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Topic: Demographics (Read 4984 times)
January 16, 2008, 03:30:28 PM »
Mark Steyn's "America Alone" (which has its own lively thread here on this forum) powerfully brings demographic analysis to the table. This thread seeks to keep the ball rolling on the matter of demographics.
This piece is from today's LA Slimes. Note the rather contemptible thought process behind the reasons the experts give for the increase.
U.S. experiences baby boomlet in 2006
Almost 4.3 million births are reported, the most in 45 years. Hispanics accounted for nearly 25% of the increase.
From the Associated Press
January 16, 2008
ATLANTA -- Bucking the trend in many other wealthy industrialized nations, the United States seems to be experiencing a baby boomlet, reporting the largest number of children born in 45 years.
The nearly 4.3 million births in 2006 were mostly due to a bigger population, especially a growing number of Latinos. That group accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births. But non-Latino white women and other racial and ethnic groups were having more babies too.
An Associated Press review of births dating to 1909 found the total in the U.S. was the highest since 1961, near the end of the baby boom. An examination of global data also shows that the United States has a higher fertility rate than every country in continental Europe, as well as Australia, Canada and Japan. Fertility levels in those countries have been lower than the U.S. rate for several years, although some are on the rise, most notably in France.
Experts believe there is a mix of reasons: a decline in contraceptive use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty. (A decline in contraceptives might be because people WANT to have babies! A drop in access to abortion?!? What kind of values see birth rates that maintain population as a failure to sufficiently abort?!?!? What kind of values see having children as a sign of poor education?!?!?!?)
There are cultural reasons as well. Latinos as a group have fertility rates -- the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime -- that are about 40% higher than the U.S. overall. And experts say Americans, especially those in middle America, view children more favorably than people in many other Westernized countries.
"Americans like children. We are the only people who respond to prosperity by saying, 'Let's have another kid,' " said Nan Marie Astone, associate professor of population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University.
Demographers say it is too soon to know if the sudden increase in births is the start of a trend.
"We have to wait and see. For now, I would call it a noticeable blip," said Brady E. Hamilton, a statistician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Demographers often use the word boomlet for a small and brief baby boom.
To many economists and policymakers, the increase in births is good news. The U.S. fertility rate reached 2.1. That's the "magic number" required for a population to replace itself. Countries with much lower rates -- such as Japan and Italy, both with a rate of 1.3 -- face future labor shortages and eroding tax bases as they fail to reproduce enough to take care of their aging elders. (And this is exactly why Europe has accepted so many Turks and Arabs-- see the "America Alone" thread.)
But the higher fertility rate isn't all good. Last month, the CDC reported that America's teen birthrate rose for the first time in 15 years.
The same report also showed births becoming more common in nearly every age and racial or ethnic group. Birthrates increased for women in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, not just teens. They rose for whites, blacks, Latinos, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The rate for Asian women stayed about the same.
Total births jumped 3% in 2006, the largest single-year increase since 1989, according to preliminary data compiled by the CDC. Clearly, U.S. birthrates are not what they were in the 1950s and early 1960s, when they were nearly twice as high and large families were much more common. The recent birth numbers are more a result of many women having a couple of kids each, rather than a smaller number of mothers, each bearing several children, Astone said.
Reply #1 on:
April 27, 2008, 07:47:27 AM »
By NICHOLAS EBERSTADT and HANS GROTH
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE
April 25, 2008
Russia is a European country, and its population patterns are unmistakably European in a number of respects, e.g. low birth rates, rising illegitimacy ratios and immigration tensions, and an aging population. But its demographic profile and future prospects differs in two important respects that bode ill for Russia's long-term economic outlook – to say nothing of the Kremlin's ambitious goal of becoming the world's fifth-largest economy by the year 2020.
First, Russia's health and mortality situation is vastly worse than Western Europe's. Life expectancy for Russian men is astonishingly low, well below current levels in either Pakistan or Bangladesh. And trends have been moving in the wrong direction for decades. In 2005, male and female life expectancy at birth in Russia were both lower than they had been 40 years earlier.
Russia's brutally high levels of mortality, along with anemic fertility levels, fashion a second "exceptional" demographic trend for the country: depopulation. In the 16-plus years since the end of the U.S.S.R., Russia has recorded over 12 million more deaths than births. Net immigration has only partially compensated for this deficit. Consequently, Russia's population dropped from 148.7 million in 1992 to just over 142 million at the start of this year. Whereas Western Europe faces the prospect of population decline a generation hence, Russia is in the midst of it.
President-elect Dmitry Medvedev envisions a Russia in which births come to exceed deaths by 2014, with positive population growth over the following decade. He has endorsed a new "official demographic concept" with population policies like birth bonuses and other social measures, including in public health, to reverse the decline. Unfortunately, there is not a single example from modern history where pro-natal policies have been able to achieve a sustainable demographic reversal. Outside of Russia, few demographers anticipate depopulation will actually halt over the coming generation. Even the United Nation's "high" projection envisions a drop of over 10 million between 2005 and 2030.
Russia's working-age population is set for an even steeper decline. Between 2005 and 2030, Western Europe's working-age population – aged 15-64 – is projected to shrink by about 7%. In Russia, that figure is 19%. Although Russia's population is just over a third of Western Europe's, absolute declines in working-age population promise to be roughly similar in magnitude over the coming decades. On current mortality schedules, seven of eight Swiss men 20 years of age can expect to celebrate their 65th birthday; only three out of seven Russian men can have the same hope.
In and of itself, the sharp falloff in working-age population – together with the rising ratio of older citizens to Russians of working age – frames a serious demographic challenge for the effort to propel economic growth and raise living standards. But the problem is even more acute than these raw numbers might suggest. For Russia's mortality problem is concentrated in its working-age population.
For over 40 years, Russia has been witness to a truly terrifying upsurge of illness and death precisely among those who ordinarily form the backbone of a modern economy. In 2005, for men between the ages of 27-57, death rates were typically 100% higher than they had been in 1965. As for Russia's women, their situation might only be described as "good" in comparison to that terrible record for Russian men. Death rates for women aged 26-59 in 2005 were at least 40% higher than in 1965 – and for some ages, death rates were up by 50%, 60%, or even 70%.
The causes of death are clear enough: Skyrocketing mortality from cardiovascular disease and injuries (accidents, poisoning, suicides and homicides). The underlying causes here are harder to pinpoint, but we can mention a number of plausible factors: Poor diet, lack of exercise, heavy smoking, and social stress. Russia's deadly love affair with the vodka bottle remains legendary, and looks to be another significant factor, with per capita consumption extraordinarily high.
Russia's "excess mortality" threatens to straitjacket Russian productivity and development. It is true that Russia has enjoyed robust economic growth rates over the past several years, but this has primarily been generated by oil and gas exports. In the modern world economy, a country's health profile is an essential element of its sustainable economic potential – quite arguably, the key element. How can Russia hope to be a vibrant modern economy with a dwindling and debilitated workforce and a life expectancy which is a full 12 years shorter than in Western Europe? No modern society can expect to enjoy an Irish standard of living on an Indian survival schedule.
If Russia is to arrive in the front ranks of 21st-century economies, the yawning health gap that separates Russians from the rest of Europe and all other industrialized democracies has to be closed. Nothing less than a protracted national struggle may be necessary to achieve this goal.
Mr. Eberstadt, a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C., and Dr. Groth, a Pfizer global health fellow and managing director of Pfizer-Switzerland, are authors of "Europe's Coming Demographic Challenge: Unlocking the Value of Health" (AEI Press).
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
Reply #2 on:
February 06, 2009, 07:31:26 AM »
A brave new dangerous world
Dual demographic trends in the developed and developing worlds point to increased future conflict and instability, Peter A Buxbaum writes for ISN Security Watch.
By Peter Buxbaum in Washington, DC for ISN Security Watch
“The world is entering a demographic transformation of historic and unprecedented dimensions.”
That was the essential message of a recently released monograph from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan Washington think tank. The coming demographic dislocations are beginning to attract the attention of geopolitical and military thinkers and planners.
Geopolitics, much like the local variety, is an intensely human endeavor. So is the expression of geopolitical aspirations in the form of war and armed conflict.
That explains why, when the United States Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) examined trends that will impact the future posture of US military forces, first and foremost on its list was demographics. Around the same time that JFCOM released its Joint Operating Environment report last month, the CSIS, which often contributes thought leadership to the US government, released The Graying of the Great Powers: Demography and Geopolitics in the 21st Century.
“In the future, conflicts will remain human,” Rear Admiral John Richardson, JFCOM’s director of strategy and policy, told ISN Security Watch. “That’s why demographics are important.”
“There is a growing interest in demographics among governments and policymakers,” added Richard Jackson, a senior fellow at CSIS and co-author of its report, in an interview. “The developed world is rapidly approaching a demographic tipping point where the trends are about to turn negative. The window of opportunity to prepare for this challenge is now closing.”
In a nutshell, there are two broad demographic trends facing the world through 2030: a population boom in the developing world and population decline in the developed world.
The world will add 60 million people each year and reach a total of 8 billion by the 2030s, noted the JFCOM report. Ninety-five percent of that increase will occur in developing countries, many of which will experience “youth bulges.” A “youth bulge” is defined as the ratio of youth aged 15 to 24 to the total population aged 15 and over. Political demographers say youth bulges are predictors of civil unrest, revolution and war.
“The developed world confronts the opposite problem,” said the JFCOM report. “During the next 25 years population growth in the developed world will likely slow or in some cases decline.”
Russia’s population is already declining by one-half of one percent annually, with the prospect that the decline will continue. Japan’s population will fall from 128 million to approximately 117 million in the 2030s due to a collapse in the country's birth rate. China’s population will continue to grow over the next quarter century, but its population will age significantly because of the strict enforcement of the government’s family planning policy. The trend in the US differs from much of the rest of the developed world thanks to higher fertility and immigration rates.
In addition to the population explosion in the developing world, there will also be increased migration to cities. Since conflict will occur where people are, from a military standpoint, “it is almost inevitable that forces will find themselves involved in combat or relief operations in cities,” said the JFCOM report.
“These urban settings are not going to be Manhattan,” said Richardson. “They are going to be sprawling structures where instability can easily brew. Growing populations put pressures on such basic resources as water and food. Where you see youth bulges is also where you see resource challenges.” Richardson sees future US forces increasingly being called upon by partner governments for urban crisis management.
Although US forces now have experience in urban warfare, thanks to operations in Iraq, cities are not the favored battlegrounds. “Operations in urban terrain will confront joint force commanders with a number of conundrums,” said the JFCOM report. “The very density of building and population will inhibit the use of kinetic means, given the potential for collateral damage as well as large numbers of civilian casualties.” Such inhibitions could also increase US casualties, the report noted.
Demographic transformation response
Population trends in Russia are an emblematic although exaggerated example of what is occurring in much of the developed world. “Russia will be experiencing a population decline not seen since the plague of the Middle Ages,” said Jackson. “This is a cause for concern because an extreme misalignment of geopolitical aspirations and demographic fundamentals can lead countries to behave unpredictably.”
Will Russia meekly accept the fate of its demographic decline, or will this trend feed extremism and provoke aggression?
“Russia has window of opportunity that is closing soon,” said Joe Purser, director of the JFCOM Futures Group. “It may face a situation in 20 or 30 years when it will be unable to see to its own security.” Purser speculated that one possible Russian reaction will be to “establish a frontier of instability around the old Soviet states in order to maintain influence” in those areas.
Rapid demographic transition in Russia, and also in China, Iran and Pakistan, “could push them toward civil collapse, or toward ‘neo-authoritarianism,’” said the CSIS report.
Youth and violence
These demographic trends will also make it less likely that nations in the developed world will sacrifice their youth in military adventures, according to the CSIS report, while “regions such as the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, where the youth bulge will reach over 50 percent of the population, will possess fewer inhibitions about engaging in conflict.”
The CSIS report also identified a “correlation between extreme youth and violence.” The likelihood of violence “grows explosive” when the youth bulge exceeds 35 percent, according to JFCOM. The youth bulges in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, as well in Iraq, Syria, the Palestinian territories, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan, already exceed that level, the JFCOM report noted.
Contrary to popular opinion, the violence engendered by a youth bulge does not necessary correlate with the failure of the local society to keep up an adequate rate of economic development.
“Some of the East Asian tigers are cases in point,” noted Jackson. “A rapidly transitioning developing world is likely to be a riskier world,” the CSIS report concluded, without regard to rates of economic growth.
“There is a paradox of development,” Jackson explained, “in which rising per capital income can be destabilizing in the short and medium run” even as it promotes stability in the long run. Among the reasons for this phenomenon: massive internal migrations which loosen extended family ties and exacerbate ethnic tensions.
Demographics and development
The United States faces a different scenario than much of the rest of the developed world, by both the JFCOM and CSIS accounts, with its population increasing by 50 million to a total of 355 million by 2030.
“This growth will result not only from births in current American families,” said the JFCOM report, “but also from continued immigration, especially from Mexico and the Caribbean, which will lead to major increases in America’s Hispanic population.”
The US has a current fertility rate of 2.6, 2.0 being the replacement rate, the highest in the developed world, and 1.9 when the Hispanic population is subtracted out, still high for a developed country. “This means that the US will have a growing workforce whereas elsewhere in the developed world it will be stagnating or declining,” said Jackson.
The major implications of these dual population trends is that “the population and GDP of the developed world will steadily shrink as a share of the world’s total,” said the CSIS report. “In tandem, the global influence of the developed world will likely decline.”
On the other hand, “The population and GDP of the United States will steadily expand as a share of the developed world’s total. The influence of the United States in the developed world will likely rise.”
This means the US must be prepare for an even larger role than it now has in maintaining global security, said CSIS, and that “leaders in the United States, Europe, and Japan need to acknowledge and prepare for this reality, while seeking ways to strengthen multilateralism.”
The CSIS monograph recommends enhanced investments from the developed world in development assistance and soft power in order to prevent the stresses in the developing world from rapid demographic, economic and social change from erupting into security threats. The developed world must also be perceived as the champions of the young and the aspiring. “If they are unwilling to commit substantial resources to helping young nations, the global appeal of their values and ideals will diminish,” said the CSIS report.
One major obstacle to allocating the kinds of resources contemplated by CSIS is the increasing burden of aging populations on the resources of developed countries. But what hangs in the balance is not only the security and economic well being of developing world populations, but what JFCOM’s Joint Operating Environment terms the “battle of the narrative.”
Peter Buxbaum, a Washington-based independent journalist, has been writing about defense, security, business and technology for 15 years. His work has appeared in publications such as Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Information Week, Defense Technology International, Homeland Security and Computerworld. His website is
Reply #3 on:
April 26, 2009, 12:17:32 PM »
Are these numbers accurate? No sources are given. If they are, what are the implications?
The Demographics driving nations's wealth
Reply #4 on:
September 01, 2010, 08:25:01 AM »
Though the article seems glib to me on the issues of US immigration, illegal and legal, this article reminds us of some sound points.
The Demographics Driving Nations' Wealth
By DAVID WESSEL
Demography is not destiny. In 1300, China was bigger than Europe and had the world's most sophisticated technology. But China blew it. By 1850, its population was 65% larger than Europe's, but—thanks to the Industrial Revolution—Europeans were far richer.
Yet demography does matter. "We never pay enough attention to demography because it's so long term," says Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund. So turn for a moment from angst about the disappointing pace of the economic recovery and daunting government budget deficits, and look over the horizon.
China's working-age population will keep growing for 15 years or so, then turn down, the result of its one-child policy and the tendency of birth rates to fall as incomes rise. In 2050, the U.N. projects, China will have 100 million fewer workers than it does today. India's population, in contrast, will grow by 300 million working-age persons over the next 40 years.
The U.S. is in between, benefiting from a higher birth rate and younger populations than Europe and Japan and more immigration. It is projected to add 35 million working-age persons by 2050.
History, as interpreted by modern economists pondering the mysteries of growth, teaches that more people lead to more ideas. And unlike land or oil, ideas can be used by more than one person simultaneously. Before countries began sharing ideas, the biggest had the most rapid technological progress. Now, trade, travel and the Internet speed new ideas around the globe ever-more rapidly. So the benefits are dispersed. Belgium is rich not because it is big or has invented a lot, but because it has the wherewithal to employ technology invented by others, notes Michael Kremer of Harvard University. Zaire is bigger, but lacks the wherewithal.
"In the coming decades, because of the Internet, because of many other changes that have shrunk the world, it's almost impossible for an individual country to keep proprietary technology for itself," says Mr. Strauss-Kahn. For a time, relatively small countries like Britain and France were global heavyweights because of their technological prowess. That day is over, he predicts. "Power equals numbers," he reasons, and that leads him to anticipate the rising influence of China and India.
.Rising populations—and growing numbers of meat-eating, oil-burning consumers—create tension between environmental costs and idea-generating benefits. Some worry about the costs; others see the benefits.
"China's population is roughly equal to that of the U.S., Europe and Japan combined," optimistic Stanford University economists Chad Jones and Paul Romer observed recently in an academic journal. "Over the next several decades, the continued economic development of China might plausibly double the number of researchers throughout the world pushing forward the technological frontier. What effect will this have on incomes in countries that share ideas with China in the long run?" Somewhere between a lot and really a lot, they say. In fact, they say that even if the U.S. had to bear all the costs of mitigating the added carbon emitted by a rapidly developing China, ideas generated by the Chinese would boost U.S. per capita income enough to more than compensate.
Despite the Internet, multinational companies and global financial markets, we are not—yet—one big world economy. Divergences in demographics have national consequences.
Today, one in five Japanese and Europeans is over age 65. In 2050, it will be one in three. Rapid productivity growth—the amount of stuff produced per hour of work—could make it easier for working-age populations to support the old folks, but productivity trends aren't promising. The Japanese and Europeans almost surely will have to work longer, take fewer vacations and probably pay more taxes. Aging also threatens the Japanese government's ability to keep borrowing so heavily. IMF economist Kiichi Tokuoka estimates that at least half of Japanese government borrowing is now financed, directly or indirectly, by Japanese households; unlike the U.S., Japan doesn't borrow heavily from abroad. Japanese savers will be selling bonds in retirement—and there aren't enough younger workers to save enough to pick up the slack.
For China, the challenge is to build social structures and retirement schemes to sustain a growing cadre of old folks that, unlike previous generations, won't be able to rely so much on its children for support. Today, 1.4% of Chinese are over age 80; in 2050, 7.2% will be, the U.N. projects.
