Rod Dreher

Urbanist Joel Kotkin is not bullish on Europe’s future, especially southern Europe. Excerpt:

In stating the case for European superiority, much has been made by boosters of Europe’s different institutional framework, tax or regulatory structure. No question these have advantages and disadvantages compared with those of the United States, but there’s little case for arguing that the “Euro-model” has been a rip-roaring economic success. It’s imploding on its weak periphery, and the collapse is threatening even bigger players, including the United Kingdom.
Europe’s problems extend well beyond policy, into the realm of culture and demographics. Even in France, people and what they do actually matter more than abstract ideas. A culture that believes in itself, not only to have children, but also start businesses and innovate will overcome one, however theoretically well managed, that does not. This is the fundamental problem of Europe as whole, although it does not apply equally to every individual country in the union.
One key element is demographics. According to the most conservative estimates, the United States by 2050 will be home to at least 400 million people, roughly 100 million more than live here today. In contrast, the populations of much of the EU, as well as most of East Asia, will be stagnant or falling over the next few decades. Like other advanced countries, the United States will be aging but not nearly as quickly. By 2050, there may be close to 40 percent of the population in Japan and Germany over 65; in the United States that proportion should be closer to 25 percent.
If there’s going to be a European dream, they better start importing people or creating them. Otherwise, the European workforce will be dying out, literally. Between 2000 and 2050 the population of the U.S. between 14 and 64 is projected to expand by some 44 percent, while that of the EU contracts by 25 percent and Japan’s by over 40 percent.

Given my tastes, I’m sure I’d rather live in much of Europe than in much of the United States. But preferring Pisa to Plano doesn’t make Pisa more economically viable. More:

The aptly named PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) make clear that you can not enjoy a Scandinavian welfare state with a Mexican-style economy. You have to earn the right to six weeks of vacation and Porsche-level heath-care plans.
This contrasts with the productive, disciplined countries of the north–roughly today’s version of the Medieval Hanseatic League–who continue to export goods and services enough to sustain their expansive, and generally less corrupt, welfare states. Essentially you have the sunny, good food and times countries–an arc from Portugal to Spain–and the gloomier places like Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany.
A secular kind of Protestant ethic is alive and well in post-Christian Europe. In some countries like Sweden and Denmark, blond and red-haired baby-making is making a modest comeback, lifting the future prospects for these countries. As for the Mediterranean crowd, get used to African or Arab chefs cooking your pasta. It might not be too bad, as long as the weather holds up.


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