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Reading recommendations – about demography

28 April 2009

Important and interesting articles and reports published recently about demographics, one of the invisible yet almost irresistible forces re-shaping our world.

  1. Happy Warrior“, Mark Steyn, National Review, 21 April 2009 — A great little note about demography.
  2. The Graying of the Middle Kingdom Revisited“, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 22 April 2009
  3. Drunken Nation: Russia’s Depopulation Bomb“, Nicholas Eberstadt, World Affairs, Spring 2009 — Chilling reading about Russia’s demographic decline.

Excerpts

(1)    Happy Warrior“, Mark Steyn, National Review, 21 April 2009 — Excerpt:

Whenever I write about demography, I usually get a ton of responses from folks saying: What’s so bad about falling population? Japan, Belgium and the like are pretty congested: Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit more elbow room? Sure. With the rise of mill towns in the south and the opening up of the west, the population of my small municipality in New Hampshire peaked in the 1820 census, declined till 1940 and still hasn’t caught up to where it was 200 years ago. But it didn’t matter. Because we were a self-contained rural economy with no welfare and no public debt.

If Japan and Germany were run like 19th century Granite State townships, they’d be okayish. But they’re not, so they won’t be. You can’t hunker down behind national borders when there aren’t enough young people inside the perimeter with a sufficient level of consumption to grow the economy at the rate necessary to cover existing government obligations.

This is the first crisis of globalization, and it is a far more existential threat than the Depression. In living beyond its means, its times, and its borders, the developed world has run out of places to pass the buck.

(2)   The Graying of the Middle Kingdom Revisited“, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 22 April 2009 — Synopsis:

China’s Long March to Retirement Reform: The Graying of the Middle Kingdom Revisited warns that the aging of China’s population could usher in a new era of slower economic growth and mounting social stress as tens of millions of Chinese arrive at old age over the next few decades without pensions and with inadequate family support. The report evaluates recent government efforts to prepare for the challenge and outlines an ambitious new reform plan. The plan provides for a universal poverty backstop that would protect all Chinese against an uncertain old age. It would also create a national and fully portable system of funded retirement accounts that would allow a growing share of China’s elderly to enjoy a comfortable retirement without overburdening China’s smaller working generation.

With China confronting a serious near-term economic slowdown, some may conclude that now is not the right time to address the long-term aging challenge. The CSIS report argues that China’s age wave is approaching so fast-and its potential economic and social costs are so large-that delay is not an option. Concerted action on the long-term challenge is needed now to ensure that China’s economic fundamentals remain strong as recovery begins. Indeed, it may even hasten recovery by bolstering confidence in the government’s economic and social stewardship.

This report is a follow-up to “The Graying of the Middle Kingdom: The Demographics and Economics of Retirement Policy in China“, The Center for Strategic & International Studies, April 2004.

(3)   Drunken Nation: Russia’s Depopulation Bomb“, Nicholas Eberstadt, World Affairs, Spring 2009 — Chilling reading about Russia’s demographic decline.  Excerpt:

A specter is haunting Russia today. It is not the specter of Communism—that ghost has been chained in the attic of the past—but rather of depopulation—a relentless, unremitting, and perhaps unstoppable depopulation. The mass deaths associated with the Communist era may be history, but another sort of mass death may have only just begun, as Russians practice what amounts to an ethnic self-cleansing.

Since 1992, Russia’s human numbers have been progressively dwindling. This slow motion process now taking place in the country carries with it grim and potentially disastrous implications that threaten to recast the contours of life and society in Russia, to diminish the prospects for Russian economic development, and to affect Russia’s potential influence on the world stage in the years ahead.

… It is not obvious that Russia will be able to recover rapidly from its health katastroika. There is an enormous amount of “negative health momentum” in the Russian situation today: with younger brothers facing worse survival prospects than older brothers, older brothers facing worse survival prospects than their fathers, and so on. Severely foreshortened adult life spans can shift the cost-benefit calculus for investments in training and higher education dramatically. On today’s mortality patterns, a Swiss man at 20 has about an 87 percent chance of making it to a notional retirement age of 65. His Russian counterpart at age 20 has less than even odds of reaching 65. Harsh excess mortality levels impose real and powerful disincentives for the mass acquisition of the technical skills that are a key to wealth generation in the modern world. Thus Russia’s health crisis may be even more generally subversive of human capital, and more powerfully corrosive of human resources, than might appear to be the case at first glance.