India has more time to adjust since its working population is likely to keep growing. Its challenge is to harness the growing number of workers in their 30s and 40s and to nurture industry and services. If India dismantles archaic labor laws, brings more women into the work force and invests in training and education, demographics could add four percentage points a year to economic growth, Goldman Sachs economists estimate. But that's a big "if."
And the U.S.? For all today's gloom, it may be in the sweet spot. A growing population, an openness to ambitious immigrants and trade (if not disrupted by xenophobic politics) and strong productivity growth (if sustained) could lift living standards and bring faster growth, which would reduce big government budget deficits far easier for the U.S. than for slower growing Europe and Japan.
About David Wessel.David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal's economics editor, writes Capital, a weekly look at the economy and the forces shaping living standards around the world. David has been with The Wall Street Journal since 1984, first in the Boston bureau and then the Washington bureau, where he was chief economics correspondent and later deputy bureau chief. During 1999 and 2000, he was the newspaper's Berlin bureau chief. He also has worked for the Boston Globe and at the Hartford (Conn.) Courant and Middletown (Conn.) Press. He has shared two Pulitzer prizes, one for a Boston Globe series on race in the workplace in Boston and the other for Wall Street Journal stories on the corporate scandals of 2002. David is a graduate of Haverford College and was a Knight Bagehot Fellow in Business & Economics Journalism at Columbia University. His book on the Federal Reserve's response to the financial crisis, "In Fed We Trust,"
, will be published by Crown on Aug. 4. Follow David Wessel on twitter at
What Goes Down Might not Come Up, I
Reply #5 on:
September 18, 2010, 01:49:34 PM »
America’s One-Child Policy
What China imposed on its population, we’re adopting voluntarily.
BY Jonathan V. Last
September 27, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 02
For the last several months, Chinese officials have been floating the idea of relaxing the country’s famed “One-Child” policy. One-Child has long been admired in the West by environmentalists, anti-population doomsayers, and some of our sillier professional wise men. In Hot, Flat, and Crowded (2008), for instance, Tom Friedman lauded the policy for saving China from “a population calamity.” What Friedman and others fail to understand is that China is built upon a crumbling demographic base. One-Child may or may not have “saved” China from overpopulation, but it has certainly created a demographic catastrophe.
Between 1950 and 1970, the average Chinese woman had roughly six children during her lifetime. Beginning in 1970, the Chinese government began urging a course of “late, long, few,” and in a decade the fertility rate dropped from 5.9 to 2.1. But that wasn’t enough for the government. In 1979, they instituted the One-Child policy—which is more complicated than it sounds.
Under One-Child, couples wanting a baby were required to obtain permission from local officials. (In 2002, the government relaxed this provision; you can now have one child without government clearance.) After having one child, urban residents and government employees were forbidden from having another. In rural areas, however, couples are often allowed to have a second baby five years after the first. Any more than two, however, and the government institutes penalties. Sanctions range from heavy fines to confiscation of belongings to dismissal from work—in addition to the occasional forced abortion or sterilization. The overall result is a Chinese fertility rate that now sits somewhere between 1.9 and 1.3, depending on who is doing the tabulating. Nicholas Eberstadt noted that “In some major population centers—Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin among them—it appears that the average number of births per woman is amazingly low: below one baby per lifetime.”
One-Child marked a radical change in the trajectory of China’s population, from staggering growth to probable contraction. In 1950, China had 550 million people; today it is home to 1.33 billion. According to projections from the United Nations’ Population Division, -China’s population will peak at 1.458 billion in 2030. But then it will begin shrinking. By 2050, China will be down to 1.408 billion and losing 20 million people every five years.
At the same time, the average age in China will rise dramatically. In 2005, China’s median age was 32. By 2050, it will be 45, and a quarter of the Chinese population will be over the age of 65. The government’s pension system is almost nonexistent, and One-Child has eliminated the traditional support system of the extended family—most people no longer have brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, or nephews. It is unclear what sort of havoc this atomization will wreak on their society. China will have 330 million senior citizens with no one to care for them and no way to pay for their upkeep. It is, Eberstadt observed, “a slow-motion humanitarian tragedy already underway.”
By 2050, the age structure in China will be such that there are only 1.6 workers—today the country has 5.4—to support each retiree. The government will be forced to either: (1) substantially cut spending (in areas such as defense and public works) in order to shift resources to care for the elderly or (2) impose radically higher tax burdens on younger workers. The first option risks China’s international and military ambitions; the second risks revolution.
When we talk about the “fertility rate,” we mean the “total fertility rate” (TFR): the number of children born to the average woman over the course of her lifetime. In order for a country to maintain a steady population, it needs a fertility rate of 2.1. If the rate is higher, the country’s population grows; lower and it shrinks.
During the last 50 years, fertility rates have fallen all over the world. From Africa to Asia, South America to Eastern Europe, from Third World jungles to the wealthy desert petro-kingdoms, every country in every region is experiencing declines in fertility. In 1979, the world’s fertility rate was 6.0; today it’s 2.6. Industrialized nations have been the hardest hit. America’s 2.06 is one of the highest fertility rates in the First World. Only Israel (2.75) and New Zealand (2.10) are more fertile.
China and America have yet to witness the effects of falling fertility because of demographic momentum. Populations increase even as fertility rates collapse, until the last above-replacement generation dies, after which the population begins contracting. The rate of contraction speeds up as each generation passes. No society has ever experienced prosperity in the wake of contracting population.
Like China today, 30 years ago Japan was supposedly on the verge of eclipsing America economically. But like China, Japan was also in dire demographic straits. In 1950, the average Japanese woman had 2.75 children during her lifetime. That number dropped to 2.08 by 1960. By 1995, it had fallen to 1.49. In 2010, the Japanese fertility rate is 1.2.
Japan’s demographic momentum kept its population slowly increasing during the late 1990s and early 2000s; in 2004, it peaked at 127.84 million. And then the contraction began. In 2008, Japan lost 145,000 people and by 2025, it will have lost 6 million. By 2050, it will have shed an additional 17 million people, leaving its total population around 100 million and falling. And a declining population is necessarily an aging population, meaning that you’re faced with both a decline in demand for goods and services (because the population is getting smaller) and at the same time a labor shortage (because so many of the remaining people are too old to work). In 2050, the largest five-year cohort in Japan is expected to be people aged 75-79. While health care will likely be a growth sector, this is not a recipe for a robust economy.
Culturally speaking, Japan’s fertility problem is a marriage problem: As Japanese women began attending college at greater rates in the 1970s, they began to delay marriage. By 2000, the average age of first marriage for college graduates was over 30. At first, these women simply postponed childbearing; then they abandoned it. Today, college-educated Japanese women have, on average, barely one child during their lifetimes.
These changes created some new cultural stereotypes in Japan. For instance, it is not uncommon to see dogs paraded around in strollers by childless, adult women. But the most prevalent new demographic archetype is the parasaito shinguru or “parasite single.” These creatures are college-educated, working women who live with their parents well into their 30s—not because they are too poor to pay rent, but because they spend their salaries on designer clothes, international travel, and fancy restaurants. The parasite singles are Japan’s biggest consumer group because, unlike real adults, their entire paychecks are available for discretionary spending. Sociologist Masahiro Yamada, who coined the term, explains, “They are like the ancient aristocrats of feudal times, but their parents play the role of servants. Their lives are spoiled. The only thing that’s important to them is seeking pleasure.”
The Japanese government has been trying to stoke fertility since the early 1970s. In 1972, when Japan’s fertility rate was still above replacement, the government introduced a monthly per-child subsidy for parents. Over the years, the government tinkered with the subsidy, altering the amount and raising the age allowance. None of which made much difference: The fertility rate fell at a steady pace. In 1990, the government formed a committee charged with “Creating a sound environment for bearing and rearing children,” the fruit of which was a Childcare Leave Act aimed at helping working mothers.
In 2003, Japan passed the “Law for Basic Measures to Cope with a Declining Fertility Society,” followed two years later by the “Law for Measures to Support the Development of the Next Generation.” To get a sense of how daft the Japanese bureaucrats and politicians are, one of the new provisions required businesses to create—but not implement—abstract “plans” for raising the fertility level of their workers.
In the face of 35 years of failed incentives, Japan’s fertility rate stands at 1.2. This is below what is considered “lowest low,” a mathematical tipping point at which a country’s population will decline by as much as 50 percent within 45 years. This is a death spiral from which, demographers believe, it is impossible to escape. Then again, that’s just theory: History has never seen fertility rates so low.
Next to Japan’s, the U.S. fertility rate looks pretty good at 2.06. The massive, continual influx of immigrants we receive is enough to keep the U.S. population slowly growing. But America’s fertility rate has been falling since the founding.
Colgate economist Michael Haines combined the 1790 census with other data sets to determine that in 1800 the fertility rate for white American females was 7.04 and for black was 7.90. (All early American demographic data were kept separately for the two races.) Fertility rates for both groups have fallen steadily. The only significant uptick came at the end of World War II with the Baby Boom. For 20 years, fertility rates spiked, reaching as high as 3.53 for white women and 4.52 for black women in 1960.
The Baby Boom was notable not just for its magnitude but for its longevity—it lasted an entire generation, creating a population bulge that still bloats our demographic profile. Yet despite its impact, the Baby Boom was temporary. In the cultural moment that followed during the 1960s and 1970s, the fertility rate in America—and indeed around the world—went bust. In Canada, the United States, Japan, and Western Europe, in every single Western industrialized nation, the fertility rate plummeted.
From a combined TFR of 3.7 in 1960, U.S. fertility halved to 1.8 in 1980. It has rebounded slightly during the last few decades, but that upward movement has more to do with Hispanic immigration than with increased native fertility. In 2006, the fertility rate of non-Hispanic whites was 1.77; the fertility rate of blacks was 2.0. Of America’s major demographic groups, only Hispanics are above replacement, with a TFR of 2.3. Yet even the Hispanic population has seen its fertility rate fall some 8 percent in the last decade. Indeed, the problem with immigration as it relates to fertility isn’t the old complaint that the newcomers are out-breeding the natives. Rather, the problem is that the newcomers start behaving like natives too soon, with their TFR regressing quickly to the mean. If we are to maintain even our modest 2.06, we need an ever-greater supply of immigrants.
Today there are 26.6 million legal immigrants living in America and roughly 11.3 million illegals. We need these workers to prop up the entitlement programs we’re no longer having enough babies to fund. In order to keep Social Security and Medicare running, we need a stable ratio of workers to retirees. If we were to keep the ratio at the present level of three workers for every retiree—already lower than it has ever been—America would need to add 44.9 million new immigrants between 2025 and 2035. If we wanted to keep the ratio at 5.2 workers for every retiree—about what it was in 1960, before the collapse of our fertility rate—we’d need to import 10.8 million immigrants every year until 2050. At which point the United States would have 1.1 billion people, 73 percent of whom would be the descendants of recent immigrants.
Putting aside questions of cultural coherence—remember the joke: “Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism: You may pick two”?—it would be logistically impossible to add 10.8 million immigrants a year. As demographer Phillip Longman notes, “such a flow would require the equivalent of building another New York City every ten months or so.”
There is a supply-side problem, too. Immigrants began streaming over America’s southern border in the 1980s for several reasons. America was safer and freer. There were more and better jobs. But there was also an enormous surplus of labor in Latin America as a result of high fertility rates. In Mexico, for instance, the fertility rate was 6.82 in 1970. It dropped to 5.3 in 1980, 3.61 in 1990, and 2.75 in 2000. It now sits at 2.1. You see this trend across the entire Latin world. Some countries, such as Chile and Costa Rica, are already well below replacement. And when a country’s fertility drops below replacement, people tend to stop emigrating. Consider Puerto Rico. In 1955, Puerto Rico’s fertility rate was 4.97. (The major Puerto Rican migration to America began in the 1950s.) Over time, Puerto Rican fertility diminished. By 2000, it had dipped to 1.99. For 2010, it is estimated to be 1.65.
During this same period, emigrating from Puerto Rico to the United States became easier, and while the economic situation in Puerto Rico brightened somewhat, it did not improve dramatically. Yet the number of Puerto Ricans moving to America during that span plummeted—from 80,000 in 1955 to just 3,800 in 2008. And this took place as the population of Puerto Rico itself was nearly doubling, from 2.25 million to 3.97 million.
There is no reason to believe that the example of Puerto Rico will not translate to the rest of Latin America. To our south, fertility rates are generally still higher than our own. But the rate of decline is much steeper. The average fertility rate for Latin America in the 1960s was 6.0 children per woman; by 2005 that average had dropped to 2.5. Within a decade or two, every single country in Latin America will have a fertility rate below that of the United States. And at that point, immigration from the region may significantly diminish.
What Goes Down Might not Come Up, II
Reply #6 on:
September 18, 2010, 01:50:10 PM »
There is a constellation of factors tamping down fertility in America. And even with steady immigration, they represent our own, bottom-up adoption of a One-Child regimen.
At the most basic level, the decline of infant mortality played a large part. In 1850, 2-in-10 white babies and 3.4-in-10 black babies died during infancy. Steady improvements in medicine, sanitation, and nutrition reduced infant mortality to asymptotic levels—today just 6.22 deaths for every 1,000 live births.
Americans also began migrating from rural areas to cities and transitioning from farm work to factories. These changes made children both less useful and more expensive.
Social changes have affected the fertility rate, too. Some of these changes are small and simple—like the evolution of car-seat laws, which make it difficult to transport more than two children. Some—like the rise of the educated woman—are massively complex.
One of the best predictors of fertility is education: The more educated a woman is, the fewer children she will have. The total fertility rate for American women without a high school diploma is 2.45. With each subsequent level of educational attainment, fertility falls—it drops to 1.6 for women with a graduate degree. One of the drivers of our fertility decline was the making of college de rigueur for middle-class women.
From 1879 to 1930, American men and women graduated from college at roughly the same low rate. This was as much a function of the university being the preserve of the privileged as it was of gender equality. It wasn’t until 1930 that college graduation rates between the sexes began diverging, with men becoming markedly better educated. By 1947, 2.3 men graduated from college for every woman. That divergence was not, as the feminist-industrial complex would have you believe, the result of sexism. Before the two world wars, college was open only to a small pool of wealthy elites and was partaken of by these men and women in equal measure. The G.I. Bill broadened access to college for former soldiers, who were, naturally, men. As these middle- and lower-middle-class men flooded the classrooms, a gender gap was created.
With the class restrictions lifted, however, it was only a matter of time before middle- and lower-middle-class women caught up with their male counterparts. By 1980, the balance was again even. And, by 2003, women significantly outnumbered men in college, with 1.35 women graduating for every man.
But let’s wind the clock back to the period stretching from the 1950s to the early 1970s. What’s interesting about this interregnum isn’t that men outnumbered women, but rather what it was women graduating from college did with their degrees. Nearly half of those female graduates were involved in a single field—education. And as it turns out, being a teacher is highly compatible with having babies. As more women began attending college, however, they entered a broader array of fields, many of which were less friendly to family life. For the class of 1980, for instance, only 36 percent of female graduates became teachers and that number has continued to drop.
As women entered other careers, they postponed having babies. A teacher can reasonably graduate from college at 22, begin working immediately, and if she so chooses, marry and have children in short order without losing ground in her career. By comparison, consider the life of a young woman who becomes a doctor: Graduate with a bachelor’s degree at 22; graduate from medical school at 26; finish residency at 29. If our doctor does not pursue any specialization, she can begin her career as she turns 30. Only then is childbearing even theoretically possible, and it will come at some expense to her nascent career.
The first effect of the broadening of women’s career paths was to push up the average age of marriage. In 1950, the average age of first marriage for an American woman was 20.3 years. Between 1950 and 1970—when a large percentage of women were still entering the teaching profession—that number ticked upward only slightly, to 20.8 years. By 1980 it had risen to 22.0 years; by 1990 it was 23.9, and off to the races. By 2007, the average American woman did not wed until she was 26.
The drop in fertility among women with college and advanced degrees, then, is in large part due to delayed family formation. The longer a middle-class woman waits to get married, the longer she will wait to have children. For example, in 1970, the average age of a woman in the United States giving birth to her first child was 21.4 years. In 2000, it was 24.9 years.
The American drive for education has had other subtle effects on fertility. For instance, it’s not just the length of education that diminishes fertility, but the debt-load incurred. In 1987, 9 percent of college graduates said they were delaying marriage because of their student loans and 12 percent said they were delaying children. As student debts ballooned, so did those numbers. By 2002, 14 percent said they were pushing back marriage and 21 percent said they were postponing having children because of their loans.
If the G.I. Bill could wreak so much havoc on fertility rates, imagine the effects of the last century’s two great changes in sexual life: the contraceptive pill and the legalization of on-demand abortion. Calculating the number of babies not born because of the birth control pill is impossible. But without confusing correlation and causation, it is worth noting that the pill became available in America and much of the West in 1960, the precise moment when fertility rates began heading into deep decline.
On the other hand, it is quite easy to make an accounting of abortion’s effects. Before the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the tide of public opinion in America was against abortion. Accordingly, there were relatively few abortions, even though most states allowed for early-term abortions. In 1970, for example, there were 193,491 reported legal abortions. Certainly, this number undercounts the real total because it does not include illegal abortions. But let’s take 200,000 as a baseline. In 1973, as Roe created a universal abortion right, the number of reported abortions rose to 744,600. The next year, that number rose by 20 percent, to 898,600 abortions. By this time all abortions were legal, and so we can be confident that this number is fairly accurate. Over the course of the next 15 years the number of abortions rose by almost 100 percent.
In 1973—the year of the Roe decision—there were 3.1 million babies born. Over the next 10 years that number rose only slightly, despite the fact that America’s total population was increasing quickly. Why weren’t there more babies born in the decade following Roe? Because during that time, 13.6 million were aborted—meaning that 28.5 percent of all pregnancies ended in abortion. Since Roe more than 49.5 million babies have been aborted in the United States, and the fertility rate has varied inversely to the abortion rate, generally declining when abortion is on the rise and rising when abortion is on the decline.
Fertility isn’t all about sex, of course. It also involves that other great American passion: real estate. Fertility rates vary widely across the 50 states. The states with the highest are found mostly in the West, while the states with the lowest fertility are found mostly in the industrialized Northeast. The more fertile states tend to be more rural; the less fertile more urban. And the more fertile states tend to have lower land costs and, hence, costs of living. The cultural demographer Steve Sailer refers to this phenomenon as the “dirt gap.”
