I was reading an old issue of National Geographic and came across an article called “Brazil’s Girl Power“. The article reports decreasing birth rates around the world, but specifically in Brazil. It describes the correlation between lower birth rates and a higher standard of living. It also showcases some young Brazilians and their reasons for wanting fewer children.
Professor Carvalho, retiring head of his university’s School of Economics and one of the most eminent Brazilian demographers of the past half century, now reclined. He put his feet up and smiled. He knew the total number of grandchildren, of course: 26. For much of his working life, he had been charting and probing and writing about the remarkable Brazilian demographic phenomenon that was replicated in miniature amid his own family, who within two generations had crashed their fertility rate to 2.36 children per family, heading right down toward the national average of 1.9.
That new Brazilian fertility rate is below the level at which a population replaces itself. It is lower than the two-children-per-woman fertility rate in the United States. In the largest nation in Latin America—a 191-million-person country where the Roman Catholic Church dominates, abortion is illegal (except in rare cases), and no official government policy has ever promoted birth control—family size has dropped so sharply and so insistently over the past five decades that the fertility rate graph looks like a playground slide.
And it’s not simply wealthy and professional women who have stopped bearing multiple children in Brazil. There’s a common perception that the countryside and favelas, as Brazilians call urban slums, are still crowded with women having one baby after another—but it isn’t true. At the demographic center Carvalho helped found, located four hours away in the city of Belo Horizonte, researchers have tracked the decline across every class and region of Brazil. Over some weeks of talking to Brazilian women recently, I met schoolteachers, trash sorters, architects, newspaper reporters, shop clerks, cleaning ladies, professional athletes, high school girls, and women who had spent their adolescence homeless; almost every one of them said a modern Brazilian family should include two children, ideally a casal, or couple, one boy and one girl. Three was barely plausible. One might well be enough. In a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte, an unmarried 18-year-old affectionately watched her toddler son one evening as he roared his toy truck toward us; she loved him very much, the young woman said, but she was finished with childbearing. The expression she used was one I’d heard from Brazilian women before: “A fábrica está fechada.” The factory is closed.
The emphatic fertility drop is not just a Brazilian phenomenon. Notwithstanding concerns over the planet’s growing population, close to half the world’s population lives in countries where the fertility rates have actually fallen to below replacement rate, the level at which a couple have only enough children to replace themselves—just over two children per family. They’ve dropped rapidly in most of the rest of the world as well, with the notable exception of sub-Saharan Africa.
The article goes on to say:
Brazil spans a vast landmass, with enormous regional differences in geography, race, and culture, yet its population data are by tradition particularly thorough and reliable. Pieces of the Brazilian experience have been mirrored in scores of other countries, including those in which most of the population is Roman Catholic—but no other nation in the world seems to have managed it quite like this.
Cynthia Gorney, the author who penned the above article, points out that Brazil’s birth rate is dropping. She points out that this is so in much of the world. She mentions that sub-Saharan Africa is a notable exception and she emphasizes that Brazil is a multi-racial country.
In light of the above, the obvious question should be: Are there differences between the birth rates of white Brazilians, black Brazilians and other groups? Gorney makes no attempt to explain the “notable exception” of sub-Saharan Africa – or what implications this may have on the world as a whole. The printed version of the article even provides us with a world map of human fertility. Though continuing high-fertility is mostly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, no explanation is offered as to why this might be so. Other hotbeds of fertility include Papua-New Guinea and Afghanistan. While Afghanistan’s case can be explained by the influence of fundamentalist Islam and its own unique cultural/historical circumstances, New Guinea and sub-Saharan Africa both host a wide array of cultures, languages and religions.
Brazil still has a substantial white population. According to some statistics, almost half of Brazil is white. According to New Zimbabwe.com (2009):
Brazil and its almost 200 million population is no longer a country of white majority. The credit now belongs to the 49.6% black and mulatto population compared to the 49.4% defined as white and this is set to increase in coming years with that percentage increasing to 54, according to a recent report from the Rio do Janeiro Federal University.Professor Antonio Paixao from the Rio University’s Economy Institute believes that since Brazil is no longer a white majority country, “we need a policy of diversity”, which is a great challenge for the political establishment.The black birth rate is also higher than that of the whites or Europeans descendents, so the big question is whether Brazil is prepared to face the fact that blacks and mulattos are becoming a solid majority, and how this will influence legislation, asks Paixao.
It seems to me that the decline in Brazil’s birth rate is merely a decline in its white birth rate. Unless Cynthia Gorney, and the editors at National Geographic, are total idiots, they must realize that we are not looking at a long-term decline in the overall birth rate at all. What we are seeing is simply a temporary dip due to the elimination of white babies. As the black population grows, and replaces the white population in Brazil, the black birth rate will more than compensate for this dip. In the end, Brazil will be just like Africa. It would appear that this is what Gorney, and her editors at National Geographic, want. If so, then it also follows that they also want the destruction of the Amazon rain forests, the eradication of endangered species therein, the genocide of native peoples and endemic disease and starvation for the remaining (black) human population.
Aren’t these some of the same things the Left habitually accuses conservatives of?