Saturday, June 28, 2008


The New York Times has a really good article today on birthrates, and how Europe is shrinking. This will be one of the most interesting stories to follow over the next few decades. A 1.3 birthrate, which parts of Europe have, is low enough for the population to cut in half over 45 years! Over my lifetime there is reason to expect Europe, and parts of Asia to have significantly lower populations than they have now.

I have mixed opinions on all of this. On the one side I certainly do agree with the idea that if we could reduce the worlds population to about a billion and hold it somewhere around there most people would be better off. A less crowded world makes environmental issues much less concerning and I suspect we would all have fun with the extra six times as much space per person. I am concerned though the richer countries having less children, than the poorer ones(and the same within countries) could lead to a shift in values away from science, and even more toward superstition. I would feel much more comfortable in a demographic shift where the children of the best educated and richest slowly replace those that are not. Since children typically resemble their parents that would preserve the mindset that built the modern world.
However science and capitalism are very strong forces. We see them taking over most of the world. They will most likely continue whatever the demographic picture is.

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