Beyond even the cost of real estate, housing stock influences fertility. When dramatically falling fertility first appeared in Europe after World War I, demographers went into a panic. In Sweden, researchers noticed that the small, modernist apartment buildings which had sprung up across the country were pushing couples to have fewer children. Subsequent research has demonstrated the effects of housing stock on fertility across the globe. Studies show the same results over and over—all things being equal, women living in apartments or condominiums have fewer babies than women living in single-family homes. This phenomenon has been demonstrated everywhere from New Jersey to Colombia to Great Britain to Iran.
How much does housing type matter? A 1988 Canadian study showed that even when you control for education, income, and other factors, married couples who lived in apartment-type buildings had 0.42 fewer children over their lifetimes than married couples in single-family homes. From the 1940s until the 1960s, there was a boom in the construction of detached, single-family homes in America. Levittowns sprang up across the country and, by 1960, single-family homes represented their biggest share of American housing stock in modern times. This coincides perfectly with the Baby Boom. On the other hand, large-scale apartment and condominium complexes became more popular during the 1960s. Their percentage of the total U.S. housing stock increased by 40 percent from 1960 to 1970 and by another 23 percent from 1970 to 1980: the precise years during which America’s fertility numbers went into steep decline.
And then there’s consumerism. It’s a cliché to complain about $800 baby strollers and designer children’s clothing. But even the clichés no longer capture the lunacy of it all. One popular baby stroller, the Bugaboo Cameleon, retails for $880. That’s a bargain compared with Avila’s innovative “round” crib. Crafted from cherry wood, it goes for $1,285. But even if you sift out the consumerist outrages, the cost of raising a child today is staggering.
In 1960, the USDA estimated that the total cost of raising a child, from birth until age 18, was $25,229 ($185,817 in 2010 dollars)—they measured food at home and away, clothing, housing, medical care, education, transportation, and “personal care, recreation, reading and other miscellaneous expenditures.” Over the next 25 years, that cost remained reasonably constant, rising and falling by minor degrees. By 1985, it was (in real dollars) actually slightly cheaper to raise a child than it had been in 1960. But after 1985 children became steadily more expensive. By 2007, the cost of raising a child had risen 15.4 percent over the 1960 level.
The USDA, in its calculations, leaves out many of the little costs of parenthood—maternity clothes, baby furniture, toys, vitamins. Yet even these items are just nickels and dimes. The real money is in three big-ticket items that the USDA ignores: child care, college tuition, and forgone salary.
Let’s start with child care. The 2007 USDA survey reports that the average family spent $4,000 on child care during the first two years of a child’s life. In the real world, that $4,000 is little more than a mathematical construct. The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies reports that in 2008, the average cost of full-time care for an infant from a babysitter or nanny was $9,630 per year. The average cost of full-time care for an infant in a day-care center was $14,591 per year.
The USDA also ignores college. Recall our mammoth college gender gap in 1947. Even though many more men than women were going to college, very few people were enrolled at all—only 10 percent of college-aged men and 3.4 percent of college-aged women attended a university. Today, the majority of children—and the vast majority of middle-class children—attend college. In 2006, 66 percent of high school graduates enrolled in either a two- or four-year degree program within a year of completing high school.
These costs beggar belief. For the 2009 school year, the average tuition at a state college was $7,020. Private colleges averaged $26,273. Neither of those figures includes room, board, and other expenses—another $12,755 for full-time students not living at home (though only $12,368 for state-school students). So a child starting college today will cost her parents somewhere from $77,552 (for an average state-school degree) to $156,112 (for an average private degree). Remember, please, that we’re talking averages here. If your bundle of joy is lucky enough to gain entrance to an elite university, the four-year tab will easily top $200,000. Over the last 35 years, the period during which college became a necessary expense for middle-class life, the price of college increased—in real dollars—by 1,000 percent.
Finally, there’s the matter of forgone income. Recall that the USDA assumes virtually no expenditures for child care. This implies that one parent stays home at least until the child reaches school age. In The Empty Cradle (2004), Phillip Longman explored the cost of lost income by mothers and calculates that a woman making $45,000 a year who stays home until her child is school-aged and then returns to work part-time forgoes $823,736 by the time her child turns 18.
Add that number to the others and you’re talking $1.1 million to raise a single child. That’s a lot of money for a middle-class couple. In 2007, the median income for Americans in their prime child-bearing years (ages 25 to 34) was just $30,846 (or $40,739 for those with a college degree). People like to say that buying a house is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Well, the median price of a home in 2008 was $180,100. Having a baby is like buying six houses, all at once. Except that you can’t (legally) sell them—and after 13 years they’ll tell you they hate you.
There was a time when such indignities were worth suffering because children served a practical purpose: They cared for their parents in old age. Oftentimes physically; always financially. Beginning with the New Deal, the logistics of this social compact began to change. In 1935, the Social Security Act established government payouts for retirees. These benefits were paid for by a new payroll tax on those working. Over time, Social Security payments expanded, the taxes increased, and new benefits—such as Medicare—were added.
It’s difficult to overstate the effects of these initiatives. For starters, they created an enormous new burden for workers. In 1955, the median American family paid 17.3 percent in income taxes. By 1998, the median one-earner family paid 37.6 percent in income taxes; two-earner families paid 40.9 percent. Social Security and Medicare placed an increasing burden on families at the same time that the cost of children was also increasing.
There were other consequences. Where people’s offspring had for centuries seen to the financial needs of their parents, retired people with no offspring now had access to a set of comparable benefits. And in a world where childbearing has no practical benefit, people have babies because they want to, either for self-fulfillment or as a moral imperative. “Moral imperative,” of course, is a euphemism for “religious compulsion.” There are stark differences in fertility between secular and religious people.
The best indicator of actual fertility is “aspirational fertility”—the number of children men and women say they would like to have. Gallup has been asking Americans about their “ideal family size” since 1936. When they first asked the question, 64 percent of Americans said that three or more children were ideal; 34 percent said that zero, one, or two children were ideal. Today only 34 percent of Americans think that a family with three-or-more children is ideal.
But on this question there are two Americas today: a secular population that wants small families (or no family at all) and a religious population that wants larger families. Religious affiliation is part of the story, but the real difference comes with church attendance. Among people who seldom or never go to church, 66 percent say that zero, one, or two children is the ideal family size, and only 25 percent view three-or-more children as ideal. Among those who go to church monthly, the three-or-more number edges up to 29 percent. But among those who attend church every week, 41 percent say three or more children is ideal, while only 47 percent think that a smaller family is preferable. When you meet couples with more than three children today, chances are they’re making a cultural and theological statement.
And the truth is, America needs more of such statements. The United Nations Population Division’s projection of our demographic future makes for stark reading. Native fertility rates are so low that without a continual influx of immigrants to stave off population decline, our population will shrink from 308 million to 290 million by 2050.
Our challenge is to balance three needs: (1) a stable population, (2) a plausible ratio of workers-to-retirees, and (3) a manageable number of immigrants. Yet, for instance, to keep the worker-support ratio at high levels would require, as we saw earlier, gargantuan levels of immigration. Keeping immigration at a reasonable level (the U.N. uses 760,000 immigrants a year as a baseline) would mean that our population would increase to 349 million in 2050, but that our worker-support ratio would be cut in half. If we cut off immigration altogether the worker-support ratio would be even lower, and in addition, we’d face rapid population decline.
The simplest answer is for Americans to have more babies.
What Goes Down Might not Come Up, III
Reply #7 on:
September 18, 2010, 01:50:33 PM »
Throughout history, governments have tried to get people to procreate. Augustus levied a “bachelor tax” on unmarried, aristocratic men. In 1927, Mussolini imposed a tax on all unmarried men between the ages of 25 and 65. The Soviet Union spent the last 50 years of its existence attempting to cajole it citizenry into having more children. In 1944, for instance, Stalin created the Motherhood Medal, given to any woman who bore at least six children. None of these attempts was successful. But they raise the question of what smart pro-natalist policies would look like in America today.
The Social Security regime is the most obvious and easily addressable problem. Longman proposes a “Parental Dividend” system by which a couple’s FICA taxes would be reduced by one-third with the birth of their first child, by two-thirds with the birth of a second, and then eliminated completely with the third (until the youngest child turns 18). Other, more complicated schemes abound. Regardless of the means, though, the goal is the same: Reduce the disconnect between the costs of creating new taxpayers and the benefits of receiving government pensions.
The costs of raising children could also be undercut by reforming the college system. The modern college degree functions less as an educational tool than as a credentialing badge—a marker which gives employers a vague estimate of a person’s intelligence, social milieu, and work ability. The reason employers need this badge is that, thanks to an obscure Supreme Court case, they aren’t allowed to ask for test scores the way colleges are.
In the 1971 case Griggs v. Duke Power, the Court held that employers could not rely on IQ-type tests if minorities performed relatively poorly on them. Blacks and Hispanics display a persistent underperformance on such tests, making it impossible for employers to ask for test scores. (As the recent Ricci case proved, even a test that has been sufficiently vetted beforehand for a lack of bias can cause trouble if minorities perform poorly on it.) So employers launder their request for test scores through the college system since colleges are allowed to use such considerations. The universities get rich, students and their parents go into hock, and everyone pretends that Acme Widgets is hiring young Suzy because they value her B.A. in English from Haverford, and not because her admission to Haverford proved that she is bright—a fact that a free, three-hour written test would have demonstrated just as well. If Griggs were rolled back, it would upend the college system at a stroke.
Finally, we could address the dirt gap—the underlying cost of land, which drives the cost of living and gives rise to the dramatic differences in fertility we see across the country. People often make decisions on where to live based on employment. High concentrations of jobs are found in intensely urban areas—Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Chicago—which have correspondingly high land costs. This is why we have the accurate stereotype of the working couple who move from the city to the exurbs once they decide to have kids.
Geography is unpleasantly resistant to social planning. There are only so many acres of land in Manhattan, and there’s nothing anyone can to do to make it less expensive (though correcting the absurdity of New York City’s rent-control/rent-stabilization system would help). But we could make the suburbs more accessible to cities by improving our highway system. Since 1970, the “vehicle lane miles” (that’s the metric traffic engineers use) consumed by Americans have risen by 150 percent. During that period we added 5 percent to our highway capacity. Now you know why we have so much traffic.
The answer is not building more public transportation. Parents trying to balance work and children need the flexibility automobiles provide. The solution is building more roads. As Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam noted wryly in Grand New Party (2008), Dallas has twice as much pavement-per-person as Los Angeles and half the traffic. And, not coincidentally, a higher fertility rate. An improved highway system would make it easier for couples to have access to both the concentration of jobs cities provide and the affordable housing that the suburbs offer.
Yet even if we adopt such measures, they may do little to change American fertility. It turns out that a government cannot convince people to have children; all it can do is help people to have the children they already want.
In 1965, Singapore gained full independence from the British, and the government embarked on a program of rapid industrialization. Among its initiatives were increased urbanization and an attempt to jumpstart women’s rates of college graduation and participation in the workforce. Singapore’s fertility rate was already in decline, having fallen from 5.45 in 1960 to 4.7 in 1965. As part of modernization, however, the government wanted to drive the fertility rate down even faster. In 1966, the government created the “Family Planning and Population Board” and launched a propaganda campaign, using messages such as “Stop at Two” and “Small Families, Brighter Future.” The most popular slogan, recounted in numerous posters and public service ads, was “Girl or Boy, Two Is Enough.”
Accompanying this bright, cheery campaign was an array of less gentle policies. Abortion was sanctioned—and even encouraged—at every stage. Parents who had more than two children were punished with no paid maternity leave and higher hospital charges for the delivery of the extra babies. Couples were encouraged to volunteer for sterilization. Parents who did so after having just one or two children were reimbursed for the medical costs of delivering those babies and their children were given preference in registering for the best schools.
The tactics were frighteningly effective. In 1976—just ten years after the campaign began—Singapore reached its target of 2.1. They had pushed their fertility rate down 53 percent in a decade. But the rate kept diving, down to 1.74 by 1980. The biggest fertility decline came from the elites: Singapore, like every other industrialized country, found that the more education a woman had and the better her job, the less likely she was to have children.
In 1983, Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, spoke about the country’s demographic problem with a candor that is the luxury of autocrats:
[W]e shouldn’t get our women into jobs where they cannot, at the same time, be mothers. . . . You just can’t be doing a full-time, heavy job like that of a doctor or engineer and run a home and bring up children. . . . Our most valuable asset is in the ability of our people, yet we are frittering away this asset through the unintended consequences of changes in our education policy and equal career opportunities for women. This has affected their traditional role as mothers.
In an attempt to boost fertility rates among the elites, the government began offering big tax breaks to highly educated women who had three or more children. A matchmaking service was created by the government for university graduates to encourage young professional men and women to get married. None of it worked. Educated women still shunned motherhood. Even worse, Singapore realized that lower-class women had stopped having babies, too. By 1984, Singapore’s fertility rate was 1.62 and falling.
The government dissolved the Family Planning and Population Board. “Two Is Enough” was replaced by “Have Three Or More Children If You Can,” a slogan broadcast on TV and radio and pushed in print ads and on billboards. Posters abounded proclaiming the joy and fulfillment of family life. Tax-incentives were given to families with more than three children, as were school admissions preferences. Unpaid maternity leave for government workers was increased from one year to four years. For a brief period these pro-natalist measures seemed to be working, but they merely delayed the downward march. By 1999, the fertility rate stood at 1.49.
In 2000, the government announced a series of new initiatives. The first was the “Baby Bonus” program, which paid families for having children: $9,000 for the second child and $18,000 for the third. The tax code was modified to give a hefty break to mothers under the age of 31 who had a second child. The government created “Child Development Accounts,” which function like a 401(k) for kids, with the government matching parents’ savings dollar-for-dollar. Mothers were granted 12 weeks of paid maternity leave with each birth.
The government offered better, larger housing for families with children and made it easier for young married couples to buy a home. They even embarked on a program to find grandparents housing close to their grandchildren, to help ease the burden of childcare. At the same time, the government did its best to undo the disincentives it had created a few years earlier. The $10,000 bonus for sterilization was scrapped. Officials were reluctant to ban abortion outright, but launched a public campaign against it. Women with fewer than three children who sought either sterilization or an abortion were required to attend counseling before any procedure would be performed.
Singapore had become a pro-natalist utopia, where aggressive government intervention was married to a willingness to talk frankly about demographic failure and uphold traditionalist mores. (In 1994, for instance, the prime minister spoke out against illegitimacy, calling single motherhood “wrong” and claiming that the “respectable part of society” should never accept it because “by removing the stigma, we may encourage more women to have children without getting married.”) And yet the effort has met with total and unremitting failure. In 2001, Singapore’s fertility rate was 1.41. By 2004 it was 1.24.
Today it is 1.1. Despite all the incentives, all of the public campaigns, all of the pleading, the average woman in Singapore can barely be bothered to have a single child.
Jonathan V. Last, a senior writer at The Weekly Standard, was a 2009 Phillips Foundation fellow.
The Graying Globe, I
Reply #8 on:
October 21, 2010, 02:10:37 PM »
Think Again: Global Aging
A gray tsunami is sweeping the planet -- and not just in the places you expect. How did the world get so old, so fast?
BY PHILLIP LONGMAN | NOVEMBER 2010
View a photo essay of The Grayest Generation.
"The World Faces a Population Bomb."
Yes, but of old people. Not so long ago, we were warned that rising global population would inevitably bring world famine. As Paul Ehrlich wrote apocalyptically in his 1968 worldwide bestseller, The Population Bomb, "In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date, nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate." Obviously, Ehrlich's predicted holocaust, which assumed that the 1960s global baby boom would continue until the world faced mass famine, didn't happen. Instead, the global growth rate dropped from 2 percent in the mid-1960s to roughly half that today, with many countries no longer producing enough babies to avoid falling populations. Having too many people on the planet is no longer demographers' chief worry; now, having too few is.
It's true that the world's population overall will increase by roughly one-third over the next 40 years, from 6.9 to 9.1 billion, according to the U.N. Population Division. But this will be a very different kind of population growth than ever before -- driven not by birth rates, which have plummeted around the world, but primarily by an increase in the number of elderly people. Indeed, the global population of children under 5 is expected to fall by 49 million as of midcentury, while the number of people over 60 will grow by 1.2 billion. How did the world grow so gray, so quickly?
One reason is that more people are living to advanced old age. But just as significant is the enormous bulge of people born in the first few decades after World War II. Both the United States and Western Europe saw particularly dramatic increases in birth rates during the late 1940s and 1950s, as returning veterans made up for lost time. In the 1960s and 1970s, much of the developing world also experienced a baby boom, but for a different reason: striking declines in infant and child mortality. As these global baby boomers age, they will create a population explosion of seniors. Today in the West, we are seeing a sharp uptick in people turning 60; in another 20 years, we'll see an explosion in the numbers turning 80. Most of the rest of the world will follow the same course in the next few decades.
The Grayest Generation
Photos of a world going gray.
Eventually, the last echoes of the global baby boomers will fade away. Then, because of the continuing fall in birth rates, humans will face the very real prospect that our numbers will fall as fast -- if not faster -- than the rate at which they once grew. Russia's population is already 7 million below what it was in 1991. As for Japan, one expert has calculated that the very last Japanese baby will be born in the year 2959, assuming the country's low fertility rate of 1.25 children per woman continues unchanged. Young Austrian women now tell pollsters their ideal family size is less than two children, enough to replace themselves but not their partners. Worldwide, there is a 50 percent chance that the population will be falling by 2070, according to a recent study published in Nature. By 2150, according to one U.N. projection, the global population could be half what it is today.
That might sound like an appealing prospect: less traffic, more room at the beach, easier college admissions. But be careful what you wish for.
"Aging Is a Rich-Country Problem."
NO. Once, demographers believed, following a long line of ancient thinkers from Tacitus and Cicero in late Rome to Ibn Khaldun in the medieval Arab world, that population aging and decline were particular traits of "civilized" countries that had obtained a high degree of luxury. Reflecting on the fate of Rome, Charles Darwin's grandson bemoaned a pattern he saw throughout history: "Must civilization always lead to the limitation of families and consequent decay and then replacement from barbaric sources, which in turn will go through the same experience?"
Today, however, we see that birth rates are dipping below replacement levels even in countries hardly known for luxury. Emerging first in Scandinavia in the 1970s, what the experts call "subreplacement fertility" quickly spread to the rest of Europe, Russia, most of Asia, much of South America, the Caribbean, Southern India, and even Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Morocco, and Iran. Of the 59 countries now producing fewer children than needed to sustain their populations, 18 are characterized by the United Nations as "developing," i.e., not rich.
Indeed, most developing countries are experiencing population aging at unprecedented rates. Consider Iran. As recently as the late 1970s, the average Iranian woman had nearly seven children. Today, for reasons not well understood, she has just 1.74, far below the average 2.1 children needed to sustain a population over time. Accordingly, between 2010 and 2050, the share of Iran's population 60 and older is expected to increase from 7.1 to 28.1 percent. This is well above the share of 60-plus people found in Western Europe today and about the same percentage that is expected for most Northern European countries in 2050. But unlike Western Europe, Iran and many other developing regions experiencing the same hyper-aging -- from Cuba to Croatia, Lebanon to the Wallis and Futuna Islands -- will not necessarily have a chance to get rich before they get old.
One contributing factor is urbanization; more than half the world's population now lives in cities, where children are an expensive economic liability, not another pair of hands to till fields or care for livestock. Two other oft-cited reasons are expanded work opportunities for women and the increasing prevalence of pensions and other old-age financial support that doesn't depend on having large numbers of children to finance retirement.
Surprisingly, this graying of the world is not by any means the exclusive result of programs deliberately aimed at population control. For though there are countries such as India, which embraced population control even to the point of forced sterilization programs during the 1970s and saw dramatic reduction in birth rates, there are also counterexamples such as Brazil, where the government never promoted family planning and yet its birth rate went down even more. Why? In both countries and elsewhere, changing cultural norms appear to be the primary force driving down birth rates -- think TV, not government decrees. In Brazil, television was introduced sequentially province by province, and in each new region the boob tube reached, birth rates plummeted soon after. (Discuss among yourselves whether this was because of what's on Brazilian television -- mostly soap operas depicting rich people living the high life -- or simply because a television was now on at night in many more bedrooms.)
Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images
"The West Is Doomed by Demographics."
MAYBE. But the outlook is even worse for Asia. Those who predict a coming Asian Century have not come to terms with the region's approaching era of hyper-aging. Japan, whose "lost decade" began just as its labor force started to shrink in the late 1980s, now appears to be not an exception, but a vanguard of Asian demographics. South Korea and Taiwan, with some of the lowest birth rates of any major country, will be losing population within 15 years. Singapore's government is so worried about its birth dearth that it not only offers new mothers a "baby bonus" of up to about $3,000 each for the first or second child and about $4,500 for a third or fourth child, paid maternity leave, and other enticements to have children, it has even started sponsoring speed-dating events.
China, for now, continues to enjoy the economic benefits associated with the early phase of birth-rate decline, when a society has fewer children to support and more available female labor for the workforce. But with its stringent one-child policy and exceptionally low birth rate, China is rapidly evolving into what demographers call a "4-2-1" society, in which one child becomes responsible for supporting two parents and four grandparents.
Asia will also be plagued by a chronic shortage of women in the coming decades, which could leave the most populous region on Earth with the same skewed sex ratios as the early American West. Due to selective abortion, China has about 16 percent more boys than girls, which many predict will lead to instability as tens of millions of "unmarriageable" men find other outlets for their excess libido. India has nearly the same sex-ratio imbalance and also a substantial difference in birth rates between its southern (mostly Hindu) states and its northern (more heavily Muslim) states, which could contribute to ethnic tension.
No society has ever experienced the speed of population aging -- or the gender imbalance -- now seen throughout Asia. So we can't simply look to history to predict Asia's future. But we can say with confidence that no region on Earth is more demographically challenged.
"The U.S. Baby Boom Has Saved It
From an Old-Age Crisis."
For now. On its current course, the U.S. population of 310 million will continue to grow relative to that of the rest of the developed world, primarily because its birth rate, while barely at replacement level, is still higher than that of almost any other industrialized country. In purely geopolitical terms, this suggests American influence over Europe, Japan, South Korea, and other allies could grow. Yet the United States has no reason to be smug about its comparatively favorable demographics. As its allies age and even shrink in population, the United States could be forced to assume even more of the burden of policing the world's trouble spots. Like a person in middle age, the United States now has to worry not only about its own aging, but also about how to provide for other family members who are becoming too old to fend for themselves.
The Graying Globe, II
Reply #9 on:
October 21, 2010, 02:10:58 PM »
And age America will. The main reason for its comparative youthfulness so far has been immigration, both legal and illegal. But according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of illegal immigrants thought to be entering the United States has plunged to just 300,000 people annually -- down from 850,000 in the early 2000s. More than a million immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America have returned home in the last two years. These falling numbers are largely driven by the soaring U.S. unemployment rate, which has at least temporarily reduced the economic rewards of moving to El Norte, but they could herald a permanent shift.
Demographics explain why. Birth rates are falling dramatically across Latin America, especially in Mexico, suggesting a tidal shift in migration patterns. Consider what happened with Puerto Rico, where birth rates have also plunged: Immigration to the mainland United States has all but stopped despite an open border and the lure of a considerably higher standard of living on the continent. In the not-so-distant future, the United States may well find itself competing for immigrants rather than building walls to keep them out.
"Old People Will Just Work Longer."
But only if older workers are healthy. And that's a big if. You might have noticed a lot more middle-age Americans using canes, walkers, and wheelchairs these days. So many of Walmart's customers are now physically impaired that the giant retailer has replaced many of its shopping carts with electric scooters that allow shoppers to remain seated as they cruise the aisles. Such sights are reflected in statistics showing that, for the first time since such record-keeping began, disability rates are no longer improving among middle-age Americans, but getting worse.
According to a recent Rand Corp. study published in Health Affairs, more than 40 percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 already have difficulties performing ordinary activities of daily life, such as walking a quarter mile or climbing 10 steps without resting -- a substantial rise from just 10 years ago. Because of this declining physical fitness among the middle-aged, we can expect the next generation of senior citizens to be much more impaired than the current one.
It isn't just Americans. Obesity and sedentary lifestyles are spreading globally. Between 1995 and 2000, the number of obese adults increased worldwide from 200 million to 300 million -- with 115 million of these living in developing countries. From Chile to China, McDonald's and KFC are opening franchises every day, even as people everywhere spend more and more of their time in automobiles and in front of flat-screen TVs and computer monitors. More than a billion people worldwide are now estimated to be overweight, creating a global pandemic of chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes.
Sure, countries can and will do much more to help people age gracefully and to encourage older citizens to remain in the workforce. A recent report from the European Commission has pointed out, for example, that providing for more part-time jobs would not only encourage delayed retirement, but could also help boost birth rates by smoothing the tensions between work and family life for parents. Encouraging healthier diets would enormously lengthen productive life spans, as would building or preserving more walkable communities. But there are clear limits to how many seniors will be fit enough, mentally or physically, to compete in the global economy of the next 20 years.
These trends undermine the argument, now common around the world, that standard retirement ages must go up. Not only are improvements in life expectancy at older ages very modest and now trending toward zero, but disability rates are exploding to the point that it would be difficult for many older workers to perform in the workplace even if they had the job skills that a modern economy demands. This explains such paradoxes as the fact that U.S. employers report it is nearly impossible to find the engineering talent they need, while the unemployment rate among U.S. engineers remains extraordinarily high. The faster-evolving and more technologically sophisticated a society becomes, the more rapidly job skills -- and elderly workers, sadly -- become obsolete.
"An Elderly World Will Be More Peaceful."
Not necessarily. Some strategists, such as scholar Mark L. Haas, speak of a coming "geriatric peace." Here's the argument: In a world of single-child families, popular resistance to military conscription should grow, as tolerance of military casualties falls. The rising cost of pensions and health care should also make sustaining military buildups increasingly difficult. Societies dominated by middle-age and older citizens may also become more risk-averse, more preoccupied with practical, domestic concerns like crime and retirement security, and less driven by adherence to violent ideologies. Japan is often held up as an example of a country that has grown more stable and peaceful as it has aged. Western Europe was wracked by domestic unrest when its vaunted "Generation of '68" was still young, but as these postwar baby boomers aged and produced few children, the political and social agendas of Europe became far less radical.
But there are some problems with this rosy scenario. To start, even countries that are rapidly aging can, paradoxically, produce youth bulges with all the attendant social consequences, from more violence to economic dislocation. Consider Iran. By 2020, the number of 15- to 24-year-old Iranians will have shrunk by 34 percent since 2005, according to the U.N. Population Division. This largely reflects the sharp downturn in the Iranian economy that occurred after its 1979 revolution, as well as the clerical regime's embrace of contraception. But from 2020 to 2035, the number will again swell by 34 percent, even if birth rates continue to decline. Why? A very high proportion of Iranian women are now of childbearing age, which means that even though young Iranian women are having far fewer children than their mothers did -- indeed, not enough to sustain the population over time -- their numbers are still sufficient to create a temporary "echo boom."
Many other Muslim countries, from Libya to Pakistan, will experience similarly huge oscillations in their youth populations. Most of the Central Asian republics, too, will face large echo booms in the 2020s. Long a battlefield for larger powers from the Mongols and Persians to the Russians and British, these newly independent states are once again the object of geopolitical competition due to their natural gas and oil reserves. The same is true of two of Latin America's most volatile countries, Peru and Venezuela.
This isn't just a numbers game. As the darkest recent chapters of European history suggest, the point of transition from growth to demographic decline can be an unsettling and dangerous one. Fascist ideology in Europe was deeply informed by Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West, Lothrop Stoddard's The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, and the writings of other eugenicists obsessed with the demographic decline of "Aryans."
Now, just as the horrors of fascism are passing from living memory, a new generation of Europeans is again feeling demographically besieged, this time by the arrival of Muslim immigrants. Fear of demographic decline also fuels the resurgence of Hindu nationalism in India, and it contributes to the backlash in the United States against immigrants and the controversy around the building of the "Ground Zero mosque" near the site of the 9/11 tragedy.
Over the next few decades, not only will echo booms be producing youth bulges in many of the world's trouble spots, but much of the developed world's population will be passing into advanced old age. It's a recipe for maximum demographic danger, Neil Howe and Richard Jackson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies warn. If you think the teenies are looking ugly, watch out for the 2020s.
"A Gray World Will Be a Poorer World."
Only if we do nothing. The connection between a society's wealth and its demographics is cyclical. At first, with fertility declining and the workforce aging, there are proportionately fewer children to raise and educate. This is good: It frees up female labor to join the formal economy and allows for greater investment in the education of each remaining child. All else being equal, both factors stimulate economic development. Japan went through this phase in the 1960s and 1970s, with the other Asian countries following close behind. China is benefiting from it now.
Then, however, the outlook turns bleak. Over time, low birth rates lead not only to fewer children, but also to fewer working-age people just as the percentage of dependent elders explodes. This means that as population aging runs its course, it might well go from stimulating the economy to depressing it. Fewer young adults means fewer people needing to purchase new homes, new furniture, and the like, as well as fewer people likely to take entrepreneurial risks. Aging workers become more interested in protecting existing jobs than in creating new businesses. Last-ditch efforts to prop up consumption and home values may result in more and more capital flowing into expanded consumer credit, creating financial bubbles that inevitably burst (sound familiar?).
In other words, a planet that grays indefinitely is clearly asking for trouble. But birth rates don't have to plummet forever. One path forward might be characterized as the Swedish road: It involves massive state intervention designed to smooth the tensions between work and family life to enable women to have more children without steep financial setbacks. But so far, countries that have followed this approach have achieved only very modest success. At the other extreme is what might be called the Taliban road: This would mean a return to "traditional values," in which women have few economic and social options beyond the role of motherhood. This mindset may well maintain high birth rates, but with consequences that today are unacceptable to all but the most rigid fundamentalists.
So is there a third way? Yes, though we aren't quite sure how to get there. The trick will be restoring what, in the days of family-owned farms and small businesses, was once true: that babies are an asset rather than a burden. Imagine a society in which parents get to keep more of the human capital they form by investing in their children. Imagine a society in which the family is no longer just a consumer unit, but a productive enterprise. The society that figures out how to restore the economic foundation of the family will own the future. The alternative is poor and gray indeed.
Tim Graham/Getty Images
Phillip Longman, a fellow at the New America Foundation and the Washington Monthly, is author The Empty Cradle.
Reply #10 on:
May 26, 2011, 09:26:07 AM »
Israel as Middle Eastern hegemon
Like the vanishing point in a perspective painting, long-term projections help us order our perceptions of what we see in front of us today. Here's one to think about, fresh from the just-released update of the United Nations' population forecasts: At constant fertility, Israel will have more young people by the end of this century than either Turkey or Iran, and more than German, Italy or Spain.
Population aged 15 to 24 years, Israel vs selected countries
Source: United Nations Population Division
With a total fertility rate of three children per woman, Israel's total
population will rise to 24 million by the end of the present century. Iran's fertility is around 1.7 and falling, while the fertility for ethnic Turks is only 1.5 (the Kurdish minority has a fertility rate of around 4.5).
Not that the size of land armies matters much in an era of high-tech warfare, but if present trends continue, Israel will be able to field the largest land army in the Middle East. That startling data point, though, should alert analysts to a more relevant problem: among the military powers in the Middle East, Israel will be the only one with a viable population structure by the middle of this century.
That is why it is in America's interest to keep Israel as an ally. Israel is not only the strongest power in the region; in a generation or two it will be the only power in the region, the last man standing among ruined neighbors. The demographic time bomb in the region is not the Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank, as the Israeli peace party wrongly believed, but rather Israel itself.
The right way to read this projection is backwards: Israelis love children and have lots of them because they are happy, optimistic and prosperous. Most of Israel's population increase comes from so-called "secular" Israelis, who have 2.6 children on average, more than any other people in the industrial world. The ultra-Orthodox have seven or eight, bringing total fertility to three children.
Europeans, Turks and Iranians, by contrast, have very few children because they are grumpy, alienated and pessimistic. It's not so much the projection of the demographic future cranked out by the United Nations computers that counts, but rather the implicit vision of the future in the minds of today's prospective parents.
People who can't be bothered to have children presumably have a very dim view of days to come. Reams have been written, to be sure, about Europe's demographic tailspin. Less has been said about Persian pessimism and Anatolian anomie.
Paradoxically, this makes Israel's present position dangerous, for its enemies understand that they have a very brief window in which to encircle the Jewish superpower. The collapse of Egypt and possibly that of Syria shortens this window. Nothing short of American support for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state on the 1949 armistice lines followed by economic sanctions against Israel, though, is likely to make a difference, and this seems unlikely.
Israel already is a high-tech superpower. Israeli leads the Group of 7 industrial nations in patent applications. As Professor Reuven Brenner of McGill University wrote in the January 2010 issue of First Things:
Today Israel's venture capital industry still raises more funds than any other venue except the United States. In 2006 alone, 402 Israeli hi-tech companies raised over $1.62 billion - the highest amount in the past five years. That same year, Israel had 80 active venture capital funds and over $10 billion under management, invested in over 1,000 Israeli start-ups.
Maintaining the stunning progress of the past decade will be a challenge, because Israel's high-tech sector received a one-time boost from Russian emigration. As Brenner observes:
Of the million Russians who moved to Israel during the 1980s and 1990s, more than 55 percent had post-secondary education, and more than half held academic and managerial positions in their former country ... This made Israel the world leader in the scientist and engineer workforce, followed by the United States with 80 and Germany with 55 scientists and engineers per 10,000 members of its labor force.
Israel's prowess in the arts matches its accomplishments in technology and business. Israel has become something of a superpower in that most characteristically Western art form, classical music. In a July 21, 2010, survey of Israeli music for the webzine Tablet, I wrote, "Israelis take to classical music - the art form that most clearly creates a sense of the future - like no other people on earth, to the point that music has become part of Israel's character, an embodiment of the national genius for balancing hope and fear."
Israel has one the largest local audience for chamber music recitals of any country in the world, and its leading musicians occupy top slots around the world - for example Guy Braunstein, concertmaster (principal violin) of the Berlin Philharmonic.
This, I believe, explains the implacable hostility of Israel's neighbors, as well as the Europeans. It is the unquenchable envy of the dying towards the living. Having failed at Christianity, and afterward failed at neo-pagan nationalism, Europe has reconciled itself to a quiet passage into oblivion.
Israel's success is a horrible reminder of European failure; its bumptious nationalism grates against Europe's determination to forget its own ugly embrace of nationalism; and its implicitly religious raison d'etre provokes post-Christian rage. Above all, it offends Europe that Israel brims with life. Some of Europe's great nations may not survive the present century. At constant fertility, Israel will have more citizens than any of the Eastern European countries where large numbers of Jews resided prior to the Holocaust.
Total population, Israel vs selected Eastern European countries (constant fertility scenario)
Source: United Nations Population Division
In the constant fertility scenario, Israel will end the century at a median age of 32, while Poland will have a median age of 57. That is an inherently impossible outcome, because in that case most of Poland's population would be elderly dependents. To support them, the remaining young people would have to emigrate and work overseas (perhaps in Israel).
The Muslim world, meanwhile, is turning grey at an unprecedented rate. Turkey's and Iran's median age will surpass the 40-year mark by mid-century, assuming constant fertility, while Israel's will stabilize in the mid-30s. Europe will become an impoverished geriatric ward.
Median age in years (constant fertility assumption)
Source: United Nations Population Division
The implications of these trends have not escaped the leaders of the affected countries. "If we continue the existing trend, 2038 will mark disaster for us," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned in May 2010 (see The heart of TurknessAsia Times Online, March 23, 2011).
I do not know whether Erdogan chose the year 2038 by statistical projection, or whether he consulted the Muslim counterpart of Harold Camping, but it will do as well as any. Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, has warned repeatedly of "national extinction" if the country's low birth rate persists.
What happens to Egypt and Syria in this scenario is of small importance. Neither country will come out of the present crisis in any condition to fight, if they come out of it at all. Egypt's social structure - with two-fifths of the country immured in extreme rural poverty, and another quarter starving on thin subsidies in Cairo and Alexandria - simply is not viable.
It needed only one swift kick to shatter, and that came from the doubling of food prices. The rebellion that deposed Hosni Mubarak made things much worse; the collapse of tourism and other sources of foreign exchange, the jump in import prices, and flight capital have left Egypt without the funds to cover half its annual import bill. The country will be broke by year-end, despite US President Barack Obama's aid package (The hunger to come in Egypt Asia Times Online, May 10, 2011).
Development economists have known for years that a disaster was in the works. A 2009 World Bank report on Arab food security warned, "Arab countries are very vulnerable to fluctuations in international commodity markets because they are heavily dependent on imported food. Arab countries are the largest importers of cereal in the world. Most import at least 50 percent of the food calories they consume." The trouble is that the Arab regimes made things worse rather than better.
