Well, that’s the (remarkable) headline and here’s the story:
ROME, FEB. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Bankers are not the cause of the global economic crisis, according to the president of the Institute for the Works of Religion. Rather, the cause is ordinary people who do not “believe in the future” and have few or no children. “The true cause of the crisis is the decline in the birth rate,” Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, said in an interview on Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies.” He noted the Western world’s population growth rate is at 0% — that is, two children per couple — and this, he said, has led to a profound change in the structure of society. “Instead of stimulating families and society to again believe in the future and have children […] we have stopped having children and have created a situation, a negative economic context decrease,” Gotti Tedeschi observed. “And decrease means greater austerity.”
Who knew? Read the whole thing if you feel up to it.
The idea, incidentally, that the birthrate is falling because people have somehow given up on the future is a meme that pops up from time to time in certain parts of the conservative world. While the turn of the economic cycle can indeed affect the birthrate, that’s a lagging, not a leading indicator (thus you saw lower birthrates in quite a few countries during the Great Depression). The broader decline, however (a near-universal phenomenon these days) is largely a by-product of modernity, of female emancipation, of urbanization and, yes, optimism. Thanks to modern medicine, people feel more confident than in the past that their children will survive to adulthood and so they have fewer. That’s a good thing.