Putin’s Kremlin made a fateful bet that natural resources—oil, gas, and other extractive saleable commodities—would be the springboard for the restoration of Moscow’s influence as a great power on the world stage. In this gamble, Russian authorities have mainly ignored the nation’s human resource crisis. During the boom years—Russia’s per capita income roughly doubled between 1998 and 2007—the country’s death rate barely budged. Very much worse may lie ahead. How Russia’s still-unfolding demographic disaster will affect the country’s domestic political situation—and its international security posture—are questions that remain to be answered.

This article builds upon this study:   “Demography and development in Russia“, UN Development Program, 28 April 2008.

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp interest are:

Posts on the FM site about demographics:

  1. Another front in the geopolitical struggles shaping our world, 3 June 2008
  2. “The Return of Patriarchy“ – a classic article about demography, 5 June 2008
  3. More news about Russia’s demographic collapse, 6 June 2008
  4. The War Nerd discovers van Creveld’s “power of weakness”, and demography, 18 July 2008
  5. Demographic note for today…, 20 December 2008
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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Mongo permalink
    28 April 2009 4:35 pm

    Here is a rather long article rebutting the Russian article: “Rite of Spring: Russia Fertility Trends” by Anatoly Karlin — “a university student who is probably going to major in history”.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This is not bad, as undergraduate writing goes. He displays a poor grasp of the issues underdiscussion, and has the classic sophomoric “experts’ opinions disagree with my guesses, so they’re wrong.”

    Like

  2. 28 April 2009 4:53 pm

    “You can’t hunker down behind national borders when there aren’t enough young people inside the perimeter with a sufficient level of consumption to grow the economy at the rate necessary to cover existing government obligations.”

    That statement jumps off the page, doesn’t it? My first thought was, “He means production, not consumption”; but, no, he means what he wrote. The impending crisis isn’t that a shrinking workforce might be unable to produce the goods and services required by an aging population. It’s that level or even decreasing demand will be insufficient to prop up the value of existing capital assets.

    Financial instruments which depend on continuous, unlimited growth are called pyramid schemes, and they are disparaged for good reason: they are doomed to collapse. While competition can spur innovation in the real economy even in the absence of market growth — as vendors struggle to maintain market share in the face of newer and better ideas — the financial sector is looking more and more like a global Ponzi scheme which can fulfill its promises to investors only so long as its volume swells.

    Populations must reach a steady (if oscillating) state, homo sapiens not excepted. Having witnessed the fall of Communism, we now observe the fall of Capitalism, but imagine the present meltdown is an aberration, not a harbinger… and we fail to notice (or to admit) just how deeply Capitalism as we know it depends on the unsustainable assumption that progress is defined only by growth.
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    Fabius Maximus replies replies: You misunderstand what he is saying, although it seems clear enough. The existing debt is the problem.

    “Financial instruments which depend on continuous, unlimited growth are called pyramid schemes.”

    No, there is nothing wrong with our “financial instruments.” Government bonds and pension systems are fine if properly funded. Ours are not, as we relied on future growth to pay the future liabilities.

    “we now observe the fall of Capitalism”

    Classic doomsterism. A small rise in temperature is the end of life on earth. A small rise in sea level is “flooding of our major cities.” Another transition of our primary energy source is “the end of civilization.” And now another depression — not even a Great Depression — is the end of capitalism. Why is this attitude so commonplace today? Is it some psychic sickness in our society that expresses itself in eschatological nightmares?

    “we fail to notice (or to admit) just how deeply Capitalism as we know it depends on the unsustainable assumption that progress is defined only by growth”

    Just because America and a few other nations binge on debt does not mean that everybody has. Just because we were greedy fools does not mean that everybody on this nation shares our weakness. It’s a weakness in us, not in free markets or capitalism. Too bad, nice try — what a wonderful excuse!

    Like

  3. Malthus permalink
    28 April 2009 4:54 pm

    On Steyn’s argument, if you don’t pay pensions to the old people, then is declining population a problem? This turns the whole old age pensions concept into sort of a ponzi scheme.