Egypt's rulers of the past 60 years intentionally transformed what once was the breadbasket of the Mediterranean into a starvation trap. They did so through tragedy, not oversight. Keeping a large part of one's people illiterate on subsistence farms is the surest method of social control.
Crop yields in Egypt are a fifth of the best American levels, and by design, for no Egyptian government wished to add more displaced peasants to the 17 million people now crowded into Cairo. Syrian President Basher al-Assad made a few tentative steps in this direction, and got a 100,000 landless farmers living in tent cities around Damascus (Food and Syria's failure Asia Times Online March 29, 2011).
Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Mubarak did not invent the system. Post-revolutionary Russia imprisoned its peasants on collective farms; as the Mexican historian Enrique Krauze showed (in his 1992 book TextosHereticos), post-revolutionary Mexico emulated the Stalinist model of social control and imposed its own system of collective farms during the 1930s.
Mexico eventually dumped a fifth of its population on its northern neighbor, mainly rural people from the impoverished south. The remaining Mexican poor provided an inexhaustible source of foot-soldiers for the drug cartels with which the Mexican government is fighting a low-intensity civil war.
Egypt, the most populous Arab country, postponed these problems for three generations. It is governable only by military rule, de facto or de jure, because the military is the only institution that can take peasants straight from the farm and assimilate them into a disciplined social structure.
There is no civil society underneath the military. The collapse of Mubarak's military dictatorship came about when food price inflation revealed its incapacity to meet the population's basic needs. But the collapse of military rule and the flight of the army-linked oligarchy that milked the Egyptian economy for 60 years is a near-term disaster.
In place of the orderly corruption over which Mubarak presided, there is a scramble on the part of half-organized political groups to get control of the country's shrinking supply of basic goods. Civic violence likely will claim more lives than hunger.
Refugees from Libya and Tunisia have swamped the refugee camps on the closest Italian island, and hundreds have drowned in small boats attempting to cross the Mediterranean. By the end of this year, tourists on the Greek islands may see thousands of small boats carrying hungry Egyptians seeking help. Europe's sympathy for the Arab side may vanish under an inundation of refugees.
Events are most likely to overtake diplomacy. The sort of economic and demographic imbalances implied by the projections shown above reflect back into the present. Chaos in Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries probably will pre-empt the present focus on Israel and the Palestinians. It would not be surprising if the Palestinians were to mount another Intifada, or Egypt and Syria were to initiate one last war against Israel. It might be their last opportunity.
But I rate the probably of another war at well under 50%. The internal problems of Egypt and Syria are more likely to make war too difficult to wage.
Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. Comment on this article in Spengler's Expat Bar forum.
Reply #11 on:
May 26, 2011, 09:28:57 AM »
I'm reminded of a quote from an Israeli general when asked if the IDF was the greatest army in the world. He replied"I don't know, we've only fought arabs".
WSJ: Bob Doll is bullish on America
Reply #12 on:
June 04, 2011, 11:07:36 PM »
By JAMES FREEMAN
It's been a dreary week for economic news: slow job creation, falling home prices, lagging auto and consumer sales, and a sell-off in stocks. So it seems like a good moment to check in with one of Wall Street's leading perma-optimists, BlackRock Chief Equity Strategist Bob Doll, to see if he's still bullish on America.
To my considerable relief, he doesn't disappoint. "Credit markets are sound. Money growth is good," says Mr. Doll, whose optimism has been the right market call since March 9, 2009, when stocks hit their post-crisis lows. The Dow has since risen more than 85%, and Mr. Doll expects the slow economic expansion to continue.
As intriguing in this moment of U.S. pessimism is the 56-year-old uber-investor's long-term bullishness on American companies and U.S. competitiveness. "You could say we're the best house in a bad neighborhood," says the man who has spent 28 years managing money. "We have fewer problems and more solutions than Europe or Japan."
Mr. Doll is sitting in a conference room at one of BlackRock's two giant offices in midtown Manhattan. While his company remains obscure to most Americans, and has only existed since 1988, it is now the world's largest money manager.
Born as a subsidiary of the private equity firm Blackstone, the company went public in 1999 and after a series of mergers and acquisitions, BlackRock now keeps watch on more than $3.6 trillion of client money. Mr. Doll's job is to allocate almost $30 billion among shares of large U.S. corporations and to advise clients on the most compelling opportunities for equity investment.
Notably, his focus remains the United States, and he believes that the most important reason why America's house remains the nicest in the neighborhood of developed countries is that our family keeps getting bigger.
"Over the next 20 years, the U.S. work force is going to grow by 11%, Europe's going to fall by five, and Japan's going to fall by 17. This alone tells me the U.S. has a huge advantage over Europe and a bigger one over Japan for growth," he says. "And the reason for this is pretty simple. We have higher immigration than both of these, and we make more babies. We have a higher fertility rate. And they are the long-term determinants of population growth and therefore work force growth." Mr. Doll and his wife seem to be doing their part with three children.
But many Americans, whether they favor pundits on the right or the left, may have a hard time accepting that population growth and immigration are the keys to our prosperity. Mr. Doll explains the economics: "The long-term growth rate of any economy is the product of the change in the size of the work force multiplied by the productivity of the work force." Productivity is very hard to predict, he reports, but demographics is easy. "You count noses." And that tally shows a very healthy America.
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.But doesn't Mr. Doll smell trouble on productivity? It rose just 1.3% in the first quarter compared to the same quarter last year. He says that U.S. productivity is "OK and better than lots of other places." This is a recurring theme of our discussion— that America is the least worst among the major developed economies.
Mr. Doll's optimism comes despite his skepticism about the last several years of heavy government intervention in the economy. His team at BlackRock calculated that, at most, half of the 2009 stimulus program was "true stimulus" for the economy. What about the rest? "Call your congressman and find out where the money went." More than a few readers may be tempted to call BlackRock and ask how they concluded that even half of it was spent effectively.
What about the impact of ObamaCare, the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and the president's continuing advocacy of tax increases? "All three of them are retardants to growth," says Mr. Doll.
He also concedes that "we face formidable long-term structural problems that make the U.S. less attractive than it otherwise might be," and yet he has written in these pages about America remaining a "city upon a hill" in the vision of Puritan John Winthrop. Mr. Doll could be making the least inspiring case for American exceptionalism in the history of the republic. "You might say we win by default, which is not a fun way to win," he says.
But can we really win merely by staying ahead of Europe and Japan? So far the answer seems to be yes. People are invariably shocked when Mr. Doll tells them that in 1995 the U.S. produced roughly 25% of the world's goods and services and in 2010, after 15 years that included a tech bust, a terrorist attack and a housing bust that triggered a financial crisis, the U.S. was still producing that same 25% of global GDP.
How is this possible given the rapid rise of China and India? Mr. Doll says the increase in emerging markets' share of the world economy has come "at the expense of mostly Japan and a bit Europe. The U.S. has held its own, which I think is a statement of our ability to be productive in a tough world."
But an investor would still have more upside in developing countries than in the U.S., right? Mr. Doll says that if he were forced to lock up his money in one place for the next 10 or 20 years he would indeed select the developing world and specifically India over China.
China's population will grow only slightly faster than that of the U.S. between now and 2030, he says, whereas he expects India's population to increase 32%, suggesting robust GDP growth. "The one-child birth policy in China will eventually arrest the growth rate of China to a much smaller number."
But in the short run, Mr. Doll likes the U.S. equity market best of all and reports that this is where most of his personal investments are, largely in the funds he oversees. "The U.S. stock market and the U.S. economy are increasingly different animals. It used to be when U.S. economic growth went a certain direction, so did the stock market," because so much of the business done by these companies was domestic. But now 40% happens elsewhere. Mr. Doll estimates that, over the next five years, 70% of the incremental earnings growth of S&P 500 companies will come from outside the U.S.
Among the formidable U.S. companies that he thinks are attractively priced now are Applied Materials, which makes the machines that make computer chips, pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers, and Chevron. He also believes that Alcoa "fits the slowly expanding global economy," and he is "increasingly intrigued" by Microsoft, a "blue chip" tech company with a stagnant stock price.
Mr. Doll is less bullish on the future for U.S. jobs. "I hope the number is not as high as seven or eight [percent unemployment] but I think it's higher than five," he says. "Said differently, when I went to school, we studied that full employment was 3% unemployment and then I went into the work world and I never saw three. And I think with almost every passing cycle—for a lot of reasons, technology being cheaper and more reliable than most human beings, as an example—the structural unemployment rate slowly but surely has moved higher. And I think that continues. So I hope it's not seven or eight. I think it's a little lower than that, hopefully six or seven. . . . Sad but true. And that has political and social consequences that I don't think we even know what to do with yet."
Inflation will also be higher, though Mr. Doll doesn't expect the Fed to let it get out of hand. Regulation is still too much of a burden, especially on young companies trying to go public, he adds, and "We need a major overhaul of our tax system if we're going to create more incentives and more productivity."
But even with all our problems, he says, "I think the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the U.S." He argues that we are still the source of technological innovation and home to the greatest universities and the most creative businesses. He sees promising advances in health care and alternative energy technologies. By alternative he doesn't necessarily mean "green" energy, but simply new power sources given that he expects oil prices to keep rising.
Also, it should be noted that his outlook is premised on meaningful spending reductions in Washington. "I think we are moving in an austerity direction," he says. "Six months ago, no one had a plan that said, 'I'm going to be able to cut the deficit by X trillion over Y years." Now, with House passage of a bill by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and the looming vote on the nation's debt limit, he hopefully notes that all sides are at least talking about "trillions over years."
Mr. Doll's optimism—or, more accurately, his lack of pessimism—has at times gotten the best of him, as in 2008. "We turned slightly to the negative side of neutral, but I never said, 'Get out,'" he recalls. "The severity and rapidity of the problems was beyond belief."
Now in 2011, his views may not strike anyone as wildly optimistic. But on Wall Street, Mr. Doll's sobering catalog of U.S. weaknesses is what passes for bullishness. With unemployment hitting 9.1%, Main Street can hardly be any more cheerful.
All of which suggests a political opportunity for someone who can present a credible plan to return to low unemployment and robust economic growth. Optimism about the future is implicit in America's high birth rate. Pundits may continue to try to convince voters to accept a new normal, but Americans are probably aiming higher than the best house in a bad neighborhood.
Mr. Freeman is assistant editor of The Journal's editorial page.
Re: Demographics - Hispanic vote
Reply #13 on:
August 22, 2011, 09:23:55 AM »
Bringing CCP's Michael Barone post from yesterday over here per Crafty's request, with my comments.
First I detest group politics,but here we go... I think my statement that Hispanics vote Dem only 60-40 was a rough, best case approximation, from a conservative point of view. This CCP/Dick Morris post (
) says that in 2010 (a best case year) Hispanics voted Democrat by 58-37 From this post:(
) Obama won Hispanics by 67% to 31% in 2008, a best case year for him. Obama's approval rating from Hispanics is (only) 13 points higher than the public at large.
CCP makes a valid point that illegals granted citizenship and voting rights with one party favoring and the other opposing will leaning much further than that (until they start either paying taxes or looking for work). Also these partial measures like a ban on deportations will affects families, friends and neighborhoods of existing voters.
CCP: "Doug writes Hispanics vote 40/60 Rep/Dem. I find it hard to believe that most illegals, if had the chance to vote (some I bet do already) would vote Rep at a rate as high as 40% yet this from Barone-Rasmussen:"
****GOP Shouldn't Panic If Whites Become a Minority
A Commentary By Michael Barone
Monday, April 04, 2011 Email to a Friend ShareThisAdvertisement
Are whites on the verge of becoming a minority of the American population? That's what some analysts of the 2010 Census results claim. Many go on, sometimes with relish, to say that this spells electoral doom for the Republican Party.
I think the picture is more complicated than that. And that the demise of the Republican Party is no more foreordained than it was a century ago when Italian, Jewish and Polish immigrants were pouring into the United States in proportions much greater than the Hispanic and Asian immigration of the past two decades.
The numbers do appear stark. The Census tells us that 16 percent of U.S. residents are Hispanic, up from 13 percent in 2000 and 9 percent in 1990, and that 5 percent are Asian, up from 4 percent in 2000. The percentage of blacks held steady at 13. Among children, the voters of tomorrow, those percentages are higher.
But it's a mistake to see blacks, Hispanics and Asians as a single "people of color" voting bloc. The 2010 exit poll shows that the Republican percentages in the vote for the U.S. House were 60 percent among whites, 9 percent among blacks, 38 percent among Hispanics and 40 percent among Asians.
Simple arithmetic tells you that Hispanics and Asians vote more like whites than like blacks. The picture is similar in the 2008 exit poll.
Moreover, while blacks vote similarly in just about every state, there is wide variation among Hispanics. In 2010 governor elections, Hispanics voted 31 percent Republican in California, 38 percent Republican in Texas and 50 percent Republican in Florida (where Cubans are no longer a majority of Hispanics).
As RealClearPolitics senior political analyst Sean Trende has written, Hispanics tend to vote 10 percent to 15 percent less Republican than whites of similar income and education levels. An increasingly Hispanic electorate puts Republicans at a disadvantage, but not an overwhelming one.
The same is true of Asians. In 2010, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid got 79 percent from Asians in Nevada, where many are Filipinos. But the Asians in Middlesex County, N.J., most of whom are from India, seem to have voted for Republican Gov. Chris Christie in 2009.
The 2010 Census tells something else that may prove important: There's been a slowdown of immigration since the recession began in 2007 and even some reverse migration. If you look at the Census results for Hispanic immigrant entry points -- East Los Angeles and Santa Ana, Calif., the east side of Houston, the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago -- you find that the Hispanic population has dropped sharply since 2000.
One reason is the business cycle. The 2000 Census was taken on April 1, 2000, less than a month after the peak of the tech boom. Unemployment was low, immigration was high, and entry-point houses and apartments were crammed with large families.
The 2010 Census was taken after two years of recession, when immigration had slackened off. We simply don't know whether this was just a temporary response to the business cycle or the beginning of a permanent decline in migration.
Past mass migrations, which most experts expected to continue indefinitely, in fact ended abruptly. Net Puerto Rican migration to New York City stopped in 1961, and the huge movement of Southern blacks to Northern cities ended in 1965. Those who extrapolate current trends far into the future end up being wrong sooner or later.
Finally there is an assumption -- which is particularly strong among those who expect a majority "people of color" electorate to put Democrats in power permanently -- that racial consciousness never changes. But sometimes it does.
American blacks do have common roots in slavery and segregation. But African immigrants don't share that heritage, and Hispanics come from many different countries and cultures (there are big regional differences just within Mexico). The Asian category includes anyone from Japan to Lebanon and in between.
Under the definitions in use in the America of a century ago, when Southern and Eastern European immigrants were not regarded as white, the United States became a majority non-white nation sometime in the 1950s. By today's definitions, we'll become majority non-white a few decades hence.
But that may not make for the vast cultural and political change some predict. Not if we assimilate newcomers, and if our two political parties adapt, as we and they have done in the past.
Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 10:11:55 AM by DougMacG
Growing Latino Vote
Reply #14 on:
September 29, 2011, 09:26:51 AM »
By JONATHAN WEISMAN
WOODBRIDGE, Va.—The surging Hispanic population in several states that figure to be crucial to the outcome of next year's election is prompting an early scramble by both parties to influence Hispanic voters.
The trend is particularly important to President Barack Obama, who has seen his support among white voters sag, putting his hold on several swing states in danger. He is ramping up an urgent effort to win support from Latinos, while Republicans are trying to build on doubts among them about his stewardship of the economy.
In Florida, the nation's largest presidential swing state, the voting-age Hispanic population grew by nearly 250,000 people between 2008 and 2010, census data show. By contrast, the voting-age white population grew by 30,400.
Nevada added more than 44,000 voting-age Hispanics over the same period, more than double the increase of 18,000 voting-age whites. And in New Mexico, the voting-age Hispanic total rose by more than 36,000, outpacing the growth among whites of just over 19,000.
Mr. Obama won all three states in 2008—and two-thirds of Hispanic voters nationwide—but he's now facing headwinds. Hispanic unemployment stands at 11.3%, higher than the 9.1% rate for the nation as a whole. And the president has failed to deliver a promised overhaul of immigration laws that would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Close.Some swing states added more white adults than Hispanic adults. But a meaningful rise in voting-age Hispanics also gives Mr. Obama an opportunity. He won North Carolina, for example, by more than 14,000 votes. About 54,400 additional voting-age Hispanics have come to the state between 2008 and 2010, census data show.
Mr. Obama's re-election campaign is starting a broad canvassing effort, reaching from traditional Hispanic communities to suburban areas where a Hispanic surge is relatively new. Hispanic-to-Hispanic phone banks are being set up in New Mexico and Nevada. Latino student outreach is also beginning.
From the White House, the president on Wednesday conducted an online roundtable on Hispanic issues. A day earlier, he spoke at a predominantly Hispanic high school in Denver.
Republicans aren't leaving the field open to the president. The first television ad of the presidential campaign from American Crossroads, a GOP-allied independent group, ran in Spanish and English in July, about the same time as Spanish-language radio ads from the Republican National Committee.
"I supported President Obama because he spoke so beautifully, but since then things have gone from bad to much worse," said a female character in the English version of the American Crossroads ad.
Mr. Obama implored Latinos at the Wednesday event to register and vote in order to claim their full voice in the political process. "We still have not seen the kinds of participation levels that are necessary to match up the numbers with actual political power," he said, in comments translated into Spanish.
America in 2010
See details on the concentration of Hispanics and other racial groups by county, nationwide.
.More photos and interactive graphics
.Polling explains why the push is coming so early in the president's re-election effort: Mr. Obama's support among whites has sunk. Only 35% of white adults approved of his job performance in August. Six months into his presidency, 49% had approved of his job performance, Wall Street Journal/NBC News surveys show. Hispanics view him more favorably: 57% approved of Mr. Obama in August, down from 71% in June 2009.
Here in Virginia, which Mr. Obama carried in 2008, two-thirds of white voters disapproved of his job performance in a recent poll. That is one reason that, in suburbs like this one, his re-election campaign is recruiting Latino neighborhood captains, canvassing coordinators, phone-bank hosts and data-management coordinators.
In Jill Borak's Woodbridge living room, Keisy Chavez, a Obama campaign Latino outreach coordinator, was training new recruit Chepita Jovel last week as the two worked their way down call sheets of Spanish-sounding surnames. Flipping between English and Spanish, they worked the phones and cajoled former volunteers to work once again for the president.
