underpopulation: good or bad?  

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A while back, I was having an argument (well, it’s more like I was trying to have a conversation with my designated troll, banned since) about the downside of population decline (PD). He demanded to know why is it bad (which is what I was trying to say) and I thought I provided some studies, but while searching, I was unsatisfied with the quality of the studies I had found. (The title term refers mostly to economy (i.e., population drops below the level required to carry the economy or more specifically old age pensions) whereas PD refers to demographics.) Since then, I’ve found a bit more so here it is.

Global overpopulation (more so than the population decline in some rich and not-so-rich countries) consumes a lot of mind power – the chattering classes mask it as concern for the less fortunate while the working class sees it as a loss of power and the coming “revenge” of the unwashed 3rd world lumpen proletariat. On this blog, I first mentioned it while discussing a failed translation in English. I can’t find the “attempt to conversation with the troll”, possibly because it may have gotten deleted while banning him.

I have paid attention to such forecasts for a long time, and the current thinking is that Asia is next (after Europe) to have a fall in birth rates, already happening in the Far East but not so much in the subcontinent. Africa will last for a while on the cusp and will likely have a 3rd of the world population by the time it starts petering off.

There are quite a few books written on the subject, of which I link three below (The Human Tide, Whiteshift and Empty Planet ), all published this year. One book, published a few years ago, divided “opinion-holders” into two: on the one side, “Cornucopians”, who believe that technology and science will help humanity cope with the limits of our environment, and “Malthusians” who, much like the dude it all started with, are unable to rise above their evolutionary-induced pessimism and are haunted by visions of impending doom.

It’s inescapable, however, that either group inhabits separated mindspaces. Each group takes the view that population increase is good (or bad), for their immediate environment or for the world in general as an axiom that does not need to be proven, which is why it’s so hard to find studies on this subject.

My personal view is that birth rates are a function of women’s rights in a society. It’s not that women do not want children (they do), but the execution and defense of the aforementioned rights take a significant chunk of one’s time and energy and there isn’t sufficient left to invest in relationships and children. As such, societies where patriarchal structures endure [in combination with other, less important factors] are also the only societies where we see demographic increases. We see a demographic decline in our native country because Romanian women (irrespective of some idiots mouthing off insults and “triggering” in the mass-media) have been enjoying a good measure of emancipation at least since Communism was shoved down our throats by the Soviet Red Army boot.

Yet that’s not agreed by everybody; there are examples and counterexamples for other motivations (such as Bulgaria and England for education, etc) but I still hold on to my belief that the primary factor is women’s freedom as part of general prosperity, with such freedom being at odds with birth rates (ta-up).

Demographers have documented steep drops in fertility rates among illiterate Bulgarian peasants, for example, and stable high ones in industrial England. In the United States, birth rates began to drop in a period when huge majorities still lived in rural areas, women lacked independence, secondary education was rare, churches were strong, contraceptives were rudimentary, child mortality was high (about 20 percent), and nonfamily farm labor did not come cheap. After World War II, fertility climbed in the United States—though not because Americans suddenly desired large families; the Baby Boom was a result of more Americans deciding to have small or medium-size families rather than none at all. To this day, no one has succeeded in writing a formula for higher or lower fertility: There is no single explanation, only possibilities of varying likelihood.

There’s another explanation rearing its head in the same left-wing magazine. It’s remarkable, because it’s been in the right-wing circles for a while now. Seeing it in a seriously left-wing outfit, such as The Atlantic, is a sign that it’s gaining mainstream acceptance. This almost “incel-like” complaint is that women always want a “better man” (most of the time socially and/or in terms of looks) and are far less likely to compromise than men in this regard. The more “equal” a society is, the less likely it is for a man to achieve the required status for raising a family, and this leaves women wanting and men frustrated.

As a nominally equal but socially very patriarchal, Japan is the perfect example of this “double standard” and how certain social norms persist despite laws that may seem to encourage equality (ta-jp).

Japan’s birth rate may be falling because there are fewer good opportunities for young people, and especially men, in the country’s economy. In a country where men are still widely expected to be breadwinners and support families, a lack of good jobs may be creating a class of men who don’t marry and have children because they—and their potential partners—know they can’t afford to. (..)

In a culture that places such an emphasis on men being breadwinners, this has serious implications for marriage and childbearing. Men who don’t have regular jobs are not considered desirable marriage partners; even if a couple wants to get married, and both have irregular jobs, their parents will likely oppose it, according to Ryosuke Nishida, a professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology who has written about unemployment among young workers. About 30 percent of irregular workers in their early 30s are married, compared to 56 percent of full-time corporate employees, according to Kingston. “Japan has this idea that the man is supposed to get a regular job,” said Nishida. “If you graduate and you don't find a job as a regular employee, people look at you as a failure.” There’s even a tongue-in-cheek Japanese board game, Nishida told me, called “The Hellish Game of Life,” in which people who don’t land a regular job struggle for the rest of the game.

Women seeking full-time work frequently find themselves in irregular jobs too, which also has implications for raising a family, since the hours are unpredictable and the pay is low. But it is more of an obstacle for marriage if a man doesn’t have a good job—roughly 70 percent of women quit working after they have their first child, and depend on their husband’s salary for some time.

Women in Japan’s big cities say they’re getting tired of the lack of available men. While in Tokyo, I visited an event put on by Zwei, (..) matching women in Japan’s big cities with men in other areas of the country, where men are more likely to have good jobs and be considered viable partners. “Men in this city are not very masculine and they don't want to get married,” Kouta Takada, a Zwei staff member, told me. A recent survey of Japanese people aged 18 to 34 found that nearly 70 percent of unmarried men and 60 percent of unmarried women aren’t in a relationship.

Among “Malthusians”, the rich ones are afraid of the poor expanding numerically, polluting and becoming a problem overseas, but they like them at home – not next door, but in their count®y or county, out of sight – to work for them. The poor hold the more ancestral fear of the neighbouring tribe with “different values” coming over, taking their jobs, their land and their women (i.e., “replacing” them).

Nonetheless, a recent article (ta-fuchi), while looking at American cities depopulation death spiral, links to so some studies I have yet to read.

But the economic consequences of the childless city go deeper. For example, the high cost of urban living may be discouraging some couples from having as many children as they’d prefer. That would mean American cities aren’t just expelling school-age children; they’re actively discouraging them from being born in the first place. In 2018, the U.S. fertility rate fell to its all-time low. Without sustained immigration, the U.S. could shrink for the first time since World World I. Underpopulation would be a profound economic problem—it’s associated with less dynamism and less productivity—and a fiscal catastrophe. The erosion of the working population would threaten one great reward of liberal societies, which is a tax-funded welfare and eldercare state to protect individuals from illness, age, and bad luck.

Read: A Surprising Reason to Worry About Low Birth Rates

This threat sounds hypothetical, but low fertility rates are already roiling Western politics. In a 2017 essay, I explained how low fertility in the U.S. and Europe might be feeding into right-wing populism. The theory went like this: Low natural population growth encourages liberal countries to accept more immigrants. As growth stalls, native-born low- and middle-class workers become frightened of the incipience of foreign workers. To protect themselves, the white petit bourgeoisie turns to retrograde strongmen who promise to wall out foreigners.  

Finally, childless cities exacerbate the rural-urban conundrum that has come to define American politics. With its rich blue cities and red rural plains, the U.S. has an economy biased toward high-density areas but an electoral system biased toward low-density areas. The discrepancy has the trappings of a constitutional crisis.

At the end of that article, a video on Bulgaria, the fastest shrinking country in the world. One more reason to be grateful to our Southern neighbours, they save us from so many shameful titles!

LE: By “designated troll” I meant Blegoo.

Sources / More info: 2Sx19zZ, 2XUq46p, 32zOb9n, conv-overpop, ta-fuchi, ta-up, ta-jp

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Saturday, July 20, 2019 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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