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Friday, July 11, 2014

Europe is Dying, Says France's Leading Demographer, and Britain Would Be Better Off with the Anglosphere

By Daniel Hannan

One of this blog's constant themes is that Britain is shackled to a corpse: the EU is the only trade bloc on the planet that is not growing economically.

It's important to understand that this decline is not a temporary blip. Although the euro crisis has accelerated Europe's slide, the underlying problem is demographic. Put simply, fewer and fewer youngsters are supporting more and more retirees. Europe's working age population peaked in 2012 at 308 million, and will fall to 265 million by 2060. The ratio of pensioners to workers will, according to The Economist, rise from 28 per cent to 58 per cent – and even these statistics assume the arrival of a million immigrants every year.

However, as Emmanuel Todd explains (in English) in the clip above, these figures gloss over the variations within the EU. Britain and Scandinavia enjoy better demographic prospects than do most Continental countries. Todd says that he sympathises with the British dilemma: after all, there will soon be more people in the Anglosphere than in the EU. He doesn't exactly use the phrase "enchaînés à un cadavre", but you get his point.

Emmanuel Todd, incidentally, has a pretty good claim to being France's leading anthropologist. Among other things, he has developed the idea that Anglosphere exceptionalism – our peculiar emphasis on liberty and property, our elevation of the individual over the collective – has its roots in different family structures. The family, he avers, is understood in much narrower terms in English-speaking societies (plus Normandy, Scandinavia and the Netherlands). To us, it means parents, children and siblings. Elsewhere, families are considered more than the sum of their individuals, and have a measure of collective personality in law as well as in custom.

In their seminal book America 3.0, James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus draw heavily on Todd's researches to explain why free-market capitalism developed in places where families are nuclear and limited. But that's another story. For now, take a couple of minutes to listen to Todd's eminently reasonable analysis. And then try to tell me that we should stay in the EU.

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