Friday, January 07, 2005

The Global Baby Bust

I am a big fan of global demographics. As someone once said "demographics is destiny". Interesting article with some surprising facts and predictions of what folds in the future. As the title implies the author believes that we are going into a global population decline and talks about those implications.

Surprising facts:

In the United States, the direct cost of raising a middle-class child born this year through age 18, according to the Department of Agriculture, exceeds $200,000 -- not including college. And the cost in forgone wages can easily exceed $1 million, even for families with modest earning power.
In the United States, for example, fully 47 percent of people who attend church weekly say that the ideal family size is three or more children, as compared to only 27 percent of those who seldom attend church.
The Pentagon today spends 84 cents on pensions for every dollar it spends on basic pay.
The cost of public benefits to the elderly will consume a dramatically rising share of GDP in industrialized countries. In the United States, such benefits currently consume 9.4 percent of GDP. But if current trends continue, this figure will top 20 percent by 2040.
Example of interesting predictions:

Over the next decade, the Middle East could benefit from a similar "demographic dividend." Birthrates fell in every single Middle Eastern country during the 1990s, often dramatically. The resulting "middle aging" of the region will lower the overall dependency ratio over the next 10 to 20 years, freeing up more resources for infrastructure and industrial development. The appeal of radicalism could also diminish as young adults make up less of the population and Middle Eastern societies become increasingly dominated by middle-aged people concerned with such practical issues as health care and retirement savings. Just as population aging in the West during the 1980s was accompanied by the disappearance of youthful indigenous terrorist groups such as the Red Brigades and the Weather Underground, falling birthrates in the Middle East could well produce societies far less prone to political violence.
via Foreign Affairs

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