Demography and Fertility: Destiny and the Fickle Womb

The lowest TFR rate in 1970 was Finland at 1.8, but by 2014 Singapore had the lowest rate at just 0.8!

The highest rate in 1970 was Rwanda which had a TFR of 8.2. In 2014, Niger had the highest rate with 6.89 (Rwanda’s has fallen to 4.62).

… the world’s two most populous countries have both seen their TFR drop significantly between 1970 and 2014. India’s dropped from 5.5 to 2.4 a 56% decrease, while China’s dropped from 5.5 to 1.6 a 71% decrease and well below replacement. __

Europe is Being Hit Hard by Demographic Change

The European Union was supposed to be an economic superpower, but after seven years it is still struggling to recover from the global economic crisis. Economic growth is sluggish at best (and uneven, given the divide between a more prosperous north and a debt-burdened south). Adjusting for inflation, the gross domestic product of the 19 countries now sharing Europe’s common currency, the euro, was less in 2014 than it was in 2007. Widespread joblessness and diminishing opportunities confront an entire generation of young Europeans, especially in Spain, Italy, France and Greece. The economic malaise tinges everything: Young people resist marriage for lack of economic opportunity. __

Europe is experiencing low indigenous birthrates while being inundated by large numbers of uneducated and unassimilable migrants with a relatively high tendency toward violence. Europe’s economic policies place crippling burdens on the productive while rewarding the unproductive. Throw in the suicidal energy and industrial policies, and all signs point toward societal decline.

Population Pyramid Examples

Population Pyramid Examples

Many societies with unintelligent populations are growing rapidly, while societies with more intelligent populations are shrinking. This combination of increase in low IQ populations with an overall shrinkage of high IQ populations creates a dysgenic population trend. Over time, societies that were once productive and innovative will begin to look more like the nations of sub-Saharan Africa and the dysfunctional Muslim world.

Russia is a demographer’s wonderland, exhibiting enough signs of dynamic and often contradictory demographic change to delight any demographer’s heart. Keep in mind that Russia is a multi-ethnic empire, administered largely by ethnic Russians, but with significant populations of non-ethnic Russians occupying key parts of Russia’s rich heartlands.

Ethnic Russians Have Fewer Children

Ethnic Russians Have Fewer Children

… areas with a higher proportion of children are generally those also with a higher proportion of indigenous peoples (i.e. a lower proportion of ethnic Russians). This correlation is confirmed by the figures listed in the Wikipedia article on the demographics of Russia: ethnic Russians have the country’s second-lowest fertility rate. (Russia’s Jews have the lowest fertility figure of all ethnic groups.) As can be expected from the high birth rates in these three regions, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Tuva rank at the top in the percentage of children, with about a third or more of their populations under the age of 17. In contrast, in most of European Russia (and a few regions in Siberia) children constitute less than 20% of the population, and in most oblasts in central Russia the figure is below 17%. Unsurprisingly, the lowest percentage of children is found in the two federal cities: 14.3% in Moscow and 14.4% in Saint Petersburg.

Russian Age Distribution 2015

Russian Age Distribution 2015
Pyramid on top of pyramid, illustrating combined effect of post-Soviet baby bust with the effect of rapid immigration of Muslim workers.

Another demographic problem affecting Russia — besides low birthrates, high death rates, high levels of suicide, alcoholism, illicit drug use, HIV, Hepatitis, TB etc. — is the steady outflow of talented Russians from Putin’s gulag.

Currently, political repression and a failing economy are contributing to a dramatic outflow of moderate, middle class Russians from the country, who are leaving in search of better prospects. This brain drain is bleeding Russia dry of its most educated and innovative citizens, such as young business whiz Pavel Durov, the creator of VK, Russia’s most popular social media network. Durov is only one of approximately 200,000 disillusioned young Russians who have moved away from Russia this year, and more are expected to follow. __

This brain drain — combined with an often sinister “womb drain” and the wide array of problems with public health and vital statistics — amounts to a cumulative crippling of Russia’s future potential. Russia’s educational system was already under collapse over a decade ago. Today’s Kremlin leadership is not looking to the future when making its corrupt and erratic policies and plans.

