28 December 2011

Hope vs Futile Despair: A Dynamic Landscape of Change

Modern Europe is the best illustration of the economic impact of negative demographics. Greece is the bleeding edge of Europe, where Greek women have no babies -- but immigrant women who cannot pay are making up for the lapse.
Evo & Proud

This map shows where a natural increase is taking place -- and it certainly isn't in Europe.
Mark Steyn writes that Europe itself is racing its old churches to the graveyard. It isn’t just the churches that boarding up the windows. It’s the factories, the schools and the families.
The problem with the advanced West is not that it’s broke but that it’s old and barren. Which explains why it’s broke. Take Greece, which has now become the most convenient shorthand for sovereign insolvency — “America’s heading for the same fate as Greece if we don’t change course,” etc. So Greece has a spending problem, a revenue problem, something along those lines, right? At a superficial level, yes. But the underlying issue is more primal: It has one of the lowest fertility rates on the planet. In Greece, 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren — i.e., the family tree is upside down. In a social-democratic state where workers in “hazardous” professions (such as, er, hairdressing) retire at 50, there aren’t enough young people around to pay for your three-decade retirement. And there are unlikely ever to be again.
The New York Times featured the town of Laviano in Italy. Only half its houses were occupied. But any closures of its churches were the least of its problems. It’s problem was even worse: it didn’t have enough kids to keep the schools open. The newly elected mayor “racked his brain and came up with a desperate idea: pay women to have babies.”
Laviano is not unique in Italy, or in Europe. In fact, it may be a harbinger. In the 1990s, European demographers began noticing a downward trend in population across the Continent and behind it a sharply falling birthrate. …

For the first time on record, birthrates in southern and Eastern Europe had dropped below 1.3. For the demographers, this number had a special mathematical portent. At that rate, a country’s population would be cut in half in 45 years, creating a falling-off-a-cliff effect from which it would be nearly impossible to recover. Kohler and his colleagues invented an ominous new term for the phenomenon: “lowest-low fertility.”
What happened? The problem as Steyn succinctly puts it, is that socialism not only “runs out of other people’s money”, as Margaret Thatcher once put it. It simply runs out of people. Future historians, if there are any left, will puzzle over how this came about. The economists will have an easier time explaining it. Through some process, socialism has apparently increased the discount rate to the point where the future is consumed for the sake of the present. Not only is investment taxed to feed consumption, tomorrow is hocked to pay for today.

If the fiscal deficit is the direct monetary expression of this high discount rate, the collapsing population is its equivalent demographic expression. Both are saying the same thing, in different terms. In incentives terms, the future is no longer real; so people don’t save up for it nor do they have any incentive to sacrifice for it. _BelmontClub


This image shows what a population pyramid (age cross-section) looks like after a long period of replacement level fertility.
This image shows Japan's population pyramid in 2050. Low fertility societies grow a large crop of old people and a very small crop of young people to take care of them. This what Europe, Russia, and Japan are quickly becoming. It is the Canada, Australia, and East Asia of tomorrow.

Europe will not be colonising Africa and Asia again, anytime soon. European immigrants will not flow into the New World in large numbers, as they did in the 1800s and early 1900s. Even worse, Europeans will not lead the brave march into the abundant future of advanced science and technology.
Global R&D via NewEnergy&Fuel

This bubble graphic shows where science and technology R&D is being spent. Here is a PDF report showing Battelle's near term projection for global R&D spending. R&D spending in Europe will be essentially stagnant, while spending in Asia is supposed to drive future growth in R&D.

Nations that are collapsing due to debt and demographics are not likely to look toward the future. They are far too busy paying for the mistakes of the past and dealing with their expanding debt of suffering today.

More on the future of Europe

Thoughts on the spiritual dimension of a demographic collapse

We see natural cycles of growth and collapse occurring in the economic dimension, and on the scale of entire core populations of nations and regions. More vital populations push older, less vital populations out of the way. Ethnic groups disappear, languages die. It is the way it has always been, but somehow it feels different when it is happening to you.

