Monday, February 16, 2004

Policy Review has an interesting article on population trends in Asia and Russia. In 2025 most Asian countries will have older populations we will. It seems that if one just looks at the demographics, we will be in a much better socioeconomic position, assuming our immigration policy doesn't change drastically.

I'd add continued successful assimilation of immigrants as a criterion (look at France). Being generally laissez-faire in my economic policy preferences, my only real concern about immigration is assimilation. Given the trends I've observed in my own lifetime towards things like bilingualism, I suspect that if unchanged, our current rates of immigration will eventually lead to a binational state. What I'd really like, though, is some hard data. Can anybody point me to a few studies?

Actually, another assumption was made in forecasting our relative demographic good fortune: a continued fertility rate of "about 2.0 births per woman, as against about 1.5 in Western Europe, roughly 1.4 in Eastern Europe, and about 1.3 in Japan." Personally, I want to have as many kids as to whom I can be a good father. Is modern live too hectic to permit the average person to be a good parent to more than two kids? The line has to be drawn somewhere, but at only two?

Moreover, considering that in Europe people work fewer hours than here but have fewer children, I'm uncomfortably drawn closer to the conclusion that modern man doesn't like children all that much. The discomfort comes from my perception that such unenthusiasm about children can only be symptomatic of a deep societal ill. I say this not because of concern about our cultural self-preservation, but for more visceral reasons. Essentially, I really like children, and I have yet to wrap my mind around how somebody could feel differently for unselfish reasons.

(I hope that last sentence didn't offend anybody; as a general principle, when I interact with people I give them the benefit of doubt regarding their motives. Also, I don't mean to suggest people who devote their life to a task that leaves no time for a family are selfish; many such people want children but forego fulfilling this desire for a higher purpose. To give you an idea of where I'm coming from, perhaps I should quote some Scripture: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it," said God to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28). Similarly, "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them," reads Psalm 127:4-5.)

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