For First Time, Largest Group of Poor Children Are Latino
.But generating enthusiasm could be a challenge, due to higher unemployment today and no overhaul of immigration laws for the president to campaign on. A less-ambitious effort to provide illegal immigrant children a route to citizenship through service and study also has foundered. "People are discouraged," said Ms. Chavez, a life-insurance saleswoman by day. "But you know, it's just like in sales. You say, 'I understand why you feel like that,' and you bring them along."
One potentially encouraging sign for Mr. Obama: The Census Bureau reported Wednesday that Latinos made up 7% of voters in 2010, the highest percentage for a nonpresidential election since the bureau began collecting such data.
At the same time, the Obama administration's Department of Homeland Security has deported more than one million illegal immigrants in three years, putting him on pace to deport more in one term than George W. Bush did in two. That has done nothing to win over conservatives, but it has done much to sour many Latino voters.
"I think there is a Latino problem right now for the president," said Walter Tejada, a Democrat and member of the Arlington County board of supervisors and one of the most prominent Hispanic politicians in the area. "There's a disenchantment, and there's definitely an enthusiasm gap. It's very real."
Republicans are focusing on that in ads in key states. "The No. 1 issue facing Hispanics today is the number one issue facing everyone else—jobs and the economy," said Whit Ayres, who has been polling Hispanic voters for a Latino outreach effort by Resurgent Republic, another GOP group.
Mr. Obama may have one thing going for him: By huge majorities, Hispanic voters favor immigration bills that have languished since the Bush administration, and they largely blame the GOP for their failure, according to a new poll of Hispanic voters by Resurgent Republic.
Some Republicans see that as a serious problem. They argue that the GOP has a wide opening to win Hispanic votes in a year when economic issues are trumping all others, and they believe Latinos, who tend to be Catholic and include many small-business owners, should be as open to the party's low-tax, culturally conservative message as are other voters.
But many Latinos read the GOP's call for tough illegal immigration laws as an affront.
Some Republican campaign consultants have quietly hoped immigration issues would drop from the current presidential debate, allowing the economic argument to dominate.
But in recent days, the opposite has happened as Republican front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have sparred at debates over a law the Texas governor signed granting in-state university tuition to illegal immigrants.
Mr. Romney has called the law a magnet for illegal immigration. When Mr. Perry suggested at a recent debate that the law's critics had no heart, the backlash among conservative voters was harsh.
"The message from the Resurgent Republic poll for Republicans is to be extremely careful of their tone when talking about immigration," Mr. Ayres said. "It is critically important for Republicans discussing immigration reform not to come across as anti-Hispanic."
The Republican economic message doesn't appear to be resonating among Hispanics, either. Resurgent Republic asked Hispanics in Florida, Colorado and New Mexico whether they agreed that the best way to improve the economy was to increase government investment in job training, education and infrastructure, or by reining in government spending, lowering taxes and reducing excessive regulations.
In Colorado, a swing state, 56% sided with more government spending, as Mr. Obama has proposed, while 37% sided with less government, as Republicans propose. In Florida, the spread was 52% to 40%. In New Mexico, it was 59%-30%.
Reply #15 on:
October 17, 2011, 07:25:23 AM »
Reply #16 on:
October 25, 2011, 07:33:50 AM »
David P. Goldman, who blogs at the Asia Times as “Spengler,” has written an insightful book challenging the truisms of the commentariat on both the rise of Islam and the decline of the West: How Civilizations Die: (and why Islam is dying too)
History buffs will recognize that the pen name Spengler honours Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), author of Decline of the West. Goldman’s initial observations about the decline are most helpful but not unprecedented. From a much less religion-friendly perspective, American demographer Phillip Longman has been saying the same thing, and so has Canadian demographer David Foot.
It is what Goldman says about Islam that will surprise many readers: Islam is dying too because the Muslim birth rate - according to reliable statistics - has crashed. How badly?
Across the entire Muslim world, university-educated Muslim women bear children at the same rate as their infecund European counterparts.
Whatever they believe about Islam, they have one or two children, but rarely three or four. Not enough to deliver their societies from demographic collapse, given the size of the families they came from. For example,
The average young Tunisian woman - like her Iranian or Turkish counterpart - grew up in a family of seven children, but will bear only one or two herself.
Education for women doesn’t in itself cause birth dearth, but abandonment of the land does. Muslims are not immune from the urbanization that turns children who were once a source of wealth into a major cost centre. Increasing numbers of people, there as here, hope that others will undertake the trouble.
But surely some Muslims have large families? Those who do live in areas that are considered backward, and they cannot indefinitely prop up an unsustainably low urban birth rate. But because demographic decline happened so quickly in Muslim societies, the Western problem of too few young people supporting too many seniors will be much more severe, especially in countries with few natural resources, like Turkey.
One might ask, why can’t Islamism reverse the decline by demanding that urban women do their duty? A look at Iran, Goldman says, reveals a related crisis of effective faith. For example, according to a suppressed report, more than 90 percent of Tehran prostitutes are said to have passed the university entrance exam, and 30 percent of them are studying. Their career choice is, they say, voluntary. Drug abuse among students is rampant, fuelled by cheap opium from neighbouring Afghanistan. The Islamist could exemplarily punish a few prostitutes or drug addicts - but thousands?
More generally, when modernization comes quickly, without warning, and from elsewhere, a declining birth rate can be accompanied by worse, not better, conditions for modern women. In Turkey, for example, only 22 percent of women sought employment outside the home in 2009, down from 34 percent in 1988 - despite their intervening fertility crash. About this, Goldman observes, “If we are surprised by Muslim demographics, it is because we have not listened carefully enough to what Muslims themselves have been trying to tell us.” Islamism is more of a last stand for many than a resurgent force, hence the glamour of suicide. If all this is correct, demographic collapse will increase rather than decrease the risk of terrorism, because “there is no such thing as rational self-interest for people who believe they have nothing to lose.”
Those inclined to dismiss Goldman’s contrarian analysis might point out that if there are few young people for the Islamist to recruit, there will be few suicide terrorists. Not necessarily; a culture’s suicidal resistance often increases at precisely the point where a huge conflict is irretrievably lost. This was true of the South in the closing days of the Civil War, and of Germany and Japan in World War II, for example. Many won’t be trying to win, only to inflict damage on the victor.
Compounding the problem is that Islam is - at present - much less well-adapted to political systems that produce stability in a modern environment. The rule of life among Islamists is authoritarianism in every facet of life. Authoritarianism results in either accepted oppression or revolt, but not the consensual stability that a modern society needs. And imams provide little guidance as to how to get there, because many see the very behaviours that hamper progress as ordained by Allah. For these reasons, Goldman thinks, the threat to the West from Islamism is generally overrated; internal demographic collapse is a much more serious threat. No civilization has ever survived a situation in which a small number of young adults must support a large number of retirees as well as raise children to support them.
Interestingly, he think that the United States has a much better chance of surviving the collapse than Europe or the Muslim world, for reasons we will explore in Part II next week.
Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.
Stratfor: Earth at Seven Billion
Reply #17 on:
November 02, 2011, 03:12:44 AM »
The Earth at Population 7 Billion
The United Nations Population Fund estimates that the world’s 7 billionth person was born Oct. 31. Understanding demography is a core part of STRATFOR’s work, as it colors a great many factors, from whether a state can balance its budget to whether a state will be capable of defending itself.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the increase in population is putting pressure on the global ecosystem and threatening the balance of power in the world. As the story goes, the poorer states are breeding so rapidly that within a few generations they will overwhelm the West and Japan — assuming the environment survives the rising tide of people.
“So while the absolute population of the developed world will crest within the next generation, that of the world as a whole will level out and begin to decline sometime in the next two to three generations.”
That thinking obscures a far more complex reality. Four factors help properly analyze the impact of population growth. First, populations are indeed cresting in the developed world — and appear already to have done so in Germany and Japan. Because of large gains in life expectancy, these cresting populations are first aging. Third, while a senior citizen and an infant both count as a single person from a census point of view, only one of them can one day have children — in other words, aging is the last step before a population begins declining. The developed world is moving into an era of shrinking populations. And before anyone thinks that the masses of the developing world are about to take over, the demographic profiles of the major developing states are only three decades behind the developed world.
So while the absolute population of the developed world will crest within the next generation, that of the world as a whole will level out and begin to decline sometime in the next two to three generations.
This trend of aging, followed by shrinking populations, is already rewriting the geopolitical environment. A normal population structure is tilted toward the young: there are many babies, fewer children, still fewer young adults, and so on. Young adults support children, but they are at the low ebb of their earning potential. Young adults’ large numbers plus low earning power combine with their high living costs to make them debtors. Older adults have finished raising children, and their earning power is at its zenith: They are a society’s creditors. A typical population structure features fewer mature adults than young adults, which leads to weak capital supply but strong capital demand. Loans are expensive, borrowing is difficult and cost efficiency is of crucial importance. This was the normal state of affairs globally in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The modern era’s trend of aging-but-not-yet-declining populations has changed all of these calculations. There are many more mature adults in all developing countries than there are young adults. Capital supply is robust as those mature workers save for their retirement and pay more taxes than when they were younger (or both). But there are fewer young families to absorb the available capital. In such a capital-rich environment, borrowing costs plummet, leaving substantial room to lower taxes. Economic growth greatly increases when money management becomes a booming industry as every saver looks for ways to earn returns on investments. Sectors become overinvested and bubbles form; volatility and financial crashes become more common.
Demography drove economies to this condition in the 1990s, when credit (and thus growth) increased. In the 2000s, mature workers produced a good deal of excess capital. The 2010s find the global economy correcting itself after 20 years of excess-capital-driven growth — at the same time as mature workers are retiring and leaving their capital-supplying role.
A darker period is likely to dawn by the 2020s. Most of those high-wage earners will have retired — they will no longer supply capital and instead will depend on the state to issue their pensions. The cost of capital will invert strongly. The generation born between 1964 and 1979 — characterized by its low numbers — will be responsible for supplying capital. Not only will they have to fund the younger generations, they also will have to support the pensions and geriatric-support programs created by their predecessors. Since the developing world’s aging process lags about 30 years behind that of the developed world, this same generation will act as the primary capital suppliers to the entire world.
“Perhaps the most unexpected outcome of population patterns is that the developed world will have a massive interest in attracting immigrants.”
The developing world started to age too late. Its countries will lack enough mature workers to generate the capital needed to replace that which can no longer be imported from the developed world. The developing world will experience the financial challenges of the developed world, without having built up the infrastructure and industrial base the developed world has had for three generations. Such capital scarcity threatens to halt growth across the poorer parts of the planet. It will also make for strange bedfellows: The only hope the developed world’s ’64-’79 generation will have to meet their bills is to import more taxpayers. Perhaps the most unexpected outcome of population patterns is that the developed world will have a massive interest in attracting immigrants.
The aforementioned analysis is what the picture will look like on a global scale — but with demography, every country and region in many ways constitutes a unique reality. The trends that shape demography are affected by geography and culture. The overarching trend is of a shrinking global population, but there are dozens of standalone stories where that trend is either bucked, magnified or otherwise interpreted through the lens of the locality. Here are five examples:
Russia’s population started shrinking some 20 years ago due to the influence of alcoholism, drug abuse and communicable diseases rather than due to having achieved affluence. That difference in causality whittled away the morale of Russia’s potential young parents so deeply that Russia now has more citizens in their 20s, 30s, even their 60s, than it has teenagers. Russian power may well be in sharp ascendance currently, but it is entirely likely that in about 10 years time, the Russians will lack the people they need to man a sizable army, or perhaps even to maintain a modern society.
India is the only major developing state that is still experiencing a normal population profile (in which there are more babies than children and more children than young adults, etc.). This could make India the world’s workforce, but the country probably will soon be the target of huge citizen-recruitment programs from the rest of the world. Unless India can make a significant leap in the quality of its mass education, the coming brain drain will deplete the country’s skilled labor.
China’s population stands at more than a billion, but after thirty years of the one-child policy and of population movements from rural to urban areas, the Chinese birthrate has fallen dramatically. Only Japan is aging faster than China. Even if STRATFOR is wrong and the Chinese economy does not collapse over the next few years, it will struggle mightily to survive the 2020s, when China faces sharp qualitative labor shortages. China’s economy depends on attractive labor costs — the looming bottoming out of the cheap, low-skilled labor pool could be a deathblow.
Brazil may not turn out as capital-starved as much of the developing world. The country’s demographic has not inverted, but merely slowed: its number of 20- and 30-year-olds is similar to its number of teenagers and children. In two decades, Brazil may have a population structure that makes it relatively capital rich (by the standards of the world in 2040). It could well become the only major developing state that can generate its own capital and not depend on the developed world’s shrinking capital supplies. And thanks to the local opportunities that local capital can create, it might avoid losing too much of its skilled labor to foreign recruitment.
The United States is the only developed state that still can claim a positive demographic profile, and this is before factoring in immigration. In the developed world, only New Zealand is younger than the United States, and the United States is the only developed state that has a young generation strong in numbers — those born between 1980 and 1999 are second in number only to the baby boomers, who are currently in the process of retiring. As such, the United States not only faces the least severe shift from capital excess to capital scarcity, it is also the only developed state that can hope to grow out of the current demographic period in anything less than sixty years. In the 2020s, the United States will have a good number of citizens in their 30s, who are capable of having children. Across Europe, the dominant generation at that time will consist of people in their 50s and 60s. America’s adjustment will still be difficult, but it alone among the major powers will still have excess capital and a younger generation capable of supporting its economic systems.
STRATFOR would like to extend its thanks to the fine people at the U.S. Census Bureau who collect, organize and share their statistics on global population. You can access their data here
WSJ: Baby boomers broke
Reply #18 on:
December 19, 2011, 10:21:29 AM »
By E.S. BROWNING
Many older Americans fear they will be working well into their 60s because they didn't save enough to retire. Millions more wish they were that lucky: Without full-time jobs, they are short of money and afraid of what lies ahead.
Deborah Kallick was a professor of biomedical chemistry at the University of Minnesota until she ventured into the private sector in 2000 with a job in genome research. She is now one of more than four million Americans aged 55 to 64 who can't find full-time work. That number has nearly doubled in five years, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures in October.
Ms. Kallick, 60 years old, has been unemployed since 2007 and lives in the Northern California home of an ex-boyfriend. She has run out of unemployment insurance, used up most of her retirement savings and is indebted to relatives and credit-card companies.
A good job could settle her accounts, she said. Until then, Ms. Kallick relies on generosity, occasional consulting work and the sale of sweaters, purses and other possessions on eBay.
"It is very hard to work through this and learn to be calm and happy day to day," said Ms. Kallick, who never married. "It has taken a lot of strength and courage to learn to do that."
Older Baby Boomers are trying to postpone retirement, as many find their spending habits far outpaced their thrift. With U.S. unemployment at 8.6%, and much higher among people in their teens and 20s, younger members of the labor pool accuse Boomers of refusing to gracefully exit the workplace.
But their long-held grip is slipping, as employers look past older Americans to younger, cheaper workers.
The Labor Department counts people as unemployed only if they have looked for a job in the previous month. By that definition, 6.5% of workers aged 55 to 64 were unemployed in October, below the national average but more than twice the jobless rate for the group five years earlier.
Taking into account the number of older people who want full-time work but are unemployed, working part-time or need a job but have quit looking, the percentage jumps to 17.4%, or 4.3 million Americans ages 55 to 64, according to the government data. The number has grown from 2.4 million in October 2006.
This group without full-time work now accounts for more than one in six older Americans seeking positions.
In some ways, older people are doing better than everyone else: Among all U.S. workers, 20% are unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking for jobs. But older people have far less time to rebuild savings.
"This is new. It is different. It is worse than we have experienced before and it is very widespread," said Carl Van Horn, head of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. "It is going to get worse. You are going to have a higher level of poverty among older Americans."
Older people have more trouble finding new jobs. Among unemployed workers older than 55, more than half have been looking for more than two years, compared with 31% of younger workers, according to the Heldrich Center. Among older workers who found a new job, 72% took a pay cut, often a big one, the Rutgers data show.
The problem has been building for decades: Inflation-adjusted, middle-class incomes have stagnated in parallel with a free-spending culture of indebtedness that has left many Americans with too little saved. Over the same time, many U.S. companies cut pensions and shifted to less-generous retirement-savings plans such as 401(k) accounts that have stagnated or diminished in the market tumult of past years.
Older families aren't just failing to save, they are increasingly draining accounts that were supposed to help finance retirement.
The median household headed by someone aged 55 to 64 has $87,200 in retirement accounts and other financial assets, according to Strategic Business Insights' MacroMonitor database. If each of the 4.3 million unemployed or underemployed people in this age group runs through half the family savings, that will, in theory, total $188 billion in lost retirement money.
The typical retirement-age household has too little saved to maintain its standard of living in retirement, according to actuarial and Federal Reserve data.
Financial planners often advise that retirement resources be large enough to provide 85% of a person's working income. Median households headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account have saved less than one-quarter of what is needed in that account to live as well in retirement, according to Fed data analyzed for The Wall Street Journal by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
The trouble spreads across generations. Older people hang on to jobs or, out of desperation, take lower-level jobs for which they are over-qualified. Either way, they displace younger workers.
In the past, older people who lost jobs often gave up and retired. No longer. In October, two-thirds of people aged 55 to 64 had jobs or wanted them, up from 59% in 1994, according to Labor Department data.
At an age when they should be generating peak incomes and savings, many unemployed and underemployed Americans are applying for early Social Security benefits and spending what's left in their retirement accounts.
Kathi Paladie, 64 years old, lost her job as an executive assistant at a mortgage company in Tacoma, Wash., six years ago. She hasn't found full-time work since but works occasionally as a phone interviewer for a political survey firm.
Her retirement savings is spent, and she said her monthly $800 Social Security checks, $100-a-week unemployment benefits and occasional paychecks barely cover expenses.
"If I don't buy a lot of groceries, then I am OK," said Ms. Paladie, who is divorced. "I do a lot of puzzles sitting here and watching TV. And I play with my bird. And that's about it."
She rarely goes out, she said, "but I've got a clean house." To save money, she sometimes eats Frosted Flakes for dinner. She shares them with her African Grey parrot, Muffin, who also likes the sweetened cereal.
Ms. Paladie hasn't been to the doctor for five years, she said. She frets about paying rent after her unemployment benefits run out next year. Her daughter lives nearby but doesn't have the room for her, Ms. Paladie said.
"It is kind of a standing joke," she said, "that if this fails, that I can always move in with them and sleep in the garage."
