When Deaths Outnumber Births -- The Parable of Pittsburgh
Demography is not destiny, but that claim is not, humanly speaking, far off the mark. The pattern of populations and social behaviors will establish the character and contours of any civilization. For this reason, any major change in the population is significant, and the more unexpected the change, the more significant its impact.
Thus, Americans should take a close look at the fact that in a handful of major metropolitan areas, deaths now outnumber births. In times past, this would have indicated a major catastrophe such as famine, plague, or war. But with regard to these cities, the causes include nothing to do with famine, plague, or war.
The New York Times reports that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a symbol of this new development. As the paper reported in its May 18, 2008 edition, this development is significant indeed.
This report is certain to surprise many Americans -- those unaware of the looming demographic crisis faced by many American communities. Some of these citizens are probably aware of the collapsing birthrates in Europe and Japan, but thought that American exceptionalism would ensure that no similar development would reach American shores.
Those same citizens are also probably unaware that America's birthrate just slightly above base population replacement is sustained at that level only by the higher reproduction rates of new immigrants -- to whom we should be grateful for representing their hopes by having children.
The situation in Pittsburgh is complicated by factors including economic shifts and a general loss of population. But when all things are taken into consideration, this means that Pittsburgh will see more funerals than baby showers. A community cannot survive that imbalance for long. Warnings of such developments as a collapse of the schools are not projected all that far into the future ...
... Pittsburgh is becoming a parable of population loss for the rest of the nation. Will anyone take notice?