Kay Hymowitz has written another excellent City Journal article, "The New Girl Order." She writes about the wave of single women around the world with education, careers, busy social lives, and no immediate plans for marriage or children. The Bridget Jones brigade has already had an immediate impact on marriage rates and fertility, leading to gigantic drops in the fertility rate in the rich and growing economies of the world just in the past decade. Most developed nations have fertility rates way below replacement level, which will have severe demographic consequences very soon.
I was struck by another aspect of Hymowitz' description of the worldwide Carrie Bradshaws: they shop. No account of their lives seems to go more than three sentences without mentioning their prodigious appetite for shopping, both for goods and services.
A perennial problem for capitalism is that it has to keep getting people to buy things they don't need. There are, of course, billions of people around the world who would spend more on necessities if they could. The leading edge of the leading economies, though, are pulled by people buying goods and services that are not really necessities. The market for comforts, conveniences, and even outright luxuries is more profitable.
The globalized economy ever totters on the brink of disaster if middle class and rich people bought only what they needed. Which is why the New Girl Order is such good news economically. To have millions of women with money and no pressing need to save it is a boon to the luxury goods industries around the world.
Capitalism is saved. At least until we run out of workers in the next generation.