Is Europe committing suicide?

February 14, 2008 at 2:00 am 21 comments

Kim photoWe get caught up these days with the ongoing War on Terror, the rise of the BRIC nations, whether China will be THE new superpower and whether we’ll all be outsourced to India. But let’s spend some time thinking about Europe. My step-son is French and he bemoans the decline of the socialist French state and its cradle-to-grave health and welfare system. The heady days of France’s socialist government were 1981 to 2002 when the state spread burdens and responsibilities for health and welfare in an equitable fashion. But France is now in crisis. The unemployment rate is hovering around 12.2% and it’s 22% for those under 25 years. A largely unassimilated African and Arab immigrant population exploded into violent riots and civil unrest in 2005 and 2007. Some say the French language may be heading towards extinction – English is now the lingua franca of diplomacy; French language study has markedly declined in the US due to the competition of Spanish language studies, presumably driven by the large Hispanic American population of the US.

But are the traumas of France an isolated occurrence or is Europe itself on the perilous track to decline? Bruce Thornton’s new book, Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow Motion Suicide, ponders Europe’s potential demise. A continent that once burnt brightly is perhaps more like a dying star. Thornton, who is a classics Professor, points to a number of factors that are influencing the ability of Europe to reclaim its glory days:

  • dwindling birthrate
  • unsustainable welfare states
  • undiscriminating immigration laws
  • a failure to confront the gathering of Islamic jihadism
  • Christianity is a receding force in Europe

According to a United Nations report, Europe will need something like 700 million immigrants by 2050 to offset declines in the size of population and to support an ageing population. The population across Europe is expected to decline: Italy, for example, with currently 57 million people, will shrink to 41 million by 2050. The Russian Federation will decline from 147 to 121 million by 2050. And replacement migration will be required to prop up Europe because the projected median age in 2050 is 53 years old. Overall, Europe’s population, currently at around 731 million will likely be 664 million by mid-21st Century. And so Europeans will represent 7% of the world’s population instead of its current 11% share. If you’re interested in projections of population decline in Europe, you can check out the UN report here.

And Europeans’ love affair with leisure and siesta could prove their undoing as well as generous welfare entitlements, which have long been viewed as an antidote to ruthless American-style capitalism. Europe’s economic siesta translates into, for example, a traditional 35-hour working week in France (which Sarkozy killed off recently) as opposed to the 40+ hours the Americans are used to. And it means that for every one person working in Spain, there is one person receiving a social security benefit. Or that a Dutch physicist, who is “stressed”, at the age of 48 can look forward to guaranteed disability benefits of $US1,630 a month until the age of 65.

Of course, this all means spiralling welfare dependency costs; the challenge of welcoming 15-20 million Muslims into the European community; ongoing battles with unemployment rates; dwindling defense spending; and a decline in Europe’s ability to influence in the world. Sarkozy is valiantly attempting reform in France and it will remain to be seen whether the pseudo-religious manner in which Europeans view the welfare state can be arrested and replaced by a move towards a free-market economy. Otherwise, we might be saying “Europe RIP” by 2050.


Entry filed under: Europe, France, Languages, Politics, United Nations, Useful resources.

134 trillion = one humungous number Is Big Brother getting bigger?

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hanna  |  February 14, 2008 at 3:41 pm


  • 2. Miriam Seshadri  |  February 15, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Europeans are not having children because they either a) feel economically insecure and poorly educated or b)those who are in an economically secure position and well-educated just don’t want them. We’ve constantly been fed propaganda over the past twenty years that we can’t expect continuity, that we will have five or six job changes in a lifetime, that the world is constantly changing etc etc. The rational response for a lower-middle class person ( and it is they who usually have children) is to just stop breeding. And that is precisely what has happened. My two brothers look like they will never have kids. My maternal uncle doesn’t have children. None of my other aunts or uncles have more than three kids, two is the norm. And they are abnormal. WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq – they have all pretty much showed us that the current policy seems to be ‘permanent war’ with all the corruption and cronyism that entails. These are the reasons people have stopped having children.

