REALity Volume XXXVI Issue No. 7 July 2017
What a difference forty years makes in the life of a nation.
A recent US study entitled “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood 1975 – 2016” (the results of this study will not be much different in Canada), is of concern. Forty years ago, more than half (57%) of Americans between the ages of 16 and 34, lived with their spouse in their own household, and 28% lived with their parents. Not anymore. Today, only 27% of that age group live with their spouse and 31% with their parents. Even when taking into consideration the percentage of those living with unmarried partners, or living alone, the number of 34 year olds living independently is 10% lower than the percentage of those living with their spouses forty years ago.
What’s more, the delay in marriages has reached an alarming stage. In the 1970’s, the median age for marriage was 23.2 years for men and 20.8 for women. The figures, as of 2013, are 29 years of age for men and 27 years for women. Later marriage means fewer children being born and fewer workers to financially support the costs of an aging population.
Young people don’t seem to be planning to do anything about demographic changes which are already causing havoc. When surveyed, the 16 to 34 year old group state that completing their education and getting a job were most important to them, while three quarters rated marriage and child-rearing as only “somewhat” important.
The smaller extended families that we are now experiencing have reduced the support and social capital generated by the extended family of the past. This means that more and more of the elderly will eventually become wards of the state since there will be no family able or willing to look after them. The cost benefits of maintaining the elderly will be coldly calculated by the state authorities and the vulnerable aged, with no one to care for them, will, inevitably fall prey to the physician assisted suicide brigade. This will be cheaper for the state than providing more beds and costly care.
Encouraging marriage and childbirth should be a major undertaking for both the federal and provincial governments. It is time they remove the mask from their eyes and frankly look into the future.