Population Distribution by Stage

Population Distribution by Stage

Poor economic prospects in much of Europe and Russia will inevitably impact future fertility and quality of life measures in those regions. A significant drop in skilled and intelligent working-age populations will likely lead to economic death spirals which will be difficult to reverse. China is another nation that is beginning to experience disruptive demographic change:

For the first time in at least three centuries—and maybe all recorded history—China will not be the world’s most populous nation. India overtakes it by 2022 at the latest, according to the U.N.’s most recent population projections, which were released late July.

The workforce—those aged 15 to 59—has already begun to decline. The peak year was 2011, according to Beijing’s official National Bureau of Statistics. There is concern that China will not be able to support its growing ranks of retirees—set to double to 20 percent of the population in 2035—because the pool of workers is contracting by three million a year. As Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics noted about the one-child policy, “They kept it going 15 years too long, disastrously.”

So the decline in the workforce concerns economists as well as demographers. __ Demographic Disaster in China

China has already become a toxic wasteland, however, and desperately needs new lands and territories with clean water, soil, and air to keep its current and near-term populations as healthy and productive as possible. Since Russia has the land but not the people — and is conveniently close by — Beijing naturally is looking to expand in that direction as events allow.

Demographics are destiny. If you do not show up, you cannot play the game. That is one of the most insistent lessons of global fertility and demographic change. A demographic takeover of the planet requires a population average IQ of no higher than 70 IQ points! Time favours the dysgenic trend.

Disruptive Technologies Will Allow the Creation of “Islands of Competence, Stability, and Prosperity”

More competent and intelligent populations are likely to generate sub-populations of strong, innovative, independent persons that cooperate in networked communities of a resilient and anti-fragile nature. It will become easier to build parallel infrastructure and supply lines for vital needs, and to fuel continued innovative development apart from dysgenic Idiocracies of decline.

Such communites will not be built upon racial, ethnic, or religious foundations, but rather upon a common philosophy of competent future-orientation, expansion, and abundance. Disruptive innovation combined with intelligence, executive function / strength of character, and independent vision free of mainstream groupthink, will lead to a new “diaspora” of Dangerous Children. The demographic nature of such a diaspora will be difficult for present day demographers to comprehend, much less predict.

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14 Responses to Demography and Fertility: Destiny and the Fickle Womb

  1. NekasM says:

    Svk, Pardon Sir, but I think you give to much emphasize for IQ, forgetting EF, trust,loyalty, etc…
    Quo Vadis Alfi’n?
    Alfi’n Next Level!

    • alfin2101 says:

      You may well be correct. But consider, what it is that seems to distinguish the species trajectory of the chimp from that of homo sapiens sapiens? Is it primarily trust? Loyalty? Pre-frontal executive function? Or is it an entire constellation of attributes, centred around cognitive ability as primary?

      One cannot cleanly distinguish EF from IQ. Further, IQ without EF, trust, aesthetic richness, ethical consistency, and generosity, can create an ugly and corrupt society.

      Each individual article, posting, or comment from the Al Fin blogs should be taken in the context of all of the other Al Fin content dating back to 2005.

  2. Abelard Lindsey says:

    EF often correlates with IQ.

  3. yoananda says:

    “island of competence” ? maybe, maybe not.
    Why ?

    A simple reason : the knowledge (=technological achievement) a society can handle is directly related to it’s demographic size.

    There is a simple reason to that : regression to the mean (biological constraint). 2 high IQ persons will give birth to moderate IQ children, tending to rejoin the mean IQ of their race.
    You cannot keep a population of high IQ separated from the rest, you can only “extract” it from the crowd. Moreover, high IQ is not enough to counterbalance the power of collective intelligence (even with relatively low IQ) and specialisation of large populations.

    “Island of competence” is an ecological niche allowed by predation of economic surpluses of the lower educated masses. Think of it like an army : it can only be sustained as an elite INSIDE a huge population that accept to sustain this elite because it secure them. An army cannot exist by itself without anything to defend.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Yoananda asserts:

      “Island of competence” is an ecological niche allowed by predation of economic surpluses of the lower educated masses. Think of it like an army : it can only be sustained as an elite INSIDE a huge population that accept to sustain this elite because it secure them.

      Given what is being taught in university these days, it is easy how you may have arrived unquestioningly at such an interpretation of the concept.

