A continuing strike  by students at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) has now closed the institution for more than a month at a cost of over 100 million dollars. Nominally, the strike is about tuition costs, but political interests are clearly exacerbating the situation. At a more fundamental level the strike can be viewed as a minor skirmish in a developing inter-generational competition for resources fueled by demographic collapse.
In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb predicting that by the year 2000, hundreds of millions would die of starvation due to a population explosion. Indeed, millions of intellectuals believed this simplism and today in Puerto Rico, as elsewhere, the myth of a population explosion is a dominant narrative in schools and universities.
However, the evidence (see , , ) suggests that the earth is rapidly approaching a catastrophic population implosion. The problem today is not overpopulation but underpopulation. For a population to reproduce itself, the fertility rate (as explained in the video in Fig 1. below) must average 2.1 children per woman.
Many nations already have rates significantly less than the critical replacement level of 2.1 and most are falling rapidly. For example, the population of Russia (fertility 1.36 in 2010) dropped by over 12 million between 1992 and 2008. Japan’s population of 128 million is predicted to fall to about 89 million by 2050 at which point, around 40% of the population will be over 65. By 2050, median age is expected to increase to 55 in Germany and 58 in Italy. With few exceptions (see figure Fig 2), similar gerontological shifts are occurring worldwide.
Such demographic trends are not easily reversed. Russia and China have found to their chargrin, that once fertility rates drop below replacement, not even financial incentives can raise them significantly. In Shanghai, labor shortages have forced the government to relax its draconian population control measures —but to no avail. Many Chinese no longer even want children, especially girls, and rates of abortion and infanticide remain high. Forced abortions continue at a rate of about 35,000 per day under that country’s coercive one-child policy. The strongly anti natalist policies of the United Nations, USAID, International Planned Parenthood, NGO’s such as Amnesty International, Oxfam and Christian Aid, as well as major philanthropists such as George Soros have wrought worldwide cultural changes. These changes including increased rates of abortion, contraception and breakdown of the traditional family have had a devastating effect on fertility and health. The number of common sexually transmitted diseases has increased from essentially 5 to more than 30, effecting up to a quarter of the population in some US cities. Paradoxically, the promotion of condoms has actually increased the rate of HIV and other infections . According to Dr. Edward C. Green (director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies)
“There is a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates,”
Countries undergoing demographic decline inevitably suffer severe and prolonged economic downturns. The productive segment of the age spectrum is reduced from above by aging and from below by low birth rates. As the political power of the elderly increases in proportion to their numbers and propensity to vote, spending on health and pensions rises. Rather than risk opposing this trend politicians prefer to play safe by reducing spending on education, defense, and transport. As in the current strike at the UPR, the younger segment of the population naturally reacts to the rising costs of tuition. The outcome is an intergenerational conflict over limited resources.
Puerto Rico Total Fertility Rates1
The above global trends are already reflected in the demographic profile of Puerto Rico, and projections point to a declining and ageing population. The median age of females has risen steadily reaching 37.9 years in 2009. According to CIA data, the total fertility rate has fallen steadily from 2.02 in 2003 to an estimated 1.65 in 2010, an average change of about -0.04 per year. In 1960 it was 4.55. Puerto Rico’s birthrate now ranks 176 out of a survey of 200 countries in the world. The current fertility level of 1.65 means, roughly speaking, each generation will be 18% smaller than the preceding. Moreover, if the current rate of decrease in fertility is maintained, then by 2020, total fertility will be close to one child per woman -the point at which the population will be reduced by one half in each succeeding generation. The population will then trend towards, what is known in demography as, a 4-2-1 distribution. One adult child will have to provide support for his two parents and four grandparents.
Historically, the decline in fertility in Puerto Rico can be attributed to a population control regime started by USAID and other organizations. In the fifties, Puerto Rico women were the victims of a mass sterilization program masquerading as an anti-poverty campaign. Many were not even informed of the consequences. By 1970 approximately 30% of Puerto Rico’s female population of childbearing age had been sterilized -the highest rate in the world. In the sixties’s Puerto Rico women were used as guinea pigs in the mass testing of unproven contraceptive hormones  and by 1963, dozens had died. At that time it was not well known that oral contraceptives, apart from their abortifacient propensity by causing death of the fertilized ovum, also caused blood clots, heart attacks, and pulmonary embolisms, cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, depression and other conditions (see: (http://thepillkills.org/). In 1973, the demographic decline accelerated as a consequence of the US Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion. If the abortion rate, estimated at .68 in 2001, were reduced in half, the fertility level of Puerto Rico would be above replacement.
Measures of legal abortion in Puerto Rico1
|Country||Year||No.*||Ratio‡||Total abortion rate§|
‡Abortions per 100 known pregnancies.
§The number of abortions that would be experienced by the average woman during her reproductive lifetime, given present age-specific abortion rates.
*Worldwide, about one-fourth of the approximately 180 million pregnancies are terminated by abortion.
