Saturday, June 03, 2006

Under-Population Bomb: Too Busy for Making Babies

Paul Ehrlich's bestseller The Population Bomb (1968) made some dire predictions. . . . hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." The earth, he claimed simply could not support the 6 billion people projected to exist by the year 2000. In a 1969 article titled "Eco-Catastrophe!", Ehrlich later stated that "by 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people." Source. Interestingly, many journalists and university academics are still repeating the same lines, decades after they became obsolete.

Two years ago, Phillip Longman published an article in Foreign Affairs entitled The Global Baby Bust. He convincingly argues that western nations will soon be underpopulated, due to falling birthrates. Longman's article probably helped to jump start the discussion of this topic within the mainstream, although underpopulation had long been a growing concern among western conservatives and independents. After reading Longman's piece, you might consider readingthis article, which is also quite informative.

Japan, Russia, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, South Korea, and a number of other Western/or European countries will either shrink in population, or experience severe cultural shock as populations are replaced by outsiders. Even China and India will face inevitable problems unique to their populations and economies, due to the slowing of birthrates.

If their populations shrink significantly, current social democratic governments are doomed. There will be no one to pay the pensions. If on the other hand, the indigenous populations are replaced by outsiders, it is by no means certain that the new workers will be willing to pay the pensions of the retired indigenous populations who refuse to emigrate. It is likewise by no means certain that the new populations will have the technical and professional skills to maintain European/Western civilisation at its current level of sophistication.

The problem, put bluntly, is that the productive part of the world is shrinking, and the non-productive parts of the world are expanding, population wise. There is no gentle or PC way to put it, which is why the topic is largely ignored in most social democracies--yet social democracies are certainly doomed by the phenomena unless it is addressed firmly. And if the social democracies are doomed, the third world is also doomed--since the undeveloped world is dependent on the developed world for aid and sustenance.

Today, Glenn Reynolds of "Instapundit" published an article called The Parent Trap in TCS Daily. Reynolds talks about the high costs and low prestige of parenthood in modern western societies. He wonders what it will take to induce young professional adults to have more children. Leaders of industrial nations are worrying about the same thing.

Here's a list of countries that are either decreasing in population or will decrease in population, if current birthrate is continued.
List of countries:

