01 September 2011

The Economist Presents Misleading Graphical Message

Economist: End of History, Last Woman

The above chart from the Economist is meant as light-hearted reassurance that populations with low birthrates still have hundreds of years yet before they disappear from the planet altogether. Here is the "message of hope" from the Economist:
In 83 countries and territories around the world, according to the United Nations, women will not have enough daughters to replace themselves, unless fertility rates rise. In Hong Kong, for example, a cohort of 1,000 women would be expected to give birth to just 547 daughters, at today’s fertility rates. (That gives Hong Kong a “net reproduction rate” of just 0.547, in the language of demographers.) If nothing changed, those 547 daughters would be succeeded by just 299 daughters of their own, and so on. At that rate, according to some back-of-the-envelope calculations by The Economist, it would take about 25 generations for Hong Kong’s female population to shrink from 3.75m to just one. Given that Hong Kong’s average age of childbearing is 31.4 years, it could expect to give birth to its last woman in the year 2798. (That is some time after its neighbour, Macau, which has a higher reproduction rate, but a much smaller population.) By the same unflinching logic, Japan, Germany, Russia, Italy and Spain will not see out the next millennium. _Economist
Unfortunately, nations with populations that cannot reproduce themselves will become older and vulnerable to being overrun by younger, more prolific populations, long before they are down to their "last woman." As the under-procreating advanced nations age, they will either need to voluntarily import young workers, young soldiers, and young sailors -- or they will be forcibly overrun. Wholesale replacement of one population by another has happened numerous times throughout history -- and no doubt many more times in prehistory.
Populations which are simultaneously aging and shrinking are in no position to hold their own against hungrier and earthier burgeoning populations from elsewhere. The population replacement process does not wait for the last woman to be born and die. It does not even wait for a theoretical "point of no return," when the population of fertile women has shrunk to such a low level that a population rebound becomes extremely unlikely, or impossible for all practical purposes. This is particularly true in the context of the inevitable economic recessions and depressions which will accompany shrinking and aging populations in welfare state societies -- which must be financed by taxing young healthy workers in a pyramid-like scheme.

If such aging, shrinking, populations-in-decline happen to occupy rich, fertile lands, they are certain to be displaced by growing populations in search of lebensraum and productive farmland.

Unfortunately, the incoming replacement populations are not likely to be of the same overall qualitative potential as the populations they will be replacing.
Compare the low IQ countries (red and tan) in the map above, with the high birthrate countries (yellow) in the global birthrate map just above the global IQ map. The two maps explain why average global IQ is expected to decrease over the next 40 years. This global cognitive decline will make it more difficult to maintain high tech infrastructures worldwide in all countries without significant smart fraction sub-populations.

H/T to Jason Collins, who appears to have faith that women in developed nations will eventually somehow decide to increase birthrates above replacement rates.

Al Fin demographers are firmly agreed that only artificial wombs will keep most developed nations from eventually reaching the "demographic point of no return". But as mentioned above, such countries are likely to become weakened and overrun by more prolific populations well before they reach that mythical point.

China's Demographic Time Bomb

England transforms into "gangland"

Europe aging into financial depression

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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