Monday, November 06, 2006

ECUSA's demographic death spiral

Very interesting article out today at The Christian Century on the "precipitous" population drop in the Episcopal church. While the U.S. population increases, ECUSA's dwindles; in 1970 it was 1.9% of the population, while today it is 0.9%. It has dropped out of the top 10 denominations in terms of size. This was the sentence that caught my attention, though:
The Episcopal Church, whose active membership has slipped to 2,205,376, has built-in deterrents to growth because Episcopalians have the lowest birth rate among U.S. Christians and nearly 60 percent of the people in the pews are over 50, said Kirk Hadaway, the denomination's director of research.
It sounds like ECUSA has entered what Mark Steyn has often described as 'the demographic death spiral'. Too few people, most too old to have children, and the rest disinclined. Steyn writes most often about the way the West (and particularly Europe) is unbreeding itself into extinction, but he could be talking about ECUSA:
Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call 'lowest-low' fertility--1.3 births per woman, the point at which you're so far down the death spiral you can't pull out. In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 35 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there's no point sticking around a country that's turned into an undertaker's waiting room....

In Japan, the rising sun has already passed into the next phase of its long sunset: net population loss. 2005 was the first year since records began in which the country had more deaths than births. Japan offers the chance to observe the demographic death spiral in its purest form. It's a country with no immigration, no significant minorities and no desire for any: just the Japanese, aging and dwindling.
I think we can look at ECUSA as a miniature lab experiment of death by demographics.


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