      Few people have had the time to think these ideas through from outside of conventional viewpoints. They have not been exposed to them widely, or over a long time period. It will take time for persons to think the ideas through without their current mass of programmed preconceptions, to understand how something they had never considered before might be possible after all.

      You have plenty of time to think things through — at least until France sinks to the level of Venezuela or Zimbabwe, which is something of a natural trajectory for dysgenic Idiocracies. 😉

      • yoananda says:

        “France sinks to the level of Venezuela or Zimbabwe, which is something of a natural trajectory for dysgenic Idiocracies. 😉”
        I agree to this last sentence 😉

        • alfin2101 says:

          Apologies for the not funny joke. All of the governments of the world — almost without exception — appear to be caught in the same time warp of dysgenic Idiocracy and coming anarchy.

          In leftist economics — which is almost the only kind of economics being taught at most universities in Europe and much of the Anglosphere — it is a truism that the wealthy must steal from the poor in order to become rich. But in the real world outside of academic bad scholarship, innovation, hard work, and an enlightened management of resources can create new wealth that did not exist before. New systems, new technologies, new jobs, new ways of transforming existing resources into useful goods and services, etc.

          But smart, competent, and innovative persons must have the freedoms and the space to create new and better futures.

          Just as it is possible to rejuvenate tired soil to become a rich producer of abundant growth, so is it possible to rejuvenate tired minds and tired societies. But corruption is so entrenched in most societies that such a transformation of the society almost always has to occur from the bottom (or the middle) upward.

          The concept of “islands of competence” with parallel systems of infrastructure and supply lines, could not exist in today’s globalist world without the still-emerging technologies that are for the most part being birthed in the freer and less dysgenic locales of the world (Europe, Anglosphere, free Asia). It is a new and developing idea that most readers can be sure not to understand very well at this time.

          • yoananda says:

            No offense.

            Yes I know, I’m not a “leftist”. I am more than aware of the economic bias. I’m struggling against that, here in France, where cultural marxism is VERY strong (I think it has been invented here – with Rousseau).

            Maybe the word “predatory” was not suited.
            What I say is knownledge, and wealth are CUMULATIVE. To get some nuclear physicit (ulta-specialised), you have to get an already functionning full society with it’s infrastructure also.

            You cannot build new nuclear (it’s just an example) reactor with a few genius in ethiopia.
            I often read scientific publications. It’s HUGE knowledge, and many many things can be forgotten if you don’t have enough scientists.

            It’s called “systemic logic” : think of the problem inside it’s system. (This way of thinking, I can assure you, is not academic).

            Maybe, “island of competence” will, in the future, be able to “emancipate” from the “idiocracy continent”.

            I don’t know. But still, for what we know of the current world, it’s not the easy way, it’s not the natural path.
            If a society collapse (and France IS collapsing I can assure you) then, it is harder to maiting “island of competence”.

            Historically we have already seen that in Europe with the collapse of Rome. Some knowledge have been preserved in the monasteries and fortified towns. But it was just preserved. It would have required more people to be exploited. So, what happened is that it has finnaly been rediscovered when time cames … and we called this historical period “renaissance” …

            I know we are living in a period of extraordinnary scientific discoveries. Everyday I read news, and often I said to myself “wow, it’s farther than in any science fiction film !”. I know.
            But, we are also living in a collapsing societies, it’s a race against time.

            I think that it’s time for each of us to determine what really count’s, and what must absolutely be protected againt idiocracy.
            I would dream of “island of competence”, but, WTSHTF for real, I’m not sure we can preserve much.

            So, again, when I say “maybe” it really mean’s “maybe”.
            Maybe “island of competence” can exists in idiocracies. But if it’s possible, I think, it will be because of some kind of IA that allows to demultiply cognitive power. Maybe also a kind of immortality will be necessary. I don’t know. It will be a real challenge, and it’s worth the shot, but … success is far for certain.

          • alfin2101 says:

            Interesting article about 3D printing of home-scale nuclear reactors to provide home power and heat.

            It is difficult to predict almost anything — but especially the future. When smart, competent, and creative people say that something is possible, they are usually right. When the same people say that something is impossible, they are usually wrong.

            Arthur C Clarke and KK Steincke paraphrased.

          • yoananda says:

            Yes, I’m aware of the hype on the “small scale nuclear”.
            I don’t say it’s impossible, far from it. I believe it’s a good way out more and more costly carbon energy. Maybe it’s the only way out (maybe graphene is another one, but we don’t have many choices here).

            But I see, just in my own house where I work on domotics and energy automated production/consumption how hard it is to do everything by your own.
            I see how I’m the only one that understand anything in this tech.

            I work on a not risky, far more simple technology and yet, I see that when you have the slightest problem (and there always will be) you have to mobilise the full understanding of the technologies you use, all the chain, from basic electricity and cables to full stack web application.

            I’m pretty sure for nuclear reactor (even small one) you have to reach a critical mass of educated population to make it work and maintain it in EACH location it is used. Which means in this case a huge set of competence, not achievable by one man alone, even with 160 IQ.
            And don’t forget, that to make a nuclear reactor you have to get a full chain of industrial grade tools and raw material.
            The 3D printing process works only on top of it, not (at least for now) instead of it.

            Like I said : it’s cumulative.
            You won’t be able to build and maintain anything without a fully functional industrial society behind the “island of competence”. I’m pretty sure of it.

            I’m not saying it impossible, I’m saying it’s difficult. I don’t know what is the limit of our (collective) capacity. We have to try to know it 😉

            Beware of the promethism.
            Civilisations have collapsed before our’s. We are not immune. We will have to struggle.

          • alfin2101 says:

            Right. 3D printing is still in its very early stages, as are all forms of automated manufacturing. A lot of resources are being invested in these areas, for good reason. Demographic contraction, age shifts, and dysgenic decline are shrinking the skilled workforces of nations from Russia to Japan to Germany to Canada to China.

            Manufacturers of sophisticated and resilient technologies will have to make do with fewer savvy and trainable workers.

            Embedding competence into machinery is often seen as a substitute for embedding competence into humans. This is a mistake — one of many being made by planners at all levels. But competence in planning, policy-making, and decision-making are not the only forms of human competence to become threatened with extinction.

            “Smart” machines are meant to extend the efficacy of intelligent humans, not to replace them. An IQ of 160 is not necessary for a human to possess a broad range of high level competencies. But early and individualised training curricula are necessary, along with the same minimal IQ needed to succeed in a rigorous 4 year college training regime.

            As you say, to maintain and innovate cutting edge technologies will require cooperative groups of groups. Networked communities, inter-connected islands of competence.

            Escaping cultural Marxism, leftism, statism, stasism, and every other form of programming that modern humans are swimming in, is difficult. Not being able to conceive of something beyond current methods is a stage to be worked through, in order to create something new. Humans have been dealing with that self-imposed limitation for tens of millenia.

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  5. Robert says:

    I think that your “islands of competence” theory doesn’t really account for the questions of systems, violence, territory. It’s fairly easy to imagine how social services, for example, could be managed for voluntary, opt-in societies without territory (after all, corporations already do this for their employees to some extent). Running a health insurance fund for a distributed republic wouldn’t be so difficult; people could pay into the system and receive benefits if they are sick. Membership would be predicated on [insert sorting factor here]. The same goes for labor. It’s easier than ever before to sell one’s labor on the internet, whether you’re a software engineer or a cam girl (or both).

    So, an “island of competence” could either be an overlay network society that exists on the internet, or it could be an actual physical territory. Either way, there are problems.

    1.) Systems: As yoananda has already pointed out, “higher order” intellectual and economic endeavors need massive support systems to function. Let’s say I’m a software engineer and I’m a citizen of a future distributed online republic. I pay into the health insurance fund and I am voluntarily taxed as a member of this society. I sell my labor to other members of this society, or start my own business and employ other people. One day, my co-worker and I both happen to fall ill with skin cancer. He lives in Switzerland and I live in Indonesia. We both receive the same payouts from the health insurance fund, but one of us clearly receives better care.

    This is because health care is actually an incredibly complex system, it’s not just a fungible good that you can buy and easily ship anywhere. The quality of health care in any given locality is a function of a vast array of inter-dependent processes: the quality of primary and secondary education, quality nutrition in early childhood, access to quality higher education, industrial capacity, GDP, tax rates, a prosperous society that can afford to financially support an elite corps of competent healthcare providers, etc.

