Saturday, June 9, 2012

Population Explosion, Birth Dearth, and a Changing World

'The population explosion' was a popular crisis in my youth. It almost made sense. Particularly since the 'Baby Boom' after World War II was quite real, and folks don't seem to remember that change happens. Even what's changing changes.

The impending death of humanity from overcrowding was 'obvious, to someone who took a few data points from around the middle of the 20th century, and then did a straight-line or exponential extrapolation from them.

That sort of thing can be an interesting exercise in mathematics. The 'overpopulation' panic wasn't, in my considered opinion, sensible. But it was all the rage for a remarkably long time.

Fallout From "The Population Bomb"

Ehrlich's book, "The Population Bomb," convinced quite a few folks that having babies would destroy us all. Today, a half-century later, some countries are discovering why letting folks feel okay about having babies is a good idea.

Basically, an individual human being won't last much more that a century, if that. If you're going to keep a culture going: someone's going to have to keep providing new human beings.

Don't get me wrong: I think there's more to life than utilitarian considerations, and I've been over that before. (October 7, 2011, February 2, 2009)

Japan's Population Crisis, 2012

Today's Japan has a population crisis, but it's not Ehrlich's 'bomb:'
"Lack of babies could mean the extinction of the Japanese people" (May 11, 2012)

"Japan has a problem, a lack of children, and it seems likely there will be even fewer in the future.

"Japanese researchers have now warned of a doomsday scenario if it carries on this way with the last child to be born there in 3011 and the Japanese people potentially disappearing a few generations later.

"Academics from the city of Sendai, which was hit hard by last year's tsunami, calculate there are now 16.6 million children under the age of 14 now in Japan.

"And they say that number is shrinking at a disturbing rate of one every 100 seconds.

"So if you do the mathematics, as they did, then the country will have no children within a millennium...."
I think a 'birth dearth,' a comparative lack of children, is a problem for Japan, and some other countries. But I think it's a problem for today, and maybe for the next century.

After that? Quite a lot can happen in a thousand years. My guess is that more folks in Japan and elsewhere will rediscover the advantages of having a family: at least, I hope so.

Change Happens

Norway is one of my ancestral homelands, so last year's mass-murder there held my attention rather strongly. I posted about the perpetrator's trial last month:
There isn't a good excuse for deciding to be a xenophobic mass-murderer. On the other hand, I think I can see what may have gotten Anders Behring Breivik upset about changes in Norway.

Population, Migration, and All That

Here's another comparison of Norway and America:
  • Norway (2007 estimate)
    • Ethnic groups
      • Norwegian 94.4%
        • Includes Sami, about 60,000
      • Other European 3.6%
      • Other 2%
    • Population
      • Growth rate 0.327% (2012 est.)
      • Net migration rate: 1.69 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
      • Total fertility rate 1.77 children born/woman (2012 est.)
  • United States (2007 estimate)
    • Ethnic groups
      • White 79.96%
      • Hispanic about 15.1%
      • Black 12.85%
      • Asian 4.43%
      • Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%
      • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%
      • Two or more races 1.61%
    • Population
      • Growth rate 0.899% (2012 est.)
      • Net migration rate: 3.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
      • Total fertility rate 2.06 children born/woman (2012 est.)
    (source: Norway, "CIA World Factbook" (last updated May 29, 2012)),
    "United States" (last updated May 9, 2012), CIA World Factbook)
You probably noticed that the percentages for ethnicity in the United states add up to substantially over 100%. That's partly because the U.S. Census uses cultural norms as the basis for defining Hispanic, among other groups: and there's a great deal of overlap. Moving on

Norway's population is growing - slowly, but it's 'positive growth.' That's quite impressive, for a country where each woman only has on average about 1.77 children during her life. That's well under the two-point-something needed to replace folks who die. My guess is that Norway's growth is due to immigrants: those folks whose presence Breivik couldn't stand.

More Statistics - or - The Incredible Shrinking Countries

I think Japan's declining birth rate is a real concern: particularly for folks living in Japan. But that country, and Norway, don't make the 'bottom 10' when it comes to either growth rate or fertility rate.

I'm not sure if this could quite be called a listing of 'winners' and 'losers.' But eventually, a country with fewer citizens each year will face some serious issues: like who pays the taxes.

Another point is that death happens to everybody. Countries whose people aren't raising enough children must either depend on immigration to fill roles left vacant as folks reach the end of their lives.