    I would guess that one reason population is declining in industrialized countries is that raising a family properly requires some capital, in the form of a house and money for education, and people in their twenties just can’t amass that. One reason is taxes needed to pay for pensions and services for the elderly. Another reason is old people holding onto houses that they buy as investments for their old age. So as you distribute more and more of society’s resources to the older generations, the relatively young respond by forming families at a lower rate. This eventually lowers the population and produces less old people. So the problem is self correcting.

    I always thought that the advantage for a country for a large population is more soldiers for wars, who will be more loyal than foreign mercenaries. And this advantage has declined as warfare has become more capital and less labor intensive, though if we had a bigger population we probably could afford the “boots on the ground” to effectively occupy places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Many nations have fully funded pension systems. It’s not the “whole old age pensions concept”, but rather our reckless slacker implementation of the concept. Experts have warned about this for decades, generations. We just choose not to listen.

    Like

  4. phageghost permalink
    28 April 2009 6:23 pm

    Well thank Jebus! This is the best piece of news I’ve read on this site.
    The problems caused by the ponzi-like nature of our economy (as pointed out by previous comments) will be severe, but the sooner we deal with that and transition to a stable arrangement the less painful it will be. All the hoary arguments against overpopulation can be dragged out here but we’ve heard them all before so I’ll spare us except for these. The most practical is the mathematical one: total environmental impact = mean impact x population. Exponential increases in the latter variable will always overwhelm linear decreases in the former (you know the phrase: anyone who believes exponential growth can continue forever is either a madman or an economist). At the other end of the spectrum, as much as I hate essentialist arguments, I believe there is an intrinsic good in wilderness, as well as an extrinsic good in its value as a psychic refuge. A world of nothing but man and his works, with no possible escape, would be a spiritually incestuous, claustrophobic nightmare.

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  5. Robert Petersen permalink
    28 April 2009 7:34 pm

    I would like to know how you can use the subject of demography in current politics and at the same time avoid the mistakes of the past. Is Europe really dying? Will the Russians be gone in a couple of decades? Is Islam really rising or slowing disappearing?

    Demography had a huge – but as far as I am concerned deeply misleading – impact on European history in the past. Hitler and Himmler were both convinced that Germany was dangerously overpopulated and needed “Living Space” in the East. They were also deeply afraid of the “Asian hordes” in Stalin’s Soviet Union. In the end most of the Germans fighting and dying in Stalingrad or Kursk only wanted to finish the war and get home, not to stay and become peasant-soldiers in the East like Himmler imagined. The “Asian hordes” slowly began to die away and Russia today instead faces a severe demographic crisis.

    The issue of demography also had a huge impact just after the war: millions of Germans were deported from Eastern Europe to prevent them for ever again becoming a problem again. But that instead gave rise to the fear that the Germany itself would be – again – be dangerously overpopulated. There was for several years fear of a new German nationalistic revival. Even a former Nazi official like Schwerin von Krosigk suggested in 1952 that Germans should be repopulated to for example South America to maintain the European peace.

    So what to make of it? How to get it right? There has been plenty of mistakes in the past.

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  6. Blume permalink
    28 April 2009 9:00 pm

    Russia really is shrinking away. Who will fend off the Chinese in the far East? Who will guard the nuclear arsenals? Where will the beautiful mail brides originate? The only uptick in fertility rates in Russia comes from women who name their children Muhamed or Aysha.

    China has two more generations to exert its population supremacy, but Russia will be finished in that time, depopulated and dying. Siberia will belong to China and the warlords of middle Asia.

    In two generations, Japan will become a retirement home tended by kindly robots. Spain and Italy and Greece mere waystations for the movement of primitive Muslim peoples between Europe and their homelands in Africa and Western Asia.

    Like

  7. 29 April 2009 3:33 am

    Fabius Maximus replies: You misunderstand what he is saying, although it seems clear enough. The existing debt is the problem.

    Perhaps a problem, but hardly the problem. Steyn writes:

    So now consider it from a German banker’s point of view. To whom do you lend money? With age distribution on your turf heading north relentlessly, there’s not enough young people close to home. So you go further and further afield.

    Here he describes a problem which isn’t one of too many people in debt, but lack of a sufficient pool of people to take on more debt.

