Somehow I missed this analysis of population trends when it first came out last September, but it is still interesting to review. Common wisdom holds that demographics are destiny. If so, then the population trends portrayed in the linked article hold important implications for international geopolitics as some countries grow, others shrink, and others shrink even faster.
As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future..” Nevertheless, population trends are hard to change once set in motion. It is easier to turn a battleship than it is to change national birth rates and life spans. Short of some kind of catastrophe, such as war or natural disaster, it is very difficult to reduce population trends in any big way. On the other hand, once a population does start to shrink, like in Japan, Russia, or (projections show) China, it seems even more difficult to turn it around. Just ask China, which imposed a draconian one-child per family policy a generation or two ago. Once the Chinese Communist Party began to realize some of the negative implications of a declining population, it changed to a two-child per family policy, and is even about to relax that to a three-child per family policy. However, it is probably too late to overcome the trends set in motion by a couple generations of government-imposed “family planning,” and we can see the results in the graphic above
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Nevertheless, what other surprises do you see as you peruse the projections?
2 thoughts on “Population Projections”
Two basic lines of questioning come to mind.
Since China’s population is projected to fall by a factor of two, will the government start treating the people any better, or will they start applying pressure for people to have more kids?
There are also a number of countries (e.g. Nigeria) whose population is projected to more-then-double. Some of these countries (e.g. Nigeria) don’t seem to be coping well with their existing populations. How should we expect them to cope with having 3 to 5 times as many people? This will be interesting.
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Good observations and good questions. Maybe this helps explain why China seems to be increasingly assertive in international affairs. As for Nigeria, it seems like the increasing level of internal violence (kidnappings, murders, and terrorism) would work against population growth. As you say, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.