These 6 charts explain the world's looming demographic crisis
. . . absent war, or other mass disaster.
The article is quite good although uneven. Demographics is the culmination of society's economic negotiation with itself over a significant period of time. The idea that this negotiation will change on a dime is faulty. Outside of a serious calamity, like plague, government force, or war, demographics continue to march along according to the framework of the negotiation. The primary drivers are wealth, and security.
This is where the article becomes uneven, because the first chart is a doozy. It assumes the world's population could reach 14 billion. The idea that the world's population could reach 14 billion by 2100 can only be explained by the fact that it is a UN estimate, and the UN is pretty much wrong about everything, all the time. Best just consider anything the UN has to say as fiction.
Hans Rosling has much to say about this over at TED.com
More after the fold!
Notice in the Rosling TED talk that the world works in a very specific way. Poor countries have large families, and short lives, rich counties have small families and long lives. But then notice China which after Mao takes control goes all wonky now and again. This is because absolute government control can override the societal demographic negotiation. The threat of death has a way of overpowering even rational thought.
Expect the actual to be between the Green line and Yellow line.
The second chart discusses population growth. This chart is of limited value because it does not show the population growth over time, for this you need to go back to the Rosling video, which clearly and unequivocally shows that rate of population growth over time is declining. The areas where population is growing are primarily found in Central Africa, the Middle and Near East, and then sporadicly throughout the rest of the world. This group is declining over time, and there is no reason to believe this will change. There is good reason to believe the population decline will accelerate.
Expect world population growth to continue to shrink.
This chart shows lifespans growing pretty much everywhere. To the extent that population grows, this is the actual reason, we are living longer, pretty much everywhere.
Expect this trend to continue.
Which asked, who will support the children and elderly? Based on the most demographically "advanced" countries like Japan, Italy, Russia, parts of Easter Europe, and China, the children will not be a problem, they will be an infinitesimally small part of the population. The old are the problem. Japan is leading the way here, and they are beginning to build robots to help the old stay active longer, and ultimately to care for the old. This seems like an odd model. How long before Japan becomes nothing but an island chain filled with robots which attempt to provide products for the rest of the world? We might need to start a dead pool!
This chart gets it wrong, China will not be hit first. Japan, Russia, some of Eastern Europe, Italy, and a number of other countries are already or very near actually declining population, not just the growth rate. China's demographic demise is still years away. The problem for China is, however, that it is not yet wealthy, like Japan, and Italy, and how a low-moderate income country like Russia, or China will deal with this economic issue is unclear. China is already addressing the issue with robotization, but this will surely cannibalize its workforce which will create welfare problems. I see serious self-inflicted damage for China.
This final chart shows working age populations in the US, Ireland, Japan, Spain, and China. Don't be too concerned with the US line which rises from 1970 to 2005-2010 then begins to fall. This is the Boomer, and Millennial generations temporarily inflating the working age population. I do not know how much this kind of effect is being shown in the other graph lines. The US has been at replacement rate until the recent recession. We maintain this rate through births and immigration.
We are at a place where the real problem in the world is unchecked population decline, yet I still hear some complaining about overpopulation. We will need to take a more proactive stand on preventing damaging population decline. As it sits, much of the world appears willing to embrace this destructive shift.
Unchecked population decline would be far worse than population growth.
I hope you found this interesting.