    None of this means that it’s not worth it to try and build networked overlay societies, but rather, I think that their capacities would inevitably be constrained by the realities of society on the ground. The argument that “smart elites can just retreat into their competent virtual Switzerland” is an illusion. Education, economic opportunity, and infrastructure must be improved for all, or everyone will suffer. There is no viable “Elysium” option for “smart people.”

    2.) Violence: This one is fairly simple. Any virtual, distributed republic would be trivially coerce-able as long as its members lack a capacity for organized violence. It’s not clear to me how a lone individual, networked into an internet-enabled overlay state, could in any way assure her/his “sovereignty” while living more or less alone within the territory of another nation state. Even if she/he is paying into both systems, she/he is clearly vulnerable to coercion by the nation state where she/he resides. This means that we aren’t talking about an “overlay network nation state” anymore, we’re talking about something much more boring: an international health insurance scheme run by an elite network of workers, entrepreneurs, and multinational corporations.

    3.) Territory: In order to effectively deploy organized violence, you need territory. Simply taking over an island is not enough. Iceland has a weak sovereignty, because it is highly dependent upon exports for basic necessities. The U.S., Russia, and the PRC all have strong sovereignty, because they: a.) could prevent their populations from starving if they were truly cut off, and b.) they are unlikely to ever be cut off, because the rest of the world is dependent upon trade with them in order to have functioning economies.

    Societies are very complex. It might be possible for Switzerland or New Zealand to host some sort of refuge society, but I think that the author of the original post is underestimating the extent to which high-level endeavors are dependent upon very complex systems. Look at Israel. The original Zionists (think the second and third Aliyahs in the 1918-1935 period) came from very educated backgrounds, in most cases, but Israel remained a colony/nation of farming and light manufacturing for the first forty to fifty years of its existence. This isn’t because early Israeli settlers weren’t *intelligent*, they obviously were; they just had to solve the immediate problem of feeding themselves and their families before moving on to other higher level pursuits. In fact, the early Zionist movement was explicitly hostile to purely intellectual work, while at the same time valuing intellectual pursuits with immediately practical applications. This was because the Zionists saw the traditional Jewish strategy of living within nation states, through intellectual labor (finance, law, etc), as fundamentally flawed. Historically, Jews in Europe were often barred from owning property or firearms. The Zionists believed that in order for the Jewish people to thrive, they must first have territory where they could farm and own guns. Only then would freedom be possible. This insight proved to be tragically prescient as the holocaust unfolded a few years later.

    In short, I don’t think that a virtual overlay society would work. A Switzerland or Israel-style small state could be viable, but I think that the author is seriously underestimating the extent to which those societies are dependent upon trade with the outside world to maintain their standards of living.

    It is my belief that the demographic problem will solve itself. Automation will decrease the value of manual labor, which will reduce the incentives to have children. Children will cease to be an asset and become a liability/luxury, since education is expensive. Birthrates will decline across the board. In fact, as the chart at the beginning of this post illustrates, we are already seeing this phenomenon.

    • alfin2101 says:

      … I don’t think that a virtual overlay society would work
      … It is my belief that the demographic problem will solve itself. … __ Robert

      We are not talking about a virtual overlay society, at least not the sort you describe. But since you mention virtual overlay healthcare, it should be noted that as telepresence becomes more powerful, and home synthesis and 3D printing of complex chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and devices improves, most types of medical treatments of highest quality will likely be made available over networks.

      Far from being an overlay society, ancient Greece was one form of the islands of competence model. Ancient Greece was composed of shifting alliances between distributed and somewhat isolated city-states, none of which could have survived on their own. All of the Greek city-states and Greek colony city-states needed to trade with others in the group, and with peripheral trading cultures outside the network.

      There are many other forms of “islands of competence”, often more dependent upon modern and emerging disruptive innovations. It is difficult for one to say whether particular problems are overstated or understated, unless the models are more clearly defined than has been done.

      As for “the demographic problem solving itself,” we should note that one way of demographic problems solving themselves is for particular populations to go extinct. That is probably one of the most time-honoured way for demographic problems to solve themselves.

      The infiltration of modern Europe by lower IQ, more violence-prone populations amounts to a negative image of the “islands of competence” concept. The cities of Europe are increasingly occupied by decidedly younger and more fertile populations, which lack the aptitude to maintain the high technology redistributive society created by the indigenous populations they are replacing.

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