  • 3. olivier  |  February 15, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    You’re only quoting the worst case scenario from that un report when you say europe will need 700 million immigrants. All the other scenarios (four in total) are far more realistic. The Economist has debunked all these demographic doom scenarios last year. Oh, and stop quoting Business Week. They’ve been predicting the economic collapse of europe the past 25 years — it’s gotten stale.

  • 4. thinkingshift  |  February 15, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    I’ve seen the other scenarios I think you’re referring to Oliver but can’t recall where. But all the recent stuff I’ve read (aside from Business Week!) is consistently referring to 700 or so immigrants. Do you have a link to the other scenarios?

  • 5. thinkingshift  |  February 19, 2008 at 4:08 am


    Hi Kim,

    Great entry on Europe — I know France well, as I was brought up there and lived there for about 30 yrs. now Working in Aus. and have no intention to return….

    The psychological impact of unemployement, low wages, low opportunities is terrible – across all classes in France. And the immigrant violence is appaling. I was sickened by the anti-war stance in Irak, which amounted to bolstering Saddam and his psycopaths. Europe is wallowing in leftist group think, suicidal pacifism and a beleif in big govmt. Steven Den beste had a great website covering this, with French engineers and such writing in .

    very sad, considering the refined culture that is dissapearing.

    Keep up the good work.

  • 6. thinkingshift  |  February 19, 2008 at 4:09 am

    Hi Jules

    I transferred your comment over from the ThinkingShift is? area so it would appear under this post you were replying to. Do you have a link to the website you mention?

  • 7. Dan  |  January 21, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Where is Oliveir today i wonder, now that Europe is collapsing?
    From what i see around today frankly Europe deserves’ all it gets, the people have become cowards in their own lands.

  • 8. Mel  |  March 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    “the challenge of welcoming 15-20 million Muslims into the European community;”

    I can sense a tone of racism in your writing. It’s good to write, but you should be fair. In fact, Muslims are not the only group of immigrants in Europe, they are only a fraction.

    Check out:

    These are some of your real problems.

  • 9. thinkingshift  |  March 15, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    You detect nothing of the sort Mel. The comment came from the article I was reporting on. The fact is, however, whether it be Muslims, Christians or any other group you’d care to mention – there are always challenges of integration. This does NOT mean that Muslims, Christians or otherwise cannot assimilate. What it means is that the host country needs to accommodate things like different religion, different national cultural nuances and so on. The group of people relocating to a different country should also make some allowances.

    And before you accuse me of something else: I am relocating to Europe myself in 2009 or 2010, so they will have the challenge of welcoming and integrating me just as I will have the challenge of learning a new language, cultural customs and religious practices.


  • 10. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  May 31, 2009 at 4:36 am

    As such the Europeans have forgot everything about their culture and also about their community which involves creating a family by way of marriage, having children, experiencing the odds and evens of life and finally becoming grands (grandpa and grandma).

    The only sense of those in the European community is that they need lots of money to earn and live a separate life more than getting married, having children and making life more miserable.

    This type of mentality has made them much insecure than any other community in the world.

    rest in next part for the solutions.

    Sundararajan RS Iyengar

  • 11. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  May 31, 2009 at 5:01 am

    There is also one such another misconception is that the Europeans generally have is that they need money to spend and they do not have the idea to save. Even if they save any amount of money then it means that they fear losing it by paying it for taxes on their savings.

    Before going on to the details, it would be better that they learn what is meant by life and its proportional of having a good living by way of coming through odds and evens.

    This ideational thinking is very much not in the lead of the mentality of the Europeans.

    It is that the communities like the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and others (except the Christian community) who have culminated from the base level with an attitude of helping each other and living like brothers and sisters.

    This type of attitude is very much missing in the European communities, just because they think that they are high above everybody and that they are the only purest race and that the other communities ( the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and other communities) are all filth.

    So from this one can very much infer that the hate mentality of the Europeans has made their lives very much miserable more than being in a very comfortable stage.

    Will continue rest in next part for the solutions.

