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Feehery: America’s coming depopulation bomb

Ask any mid-size college administrator what keeps them up at night and they will tell you: 2025. 

That’s the year that a demographic cliff will hit America hard and the numbers of college-age students will start to drop precipitously. Many universities are wondering if they can sustain lower enrollments or if they will have to decrease their standards to get warm bodies into the classrooms. 

For generations now, both the left and the right have fallen for the perverse idea that population growth is bad for America. Liberal environmentalists Paul and Anne Ehrlich wrote the 1968 best-seller “The Population Bomb” that described a modern dystopia where hundreds of millions of people would starve to death because of food insecurity. On the right, anti-immigration activist John Tanton, an early supporter of Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club, predicted the same grim demise of the America, but with a bit more of a racist tinge.  

Roe v. Wade was the culmination of a long campaign to get more people to end pregnancies. The decision was made at the pinnacle of two movements: the sexual revolution and the environmental movement. More children were bad for the environment — and were kind of a bummer when people were having so much fun sexually liberating themselves.  

We live in a different reality now, although for the far left and the far right, nothing has really changed. To the left, kids are still bad for the environment, and to the right, immigrants are still bad for the essential character of America. 

Except neither assertion is true. Population growth, either through growing families or more immigration, is essential for economic growth and for a healthy society.  

We are already seeing the ramifications of the no-population-growth reality. A lack of qualified students for too many colleges is just the tip of the iceberg. Employers already can’t find enough workers. Our two most popular entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, are far down the path of insolvency. The military is having a difficult time finding and attracting eligible recruits. 

This problem is not isolated to the United States, of course.  

Japan’s decades-long economic malaise is tied directly to its population decline. Elon Musk recently tweeted about the dim future of Japan if it doesn’t change course quickly. Similarly, Russia’s economic and political instability is tied to demographics. The Russians have been literally killing themselves with vodka and its population has suffered as a result. Europe has been mired with low birth rates for decades and has only been able to keep a steady workforce by attracting immigrants from Africa and Turkey.    

China is trying to pull out of nosedive in its population numbers, caused directly by its one-child, one-family policy. Since most of the babies aborted in China were female, the Chinese face a real problem: a bunch of single men who are having a hard time finding a mate. 

COVID-19 has only made the coming demographic crash much worse, not only in America but in all Western democracies. There is a conspiracy theory running rampant on the internet that the COVID-19 vaccine was designed to lower sperm production to make the demographic time bomb go off even more spectacularly. I never subscribe to conspiracy what I can attribute to incompetence. 

And we now live in the germophobe era, led by Anthony Fauci. The numbers are telling. Less people in Western democracies are getting married, having children, having sex, all since the start of the pandemic. New habits die hard.  

This new reality shapes the post-Roe world. Maybe the practice of abortion isn’t such a good idea for the country. We need to face the coming depopulation bomb head-on. America’s future depends on it. 

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at He served as spokesman to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).   

Tags feehery population growth United States

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