Traditional Marriage, Demographic Winter and Economic Growth . . . Oh, My!

January 23, 2012

Blue Piggy Bank WIth Coins
Creative Commons License photo credit: kenteegardin

Ever since our Foster’s Editorial Board meeting for restoring traditional marriage was published, the premise that the decline in the institution of marriage has had an economic price has been called into question. Yet, we are hardly the only ones making such an obvious connection.

David P. Goldman, a.k.a., “Spengler,” made the same argument several years ago and has since gone one step further by publishing a best-selling book called: “How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying Too)” Consider these thoughts from Spengler as written in the Financial Times in an article titled “Demographics & Depression.”

Unless we restore the traditional family to a central position in American life, we cannot expect to return to the kind of wealth accumulation that characterized the 1980s and 1990s. Theoretically, we might recruit immigrants to replace the children we did not rear, or we might invest capital overseas with the children of other countries. From the standpoint of economic policy, neither of those possibilities can be dismissed. But the contributions of immigration or capital export will be marginal at best compared to the central issue of whether the demographics of America reverts to health.

Life is sacred for its own sake. It is not an instrument to provide us with fatter IRAs or better real-estate values. But it is fair to point out that wealth depends ultimately on the natural order of human life. Failing to rear a new generation in sufficient numbers to replace the present one violates that order, and it has consequences for wealth, among many other things. Americans who rejected the mild yoke of family responsibility in pursuit of atavistic enjoyment will find at last that this is not to be theirs, either.

And he concludes with:

It was always morally wrong for conservatives to attempt to segregate the emotionally charged issues of public morals from the conservative growth agenda. We know now that it was also incompetent from a purely economic point of view. Without life, there is no wealth; without families, there is no economic future. The value of future income streams traded in capital markets will fall in accordance with our impoverished demography. We cannot pursue the acquisition of wealth and the provision of upward mobility except through the reconquest of the American polity on behalf of the American family.

The simple truth is that same-sex marriage in New Hampshire will further weaken the definition of traditional marriage and, consequently, will reinforce the trend toward Demographic Winter. This has an economic price that all residents of New Hampshire will bear–it seems social conservatives and fiscal conservatives have a lot more in common than even they realize.