (1897 – 1962)

1949 – William Faulkner

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.

1962 –John Steinbeck

The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit— for gallantry in defeat— for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally-flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man, has no dedication nor any membership in literature.

So here is this writer (my humble self) presuming to disagree with the opinion of an icon and Nobel laureate on the writer’s “delegated” duty to his fellow man.

ZeusWho or what is “delegating” to the writer? God? Nature? Zeus?

And who, please, is “the writer”? Is “the writer” he, or she, whom other people call “writer”? Or can this label also be applied to the person who calls himself a writer, or simply writes without naming himself or this activity—even if no one else calls or considers him a “writer”? By Steinbeck’s words, this cannot be so because the writer has a “delegated” duty to others. Who is it that can observe upon whom this “delegation” and nomination as “writer” has occurred?

The quintessential moment in art is that of the creation. All subsequent perceptions and utterances, even by the artist himself, are of a lesser order.

The artist is responding to the “delegator,” and no person has any standing to verify or deny the validity of the artist’s rendering of this duty as he perceives it. One may not like it, or want even to look at it (or listen to it, or touch it, or the artist might immediately destroy it)—this is not important. The delegator has delegated and the artist has moved in consonance to the best of his or her ability.

Steinbeck says the writer must “celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness and spirit”, etc. Bosh, I quaintly say. Perhaps Steinbeck had a direct line to the Delegator to know of this? A writer must do what a writer must do, even if no-one reads his work.

Gallantry, courage, compassion, love, weakness, despair, hope: all these are wonderfully human abstractions attempting, as all words imperfectly attempt, to describe the totality of man and his experience. Let us give credit to Steinbeck for this poetic display.

But, is it the writer’s or the artist’s duty to do his art in the “right” way, according to these abstractions which beg precise definition—to use them as templates? Of course not.

As for “membership in literature,” I find this pompous. Steinbeck had the exalted podium for the moment, as the authority on what is and is not “literature.” Literature is variously defined by writers and scholars and critics according to their abilities and tastes. Regular people read books and stories.

writer's inkFinally, I comment upon “the perfectibility of man.” This is the ultimate pomposity. I wish John had defined the perfect human for us so we could consciously strive to become this person. This is hubris, clear and simple. If Man can be perfected can he not then become as God, or as a god? Hubris, in Ancient Greek drama, was applied to those who esteemed themselves as equal to or greater than the gods and was often the “tragic flaw” of characters (ref: Wikipedia).

Maybe Steinbeck felt God-like or god-like as he stood, in 1962, before his august audience in the great hall containing other, perhaps humbler, Nobel laureates.

But, we can forgive him his all-too-human exultation in what was, for him, a singular moment.


Now the supplementary remarks, all regarding John Steinbeck.

I am currently reading “A Fire in the Mind,” by Stephen and Robin Larsen, a biography of  Joseph Campbell, the renown Professor of Literature who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion, and whose written works, and academic and popular lectures cover many aspects of the human experience. When age twenty-six, still in his formative years with respect to his ultimate profession,  he had an open love affair with Carol Steinbeck, then wife of John, and through the written and verbal records of this brief love story (which was not physically consummated), the authors have gained insight into the personality of Steinbeck which they share with us.

A few days after Joseph and Carol found themselves entranced with each other, Joseph and John talked about this love that had exploded, unsought, within and between Joseph and Carol during a summer of social and professional encounters in Monterey, California, which included many other people.

(From Joseph Campbell’s journal):

“Marriage,” John said, “with Carol isn’t really marriage, you know… It has none of the characteristics of an ordinary marriage. She’d probably make a man of you, Joe. She’d build back your ideals.”

Steinbeck then left the lovers alone in their agony of conflicting passions, loyalties, and principles. After about a week, John returned. He and Joseph talked further (Campbell quoting himself in his journal):

It’s positively ridiculous even to think of my marrying Carol. The only question is, John, how I’m to withdraw from this mess with the least pain for her.

After a day or so of conversation, Joseph and Carol agreed and told everyone the ‘affair’ was over. The energetic social life of their close-knit group of friends continued, mostly as before, but always with the issue of the emotional triangle present in varying degrees. The love-tension wasn’t dissipated by merely talking about what was right to do.

Finally, Campbell left on a sea-going expedition to Alaska. A few months later he received a letter from Carol, in which she appeared “in a condition something like frantic.” Joseph wrote in his journal:

John has disappeared and seems to have fled dramatically to the High Sierra. The laws of high tragedy would demand a flight to the Sierras; and John, being acutely sensitive to these laws has achieved the most dramatic. He has focused the amazed attention of all society upon the hole that has been left behind him. He has no doubt exacted the profound pity of his most immediate family. He has demonstrated to Carol how violently unhappy his sensitive soul’s reactions will be to her most little peccadillo. She will understand in the future what tragedies may result from her departure from the rules set down by John…

Quoting  the authors’ text:

When Campbell learned later of John and Carol Steinbeck’s  divorce, he expressed some resentment that was a further transformation of what he had felt during the Alaskan trip. He said… in a 1984 interview, “I don’t happen to have good feelings for–and I’ve known a couple of men who have done this–(men who) stayed with a wife during the tough years and then when things begin coming in, they move to another wife… I learned with a real pang that Carol had died last February. She was a wonderful woman, and courageous and very loyal to John. But she was already beginning to suspect at that time he was trying to push her off.”

A few years after Campbell’s Monterey visit, Carol had become pregnant, and John evidently insisted that she have an abortion., since a child would disrupt his writer’s regimen. After the abortion, Carol developed a bad infection that led to a hysterectomy…

END

Posted in Books & Literature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments