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“Vanishing People: the Population Crisis”—Excerpts From A Piece On Global Population Collapse
Here are a few excerpts from a piece published on Mike Solana’s Substack. The piece explains the importance and scope of the current population crisis facing advanced nations.
I think the whole thing is worth a read so I’ll link to it at the end:
But among our greatest existential threats, population collapse is unique in that it lacks a noticeable, immediate pain for us to rally against. There are no wildfires or smog-filled skies to capture the imagination of our journalists or filmmakers, thus inspiring no individual action. It is precisely because of this attention void that I believe we encounter the true Great Filter. The end of civilization will not stem from the fiery consequences of our wildest inventions, but from the growing dearth of our most essential, and cherished creations — children.
The global population is expected to peak around 2100 at 10.9 billion people. At first glance, this seems like a far off problem, and many would laugh if you even called attention to it. But the change in growth rate tells a different story, having peaked in 1968 at 2.1%. This statistic is much more important. Critically, it is not the number of people that matters most, but the number of young people. Furthermore, the ratio between the young and old in a society dictates its future.
Compared to the elderly, young people both produce more things and buy more things. Because of this, they drive the majority of an economy, growing GDP and generating tax revenue. Throughout your adult life, you’re building stuff, buying goods, and investing in the capital markets, but the moment you retire this stops. You’re no longer producing anything, you reduce spending, and your investments are exchanged into cash or Treasury bills.
Now, it’s one thing when this age ratio flips in a single country, like Japan, but consider for a moment what it means if the rest of the developed world follows in unison. Gradually, then suddenly, the global economy faces a crisis. Consumption begins to drop all together and the net flows into capital markets reverse. Less consumption means less aggregate demand, triggering a global recession and crippling the still-developing world reliant on these markets. On top of this, a reduction in labor force, in perpetuity, flywheels the consumption collapse and makes global growth incredibly difficult. Meanwhile, the shrinking fraction of young people must shoulder the heavy burden of a growing elderly population. Less tax revenue forces less expenditure, just as the aging population demands it. From a fiscal perspective, this is increasingly untenable for even the wealthiest nations.
And here the piece expands a bit on the scope of the problem:
The developed world is old. It has also stopped having children. When trying to understand this problem, a key measurement to pay attention to is fertility rate — anything under 2.1, or rather the children born per woman that exceeds both parents, equates to a net decrease in population after accounting for childhood death.
For perspective, the fertility rate of Europe today stands just below 1.6. This means 100 grandparents beget 80 parents who then have 64 children. Europe’s population is in terminal decline — a rich cultural history literally vanishing, person by person, before our eyes. Studies suggest that the leading causes of decline are education, urbanization, access to contraception, and many other factors related to wealth and human rights, particularly for women. Herein lies the demographic paradox: as a country becomes more advanced, its fertility rate plummets.
And here the author describes the trend-bucking fertility situation in Israel, having the highest fertility rate of any advanced nation, and where religious Jews have the highest fertility of any religious group. (Truly being fruitful and multiplying.):
Evidence suggests that there is no feasible economic policy alone that provides the necessary velocity to escape terminal population decline. Hungary’s policies lean towards the notion that perhaps the solution eludes us because it is by nature illogical, composed of things difficult to measure. Broadly, I believe these intangible factors fall into two major groups, though I find them increasingly blurred: religion and political fervor.
I won’t go into each religion respectively, but I’ve selected Mormonism because it is commonly associated with large families. While still higher than secular groups, the Mormon fertility rate is dropping precipitously. Various other religious groupsfollow similar, albeit less dramatic trends.
In a similar vein, politics appeals to a belief beyond one’s self. In many cases, this manifests as nationalism, or intense support for one’s country. We see glimpses of this in Hungary, yet the power of nationalism becomes truly magnified when coupled with religion. Israel remains a steadfast example of the bonded pair.
With a fertility rate of 2.9, Israel bucks the global trend. While it doesn’t have the population to make the necessary dent on the global economy, it provides a fascinating study of the impact of culture on population growth. Jewish diaspora conforms to expected sluggish trends, but we don’t see that in Israel. Segmenting further provides some insight.
As expected, religiosity correlates with fertility, yet, surprisingly, even secular Israeli women have remained above the fabled 2.1 fertility rate. What’s more, they’ve been able to achieve this despite having among thehighest levels of women participation in the labor force. This defies explanation, but I will attempt one anyway. Israel exemplifies asabiyyah, or rather the cohesive force that bonds a people, grown stronger by harsh conditions. Israelis know conflict all too well, and I believe this is reflected in an innate sense of duty to have children and prolong the vitality of their state.
Really fascinating stuff all around. I’m going to keep posting about this issue since I think it’s more important than pretty much anything else, and I’m hoping that more people become informed and take decisive action by simply giving their wives more babies.
Real the full post here:
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