    Sundararajan RS Iyengar

  • 12. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  May 31, 2009 at 5:08 am

    As such the European community has to learn the basics from the other communities living in their areas. Also they need to learn about the culture and socialization between the communities.

    Also they need to learn about the art of welcoming people into their community, that which they have still not yet started till today to be done.

    In today’s world there are different cultures and heritages throughout. It is one’s insight to learn about them and have a good knowledge about them. Also it is up to one’s intelligence to learn good things and follow them in their deeds subsequently, so that there will be promotion in their lives.

    Sundararajan RS Iyengar

  • 13. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  May 31, 2009 at 5:17 am

    Also making an achievement by way of putting lots of rules does not mean that it is very much a secure way of leading a life, and it gives nothing.

    Rather than leading such an uncomfortable there is something called as caring, sharing and loving each other and doing some sacrifice (even in a little way). This type of ideation makes a person/community more stronger mentally, physically and virtually. The achievement from this is not just for himself as an independent, but also for the community and also for the nation as a whole.

    This type of strength gives the nation that it is not left behind and also strengthens the community.

    Will continue rest in next part for the solutions.

    Sundararajan RS Iyengar

  • 14. thinkingshift  |  May 31, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Sundararajan, as a matter of interest, where do you live? have you lived in Europe before?

  • 15. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  May 31, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Hello Mr. Kim


    Greetings to you!

    I live in India and have not yet traveled to Europe and I do not intend to travel to Europe.

    I get the inferences for these issues by way of looking at things and events that are going on in today’s world by way of media and internet.

    Personally I feel traveling to Europe (any country) means waste of money and that there is no use of those travels.

    I have got lots of western relatives and friends who come for a visit to India and my interactions with them gives me a thought about the way of living in Europe.

    Mr. Kim, I think your experiences may be different than mine and they may be different.

    Look at the current trend in the world. Try to have an idea about what is going on and make the most of yourself.

    Sundararajan RS Iyengar

  • 16. thinkingshift  |  May 31, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Hello again Sundararajan . I’m actually female..I know that Kim often confuses people 🙂 I think there are a lot of things going on in Europe to be concerned about and as I try to document on this blog. It is good that you are researching and thinking through issues Sundararajan. It is up to all of us to live our lives to the fullest and be aware of what is going on in this world of ours.

    • 17. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  May 31, 2009 at 11:17 am

      Dear Ms. Kim,

      I very much thank you for your invitations and I am very much flattered.

      As such I write in blogs so that people can think about things that are happening today in this world and keep themselves in a very steady point as far the information is.

      Sundararajan RS Iyengar

  • 18. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  May 31, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Dear Madam,

    It is very much kind of you and I very much thank you for your introduction.

    Yes! as such there are lots of things that are happening, but we have one such issue that which would make us happy—It is peace and happiness.

    This peace and happiness should rest in the minds of people, which would then ultimately make them friends.

    As far as I am concerned I would like to say life is very different and we have to master the art of living by way of putting ourselves in the path of all types of odds and evens, so that we get to have an experience of it.

    Sundararajan RS Iyengar

  • 19. thinkingshift  |  May 31, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Sundararajan, please call me Kim. I have many readers from India and have email contact with at least two readers where we chat about life and what goes on in India. I hope you’ll visit my blog again, with best wishes..Kim

  • 20. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  May 31, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Sure Ms. Kim, very much I am interested in visiting your blog site and that I would be very much willing to share my ideas with the world.

    This is such a good opportunity for me to address the world of its concerns and compliments.

    Sundararajan RS Iyengar

  • 21. Sundararajan RS Iyengar  |  June 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Hello and greetings to everyone!

    So how is the world today???

    Are we seeing any development today? What happened to the financial situation? Why jobs are not in plenty?

    I need answers on that and not reasons.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Search ThinkingShift

   Made in New Zealand
     Thinkingshift is?

ThinkingShift Tweets

Flickr Photos

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia License.

ThinkingShift Book Club

Kimmar - Find me on

%d bloggers like this: