calin on Fri, 14 Mar 2003 00:34:59 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Fw: [Nettime-ro] total fertility rate

the reason i am posting this is the unexpected twist it takes on the demography
crisis when it points at the wise US policies of encouraging immigration even
in those sour times of anti-terro effort, therefore ensuring for itself on
medium term the position of savior of Western civilization. (see especially
last paragraph)  the olde-Europe vs. virile-America (what is America, once
more? - I thought there are more countries in that continent).


----- Original Message -----
From: "Sebastian Bertalan" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2003 12:14 PM
Subject: [Nettime-ro] total fertility rate

> The New York Times, 2003 March 08
> It Will Be a Smaller World After All
> Remember the number 1.85. It is the lodestar of a new demography that will
> lead us to a different world. It should change the way we think about
> economics, geopolitics, the environment, culture - and about ourselves.
> To make their calculations orderly, demographers have typically worked on
> the assumption that the "total fertility rate" - the number of children born
> per woman - would eventually average out to 2.1. Why 2.1? At that rate the
> population stabilizes over time: a couple has two children, the parents
> eventually die, and their children "replace" them. (The 0.1 accounts for
> children who die before reaching the age of reproduction.)
> Now, in a new report, United Nations demographers have bowed to reality and
> changed this standard 2.1 assumption. For the last five years they have been
> examining one of the most momentous trends in world history: the startling
> decline in fertility rates over the last several decades. In the United
> Nations' most recent population report, the fertility rate is assumed to be
> 1.85, not 2.1. This will lead, later in this century, to global population
> decline.
> In a world brought up on the idea of a "population explosion," this is a
> radical notion. The world's population is still growing - it will take some
> time for it to actually start shrinking - but the next crisis is
> depopulation.
> The implications of lower fertility rates are far-reaching. One of the most
> profound is their potential to reduce economic inequality around the world
> and alter the balance of power among nations.
> The United Nations divides the world into two groups, less developed
> countries and more developed countries. The most surprising news comes from
> the poorer countries. In the late 1960's, these countries had an average
> fertility rate of 6.0 children per woman. Today it is 2.9 - and still
> falling. Huge and continuing declines have been seen in countries like
> Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and (of great importance to
> the United States) Mexico.
> The more developed countries, in contrast, have seen their fertility rates
> fall from low to unsustainable. Every developed nation is now below
> replacement level. In the early 1960's, Europe's fertility rate was 2.6.
> Today the rate is 1.4, and has been sinking for half a century. In Japan the
> rate is 1.3.
> These changes give poorer countries a demographic dividend. For several
> decades the bulk of their population will be of working age, with relatively
> few dependents, old or young. This should lead to higher per capita incomes
> and production levels. Nations with low fertility rates, meanwhile, will
> face major fiscal and political problems. In a pay-as-you-go pension system,
> for example, there will be fewer workers to finance the pensions of
> retirees; people will either have to pay more in taxes or work longer.
> Among the more developed countries, the United States is the outlier nation,
> with the highest fertility rate - just under 2.1. Moreover, the United
> States takes in more immigrants than the rest of the world combined.
> Accordingly, in the next 50 years America will grow by 100 million people.
> Europe will lose more than 100 million people.
> When populations stabilize and then actually shrink, the economic
> dislocations can be severe. Will there be far less demand for housing and
> office space? Paradoxically, a very low fertility rate can also yield labor
> shortages, pushing wages higher. Of course, such shortages in countries with
> low fertility rates could be alleviated by immigration from countries with
> higher fertility rates - a migration from poor countries to rich ones. But
> Europeans are actively trying to reduce immigration, especially since 9/11.
> Wisely, America has mostly resisted calls for restrictions on immigrants.
> The environmental future, however, looks better. Past research on global
> warming was based on a long-term United Nations projection, issued in the
> early 1990's, of 11.6 billion people in 2200, far more people than we're ever
> likely to see. The new projections show the global population rising from
> just over six billion now to just under nine billion in 2050, followed by a
> decline, moving downward in a geometric progression.
> With fewer people than expected, pollution should decrease from expected
> levels, as should consumption of oil. Clean water and clean air should be
> more plentiful. We know that many of these people will be richer - driving
> more cars, consuming more resources. We also know that wealthy countries
> tend to be better at cleaning up their pollution than poor nations. With
> fewer people, open spaces should also be more abundant.
> Still, it is the geopolitical implications of this change that may well be
> the most important. There is not a one-to-one relationship between
> population and power. But numbers matter. Big nations, or big groups of
> nations acting in concert, can become major powers. China and India each
> have populations of more than a billion; their power and influence will
> almost surely increase in the decades to come. Europe will shrink and age,
> absolutely and relatively.
> Should the world face a "clash of civilizations," America may find itself
> with weaker allies. It may then be forced to play a greater role in
> defending and promoting the liberal, pluralist beliefs and values of Western
> civilization. We may have to do more, not because we want to, but because we
> have to.
> Ben J. Wattenberg, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is
> author of "The Birth Dearth."
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