    Classic doomsterism.

    Only if one believes that Capitalism (as we know it) is a gift from Divine Providence to be preserved at all costs. That’s the failure mode that worries me, and it is possible, perhaps even probable, but not inevitable.

    And now another depression — not even a Great Depression — is the end of capitalism. Why is this attitude so commonplace today? Is it some psychic sickness in our society that expresses itself in eschatological nightmares?

    I didn’t know it was commonplace… but that’s good news to me. It’s not “the end of capitalism” because the sky is falling, but because it has made more obvious than before some devastating flaws in the system. No doubt we can prop up this system for many more years. I hope we can prop it up until we are ready to replace it. For that to happen, we must recognize that it cannot last forever.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: My reply was to your analysis of the specific quote from Styen you gave, about “the rate necessary to cover existing government obligations.”

    “Only if one believes that Capitalism (as we know it) is a gift from Divine Providence”

    I don’t know where you get such nonsense, but certainly not from what I wrote. Depressions are a normal cyclical event in free market economies. Modern economic management has reduced their frequency, but not to zero. An occurence of one is no more the end of capitalism than the tide rising is the end of coastal cities.

    Update: my comment is narrowly correct, in that I said or implied nothing about capitalism being a gift of the divine. This reminds me, however, about a narrower debate about the need for regulation of free markets in a capitalist economy.

    End of the of Laissez-Faire“, John Maynard Keynes (1926) — Excerpt:

    The idea of a divine harmony between private advantage and the public good is already apparent in Paley. But it was the economists who gave the notion a good scientific basis. Suppose that by the working of natural laws individuals pursuing their own interests with enlightenment in condition of freedom always tend to promote the general interest at the same time! Our philosophical difficulties are resolved – at least for the practical man, who can then concentrate his efforts on securing the necessary conditions of freedom. To the philosophical doctrine that the government has no right to interfere, and the divine that it has no need to interfere, there is added a scientific proof that its interference is inexpedient. This is the third current of thought, just discoverable in Adam Smith, who was ready in the main to allow the public good to rest on ‘the natural effort of every individual to better his own condition’, but not fully and self-consciously developed until the nineteenth century begins. The principle of laissez-faire had arrived to harmonise individualism and socialism, and to make at one Hume’s egoism with the greatest good of the greatest number.

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  8. 30 April 2009 3:17 pm

    A possible pandemic affects demography, so I hope the following is seen as relevant here. I’m trying to be as simple as possible, but not simpler – I think the current “take home” message from the authorities is a bit TOO simple.

    I read quite a bit about influenza during the bird flu “boom” a few years ago. We didn’t get a bird flu pandemic, but I’m sure we will get a flu pandemic eventually. Is this it? We’ll see. But we do know some things now. As Obama said in his press conference, if you cough, cough into your elbow, not into the open air or your hand. Wash or sanitize (with Purell or equivalent) your hands frequently. Stay home from work or school or crowds or traveling in mass transit if you’re sick.

    Other things you could do now:
    (1) Accumulate food and water at home in case supplies are interrupted.

    (2) Download and print out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s home care advice (just as the stores might be empty if this hits hard, the hospitals will definitely be full) – it’s at the CDC site, or search for the terms “swine influenza” “taking care of a sick person in your home”

    (3) While antivirals and antibiotics require prescriptions, CDC says over-the-counter cold and flu medications will give symptomatic relief (but don’t give them to children under the age of two; don’t give aspirin-containing drugs to teenagers or younger). You might check that you have some of these on hand, just in case. Aches and fever can be helped with acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®), and naproxen (Aleve).

    And one last thing – here is a doctor’s advice about dealing with being sick without help – based on going through it herself.

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  9. 1 May 2009 5:30 pm

    Have you got anything more substantive to your criticism than casual dismissal, delivered with the same arrogance that you impute to me? Also, out of curiosity – would you have described it as “sophomoric” or “undergraduate” had Mongo not added that chunk from my bio? (PS. It’s not schoolwork).

    Moving on, all these articles suffer from too large an emphasis on “demographic determinism”, in their assumptions that A) current trends will remain fixed, and B) that demography trumps or leads the economy.