The likely economic consequences of this population decline for Puerto Rico are well described by Alexander F. Díaz, in his article Demographic storm . In fact, the decline in fertility is already being experienced in the closing of schools and the diminishing enrollment in post secondary education. The Puerto Rico Department of Education is planning for a reduction of 14,000 students in the public schools in 2010 and at least 40 schools are in danger of closing. The University of Puerto Rico has experienced an estimated 14% drop in enrollment at its main campus in Rio Piedras from 21,561 students in 2000 to 18,653 in 2010. To date, this fall in enrollment has gone largely uncommented. There is a tendency among educators to hide the decline. The UPR Department of English website still proclaims a total enrollment in 2010 of 22,000 students. Many professors are wedded -apparently without the possibility of divorce- to the long discredited narrative of population explosion and continue to teach this in their courses. The decline in enrollment, and concurrent loss of revenues, has contributed to the UPR’s 300 million dollar deficit and is a contributing cause of the current five week student strike. However, unlike in previous strikes, not all of the student’s demands are likely to be met. The government does not have the luxury of robbing the already weakened general economy to bale out an institution which has long been a black hole for money: where tenure is a sinecure; where students regularly take more than 8 years to graduate; where professors of postmodern stripe dedicate time to propagating the discredited ideologies of Freud, Marx, and Freire or the lunacy of gender theory; where many students, ignorant of communist atrocities, proudly wear Che t-shirts and, in violation of Federal laws, participate in brigades to visit Cuba; where student unrest receives the endorsement of dictators such as Castro and Chavez; where Literature professors devote class time to showing triple x movies; where Body Art has supplanted Western Civilization in the curriculum. When a large percentage of the population is unemployed and lacks health care or an adequate pension and revenue is limited, there is no political incentive for a government, with dwindling revenues, to divert additional resources to a dysfunctional institution . Better to adopt a politically expedient solution such as converting the main campus in Rio Piedras into a graduate research facility. With the fall in student numbers, the remaining students could be easily accomodated in other campuses in Puerto Rico or the US.
Prospects for the independence of Puerto Rico are also impacted by current demographic realities. The economic advantages of the relationship with the US are such that there is little imperative for Puerto Ricans to seek full independence and it is unsurprising that at least 40% of the population favor statehood. In fact, during the 2008 elections, the Puerto Rico Independence Party (PIP) lost official recognition obtaining only 2.04% of the vote.
An obvious necessary requisite for independence is a successful and growing economy for only in such an economy would independence be viable. A healthy and expanding economy requires a young and growing population. Demographic and economic decline in Puerto Rico can be expected to translate into an outmigration to the US mainland. Since it is generally young people who leave, a feedback loop is formed leading to a spiral of further decline. Already, almost half of all Puerto Ricans live on the mainland. For this reason, it is clearly in the interests of parties seeking independence for Puerto Rico to encourage population growth and strong stable families.
By embracing “diversity” in a desperate search for members, the Puerto Rico Independence Party, the Refundacion Comunista, the Frente Socialista, and other groups supporting independence, have fallen into the trap of adopting radical feminist agendas which promote abortion and population control, and which have contributed to the breakdown of the traditional family. The antinatalist stance adopted by these organizations is agravating the demographic decline which has already made political independence for Puerto Rico a virtual impossibility. Holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously is a hallmark of incompetence or psychiatric disorder. Unless the various Puerto Rican pro independence parties cease promoting a “culture of death” and adopt rational policies, in accord with their principal objective, the prospects for Puerto Rican independence would seem, at best, bleak.
Philip Pennance, May 2010
Puerto Rico birthrates fell by 3.8 percent in 2009 and marriages dropped by 13.2 percent from 2007 to 2008. According to the 2010 Census, Puerto Rico’s population fell by 2.2 percent from 3,808,610 in 2000 to 3,725,789 in 2010. Since no US state has shown a comparable population decrease, Puerto Rico’s share of more than $400 billion in annual federal aid will be correspondingly reduced with disastrous consequences for the local economy. There are already more than 500,000 non-Puerto Ricans residing on the island Puerto Rican. Unless abortion is halted and the contraceptive mentality changed. Puerto Rican culture remains in serious danger of dissapearing along with any prospects of independence. Meanwhile the perpetual unrest at the UPR continues —added 12/27/2010
- Steven Malanga, Our Vanishing Ultimate Resource. Plummeting birthrates threaten prosperity worldwide. Can America buck the trend?, City Journal Vol 20, no. 1.
- Alexander F. Diaz, Demographic storm, Carribean Business, August 14, 2008 | Volume: 36 | No: 32.
- Philip Pennance, The cost of human eggs – Warning to Puerto Rico students.
- La Huelga y El Visitante. Concerning the Strike at the UPR.
- Demographic Winter. Documentary on demographic collapse.
- Mujeres en Puerto Rico utiliazadas como “conejillos de Indias”, Boletin de Vida Humana Internacional 15 Oct 2003.
- Curricular Deform at the University of Puerto Rico. Documents on the historical and philosophical roots of the current curricular deform.
- Philip Pennance, Condom Roulette.
- Demographic Winter-Trailer