China has begun its inevitable demographic tailspin
The New York Times reports that China has admitted for the first time that its population is declining. (I’ve heard from sources that this has been going on for some time; what’s different is that China is admitting it.) Populations across the West are declining as well, including in the U.S. What does this mean for our children and grandchildren? The sure bet is that they will not live as we have lived.
In 1968, Paul Ehrlich and his wife wrote The Population Bomb, a book that quite literally changed (and is continuing to change) the Western world. Basically, it was premised on the Malthusian concept that a wealthy society, rather than planning for the lean years, simply produces so many people that its resources fail, at which point there is a horrible, painful, and violent collapse involving mass starvation and war as different nations fight for scarce resources.
What neither Thomas Malthus nor the Ehrlichs envisioned (although the Ehrlichs should have) was that technology would make such great advances that well-run countries are able to feed not only their own citizens but other countries’ citizens as well. Paul Ehrlich is still out there shilling his failed theories, and Western countries are still acting as if they’re real.
The result of Ehrlich’s theories is that Western countries, which used technology to feed themselves and others, are no longer replacing themselves and are in steep demographic decline. Although it’s not literally a Western country, within the concept of the modern, developed world, China is the country that keeps the rest of us supplied with just about everything. And now, China has admitted that it also belongs on the demographic decline list, resulting from 50 years of its disastrous “one child” policy, which led to the mass murder of female fetuses and infants.
The government said on Tuesday that 9.56 million people were born in China last year, while 10.41 million people died. It was the first time deaths had outnumbered births in China since the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s failed economic experiment that led to widespread famine and death in the 1960s.
Now, facing a population decline, coupled with a long-running rise in life expectancy, the country is being thrust into a demographic crisis that will have consequences not just for China and its economy but for the world.
Indeed, data released on Tuesday showed that the Chinese economy last year had one of its worst performances since 1976, the year Mao died.
There’s more in the same vein. The gist is that China, like the rest of the West, will have a small young population incapable of supporting a massive older population. There will be labor shortages that will affect a world that’s come to rely on Chinese productivity and a food shortage that will be disastrous domestically for China. When that happens, war usually follows.
We’re not doing any better in America, where we’re also having a baby bust:
According to the US Census Bureau, the fertility rate - which measures how many children an average woman will give birth to during her life - was 1.6 in 2020.
This falls far below the level of 2.1 needed to maintain current population levels.
There are many reasons—women in the workforce, the expense of having a family, climate change panic—but they all mean the same thing: America’s native-born population is slowly vanishing.
Europe and Japan, of course, two regions with the culture and technology to beat Malthus’s and Ehrlich’s grim predictions, have experienced disastrous demographic slides for decades. Indeed, as I heard Ben Shapiro say, anywhere that the culture replaced religion with leftism has seen a population collapse. That’s because leftism has no reverence for life and family, it needs women to prop up the labor force, and the future is invariably grim.
There are countries and regions that are doing well. India is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world. It has three factors that can help fight the Malthusian decline: Hard workers, a rising middle class, and a respect for real science, as opposed to woke science. Israel, too, has a booming population and is a huge contributor to advances in food and health, advances that benefit the whole world.
However, the other areas of population growth are regions that do not have the infrastructure to beat the Malthusian threat. If you look at this map, you can see that Africa, the Middle East, India (of course), Latin America, and the Malayan peninsula are where the world’s population is really taking off.
Barring India, none of those regions have shown the capacity to grow their economies to keep up with their populations. Few have anything even approaching civil rights. And most of them (logically) have shown a willingness to use violence as a means to appropriate the resources they need for their own countries.
Xi Jinping has been trying to offset his country’s population decline through his Belt and Road initiative, where he stakes out interests in poor countries around the world (including in Europe). He may discover, though, as England did, that when your population shrinks, the residents of the areas you colonized tend to move to the home country and, suddenly, it’s a different country.
Although Robert Kennedy’s speechwriter made up the “old Chinese” curse “May you live in interesting times,” it’s a pretty accurate summation of the world in 2023. We are living in interesting times of the type that promise a poorer, more primitive, more violent future.