One thing that is not allowed in a sick and dying society, is the direct naming of the problem. Far better to deny any problem, or to divert one's attention by means of high tech gadgets, gee-whiz! futurism, or a fatalistic nihilism of inevitable doom. Anything to prevent the massive energy of a sleeping and distracted people from waking up in time to change its plotted fate.


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Blogger Ugh said...

This picture all of this paints reminds me of an episode of Stargate SG1 where a super advanced alien race rescues Earth from itself with gizmos and super technology, but while seeming to placate all man's pressing issues they were covertly destroying the fertility rate to the point where there would be a sustaining population of a few hundred million. Enough to "mine" the resources of the planet. (Much like the Climate Change/Sustainability crowd envisions).

It was a fascinating story that was only resolved by sending a message back in time to tell themselves to reject these aliens and their glorious promises outright.

Mark Steyn is that time traveler and the message is his book America Alone.

Wednesday, 28 December, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

I enjoyed Steyn's "America Alone." Another "time traveler" theme was utilised by SF / Horror author Dan Simmons a few years ago, looking at similar demographic trends.

I haven't read Steyn's latest yet: "After America, Get Ready for Armageddon."

There are several things going on at the same time: Demographic decline is setting us up for economic decline, as well as making it easier for a more pocreative population to replace us.

Multicultural (tribalistic, balkanizing) philosophy in academia, media, government, and corporate environments degrade societal cohesiveness, order, and trust.

A creeping centralisation of power leads to a sense of powerlessness for individuals and subgroups at the periphery.

Economic and energy mismanagement by the central government increases everyday costs and tax / regulatory burdens.

Exploding bureaucratic regulations restrict the freedom of action and opportunity, therefore impoverishing the future in almost every way.

And so on . . .

Wednesday, 28 December, 2011  
Blogger roosh said...

"Future historians, if there are any left"

I laughed.

Thursday, 29 December, 2011  
Blogger J said...

Death is unmentionable. Dying people will never refer to their disease using its name.

Let me point out an apparent contradiction in your excellent article. Japan is a more dying nation than any yet they spend in research as if the future was theirs.

Thursday, 29 December, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

J: Advanced technologies of production are able to increase productivity per worker in Japan, somewhat mitigating the impact of the disappearing worker.

An entire automated factory can be run by a mere handful of worker overseers.

But there is a limit to how far such a scheme can go, as the human population continues to shrink.

Japan is far from self-sufficient in resources. This creates many vulnerabilities. Japan cannot easily go to Africa for resources (unlike China and India), and it can certainly not invade Manchuria and SE Asia again for their ore and energy resources.

Thursday, 29 December, 2011  
Blogger Matt M said...

It is not technology. It's selfcenteredness. People are choosing flashy cars, foreign travel and plastic surgery over additional children.

I wonder what Obama's Great Recession is doing to the US rate?

The good news is that liberals, agnostics and athiests have the lowest birth rates and will disappear.

Thursday, 29 December, 2011  
Blogger Matt M said...

Note: In 30 years Israel will have more military aged men than Germany!

In 100 years - Germans, Scotts, Italians, Swedes and Greeks will all but disappear.

Thursday, 29 December, 2011  
Blogger Matt M said...

Btw, I wish the good folks at Battelle had broken out Military R&D dollars from the total.

Thursday, 29 December, 2011  
Blogger kurt9 said...

More demographic schtick, eh?

Having kids is not the only way to investing in creating an open future.

Many of us involved in radical life extension, cryonics, and the space movement do not have kids. Yet, we have an optimistic view of the future AND are actually working to make it happen.

Biological immortality will make reproduction as obsolete as the horse and buggy.

Thursday, 29 December, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Yes, Kurt. And sometime, perhaps 50 years after your death, impressive achievements in radical life extension, space colonisation, nanotech, intelligence enhancement, etc. may well come about.

I am quite optimistic that such advances will eventually be made, by someone, for the benefit of some unspecified group of people.

Working to make such things happen should not prevent one from considering larger population dynamics of demography and culture.

Multi-tasking is possible to a certain extent.

Thursday, 29 December, 2011  

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

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