Everything’s made in China? Apparently, not enough babies. At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, it may be more accurate to say that China is very efficient at copying. It appears they’re also copying some of the manifestations of the modern market economies, namely, plummeting birth rates.
USA Today recently reported on the declining birth rates in Asia. A society needs a birth rate of 2.1 to sustain its population levels. Of course, Communist China’s “one child” per family policy and brutal repression of its people don’t help the region’s demographic prognosis.
This pattern of reproductive decline to dangerously low levels is common to most developed economies. It’s also dangerous for the indigenous cultures. The failure to populate leaves the native population vulnerable to being populated by other groups, such as through mass immigration or by war. The problem is that most advanced economies have also adopted increasingly burdensome social welfare mandates that require a large base population to sustain a smaller number of infirm and elderly. Kind of like how families in not-so-long-ago agrarian economies had to have a enough children to tend the farm and care for the parents as they aged.
As shown below, most of Europe, Japan, and the former Soviet Union are each in a demographic death spiral. As also shown, the Islamic countries are “red-hot.” Interestingly, the Muslim fertility rates in Western Europe maintain the same high levels. Between those rates and Europe’s massive immigration of labor to sustain their social welfare states, the Muslim world should be poised to “take” Europe and much of Asia, accomplishing by birth and patience what Muslims have been largely unable to do through centuries of war.
While nose diving demographics is common throughout the developed world, the USA is one of the few advanced economies whose fertility rate does not forecast civilizational suicide. That and other cultural issues led Canadian Mark Steyn to write America Alone, whose thesis is essentially that the West is in a losing, long-term struggle against Islam and that the US is the last best hope for western liberalism. Another commentator, Joel Kotkin, is coming out with a book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, that is quite bullish on our nation’s future. Real.tv interview here.
A student at Stanford, Michael Shanks, has posted an excellent analysis with the Stanford Humanities Lab online on the aging populations in advanced economies. His section on fertility rates and population aging looks at the data and its implications more closely. The map below shows life expectancy by country. Not surprisingly, the advanced economies lead the world in average life expectancy.
This information further underscores that the 21st Century will be quite interesting and challenging. The advanced economies and most the West, will feature declining and aging native population bases and correspondingly strong pressures for greater immigration. The demographics also suggest further cultural clashes between the advanced liberal democracies and Islamic nations, unless Islam rids itself of radical and violent elements and pursues moderation. Between changing demographics, technology shrinking the globe, artificial intelligence and robotics, and genetic engineering, it will be a century unlike anything we’ve seen yet.