Sunday, November 05, 2006

Beginning...

Because I hope to publish some of my growin collection of Blogposts as a companion volume to my Next Book Tales of a Neo-con many of them have to be consolidated, refined, sharpened, cut or expanded.

(Some of Eric Hoffer's posts --- mini-essays --- were only one sentence long. Some went on for a page or so.)

I don't believe a successful BlogBook has yet been published. But it is a new form, which I find very well-suited to my writng style and thinking style, I want to give it a shot.

+ + +

So:

Demographics.

Never before have birth and fertility rates plunged so far, so fast, in so many countries, so unexpectedly.

The "magic number" in demographics is 2.1 children per woman.

I'm sorry if I'm breaking the news to you, but Mommies and Daddy die. That's 2.0 people that must be "replaced." In "modern nations .1 of a child dies before his or own time of reproduction.

Thus, a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 2.1 children per woman, represents the average number of births required to merely keep a population "stable" in "modern" nations.

In many European countries the TFRs have fallen below 1.5 , some are as low as 1.2.

In South Korea (counted as "Less-Devloped" by the UN Population Division, but actually quite "modern" and "developed" ) --- the rate is below 1.2.

Greater Tokyo --- about 30 million people --- has a TFR 0f .99.

Most remarkably, the LDCs (Less Developed Countries) have had TFRs fall from an average of about 6.0 children per woman, to about 2.7 children per woman --- in places where infant and child mortality runs at about .3 or .4

This plunge is exponential, not arithmetic.

The "population explosionists" used such rates to scare us witless. One demographer, testifying before Congress, calculated that if the future resembled the past --- always a dangerous propostion --- the radius of the mass of human flesh would expand at the speed of light.

The current "Birth Dearth" (my coinage, I believe) is much more realistic.

Moreover, it seems to be accelerating.

The implications are vast, and my lights, almost entirely negative.

Julian Simon pointed out that if the "genius pool" diminshes there would be fewer Beethovens. There would also be fewer scientists seeking to find cures for cancer.

Pension plans --- which typically require the young paying to help the old --- a true Ponzi game --- but very natural, fine and normal --- are in trouble, everywhere.

That includes the U.S. although a moderate rate of immigration is a mitiagating factor.

The "economy of scale" which yields lower prices, would be much diminished.

It can alter the balance of power. All things being equal a populous nation can more easily fund its defense forces, than can a nation with steadily diminishing population.

I find it to be a profound and troubling situation.

As demographers like to say "nations can go out business." Many have.

Ben

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