The problem of older, out-of-work Americans extends beyond individuals to the U.S. economy. Among jobless people aged 55 to 64 who want to work, lost annual wages exceed an estimated $100 billion, based on the median income of this age group.
Retirement savings losses exceed $10 billion a year, assuming contribution rates of 8% for employees and 2% for employers. Even if only half the people were working, the economy would gain $50 billion a year in income and another $5 billion in retirement savings.
That doesn't count the lost wages of people who have taken salary cuts to get new jobs.
Richard Foster, 59 years old, a former computer programmer and software analyst in Arvada, Colo., near Denver, has been unemployed several times over the past decade. The older he gets, the more trouble he has finding jobs in computer mainframes, his specialty, amid changing technologies. And the longer his absence from programming, the harder it is to attract recruiters, who prefer people with experience in the past six months, Mr. Foster said.
These days, he works on the telephone nearly full-time as a customer-service representative. His employer grades him on how fast he finishes each call and how customers rate his service. Mr. Foster recently contracted Bell's palsy, a temporary facial paralysis thought to be stress-related.
The work pays a lot better than a previous job, delivery driver for a dry cleaner. Still, Mr. Foster said, it pays 40% less than what he earned as a programmer at the University of Colorado Hospital, a job he lost in a restructuring that kept more tenured employees.
Mr. Foster's wife, Tina, has complications from a detached retina, which keeps her from working. Her treatment is only partially paid for by his medical plan, which classified Ms. Foster's eye problem as a pre-existing condition.
He has a retirement-savings plan at his new employer, he said, but it's hard to save, given the couple's struggle "to make ends meet day to day." He is putting off dental work, for example, to save money.
While out of work, Mr. Foster said, he sometimes depended on food banks. He filed for personal bankruptcy in 2003. He and his wife got a break recently: his wife's sister and her husband helped them purchase a home. Mortgage payments to his in-laws are less than his rent. Retirement? He said he has no idea when.
Mr. Foster's worries aren't unusual. More than two-thirds of unemployed people older than 50 report extreme stress, trouble sleeping or family strains, according to surveys by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers. More than 60% of respondents said they didn't expect to hold another full-time job in their field and a similar percentage said they were pessimistic about finding any job soon. One-third of those over 55 reported selling possessions to stay afloat.
In another unfortunate consequence, the younger people are when they apply for Social Security retirement benefits, the lower their monthly checks for the rest of their lives. Two-thirds of Americans older than 50 expect to file for the benefits earlier than they would prefer, or already have done so, according to the Rutgers survey.
"People are taking in boarders, they are moving in with their kids, selling their homes for the cash that they can live on," said Abby Snay, executive director in San Francisco for JVS, a community agency that teaches work skills.
Although her agency has long focused on young people, the fastest-growing client group is closer to retirement age. Before the recession, only 11% of her clients were older than 55; now, it is 17%.
"We are seeing people in a panic, in survival mode," she said. "They are about to finish their financial assets and all they have after that is their retirement funds. They are trying to figure out some kind of bridge so they won't have to pay an early withdrawal fee for their retirement incomes."
Ms. Snay has even seen former donors return as clients. "There is a level of shame and humiliation," she said, "and, 'What have I done wrong?' "
She recently offered older clients a workshop on the website LinkedIn. She recalled some people said, "'If I put up a picture, no one will hire me.'"
Her response: "We advise people to put up a photo, put their best foot forward."
Saunders in Toronto Globe: Peak People
Reply #19 on:
February 14, 2012, 03:32:35 PM »
Columnist Doug Saunders in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Feb. 11:
The world is on the threshold of what might be called "peak people." The world's supply of working-age people will soon be shrinking, causing a shift from surplus to scarcity. As with "peak oil" theories—which hold that declining petroleum supplies will trigger global economic instability—the claims of the doomsayers are too hyperbolic and hysterical. These are not existential threats but rather policy challenges. That said, they're very big policy challenges. . . .
About 11% of the world's people are over 60 at the moment. In the next 25 years that will double, to almost a fifth, and one in six of those people will be over 80, according to a forthcoming book, "Global Aging in the 21st Century," by sociologists Susan McDaniel of the University of Lethbridge and Zachary Zimmer of the University of California.
While this is affecting every country and region—even sub-Saharan Africa is now seeing a very fast rise in its proportion of seniors—some countries are being hit very hard. While 12 per cent of Chinese are now over 60, in two decades, there will be more than 28 per cent. Brazil faces a similar blow. It will be very difficult for countries that are only just emerging from poverty to suddenly face huge elder-care costs.
Peak people will be an age when jobs compete for workers rather than vice versa. The cheapest labour will vanish. We're already seeing this: Because China is aging very fast, its dwindling working-age population is turning down the lowest-paid jobs and pushing up the minimum wage sharply, as well as the once-minimal costs of social services: Stuff from China will stop being cheap, because the Chinese aren't young.
Boomers about to drag market returns down
Reply #20 on:
March 05, 2012, 02:32:31 PM »
By KAREN DAMATO
If you're a baby boomer, you've got a big problem when it comes to the investment returns you can expect in retirement: It's the sheer number of other boomers who are also getting ready to leave the workplace and rely on their portfolios to help pay the bills.
That's the depressing conclusion Robert D. Arnott, a portfolio manager, asset-management executive and inveterate researcher, has come to in more than 20 years of studying demographic trends and financial-market results.
The problem in a nutshell: The ratio of retirees to active workers in the U.S. will balloon. As retirees sell stocks and then bonds to support themselves, there will be fewer younger investors to buy those securities, keeping a lid on prices. Meanwhile, strong demand from boomers and a limited supply of workers will boost the prices of goods and services the boomers need.
POTH: Non-white births a majority
Reply #21 on:
May 17, 2012, 12:14:48 PM »
Written with the values for which POTH is famous
Where You'll Want to Live in 2032
Reply #22 on:
July 13, 2012, 08:10:49 AM »
Reply #23 on:
July 13, 2012, 08:39:25 AM »
US birthrate lowest in 25 years
Reply #24 on:
July 27, 2012, 11:53:24 AM »
Housing Headwinds: US Birthrate Lowest in 25 Years as Twenty-Somethings Postpone Having Babies
Boomer demographics and postponement of marriage on account of student debt and poor finances are two of the key reasons that I long-ago stated the housing recovery would be slow for a decade.
Declining birthrates now show that is indeed what is happening.
First, please consider a short snip from my July 25 post "Actual" New Home Sales First 6 Months of 2012 vs. Prior Years; Reflections on the Housing Recovery
Reflections on the Housing Recovery
Even with today's reported decline, new home sales have likely bottomed on an annual, cumulative-total basis.
However, don't expect much in terms of recovery.
Debt overhang is immense, and student debt is particularly problematic. Lack of jobs coupled with high student debt is capping family formation. Kids out of college are deep in debt and holding off getting married, starting families, and therefore buying houses.
Moreover, home sizes will trend lower and price recovery will be anemic because of boomer demographics. Retired boomers looking to downsize have few buyers able or willing to buy.
Bank-owned real estate (REOs) and shadow inventory are hugely underestimated. That too will pressure prices and sales.
The good news is home sales will add to GDP.
The more realistic news is structural headwinds are immense, demographics are poor, and job prospects for college graduates are poor. The bottom in new home sales may be in, just don't expect anything close to a normal housing-led recovery, because it's not going to happen.
Twenty-Somethings Postpone Having Babies
USA Today picked up on that theme in their article Americans put off having babies amid poor economy
Twenty-somethings who postponed having babies because of the poor economy are still hesitant to jump in to parenthood — an unexpected consequence that has dropped the USA's birthrate to its lowest point in 25 years.
As the economy tanked, the average number of births per woman fell 12% from a peak of 2.12 in 2007. Demographic Intelligence projects the rate to hit 1.87 this year and 1.86 next year — the lowest since 1987.
The less-educated and Hispanics have experienced the biggest birthrate decline while the share of U.S. births to college-educated, non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans has grown.
The effect of this economic slump on birthrates has been more rapid and long-lasting than any downturn since the Great Depression.
Many young adults are unemployed, carrying big student loan debt and often forced to move back in with their parents — factors that may make them think twice about starting a family.
"The more you delay it, the more you delay the possibility of a second or third child," says Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families. "This is probably a long-term trend that is exacerbated by the recession but also by the general hollowing out of middle-class jobs. There's a growing sense that college is prohibitively expensive, and yet your kids can't make it without a college degree," so many women may decide to have just one child.
Unexpected by Whom?
I am amused by the phrase "unexpected consequence" in the opening paragraph of the above article. I have to ask "unexpected by whom?"
Read more at
POTH: Contracting life expectancy for uneducated whites
Reply #25 on:
September 21, 2012, 06:49:01 AM »
Since 1990 the average life span for uneducated whites has contracted five years
US birth rate hits all time low
Reply #26 on:
October 03, 2012, 04:17:42 PM »
I'm used to seeing the birth rate reported as a number something like 2.1 (the number for stable population), not the numbers being reported here. Can someone explain, translate the numbers here?
U.S. Fertility Rate Hits Lowest Level on Record.
By Conor Dougherty
Last year the U.S. fertility rate fell to the lowest level since the government began keeping track of the data, the latest evidence that the recession and slow recovery has markedly altered plans for new children, according to this report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Getty ImagesThe overall fertility rate for women in the U.S. — defined as the number of newborns per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 — was 63.2 last year, down from 64.1 in 2010 and the lowest rate since the government started collecting these statistics in 1920.
Ken Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, notes that similar fertility drops occurred during the Great Depression — and never recovered. “The young women never made up for the births that they didn’t have,” he said.
Much of the delay in child-bearing has occurred among younger women, probably because they have more leeway in delaying their families than women who are closing in on the end of their fertility window. The most startling example: Hispanic women between 20 and 24 saw their fertility rate drop to 115 last year from 165 in 2007. White women between 20 and 24 saw their rate fall to 72 from 85 over the same period.
Meantime, women of all races between 35 and 39 have seen their fertility rate barely budge: To 47.2 in 2011 from 47.6 in 2007
Reply #27 on:
October 05, 2012, 10:28:33 AM »
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Two elderly women in Berlin on Sept. 18
Germany and Europe face a shrinking, aging population. To mitigate the population decline over the coming decades, Germany will try to attract foreign labor, and to address the population aging, it will attempt to reform its social security system. Both efforts will lead to tensions within German society. As it struggles to maintain a productive labor force, Germany also will likely become a less relevant source of capital in the coming decades, which could weaken its position in Europe. Based on their population growth, countries like France, the United Kingdom and Turkey will likely see their positions strengthen within Europe.
Compared to 1960, around half as many children are born in Germany every year, while life expectancy has increased by a decade. The Federal Statistical Office of Germany reports that Germany's population will decrease from the current 82 million to around 65 million by 2060, assuming life expectancy increases by eight years, the birth rate stays at 1.4 children per woman and Germany experiences net immigration of 100,000 per year.
On top of the population decline, Germany's aging population will change the structure of the labor force. In 2010, the number of people between 20 and 65 years old was around 50 million. The Federal Statistical Office expects the population of this age group to decline to between 33 million and 36 million by 2060, when over half of Germany's population will be older than 51. If Germany wants to keep its labor force at a constant size, the retirement age will have to be increased from 65 to 71. Currently Germany plans to gradually increase it to 67 by 2030.
Apart from saving for their own retirement, which already is a prominent trend among Germans, the younger generations will also have to carry the social security system that supports the aging population. Future German governments will face the challenges of maintaining labor productivity in an aging population, getting the public to approve changes to social security systems and ensuring cohesion between generations that can maintain the pension system.
Encouraging immigration is a promising way for Germany to counter population decline. However, even if Germany had net immigration of between 150,000 and 200,000 per year, the population would still decline to 70 million by 2060. Since reunification, Germany has seen large fluctuations in immigration. Changes in immigration laws, EU expansion and economic stability in Germany all contributed to these fluctuations. However, immigration will probably not be able to offset the consequences of low birth rates, especially considering the general population decline in Europe, which would be the origin of most of Germany's future immigrants since cultural and political barriers will limit immigration from outside Europe. Recruiting labor from outside of Europe will be especially difficult since the country does not have any cultural ties with former colonies that can attract people from outside the continent who speak the local language, the way that France or the United Kingdom do.
Though immigration may not be able to compensate for the declining birth rate, Germany will remain a prominent destination for immigrants due to its level of development, and it will likely try to increase its attractiveness by easing entry requirements as it has done in the past. While recovering from World War II, Germany signed bilateral agreements with countries like Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey to attract foreign labor. Turkey's population is expected to grow over the next few decades and to even outgrow France and the United Kingdom, so Turkey will probably remain an important source of labor for Germany.
Also, workers from Russia could play a more prominent role in Germany, even though Russia faces its own demographic challenges. This would require a strategic partnership between the two countries since Moscow will likely try to strengthen its domestic industries and keep its people employed in Russia. Similarly, other European countries facing a declining labor force will likely resist the outflow of workers, potentially leading to tensions among the countries that currently allow free labor mobility within Europe.
The demographic changes will not have an immediate effect on Germany's economic position. Typically, people between 30 and 60 have the highest savings rate, and a large proportion of Germany's population is between the ages of 40 and 60. Also, Germany is currently the third-largest exporter in the world and is criticized for running persistent trade surpluses, which aggravates the trade imbalances within Europe. A combination of trade surpluses and a high savings rate has helped Germany establish its role as the most important European creditor. In 2011, only six EU countries, including Germany, had positive net international investment positions, meaning their foreign asset holdings were larger than the liabilities held by foreigners. In Europe's current debt crisis, Germany is considered the most important creditor, providing around one-third of the financial aid that the eurozone gives to struggling countries. This gives Germany important leverage in influencing the struggling countries' reform efforts.
In the long term, Germany's demographic outlook will challenge its trade surplus and position as creditor. A study by the Center for European Economic Research showed that Germany would not have a trade surplus by around 2030 due to decreased exports (resulting from lower productivity) and growing imports by retirees. Further, the study expects the saving rates to drop. Since the German population will decline, less investment will be required, but the study claims that the drop in savings will be greater than the drop in investment required, so Germany would become a capital importer by around 2030.
Japan has an aging population but is also the largest international creditor, taking the net international investment position as the benchmark. This shows that a country does not necessarily have to become a capital importer because of demographic change as long as domestic savings rates are high.
Germany currently has one of the highest household savings rates in Europe and therefore could follow in Japan's footsteps. However, it is unlikely that this savings rate will stay as high, since empirical studies show that Germans, like most people, decrease their savings rate as they age. With an overall declining and aging population it is likely that savings will decrease -- especially since there will be less young people generating the capital to support the social security system.
This will have wider implications for Europe since Germany is currently its largest economy and an important source of capital and therefore able to exert power on the continent. As Germany's position weakens over the coming decades other countries with more favorable demographic trends like France, the United Kingdom and Turkey will likely see their position strengthen and eventually challenge Germany's power in Europe.
Read more: Germany's Demographic Challenges | Stratfor
Juan Williams: BO's daunting demographic message 4 the GOP; Estimados Rep-canos
Reply #28 on:
November 07, 2012, 07:46:25 PM »
Juan Williams: Obama's Daunting Demographic Message for the GOP
Nationwide during the past four years, four million Latino voters have been added to the polls..
By JUAN WILLIAMS
The critical political message from President Obama's re-election victory Tuesday is that he cemented a new coalition of Democrats, led by the Latino vote, which threatens to reduce Republicans to an afterthought in future national elections.
Yes, Mr. Obama won with the same group of voters—Hispanics, blacks, Asians, young people and educated women—that brought him to power in 2008. But when that group came together four years ago it was largely viewed as a phenomenon created by the historic, rock-star aura surrounding the first African-American presidential candidate. Yet that same coalition—in greater numbers and making up a larger percentage of the electorate—went to the polls from Florida to California again on Tuesday, and it delivered the president a second term.
Some Republicans had mocked pre-election polls that gave Democrats an advantage in voter turnout models because they doubted that a president stuck with approval ratings below 50% and unemployment just below 8% could recreate the enthusiasm among younger, female and minority voters.
But those voters did go to the polls this week and they were joined by more people who fit their profile. Since 2008 more than 10 million new voters have registered, and young people, many of them Latinos, made up the bulk of those voters. In battleground states of Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada there is no question, based on exit-poll surveys, that Latinos made the difference for the president.
Latinos increased their percentage of the electorate to 10% in this race from 9% in 2008. In Florida, for example, the number of registered Hispanic voters in the state grew by nearly 200,000 in the past four years. Nationwide during that period, four million registered Latino voters were added to the polls. In the 2008 election, Latinos nationwide gave Mr. Obama 67% of their vote; that rose to 71% on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, black voters turned out at the same 13% level of the overall vote as in 2008, while women voters showed a slight increase to 54% from 53%. Low-income voters, defined as people earning less than $50,000, also increased their turnout in this election, rising to 41% of the vote from 38% in '08. The president won 55% of all female voters, regardless of race or income level, in this election, and 60% of all low-income voters. And young voters increased their presence at the polls to 19% on Tuesday from 18% four years ago.
The percentage of white voters this year dropped to 72% from 74% in 2008. In 1992, white voters made up 87% of the electorate. In every presidential election since then, their share of the vote has dropped by between two and four percentage points. This year, 43% of white voters were over 45, 14% of them over age 65. Mitt Romney won the white vote 59% to 39%, the biggest share for a Republican since 1988—and it was still not enough to put him in the White House. He won the white-male vote by a whopping 27 points. But white men made up only 34% of all voters. In 1976, by contrast, they were 46%. White women went for Mr. Romney by a smaller but still considerable margin, 56% to 42%.
These numbers and the persistence of this new Democratic coalition present a threat to the future of the GOP, which is becoming the party of a declining number of older, white voters geographically centered in the South and in small towns and rural communities.
These factors have now combined to give Democrats the popular-vote victory in five of the last six presidential elections.
American history has shown that as the demographic composition of the country changes—socially, economically, ethnically—political parties must adapt if their principles are to survive.
The first American political party, the Federalists, became overly dependent on a small, wealthy class of political elites based in the Northeast. As the nation expanded, they were eventually overtaken by the more populist Democratic-Republicans with a strong base in the growing American South.
Similarly, before the Civil War, the Whigs were a major political party based in the North who opposed Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party. Abraham Lincoln began his career as a Whig. They joined the new Republican Party and strengthened the cause of abolition.
After the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Southern Democrats, known as the Dixiecrats, left their party for the Republican Party. They helped to transform the South from a reliably Democratic to a GOP stronghold, giving us Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush.