    Generally speaking, they refuse to acknowledge inconvenient facts such as
    (a) the Islamic world’s fertility transition (putting paid to Steyn’s Eurabian fantasies – and BTW, the prominence you give him raises serious questions about the quality of your grasp of the issues),
    (b) that European dependency ratios are not projected to become significantly worse than US in the next 50 years, or that
    (c) China is quite capable of getting rich before getting old simply because of the sheer momentum of its economic convergence, as argued in this Goldman Sachs paper.
    (d) However I do realize this is typical of mainstream conservative commentary on the evils of the European welfare state, the impending collapse of Russia and their takeover by a new Caliphate.

    That said I do like your site and will bookmark it and explore it later. It’s very resourceful, but certainly not impartial.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: By the numbers.

    Note for context: Definition of sophomoric: characteristic of a sophomore; conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature.

    (1) “Generally speaking, they refuse to acknowledge inconvenient facts such as the Islamic world’s fertility transition”

    I do not know what you mean by “they”, but this is certainly false of the folks I cite, and in general of the work of professional demographers (although outside the scope of the articles in this post). To believe otherwise — that they are unaware of the demographic transition — is classic sophomoric thinking. Just to cite from the small selection of articles discussed on this site (listed on the FM reference page Demography – studies & reports.

    * Do Muslims Have More Children Than Other Women in Western Europe?“, Population Reference Bureau
    * Religiousness and Fertility Among European Muslims”, Charles F. Westoff and Tomas Frejka, Population and Development Review; 33, no. 4 (2007)
    * Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger?, 13 November 2007
    * Sex, drugs and Islam“, Spengler, Asia Times, 24 February 2009
    * Plus the various papers by the CIA, UN, and so forth.

    (2) “putting paid to Steyn’s Eurabian fantasies”

    He is not a demographer, but a popularizer of the actual research. Like most such (e.g., Carl Sagan) he exagerates (Steyn lacking any quantitative knowledge of the field). Still, your comment just pins a lable on him, rather than disputes anything specific in his article — let alone the general message he conveys. And his reporting of political developments in Europe, politics responding as usual to demographic shifts, is quite factual.

    (3) “Moving on, all these articles suffer from too large an emphasis on “demographic determinism”, in their assumptions that A) current trends will remain fixed, and B) that demography trumps or leads the economy.”

    Most projections assume current dynamics continue, as the natural default assumption. In this case, that populations work through the demographic transition, with the last to do so assuming an outside end fraction of the population. Your (B) is unclear. Demographic trends clearly have a large influence on the economy. For more on this I recommend reading “The Age of Aging: How Demographics are Changing the Global Economy and Our World” by George Magnus (Senior Economist for UBS) — which is IMO to date the definitive work in this field.

    (4) I have no idea to what you are referring in (b), (c), and (d) — as you give no specifics. Nothing relevant to this post, so far as I can see. Regarding the collapse of the european welfare states due to aging, there is a large body of warnings from major agencies — some of which are listed in We have been warned. Death of the post-WWII geopolitical regime (28 November 2007).

    (5) Since this is already too long, here are a few brief comments about your paper.

    (a) The most common concerns about the demographic concerns are IMO not conceptually clear in your paper. First, the possible difficulties of the demographic transition, due to the difficulty of meeting private and public liabilities (with Steyn’s post describes nicely). Second, the cultural effects — describe vividly by Spenger.

    (b) You casually speak of immigration as a solution. It is for (a), but exaccerbates (b). Esp in nations with no history of assimilating large numbers of immigrants.

    (c) At several points you confuse the effects of immigration with those of fertility. Immigration has boosted the fertility of many EU nations. For example, France in paragraph 2 (although their refusal to track by ethnicity makes the actual impact difficult to determine). That is not a solution to the people worried about their culture.

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  10. 2 May 2009 7:18 pm

    Re-my labeling and ostensibly sophomoric attitude, your blog’s comment length requirements preclude a more nuanced critique.