I'll just call the lists "Population Growth Rate," and "Total Fertility Rate:"

Population Growth Rate
Bottom 10
Cook Islands -3.136%
Northern Mariana Islands -2.449%
Moldova -1.014%
Saint Pierre and Miquelon -0.978%
Jordan -0.965%
Syria -0.797%
Bulgaria -0.796%
Estonia -0.65%
Montenegro -0.633%
Ukraine -0.625%
Top 10
United Arab Emirates 3.055%
Burkina Faso 3.073%
Burundi 3.104%
Gaza Strip 3.108%
Turks and Caicos Islands 3.17%
Ethiopia 3.179%
Uganda 3.582%
Niger 3.63%
Zimbabwe 4.357%
Qatar 4.93%
(2012 estimates, source: Population growth rate, "CIA World Factbook" (2012))

Total Fertility Rate
Bottom 10
Singapore 0.78 children born/woman
Macau 0.92 children born/woman
Hong Kong 1.09 children born/woman
Taiwan 1.16 children born/woman
British Virgin Islands 1.22 children born/woman
Korea, South 1.23 children born/woman
Belarus 1.27 children born/woman
Czech Republic 1.27 children born/woman
Lithuania 1.27 children born/woman
Montserrat 1.27 children born/woman
Top 10
Congo, Republic of the 5.59 children born/woman
Afghanistan 5.64 children born/woman
Zambia 5.9 children born/woman
Ethiopia 5.97 children born/woman
Burkina Faso 6.07 children born/woman
Burundi 6.08 children born/woman
Somalia 6.26 children born/woman
Mali 6.35 children born/woman
Uganda 6.65 children born/woman
Niger 7.52 children born/woman
(2012 estimates, source: Total fertility rate, "CIA World Factbook" (2012))

Europe: It Could be Worse

I haven't run into a discussion of this, but the European Union European Union has more than economic woes.

Folks in the EU aren't even close to raising enough children to be the next generations of Europeans. The EU's fertility rate is 1.58 children born/woman. The good news is that EU population is growing: slowly. The EU population annual growth rate is 0.212% (Population growth rate, "CIA World Factbook" (2012))

I took a quick look at some countries in the European Union:
  • France 2.08 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.497%
  • Netherlands 1.78 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.452%
  • Luxembourg 1.77 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 1.135%
  • Denmark 1.74 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.239%
  • Sweden 1.67 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.168%
  • Belgium 1.65 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.061%
  • Portugal 1.51 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.181%
  • Germany 1.41 children born/woman
    • Growth rate -0.2%
  • Austria 1.41 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.026%
  • Italy 1.4 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.38%
  • Greece 1.39 children born/woman
    • Growth rate 0.06%
  • (2012 estimates, source: Total fertility rate, "CIA World Factbook" (2012))
The only shrinking country in that list, with 'negative growth,' is Germany. The others are growing - but not having enough children to keep up with the death rate. Not even close.

Immigration can be a fine thing. I think it's one reason that America has managed as well as we have. So far, we're still having new folks move in, with fresh ideas and the get-up-and-go it takes to move from one country to another.

I'm not sure how folks in Europe, the "European" ones, are going to react as more realize what's happening. At this rate, most Danes, Swedes, and Austrians won't look the way Danes, Swedes, and Austrians did before the 21st century.

The Attitude of This 'Hyphenated American'

I don't mind today's America 'looking different' from the one I grew up in. It's the way things work here: and anyway: I'm a mixed lot of Norwegian, Irish, and Scots, who married a German-Dutch-American woman.

I suppose our kids are 'Norwegian-German-Dutch-Irish-Scots-German-Dutch-Americans.' Some of us look a bit like Celts now; my wife and #3 daughter are learning Soo Bahk Do, a Korean martial art; and that's another topic. Topics

Living in a Big World

By today's standards, I'm not 'of mixed race.' But just a few generations back, one of my ancestors was appalled at what was sniffing around her daughter. My paternal grandmother married the smooth-talking Irishman anyway. (November 13, 2008)

By now, my extended family has roots in ancient North America and the Philippines, as well as Europe. "Diversity" isn't a priority: but it's not something we avoid, either.

When I became a Catholic, I had to change some of my beliefs and attitudes. What didn't change was how I felt about being part of a catholic outfit - an association that's literally καθολικός, universal:
I've almost finished the last post in this quartet: "Taking Life a Thousand Years at a Time," but won't post it until tomorrow morning.

Finally, as I've said before, what the Catholic Church teaches is simple:
That sounds simple, and it is. What's hard is embracing those principles, and living a life that reflects love of God, and of neighbors: all neighbors.

This post is the third in a series of four:
  1. "The World isn't Flat"
    (June 9, 2012)
  2. "Catholics, Families, and Hope"
    (June 9, 2012)
  3. "Population Explosion, Birth Dearth, and a Changing World"
    (June 9, 2012)
  4. "Taking Life a Thousand Years at a Time"
    (June 10, 2012)
Other related posts:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.