1. Bulgaria 1.13 children born/woman (2003 est.)
2. Czech Republic 1.18 children born/woman (2003 est.)
3. Latvia 1.2 children born/woman (2003 est.)
4. Singapore 1.24 children born/woman (2003 est.)
5. Hungary 1.25 children born/woman (2003 est.)
6. Slovakia 1.25 children born/woman (2003 est.)
7. Spain 1.26 children born/woman (2003 est.)
8. Italy 1.26 children born/woman (2003 est.)
9. Slovenia 1.27 children born/woman (2003 est.)
10. Andorra 1.27 children born/woman (2003 est.)
11. Estonia 1.27 children born/woman (2003 est.)
12. San Marino 1.31 children born/woman (2003 est.)
13. Macau 1.32 children born/woman (2003 est.)
14. Hong Kong 1.32 children born/woman (2003 est.)
15. Russia 1.33 children born/woman (2003 est.)
16. Belarus 1.34 children born/woman (2003 est.)
17. Ukraine 1.34 children born/woman (2003 est.)
18. Greece 1.35 children born/woman (2003 est.)
19. Romania 1.36 children born/woman (2003 est.)
20. Guernsey 1.37 children born/woman (2003 est.)
21. Germany 1.37 children born/woman (2003 est.)
22. Poland 1.37 children born/woman (2003 est.)
23. Japan 1.38 children born/woman (2003 est.)
24. Austria 1.41 children born/woman (2003 est.)
25. Lithuania 1.43 children born/woman (2003 est.)
26. Switzerland 1.48 children born/woman (2003 est.)
27. Portugal 1.49 children born/woman (2003 est.)
28. Liechtenstein 1.5 children born/woman (2003 est.)
29. Georgia 1.51 children born/woman (2003 est.)
30. Sweden 1.54 children born/woman (2003 est.)
31. Saint Helena 1.54 children born/woman (2003 est.)
32. Korea, South 1.56 children born/woman (2003 est.)
33. Armenia 1.56 children born/woman (2003 est.)
34. Jersey 1.57 children born/woman (2003 est.)
35. Taiwan 1.57 children born/woman (2003 est.)
36. Cuba 1.61 children born/woman (2003 est.)
37. Canada 1.61 children born/woman (2003 est.)
38. Belgium 1.62 children born/woman (2003 est.)
39. Gibraltar 1.65 children born/woman (2003 est.)
40. Barbados 1.65 children born/woman (2003 est.)
41. Man, Isle of 1.65 children born/woman (2003 est.)
42. Netherlands 1.65 children born/woman (2003 est.)
43. United Kingdom 1.66 children born/woman (2003 est.)
44. Luxembourg 1.7 children born/woman (2003 est.)
45. Finland 1.7 children born/woman (2003 est.)
46. China 1.7 children born/woman (2003 est.)
47. Bosnia and Herzegovina 1.71 children born/woman (2003 est.)
48. British Virgin Islands 1.72 children born/woman (2003 est.)
49. Denmark 1.73 children born/woman (2003 est.)
50. Moldova 1.74 children born/woman (2003 est.)
51. Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of 1.75 children born/woman (2003 est.)
52. Northern Mariana Islands 1.75 children born/woman (2003 est.)
53. Anguilla 1.76 children born/woman (2003 est.)
54. Monaco 1.76 children born/woman (2003 est.)
55. Australia 1.76 children born/woman (2003 est.)
56. Serbia and Montenegro 1.77 children born/woman (2003 est.)
57. Trinidad and Tobago 1.78 children born/woman (2003 est.)
58. Seychelles 1.79 children born/woman (2003 est.)
59. New Zealand 1.79 children born/woman (2003 est.)
60. Aruba 1.79 children born/woman (2003 est.)
61. Martinique 1.79 children born/woman (2003 est.)
62. Montserrat 1.8 children born/woman (2003 est.)
63. Norway 1.8 children born/woman (2003 est.)
64. France 1.85 children born/woman (2003 est.)
65. Cyprus 1.88 children born/woman (2003 est.)
66. Ireland 1.89 children born/woman (2003 est.)
67. Bermuda 1.9 children born/woman (2003 est.)
68. Tunisia 1.9 children born/woman (2003 est.)
69. Sri Lanka 1.9 children born/woman (2003 est.)
70. Malta 1.91 children born/woman (2003 est.)
71. Cayman Islands 1.91 children born/woman (2003 est.)
72. Thailand 1.91 children born/woman (2003 est.)
73. Guadeloupe 1.92 children born/woman (2003 est.)
74. Croatia 1.93 children born/woman (2003 est.)
75. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1.95 children born/woman (2003 est.)
76. Lebanon 1.98 children born/woman (2003 est.)
77. Iceland 1.98 children born/woman (2003 est.)
78. Mauritius 1.98 children born/woman (2003 est.)
79. Iran 1.99 children born/woman (2003 est.)
80. Dominica 1.99 children born/woman (2003 est.)
Source: CIA World Factbook 2003

It is easy to find academics, journalists, and various other uninformed groups who continue to believe Paul Ehrlich and the Club of Rome. For them, overpopulation is the problem, and they make no distinction between the productive and non-productive worlds. In fact, to those activists favoring the "die-off", disposing of the productive populations of the world appears to be a gift from above.

Many people may discern how "global warming" and "peak oil" have been inserted into the "catastrophe slot" of many of these groups. Catastrophes, for many activist groups, are interchangeable. As long as you have a current catastrophe in the works, your noble cause is free to appeal for donations from the gullible.

When a person's predictions fail so badly as did Ehrlich's and the Club of Rome's, there is bound to be a great deal of fancy backstepping and sidestepping. We have the advantage of hindsight, and should not gloat. We should probably keep that in mind in twenty years, when looking back at the failed predictions of the "warmers" and the "peakers." There is far too much to be done to waste time in that way.

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