    Re-just the criticisms of my article,

    a) It was intended for an audience who already have a basic working knowledge of Russian demography, as darkly painted by Eberstadt in his popular works and more generally in the Western media. My main argument was that fertility there was artificially low since the early 1990’s due to “transition shock” and is likely to rebound to near-replacement levels, like in Canada or Scandinavia. It was not meant to be a comprehensive discussion of demographic effects on the economy or society.
    That said:

    1) aging, see FROM RED TO GRAY: THE THIRD TRANSITION OF AGING POPULATION IN RUSSIA, which says “But growing older does not have to mean growing slower…Productivity improvements are the core predictor of growth, so measures to improve labor productivity would swamp any “quantity” effects of a smaller labor force. In fact, in recent years…in Russia labor productivity growth has been the single greatest contributor to increases in per capita income.” A

    2) cultural effects, Spengler certainly describes them vividly, and in fact (IMO) too vividly, to be taken very seriously – much like his historical namesake.

    b) Re-immigration.
    1) My main point = fertility will rise –> not as much need for immigrants.
    2) Russia’s immigrants are mainly Ukrainian/Belarus Slavs, Georgians/Armenians and Central Asians. Former two pose no significant cultural problem; latter does, but not to as great an extent as Arabs in France, for instance, because Central Asians are by and large secularized.
    c) I agree that the effect of immigrant contributions to fertility is hard to pinpoint. That said the analysts who claim it is inordinately large are IMO prone to alarmist hyperbole.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Since this is a point of personal privledge, feel free to respond at length up to 1,000 words (readership crashes after aprox 1,000 words). As far this comment goes, I don’t see how this is a response to my critique.

    (1) Re your (a) and (b): I don’t see anything here that is not commonplace in the current expert analysis, let along justifying your thesis statement “Moving on, all these articles suffer from too large an emphasis on ‘demographic determinism’, in their assumptions that A) current trends will remain fixed, and B) that demography trumps or leads the economy.”

    (2) You seem to consider cute remarks about Spengler or Steyn as rebuttals. I don’t. While hardly expert analysis (esp regarding time required for demographic changes), I see nothing establishes your essay as superior to theirs. Repeating your statements does make them more clear or their basis more robust.

    (3) I gave 7 points of rebuttal. You do not reply to 5 of them. To the other 2 you give confident assertions.

    “immigrants are mainly Ukrainian/Belarus Slavs, Georgians/Armenians and Central Asians. Former two pose no significant cultural problem; latter does, but not to as great an extent as Arabs in France, for instance, because Central Asians are by and large secularized.”

    Are the immigration numbers equivalent, or are the Central Asian numbers larger than from the other sources? Do the Russians agree who “post no significant cultural problems”?

    ‘That said the analysts who claim it is inordinately large are IMO prone to alarmist hyperbole.”

    A charming rebuttal.

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  11. 3 May 2009 3:06 am

    Fabius Maximus replies: I have inserted some comments into this, in italics.

    11) Re-1) “Happy Warrior” and “Graying of the Middle Kingdom” posit that relatively poor European and Chinese demographics will lead to severe economic problems (“B) that demography trumps or leads the economy.”). a) The GS paper I cited in #9 largely refutes the latter.

    *** I read the Goldman paper when it was originally published, and re-skimmed it now. In what way does the GS paper show that “demography does not trump or lead the economy”, in the sense used in orther papers? It’s forecast differs from others, but economists’ forecasts differ greatly for 2 years in the future, let alone 20 years. That you say one paper “refutes” another concerning long-term forecasts shows that you have great self-confidence (to make such a judgement), but I cannot imagine why. Forecasts for China’s GDP vary greatly over all time horizons, due to the limited and unreliable economic data they release and the high rate of evolution of its economic and social structures.

    b) I agree the effects will be more severe in Europe since it has no potential for rapid growth, so perhaps my critique was unjustified – that said, Europe’s problem is not going to be substantially worse than that of the US since a) the US dependency ratio, which is what matters for covering liabilities, is also projected to fall substantially and b) Europeans have more room to manouevre by increasing their relatively low rates of labor participation, especially amongst older workers. It should also be noted that the dependency ratio on both continents will actually remain higher than during the 1950’s-1960’s baby boom – children need resources too, albeit its rarely written in contractual terms. ;)

    *** This goes to my previous point, that much of what you write displays certainty about things beyond what our theory or data can reliably predict. Perhaps you are correct, but there is a reasonable basis to forecast otherwise.

    12) “A) current trends will remain fixed, and B) that demography trumps or leads the economy”, fully apply to 3) Drunken Nation – as covered in my essay cited in post #1.

