Ideology and Demography
The 2006 World Population Data Sheet
University of Maryland
Abstract: an analysis of global population trends suggests that active population management is urgently required to prevent demographic disaster and that the foreign policies of the developed world need to be subordinated to the radical reduction of global populations.
Key words: accepted demographic theory (ADT), censorship, demographic projections, economic goals, environmental degradation, eugenics, family planning, foreign policy, global warming, ideology, invasive species, total fertility rate, voluntarism.
The 2006 World Population Data Sheet, published annually by the Population Reference
Bureau, is a chart listing 236 countries and concatenated geographic areas against 28 parameters, creating a total of 6,608 records. Such a massive amount of information leaves its users free to draw a vast panoply of conclusions, many of which are mutually contradictory and usually stem from predetermined worldviews.
Not only is the Data Sheet available online at www.prb.org, those interested may
even view a webcast of the one-hour press briefing introducing it. The presentations are intended to be professional and non-ideological, but the smiles, simultaneous and almost synchronized nodding, and general body language of the presenters create – perhaps
inadvertently – an overall optimistic impression on questions of population quantity.
Accepted demographic theory (ADT) predicates self-interest as the motor of fertility: as economies are modernized, children are transformed from assets into liabilities, so that parents produce fewer of them, opting instead to raise their own personal consumption levels and maximize leisure time. Certainly this model thus far has
been an excellent predictor. Global birth rates are indeed negatively correlated to economic growth, and fertility levels in the most developed economies – more often than
not – have even fallen below replacement. ADT would appear to have been validated. But will it continue to provide a reliable frame of reference in the future? There are factors at play that threaten it:
1. According to the Data Sheet, 53% of the global population still makes do on less
than $2 per day, and in many countries incomes are even declining. If incomes
fail to rise in the underdeveloped countries, even ADT predicts continued high
2. The explicit goal of all countries is to maximize economic growth and,
consequently, consumption. For the sake of hypothesis, let us assume that the
ADT optimist scenario continues to be an accurate predictor. After all, China has
maintained a 10% GDP rate for over a decade, India is now at 9%, and the
Vietnamese government is strenuously attempting prevent its economy from
overheating. What are the consequences of such a scenario? Imagine the rest of
the world consuming at US rates. Has human society set before itself a suicidal
3. The economic self-interest posited by ADT as the determinant of fertility levels
may ultimately be replaced by genetic selection. Now that the former link
between sexual activity and procreation has been undermined, people can have
sex without begetting children, and they can have offspring without engaging in
sexual activity. To a far greater extent than was formerly true, children are now
born – not as an inadvertent byproduct of the sexual act – but because their
parents wanted them. Modern selection adds child-wanting to the equation of
sexual drive. In a genetically restructured society will high fertility be more
heavily influenced by an innate desire for children? What governmental posture
will be required on a finite planet whose individual residents are literally addicted
to child bearing?
In contrast to the religious view of humankind as the pinnacle of creation, the science of ecology defines “infestation” as the introduction of an “invasive species” that is able to overwhelm competing species, at the very least disrupting and degrading the environmental balance, and, in its most extreme form, functioning so efficiently as a parasite that a tipping point is achieved, rendering the environment uninhabitable and ultimately perishing itself as a result. Human beings conform precisely to this definition. We have conquered the entire planet, are frantically exhausting resources that will be needed by future generations, and are precipitously degrading the environment. We are the invasive species par excellence.
With this background in mind, let us peruse the 2006 World Population Data
Sheet. We are clearly faced with an emergency situation. At stake is the survival of our own species as well as that of our neighbors on the planet.
The mid 2006 estimate of global population is 6.555 billion. While the current TFR (Total Fertility Rate) is 2.7 children per women, the “medium” United Nations
projection foresees an ultimate reduction of this indicator to 1.9, somewhat below replacement level (2.1). Hence the optimistic projection of a global population of only 7.94 billion by 2025 and 9.243 by 2050. As pointed out by PRB demographer Carl Haub during the presentation of the data, projections are not predictions, and they must be taken with a grain of salt. Global population could turn out to be billions larger.
Optimists and pessimists agree that growth will be largely limited to the “less
developed” nations (excluding China): 63%, as opposed to 4% for the “more developed” countries. (PBR demographers at the data presentation preferred the expression “developing” over “less developed,” even though some countries are undergoing what is
euphemistically referred to as “negative growth.”) China’s projection is for an
augmentation of 10% by 2050.
With its one-child policy, China has succeeded in lowering its TFR to 1.6 children and the percentage of the population younger than 15 to only 20%, putting it on a near par with the more developed world (TFR = 1.6, population < 15 = 17%). By contrast, the rest of the less-developed world has a TFR of 3.4, with 35% of its population younger than 15. Even if the TFR is lowered, such a youthful age structure guarantees catastrophically high future fertility. The United States has consistently promoted the Indian model of “democracy,” even though India’s demographic policies have produced results that are judged unsatisfactory even by the Indian government. Insufficiently robust population policies are well on the way to producing ecological disaster.
