A Pretext to Panic

Michael S. Teitelbaum and Jay Winter

"The Global Baby Bust," by Phillip Longman (May/June 2004), offers a new version of an old fear: the threat of population decline, which has emerged periodically throughout the past century as a major focus of political discourse. Such worries seem to crop up at predictable moments: when a dominant political or economic power begins to feel unsure of its mastery and uncertain about the future, many thinkers turn to demography for an explanation of its plight.

In the late nineteenth century, for example, French patriots of all political stripes, following

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