An interesting book is out by Dr. Brian Lee Crowley, a Canadian economist who sees Canadians returning to traditional values as our population shrinks in coming decades. Titled Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values, Crowley’s book says that with lower birth rates and tougher competition for immigrants, Canadians will eventually return to the founding values of the country, including family and hard work.
Neil Reynolds the long time commentator and newspaper publisher takes a look at Crowley’s book in the Globe and Mail, taking a look specifically at the difference between Canada and the United States;
Canada and the U.S. will diverge in other ways. Canadians are already massing into three or four big cities; Americans are dispersing to outer suburbs and to the countryside, but places more distant from the U.S.-Canada border. In 2050, the median Canadian age will be 42; the median American age will be 36. The “shape” of the Canadian population will be like a vase – narrow at the bottom (reflecting the lack of children), wide at the shoulders (reflecting the higher percentage of older people); the “shape of the American population will be almost cylindrical. (By 2020, the proportion of children in the U.S. population will surpass China’s.)
Canadians must anticipate that the “prosperity gap” between the two countries will grow much larger. Mr. Crowley observes: “Half a billion Americans, with the highest productivity in the world; a relatively young, flexible and highly educated work force, and a willingness to spend a significant share of GDP on defence would be a superpower perhaps even more formidable in 2050 than today – and possibly less inclined to pay attention to Canada’s interests.” (In these circumstances, Canada might be wise to negotiate a mobility-rights treaty with the U.S. – either to give Canadians an escape route or to give Americans easy entry to our labour force.)
Canada’s falling birth rate, Mr. Crowley suggests, has many causes, but he adds a couple of his own to the usual list (the zeitgeist, the contraceptives, the two-worker family). “Overweaning government,” he says, “has undermined families for the last 50 years.” He attributes part of Canada’s falling birth rate to the struggle to keep Quebec in Confederation and the creation of “pseudo-jobs” to absorb the surplus workers of the Baby Boom generation. Government, he says, has itself operated as a contraceptive.