The TFR for Africa is 5.1, with 42% of the population under 15. Although a solid majority of African governments view such high fertility as undesirable, only half of African women 15-49 use any form of contraception whatsoever, modern or traditional. If 92% of Vietnamese women think it’s time to stop after two children, the corresponding
figure for Nigeria, Africa’s most highly populated nation, is a mere 4%. Financial
statistics are equally depressing: If the mean individual income for the more developed world is $27,790 and $41,950 for the United States, Africans earn a mean wage of $2,480, with the corresponding figure for countries such as Guinea-Bissau, Niger, and Sierra Leone falling to the $700-$800 range. 66% of African populations subsist on less than $2 per day, and in western and eastern Africa this quotient rises to 83% and 79% respectively. AIDS is another disaster ravaging African populations, striking 1/3 of Swazilanders and ? of residents of Botswana and Lesotho.
The demographics of Latin America are better, but still not where demographers would like to see them: TFR = 2.5, population <15 = 30%, ? earn less than $2 a day. The Monroe Doctrine, proclaimed in 1823, should have produced far better results.
Neither have underfunded birth-control programs proven to be a blessing for the 1.6 billion residents of South Central Asia: TFR = 3.1, population <15 = 36, mean income = $3,330. Six out of ten of the four billion residents of the less developed nations minus China have an income of less than $2 a day.
On a positive note, the governments of most underdeveloped countries recognize that domestic fertility patterns are too high, and only a few view them as too low. And while China successfully brought down its birth rate by using both voluntary and compulsory methods, Sanjay Ghandi undermined his mother’s government with a program of forced sterilizations, so that even the most resolute policies can backfire. Whatever combinations of population management are chosen (incentives, disincentives, compulsion), overpopulation must be recognized as the primary task of both society and government.
Even the current optimistic projection for one country is for a near quintupling (!) of its population by 2050:
The following countries are projected to more than triple their populations by 2050:
224 East Timor
The following countries are projected to more than double their populations by 2050:
192 Congo, Dem. Republic of
143 Sierra Leone
127 Equatorial Guinea
120 Solomon Islands
Haiti is an ongoing tragedy, about to become a catastrophe. Life expectancy is only 52; 7.3% of infants don’t survive birth; 78% of the population do not use modern contraceptives; 78% get by on less than $2 a day; even in the cities only half the population has access to “improved” sanitation; the population density is already ten
times that of the United States and is “projected” to more than double over the next fifty
years; and the land has been almost totally deforested. When the inevitable collapse arrives, the US will have either to accept massive immigration (improbable) or let the victims perish (unthinkable).
Bangladesh has cut its TFR to 3, but it may well prove impossible to save this populous country anyway. Already it is home to 147 million people, and 80% of the country is alluvial floodplain, now threatened by global warming. Its population is projected to add another 84 million in fifty years; imagine a New Orleans type inundation with 231 million victims. No country will be either able or willing to accept such a number. ADT is inadequate to the situation.
Globally, the “projection” is as gloomy as it is unrealistically optimistic, calling for an augmentation of 41%, adding another India plus another China.
The following countries are projected to lose population:
-35 French Guyana
-21 Macao (China) -21 Moldova
-18 Bosnia-Herzegovina -17 Poland
-13 St. Vincent & Grenadines -13 South Korea
-8 Czech Republic -7 Macedonia
For over a century there have been fears of a death of the white race, to which the
Japanese may now be added. The reality is that there are too many people. Low fertility is
the solution, not the problem. What is needed is to lower fertility rates in the rest of the
world to match low white/Japanese/Chinese fertility, and not hesitate to take decisive and
unpopular decisions. “Democracy” and “population management” need not necessarily
be incompatible. Incentives work: France is a democratic country that has succeeded in
raising its TFR to 1.9 by subsidizing nurseries, child care, parental leave, and child rearing. The longer insufficient resources are invested in incentives for low fertility, the greater will be the pressure for compulsory measures.
The second demographic emergency area is the negative correlation between intelligence and fertility. This is not an area topic discussed in the Data Sheet. Even
though many of the founders of contemporary demographic studies were refugees from the abruptly suppressed eugenics movement, qualitative demography has been a taboo topic since the late 1960s. Probably a thousand different scientific and scholarly journals are actively publishing materials on eugenics. (See www.whatwemaybe.org for a list of
524 of them.) Demographers are among the last group to maintain the censorship, even though topic should form a core area of their studies.
Although the United States government sees itself as the global leader, its foreign
policy has been subordinated to issues that are peripheral to species survival. Faced with a life-or-death situation, global society must do what it takes to survive, and not be unduly fixated on the mechanism for achieving these absolutely essential goals. The philosophical, religious, social, and political mechanisms employed should not be dictated by superpowers as long as national governments get the job done. Interventionism is justified only if they fail in those tasks, and then it is mandatory. In other words, the chief thrust of US foreign policy should be to reduce global population by spending money on subsidized family planning programs rather than on military programs. This is almost entirely a conflictless, non-coercive foreign policy. The developing countries would overwhelmingly welcome more assistance. It does not have to be forced upon them. And the rendering of such assistance would make for international good will and radically reduce tension and the accompanying need for defense spending.