    More detail. A lynchpin of Eberstadt’s argument is that hyper-mortality i) dooms Russia demographically and ii) consequently geopolitically.

    Unfortunately i) is wrong. Hyper-mortality is concentrated amongst men of working-age, and only becomes statistically significant once they reach their 40’s – at this age the demographic impact is minor (technically, its zero, because men do not give birth). It does not affect the level of replacement-level TFR, since Russian child mortality is statistically insignificant and the male-female ratio at birth is a normal 1.05. The only major demographic effect this has is to bring forward in time developments that would occur anyway by one to two decades.

    *** Eberstadt’s arguement appears to be an extension (or perhaps restatement in simple terms) of “Demography and development in Russia“, UN Development Program, 28 April 2008. They seem quite similar to me, and more complex than your summary suggests. Also, and this is my primary point — you discuss forecasts — future events, on the edge of our theory and data — and toss around “refute” and “wrong” as your were the definitive authority. Given your standing I suggest a bit more humility when writing.

    ii) Citing my article and #10) a), obviously if the demographic crisis in Russia is not as bad as portrayed by Eberstadt then it cannot have the same catastrophic effect on its national power as projected.

    Specifically, Eberstadt writes: “Severely foreshortened adult life spans can shift the cost-benefit calculus for investments in training and higher education dramatically…In this gamble, Russian authorities have mainly ignored the nation’s human resource crisis.” – this ignores the fact that Russia’s tertiary enrolment rates are higher than 70% (about the same as in the US) and that its pupils perform average to well in international standardized tests relative to other industrialized countries (see results of PISA, TIMMS, PIRLS tests). Assertion is objectively wrong.

    *** Eberstadt’s text reads to me as a projection about the future, not a statement about the present or past. He said “can shift”, not “has shifted.”

    13) Re-my arguments = not rebuttals. Life is short. ;) How could I possibly summarize and “refute” the bulk of their work even in 1000 words? As you yourself say they are not experts, and I reserve the right to dismiss their opinions (just as you dismissed mine) unless they personally call me out.

    *** My point was that the articles citesd are basically restatements (of varying degrees of fidelity) of expert reports, which I cited. IMO you do a poor job of summarizing them, show excess confidence in dismissing their conclusions, and mock popularizers such as Steyn and Spengler without showing much understanding of the logic (see #15 below).

    14) Re-immigrants. Rosstat immigration stats. Taking 2007 (2008 was similar), 287k immigrants, of whom 161k from C. Asia, 63k from Caucasus and 71k from Ukraine/Belarus/Moldova. Anyone familiar with Russian society will know Slavic Orthodox immigrants pose no cultural problems, in the same way British immigrants pose no problem to American. Those from the Caucasus and C. Asia do, but I believe there is evidence that it is not to the same extent as in W. Europe – there are no (to my knowledge) distinct ethnic enclaves in Russian cities and religiosity amongst C. Asian people is much lower than in Arab cultures (see World Values Survey).

    *** That was my point. 56% of the immigrants were from C. Asia. How do the Rusians feel about this? Are the C. Asians more or less culturally similar to the ethnic Russians than Hispanic immigrants to the US?

    15) Re-“A charming rebuttal.” “Do Muslims Have More Children Than Other Women in Western Europe?“, Population Reference Bureau. From 1990-2005, TFR declined from 4.9-2.9 amongst Dutch Moroccans and from 3.2-2.9 amongst Dutch Turks. The reason their birth rates are high is that they are younger than those of the ethnic Dutch. This will go away with time as effects of today’s lower TFR’s make themselves felt within two more decades.

    *** That is rebuttal evidence, unlike your previous comment. But quite weak, as it discusses only one aspect of the situation. Continued immigration flows, as the orginal ethnic population declines, can greatly shift the population balance — even if the immigrants TFR declines over several generations to the sub-replacement of the original ethnic population (which they have not yet done, as seen even in the numbers you cite). This is the core aspect of the debate. Your rebuttal suggests that you do not understand what they are saying.

    PS. Why do you keep truncating my posts?

    *** I have not truncated any of your posts. WordPress retains original copy of all comments (which I can email to you); they are just as posted.

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  1. Russia’s Demographic Resilience II | Sublime Oblivion

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