From the new issue of Touchstone:


cover 26 03 Jonathan V. Last on Faith, Hope & the Coming Population Implosion

May/June 2013

INTERVIEW by Les Sillars

Whispers of Doom

The overall U.S. birthrate fell in 2011 to its lowest point since the government started tracking it in 1920. It now sits at about 63 births per 1,000 women in the prime childbearing ages of 15–44, according to a Pew Research Center study released late last year.

That’s a bad sign of a problem that goes far beyond the United States, according to Weekly Standard writer Jonathan V. Last, author of the recently released What to Expect When No One’s Expecting (Encounter Books, 2013).

Les Sillars (LS): The subtitle of your book is America’s Coming Demographic Disaster, yet you emphasize that it’s hard to say what will happen, and some even speculate about positive effects of a “population implosion.”

Jonathan Last (JL): You don’t want to run around yelling, “We’re doomed! We’re doomed!” So I tried not to do that. Yet I do kind of think that we’re doomed. So I try to walk around whispering, “We’re doomed.”

LS: How soon until we’re doomed?

JL: Probably the 2050s, which is when you see the global population weaken and begin its contraction. Nothing will collapse in the next ten years. And in the very long term, as my demographer friend likes to say, everything will be fine, because birthrates are not constant across populations. In America, for instance, women who attend church weekly have a very healthy fertility rate of 2.5 or 2.6 children each. For secular women, it’s very low, something like 1.5. So in the very long run, the orthodox will literally inherit the earth [laughs].

We’re not going to breed ourselves into extinction. What worries me is, what will they inherit? Will we have a world in which social structures have collapsed? We like to think of Western civilization as being very stable. I’m of the view that it’s probably not; it’s something that needs to be protected and treasured.