Elon Musk says the Netherlands will ‘die out on its own’

Elon Musk says the Netherlands will ‘die out on its own’

Elon Musk

Elon Musk has long rallied against population decline while becoming an increasingly vocal opponent of immigration. Now the billionaire has waded into the murky world of right-wing European politics to discuss both.

In an exchange with the Netherlands’ far-right leader Geert Wilders, Musk discussed the risks involved in the country’s low birth rate.

Wilders said his country’s biggest risk was the collapse of Western values, thanks to its open borders, a typical talking point among members of Europe’s far right.

“Agreed,” Musk responded. “But even countries that have very few immigrants, like Korea and Japan, are experiencing population collapse.

“If the birth rate stays as low as it is, the Dutch nation will die out by its own hand.”

Musk weighs in on Dutch culture war

There were more deaths than births in the Netherlands for the second year in a row in 2023, according to official statistics.

The Netherlands’ current fertility rate of 1.6 is below the rate at which a country replaces itself from one generation to the next.

That has helped drive up the average age of its citizens. More than half of people in the country were above the age of 40 in 2022, compared with just over a third in 1950.

Population growth in countries like the Netherlands has instead been driven by immigration tied to its EU membership, which allows freedom of movement between its 27 member states.

As populations age, they will become increasingly dependent on the immigration of younger workers to care for the elderly and drive the economy.

However, immigration has also helped usher in the rise of right-wing governments—like Wilders’s Freedom Party—who have promised to halt migrants as a means of solving housing crises and restoring a perceived loss of traditional culture.

Wilders has been particularly hostile to Muslims in the country, with a litany of offensive comments directed at the people and their religion.

Musk himself has been sympathetic to the sentiment of Europe’s far right. The Tesla boss drove to the U.S.-Mexico border in September to carry out his own “investigative journalism” aimed at reducing illegal immigration into the States.

In Europe, Musk accused George Soros’s Open Society Foundations of attempting to destroy Western civilization in response to footage of people arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa from North Africa. The foundations, which advocate for migrant rights, have often been the target of right-wing attacks.

He also targeted the Irish PM in the wake of right-wing rioting in Dublin ignited by a stabbing carried out by a foreign national.

Underpopulation crisis’

While Musk has weighed in on immigration, the X CEO has long felt more passionate about addressing falling birth rates.

Cultural and economic shifts in the past half century have had a drastic impact on the rate at which women are having children globally. The worldwide average fertility rate has declined from 5.3 births per woman in 1963 to 2.3 births in 2021, according to World Bank data.

The global population is predicted to rise from 8 billion to an eventual peak of 10.4 billion by 2100, before settling at a lower number. As with the Netherlands, there is a risk of several countries lacking the resources to care for their elderly and grow the economy over the next century.

Musk says his own efforts in this area, fathering 11 known children with three different women, comes in part from an urge to “help the underpopulation crisis.”

While opponents argue populations need to decline because of finite resources and the environmental impact of humans, advocates for population growth argue it helps drive innovation and allows for more harmonized demographics.

As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos put it on the Lex Fridman Podcast: “If we had a trillion humans, we would have at any given time a thousand Mozarts and a thousand Einsteins … Our solar system would be full of life and intelligence and energy.”

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