The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

It's the Demography! Stupid?

Reaching the symbolic "300,000,000" people living in America recently has made a few people write on America's curious position as one of the only developped countries with fair population growth (along, mostly, with the other immigrant nations, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

This can be rather depressing for Europeans. The fact is, much of Europe (Italy especially) is achieving near-zero economic growth. This has little to do with the "Big Government" of most European countries. It has everything to do with the fact that the working populations of most of Europe are reaching close to zero or negative growth.

A stagnating active population, combined with booming retiree populations means that Japan and most of Europe have dreadful dependency ratios. Quite simply, the entire economy and state become geared towards making sure that most people lead comfortable lives from cradle to grave. Little is left for influencing the world, militarily or economically. The costs are enormous. While I like to cuss the America's military-induced budget deficit of $ 300 billion, practically defenseless Japan's deficit is also roughly that much. (much more egrigious given the relatively smaller size of Japan's economy and Japan's public debt is equal to over 150% of GDP, why does no one mention this, or am I missing something?)

So when it comes to power, military and economic, Europe and Japan are castrated. This is rather depressing for anyone who believes in the more rational, secular and humane aspects of the European liberal democracies: of societies which believe that poverty cannot be holy, that a planned family is desirable, that superstition is nonsense.

It's depressing because, even if Europe could be more "rational" and "humane"... but always powerless. Is this due to America's mentality? The religiousness and openness to immigrants? IE, the old adage that Conservatives will inherit the world because Liberals don't reproduce. Perhaps the godless, humane mentality simply makes people see kids as a question of cost/returns... while the rough individualism and religious capitalism of the US actually leads to a strong and growing nation.

Then I came across a few little factoids:
* America's population growth is due 2/3rds due to the excess of births over deaths, and 1/3rd due to immigration
* America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developped world
* America has a 35% unintended pregnancy rate
* Over 1/2 of America's immigrants are illegal and unwanted

The hostility to contraception and abortion increases the number of un-wholesome pregnancies and families. While the growth through immigration... is, again, half unwanted.

America's population grows not thanks to her morals and openness, but despite them. It's some consolation for myself and advocates of the humane, rational and skeptical.

(no pictures for this one, brievity is divine)


Blogger scott said...

I wonder what are the birthrate demographics in the US for the birthrates of European-Americans and how they compare to European-Europeans.

"Quite simply, the entire economy and state become geared not towards making sure that most people lead comfortable lives from cradle to grave."

Did you mean the not? Methinks it should be mostly or something....

9:23 AM  
Blogger Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for your interesting post!
I thought perhaps you may also find this related publication interesting to you:
Aging of Population

9:04 AM  

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