THE DEMOGRAPHIC BOMB

Lisa Dusseault lisa@xythos.com
Thu, 18 Oct 2001 14:06:31 -0700


> I don't think I'm implying simple causation, which is why I said
> correlation.
True.  Thanks.

> I'm sure the causal arrows are all over the map, as with
> most virtuous circles. We win by raising the opportunity costs for
> women to have children, whatever it takes to do that, but which at the
> very least includes education.

However, didn't your original statement imply that a low birthrate was in
itself good?  It could be that we win by giving women all sorts of
opportunities other than having children, _despite_ a lower birthrate.

What birthrate do you think is good?  Replacement only?  Manageable but low
pop. growth? Shrinking population?

> This is the same kind of racism as Gallagher subscribes to.

Clay, I'm very, very disappointed in you.  I've given no evidence of racism.
I didn't say that Western countries should keep their birthrates up, I
didn't specify countries at all.  For all you know, I support higher
birthrates for all countries.    In fact, I'm undecided on what's a
desirable birthrate for any country (though certainly not racist in this
respect) and simply pointing out other possibilities.  I do support higher
education and more open opportunities in third world countries whether or
not that will lead to them having a lower birthrate.

Hey, why don't I accuse you of racism?  After all, you're promoting
something which you believe will lead to a lower birthrate in non-white
countries.  You want fewer towelheads in the long run, admit it, right?

OK, let's please drop that now that we're even and get back to semi-rational
discourse.

> Falling
> birth rate doesn't lead to economic problems, falling population rate
> leads to economic problems, and falling population rate has two
> factors -- births and net migration. If the birth rate is falling,
> raise immigration.

Don't you think there's a limit to the level of immigration any country can
accept?  I realize this is a matter of psychology, but take a look at the
recent British immigration backlash.  Even USA, which has prided itself for
centuries in being a home for immigrants, it's difficult to raise the
immigration rates much above where they are now.  Take a look at the
objections to even granting guest worker status to those Mexicans _already_
here.

> Only industrialized countries that cling to racially-defined notions
> of national identity face problems of falling population.

I think we agree on this but differ on the feasability of changing those
notions, and other related or unrelated notions that keep immigration low.
For example, there's the notion that any foreigner, even of the same racial
stock as most nationals, might take away the job of a national.  There's the
notion that it's difficult to integrate immigrants of any race into the
national value system (whatever you think that is) or the national political
system.  There's all sorts of notions, and not all of them are
racially-defined.  They could be wrong, and even could be morally
reprehensible, for other reasons, but still there are those notions.

Much as I'd like to see it happen, I think it's unrealistic for the very few
countries with extremely low birthrates, today, to keep their overall
populations on a growth path through immigration.  Particularly if/when
third-world countries have better living conditions and lower birthrates and
stop being massive net exporters of people  (hey, wouldn't it be great to
see a country today advertising for immigration of any kind?)

So what I'd like to know is -- how important is it for any country's economy
to have a positively growing population?

Lisa