Now the cycles of history have turned against the GOP. The 2008 and 2012 Obama coalitions are no longer the exception to electoral politics. They are the new rule.
Demography is political destiny and today Democrats have the numbers to prove it.
The GOP's immigration and Hispanic debacles..
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In 2004, George W. Bush—an immigration-friendly Republican who spoke semi-passable Spanish—won re-election with about 40% of the Hispanic vote. This year, immigration hardliner Mitt Romney got about 27% of the Hispanic vote, according to the main exit poll—four points fewer than John McCain in 2008.
Had Mr. Romney matched Mr. Bush's Hispanic percentage, he could have netted an additional million votes or more, or nearly half of Barack Obama's popular margin on Tuesday. Those votes might have made a difference in states with large Hispanic populations such as New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Florida and even Virginia, all of which Mr. Bush won and Mr. Romney lost.
That's something broken-hearted GOP voters should ponder as they try to make sense of their defeat. There are plenty of reasons Mr. Romney came up short, and yes, Hispanics are not single-issue voters. But the antagonistic attitude that the GOP too often exhibits toward America's fastest-growing demographic group on immigration policy goes far to explain Tuesday's result.
Hoover Institution research fellow Bill Whalen on whether Mitt Romney lost because Republicans have turned off minorities. Photos: Associated Press
.It's also so unnecessary. Immigrants should be a natural GOP constituency. Newcomers to the U.S.—legal or illegal—tend to be aspiring people who believe in the dignity of work and self-sufficiency, and they are cultural conservatives. They are not the 47%. Republicans are also supposed to be the folks who have figured out the law of unintended consequences, such as that imposing ever-tighter border controls discourages the millions of illegal immigrants living in this country from returning home.
We have done our best over the years to explain such points, to which we would add that the free movement of labor is a central component of economic growth. Yet it has become near-orthodoxy among many conservatives to denounce every attempt at immigration reform as a form of "amnesty"—now as much a devil word on the right as "vouchers" are on the left.
We understand the law-and-order issues at stake, particularly along the border, as well as questions of fairness in allowing illegals to jump the immigration queue. But the right response isn't mass deportation—as politically infeasible as it is morally repulsive. It's a rational, humane, bipartisan reform that broadens the avenues to legal immigration, both for those abroad and those already here.
Mr. Obama created a potentially fruitful opening to the GOP when he failed to do anything of the sort legislatively in his first term—a failure for which he was repeatedly scored in his September interview with Univision. A nimble GOP adversary might have seized the opportunity to present himself as the real immigration reformer.
But not Mr. Romney, who often pandered to his party's nativist wing (especially after Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the primaries), even endorsing what he called "self-deportation." That may have endeared him to one or two radio talk show hosts, but it proved a disaster on Tuesday.
And not only with Hispanics: Exit polls show that Asian-Americans went for the President over Mr. Romney by a whopping 73%-26%, an 11-point improvement over Mr. Obama's margin in 2008. How many other non-white groups can the GOP lose and still consider itself a national party?
No doubt this editorial will provoke letters denouncing us for being soft on the issue. Now is an opportune time to ask those disapproving readers how many more Tuesdays like this one they'd care to repeat?
Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 07:48:55 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Juan Williams: BO's daunting demographic message 4 the GOP; Estimados Rep-canos
Reply #29 on:
November 08, 2012, 09:08:32 AM »
Note back to Juan Williams, it isn't about the GOP, it's about the direction of the country. Hispanics, African Americans, gays, Jews, Asian Americans and women will need to change the economic agenda inside the Democratic party or live forever poor and in debt if they are too racist, sexist or xenophobic to sit with Republicans IMHO. The GOP already reached out.
WSJ: Immigrant birth rates declined during recession
Reply #30 on:
November 30, 2012, 02:24:57 PM »
A steep decline in births among immigrant women hard hit by the recent recession is the driving force behind the record low U.S. birthrate, according to the Pew Research Center.
The annual number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 dropped 8% in the U.S. from 2007 to 2010 to 64 births per 1,000, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew center. The U.S. birthrate peaked during the baby boom, at 122.7 in 1957.
Immigrant women, both legal and illegal, still have a higher birthrate than the U.S. population as a whole. Yet the rate for foreign-born women dropped 14% between 2007 and 2010, to 87.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, compared with a 6% decline for U.S.-born women, to 58.9 births. The birthrate plunged 19% for immigrants of Hispanic origin during that period; among Mexicans, the largest group among Hispanics, the rate plunged 23%.
Close."Latinos have been hit particularly hard by the recession, and the downturn in births is especially sharp for immigrants," said D'Vera Cohn, co-author of the Pew study, which is based on analysis of data from the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.
In addition to economic conditions, the U.S. birthrate has been affected by a slowdown in new arrivals. Immigration from Mexico, the biggest source country, reached a net zero in 2010, with as many Mexicans returning to Mexico as entering the U.S., according to Pew.
Preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics show the overall birthrate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000. However, there is no breakdown yet available on immigrants and U.S.-born mothers. Pew researchers say the pattern observed through 2010 is unlikely to have changed.
The U.S. birthrate has declined during major economic crises in the past, including the Great Depression in the 1930s and the oil shock of the 1970s. Birthrates, which have reliable records dating back to 1920, have historically bounced back after economic conditions improved.
Over the long term, nations tend to see their birthrates decline as they become more prosperous, a trend that can threaten that prosperity. When low fertility is coupled with low mortality, the result is an aging society with a high proportion of elderly people and relatively fewer workers to support them, a situation that Japan and many European countries face. Overall U.S. fertility has remained around the replacement level, owing to the large number of immigrants it attracts.
The total fertility rate in 2012 is estimated at 1.39 children per woman in Japan and 1.40 in Italy, compared with 2.06 in the U.S., according to the Central Intelligence Agency, which compiles world data.
Immigration has propelled demographic changes in the U.S. for several decades, so any sustained decline in birthrates among immigrants could affect the pace of growth of the minority population. The U.S. population is poised to reach "majority-minority" status, when less than half of the population is white, around 2040, demographers say.
The year 2007 marked a record number of births in the U.S.—4,316,233. But there have been fewer births since the onset of the recession, even as the overall population continues to grow because of immigration. From 2007 to 2010, the number of births fell by more than 300,000, with immigrant women accounting for more than 40% of that decline, according to the Pew report.
Only 13% of all U.S. residents are immigrants. But they make up a disproportionate share of all births because immigrant women are more likely than others to be in their prime childbearing years. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of immigrants of childbearing age jumped 85%, while the number of native-born women of childbearing age shrank 1%.
The decline in birthrates among immigrants has narrowed the gap between them and native-born Americans in the past two decades. In 1990, the birthrate for immigrants was 70% higher than for U.S.-born women. In 2010, it was only 49% higher.
"Immigrants have shaped [population] patterns recently by driving down births, and in the long term by offsetting declines in births to women born in the U.S.," said Ms. Cohn of Pew.
Carmen Ozorio, a 41-year-old Guatemalan immigrant, has had only one child since immigrating to the U.S. more than a decade ago. The Los Angeles housekeeper thought she would have another child, but then her partner's work hours at a factory were cut as the economy soured. "The situation is too difficult to have more children," said Ms. Ozorio, whose son is 9.
More factors than immediate economic conditions influence childbearing decisions in the long run, including women's employment, access to contraception and age of marriage. In Mexico, home to the majority of U.S. immigrants, the fertility rate has been steadily declining.
Even with the recent decline, immigrants in the U.S. will continue to propel population growth. According to Pew projections, immigrants and their descendants will account for most of the U.S. population growth by midcentury.
Write to Miriam Jordan at
Reply #31 on:
November 30, 2012, 06:52:56 PM »
In the last few yrs. I noticed less of a revolving door of very short latinos going to and from the OB floor at the hospital in here in town where there is a huge community of illegals. I am not making it up that every time I got on the elevator we would stop on the obstetrics floor.
I know I am just racist.
One is not allowed to state the obvious.
Legal no problem. Illegal a problem.
POTH: Birthrate declines
Reply #32 on:
January 01, 2013, 12:54:15 PM »
Reported in POTH fashion, the decline of birth rates in the US:
The lottery of life
Reply #33 on:
January 02, 2013, 06:00:45 AM »
"Warren Buffett, probably the world’s most successful investor, has said that anything good that happened to him could be traced back to the fact that he was born in the right country, the United States, at the right time (1930). A quarter of a century ago, when The World in 1988 light-heartedly ranked 50 countries according to where would be the best place to be born in 1988, America indeed came top. But which country will be the best for a baby born in 2013?"
Re: The lottery of life
Reply #34 on:
January 02, 2013, 09:14:39 AM »
Quote from: bigdog on January 02, 2013, 06:00:45 AM
"Warren Buffett, probably the world’s most successful investor, has said that anything good that happened to him could be traced back to the fact that he was born in the right country, the United States, at the right time (1930). A quarter of a century ago, when The World in 1988 light-heartedly ranked 50 countries according to where would be the best place to be born in 1988, America indeed came top. But which country will be the best for a baby born in 2013?"
USA no. 16, right behind Europe and Asia - with the power IMO to move back up to no. 1 if only we wanted to.
Re: The lottery of life
Reply #35 on:
January 02, 2013, 09:19:37 AM »
Quote from: DougMacG on January 02, 2013, 09:14:39 AM
Quote from: bigdog on January 02, 2013, 06:00:45 AM
"Warren Buffett, probably the world’s most successful investor, has said that anything good that happened to him could be traced back to the fact that he was born in the right country, the United States, at the right time (1930). A quarter of a century ago, when The World in 1988 light-heartedly ranked 50 countries according to where would be the best place to be born in 1988, America indeed came top. But which country will be the best for a baby born in 2013?"
USA no. 16, right behind Europe and Asia - with the power IMO to move back up to no. 1 if only we wanted to.
Not without defaulting first. We are past the point where we can grow the economy to dig us out.
WSJ: A CA baby drought
Reply #36 on:
January 08, 2013, 07:14:48 PM »
Declining migration and falling birthrates have led to a drop in the number of children in California just as baby boomers reach retirement, creating an economic and demographic challenge for the nation's most populous state.
"After decades of burgeoning population and economic growth…the state now faces a very different prospect," said a report released Tuesday by the University of Southern California and the Lucile Packard Foundation. The report, "California's Diminishing Resource: Children," analyzed data from the 2010 census and the American Community Survey to conclude that the trend marks a "historic transition" for the state.
In 1970, six years after the end of the baby boom, children made up more than one-third of California's population. By 2030, they will account for just one-fifth, according to projections by lead author Dowell Myers, a USC demographer. "We have a massive replacement problem statewide," Mr. Myers said in an interview.
California's demographic shift mirrors that of many Northeast and Midwest states, including New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Michigan, where the percentage of children fell even more sharply from 2000 to 2010. But unlike those states, California has always relied on migrants from other states and abroad to fuel its economy, and the change represents a new reality for the Golden State.
Ever since the Gold Rush, the majority of Californians has been born elsewhere. That pattern began to change in the 1990s, when migrants were attracted by the lower cost of living and rapid growth in other Western and Southern states. Then, the housing bust and 2008 financial crisis hit California harder than most states. By 2010, more than half of all adults 25 to 34 years old were born in California.
At the same time, the state's birthrate fell to 1.94 children per woman in 2010, below the replacement level of 2.1 children, according to the study. California's rate is lower than the overall U.S. rate of 2.06 children in 2012, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.
The shrinking pool of youngsters coincides with a bulging population of older people. Nationally, "we are approaching a period of very large retirement, something like two million people a year for the next 20 years," said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, an independent research group.
In 1970, California averaged 21 seniors for every 100 working-age adults. By 2030, that ratio is expected to rise to 36 seniors per 100 working-age adults, according to the report. That retirement wave will place "massive pressure on institutions and programs for an aging population," the report said.
Today's children will be the workers who pay for those programs and who take jobs vacated by boomers in the state's high-technology hub in Silicon Valley, its entertainment industry in Los Angeles and its farm belt in the Central Valley.
"Unless the birthrate picks up, we are going to need more immigrants. If neither happens, we are going to have less growth," said Mr. Levy. The report wasn't optimistic, saying that "with migration greatly reduced…outsiders are much less likely to come to the rescue."
Investments in the state's education system will be vital to meet labor-force needs and prevent the economy from contracting, said Mr. Levy. With less migration to the state, the skills and human capital necessary to keep California's economy afloat will need to be homegrown, both Mr. Levy and Mr. Myers said.
With more than 90% of the state's children under age 10 born in the state, "the majority of the next generation of workers will have been shaped by California's health and education systems," Mr. Myers said. "It's essential that we nurture our human capital."
Many of those future workers, however, will have grown up in poverty. More than 20% of children in California now live below the federal poverty level.
The report found that the birthrate had tumbled for every population group. In 2010, it was below replacement level for whites, Asians and African-Americans.
The birthrate for Hispanics, who account for 51% of children under 18 in the state, was slightly above replacement level. But Hispanic birthrates are seeing the steepest drop of any group and are expected to fall to the replacement level in 2020, the report said.
POTH: Older isn't better, it is brutal
Reply #37 on:
February 03, 2013, 09:21:54 AM »
Young graduates are in debt, out of work and on their parents’ couches. People in their 30s and 40s can’t afford to buy homes or have children. Retirees are earning near-zero interest on their savings.
Arynita Armstrong, 60, at her home in Willis, Tex. She last worked five years ago. “When you’re older, they just see gray hair and they write you off,” she says.
In the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to having been most injured. But the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.
These Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.
Their retirement savings and home values fell sharply at the worst possible time: just before they needed to cash out. They are supporting both aged parents and unemployed young-adult children, earning them the inauspicious nickname “Generation Squeeze.”
New research suggests that they may die sooner, because their health, income security and mental well-being were battered by recession at a crucial time in their lives. A recent study by economists at Wellesley College found that people who lost their jobs in the few years before becoming eligible for Social Security lost up to three years from their life expectancy, largely because they no longer had access to affordable health care.
“If I break my wrist, I lose my house,” said Susan Zimmerman, 62, a freelance writer in Cleveland, of the distress that a medical emergency would wreak upon her finances and her quality of life. None of the three part-time jobs she has cobbled together pay benefits, and she says she is counting the days until she becomes eligible for Medicare.
In the meantime, Ms. Zimmerman has fashioned her own regimen of home remedies — including eating blue cheese instead of taking penicillin and consuming plenty of orange juice, red wine, coffee and whatever else the latest longevity studies recommend — to maintain her health, which she must do if she wants to continue paying the bills.
“I will probably be working until I’m 100,” she said.
As common as that sentiment is, the job market has been especially unkind to older workers.
Unemployment rates for Americans nearing retirement are far lower than those for young people, who are recently out of school, with fewer skills and a shorter work history. But once out of a job, older workers have a much harder time finding another one. Over the last year, the average duration of unemployment for older people was 53 weeks, compared with 19 weeks for teenagers, according to the Labor Department’s jobs report released on Friday.
The lengthy process is partly because older workers are more likely to have been laid off from industries that are downsizing, like manufacturing. Compared with the rest of the population, older people are also more likely to own their own homes and be less mobile than renters, who can move to new job markets.
Older workers are more likely to have a disability of some sort, perhaps limiting the range of jobs that offer realistic choices. They may also be less inclined, at least initially, to take jobs that pay far less than their old positions.
Displaced boomers also believe they are victims of age discrimination, because employers can easily find a young, energetic worker who will accept lower pay and who can potentially stick around for decades rather than a few years.
“When you’re older, they just see gray hair and they write you off,” said Arynita Armstrong, 60, of Willis, Tex. She has been looking for work for five years since losing her job at a mortgage company. “They’re afraid to hire you, because they think you’re a health risk. You know, you might make their premiums go up. They think it’ll cost more money to invest in training you than it’s worth it because you might retire in five years.
“Not that they say any of this to your face,” she added.
When older workers do find re-employment, the compensation is usually not up to the level of their previous jobs, according to data from the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.
In a survey by the center of older workers who were laid off during the recession, just one in six had found another job, and half of that group had accepted pay cuts. Fourteen percent of the re-employed said the pay in their new job was less than half what they earned in their previous job.
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“I just say to myself: ‘Why me? What have I done to deserve this?’ ” said John Agati, 56, of Norwalk, Conn., whose last full-time job, as a merchandise buyer and product developer, ended four years ago when his employer went out of business.
That position paid $90,000, and his résumé lists stints at companies like American Express, Disney and USA Networks. Since being laid off, though, he has worked a series of part-time, low-wage, temporary positions, including selling shoes at Lord & Taylor and making sales calls for a limo company.
The last few years have taken a toll not only on his family’s finances, but also on his feelings of self-worth.
“You just get sad,” Mr. Agati said. “I see people getting up in the morning, going out to their careers and going home. I just wish I was doing that. Some people don’t like their jobs, or they have problems with their jobs, but at least they’re working. I just wish I was in their shoes.”
He said he cannot afford to go back to school, as many younger people without jobs have done. Even if he could afford it, economists say it is unclear whether older workers like him benefit much from more education.
“It just doesn’t make sense to offer retraining for people 55 and older,” said Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas in Austin. “Discrimination by age, long-term unemployment, the fact that they’re now at the end of the hiring queue, the lack of time horizon just does not make it sensible to invest in them.”
Many displaced older workers are taking this message to heart and leaving the labor force entirely.
The share of older people applying for Social Security early spiked during the recession as people sought whatever income they could find. The penalty they will pay is permanent, as retirees who take benefits at age 62 — as Ms. Zimmerman did, to help make her mortgage payments — will receive 30 percent less in each month’s check for the rest of their lives than they would if they had waited until full retirement age (66 for those born after 1942).
Those not yet eligible for Social Security are increasingly applying for another, comparable kind of income support that often goes to people who expect never to work again: disability benefits. More than one in eight people in their late 50s is now on some form of federal disability insurance program, according to Mark Duggan, chairman of the department of business economics and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
The very oldest Americans, of course, were battered by some of the same ill winds that tormented those now nearing retirement, but at least the most senior were cushioned by a more readily available social safety net. More important, in a statistical twist, they may have actually benefited from the financial crisis in the most fundamental way: prolonged lives.
Death rates for people over 65 have historically fallen during recessions, according to a November 2011 study by economists at the University of California, Davis. Why? The researchers argue that weak job markets push more workers into accepting relatively undesirable work at nursing homes, leading to better care for residents.
WSJ: Demographic Cliff for the US?
Reply #38 on:
February 03, 2013, 12:37:21 PM »
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