Politics and Demography

On Thursday I got to work with some of the Boy Scouts in my area on their Citizenship in the World merit badge.  To prepare for the presentation, I Iooked up some information relevant to current world affairs. 

I was intrigued to find a chart from the United Nations about world demographic trends.  I trimmed it down to the essentials and presented it to the Scouts, who were likewise fascinated.  Consider: in any size population, every male and every female must pair off and have how many children for the population to remain stable?  The answer, of course, is 2: the children replace the parents.  If the average birth rate is more than 2, the population grows; if it is less than 2, it shrinks.  It’s that simple. 

According to the numbers, Africa and the Middle East are booming.  The U.S. is precarious but steady.  Europe is in a death spiral from which it is already mathematically improbable to recover. 

One friend of mine responded to this subject by warning of the tendency to prognosticate, and how often it fails.  But demography isn’t fortune telling.  It’s mere accountancy.  If Country X has 1000 children born in the year 2008, then in the year 2018, it will have no more than 1000 ten-year-olds.  You see? 

And if a country goes for two or three generations with low birth rates, then the burden on each successive generation to repopulate the nation becomes more difficult.  If Country X starts with an adult breeding population of a million people and their couples only have one child per couple, the next wave of adults will only consist of 500,000.  If that generation then only has one child per couple, on average, the next generation will be a piddling 250,000.  And if they then only have one child for, say, every four people (a 0.5 birth rate), that leaves us with a mere 62,500. 

Why would that last generation breed so much less?  After two generations of small families, with all the wealth, attention, leisure, and complacency that implies, how could they not preserve that indolence into their adult years?  Of course, this is exactly what we’re seeing in the Western world today.  Let’s call it the Sex and the City Effect. 

And the children of that last generation (the fourth total in our example), after three generations of increasingly entrenched self-centeredness, can hardly be expected to pair off and have the 32 children each that it would take to undo all the damage done and return their people to the million-strong that their great-grandparents knew. 

For many Asian and Western countries, such as Russia, Japan, and the Czech Republic, such is already their fate, which is why I said before that they are past the point of no return.  This is why you see so many news stories, like this one, about toys that replace the companionship of families for lonely adults in Japan. 

Of course, this has huge ramifications for foreign relations (nations that are newly strong will smell the blood of those who have grown too weak to recover and will act accordingly), welfare (not only will generation four above have to breed like rabbits, they’ll each be financially responsible for the care of several members of the sick, retired older generations), and immigration (those young people, frankly, will get tired of such abuse and leave for greener pastures…which is also already happening in much of the world). 

Here’s my short version of the UN chart:





United Nations – Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Population Division
World Fertility Patterns 2007
(United Nations Publication, Sales No. E.08.XIII.4).
Wall chart data in excel format


Updated version for the weba
March 2008
All rights reserved.
Trends in total fertility, age patterns of fertility and timing of childbearing
Country or area Total fertility per woman

More developed regions 1.6
Less developed regions (excluding least developed countries) 2.6
Least developed countries 5.0
Eastern Africa 5.6
Middle Africa 6.2
Northern Africa 3.2
Southern Africa 2.9
Western Africa 5.8
ASIA 2.5
Eastern Asia 1.7
China 1.4
China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 1.0
China, Macao Special Administrative Region 0.8
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2.2
Japan 1.3
Mongolia 2.3
Republic of Korea 1.2
South-Central Asia 3.2
Afghanistan 6.8
India 2.8
Iran (Islamic Republic of) 2.2
Pakistan 4.0
South-Eastern Asia 2.5
Western Asia 3.2
Armenia 1.4
Azerbaijan 1.8
Bahrain 3.1
Cyprus 1.5
Georgia 1.6
Iraq 2.8
Israel 2.9
Jordan 3.7
Kuwait 2.1
Lebanon 1.9
Occupied Palestinian Territory 4.7
Oman 3.6
Qatar 2.8
Saudi Arabia 3.1
Syrian Arab Republic 3.8
Turkey 2.4
United Arab Emirates 4.1
Yemen 6.2
Eastern Europe 1.3
Czech Republic 1.2
Russian Federation 1.3
Northern Europe 1.7
Ireland 2.0
United Kingdom 1.6
Southern Europe 1.4
Greece 1.3
Italy 1.3
Spain 1.3
Western Europe 1.6
France 1.9
Germany 1.4
Switzerland 1.4
Caribbean 2.6
Central America 2.7
Mexico 3.3
South America 2.5
Brazil 2.1
Canada 1.5
United States of America 2.0
Australia/New Zealand 1.8
Australia 1.8
New Zealand 2.1


This also has a major application on the domestic front: voting.  This excellent article explains a truth that the 2004 election made dramamtically apparent: liberals don’t breed.  Largely confined to older, coastal, metropolitan areas, America’s liberals consistently do not have many children.  On the other hand, America’s heartland conservatives have far more children (bringing the national average up to 2.0).  This chart is excerpted from the research:

(Incidentally, Republicans also give more to charity.)

Such, then, may be the resolution of red state/blue state tension: the blue states will voluntarily extinguish themselves.  (Even the mainstream media has picked up on this obvious sign of doom.)  But don’t worry, New England hippies: before you go quietly into that night, your elite suburbs will fill up with refugees from the Old World, who are running from the burden of caring for a dozen pensioners each and the conflicts brought on by massive immigration from hostile countries which are filled to the brim with new babies.  And if those hordes of “developing world” babies grow up and decide to try out the opportunities of Vermont for themselves, the new dark ages may really begin.

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