Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Very Happy Matt Rognlie Is Blogging Again

. Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And I hope he continues after he gets to MIT:

Take a look at the 2009 CIA World Factbook figures on total fertility rate (summarized in the second table here) and you'll see a startling pattern at the bottom of the list:

223. Japan: 1.21
224. South Korea: 1.21
225. Taiwan: 1.14
226. Singapore: 1.09
227. Hong Kong: 1.02
228. Macau: 0.91

Out of the six lowest-fertility countries in the world, five are located in East Asia and the other is majority Chinese. In fact, despite its one-child policy, China has the highest fertility rate, 1.79 children per woman, of all countries in East Asia except North Korea (which probably shouldn't count).

It isn't too surprising that China is higher: declines in fertility are heavily correlated with economic development, and despite its overwhelming success over the past three decades China remains far poorer than the six countries listed above. But the shockingly low fertility rates in the East Asian nations most culturally comparable to China offer a strong hint of China's demographic future. Shanghai, China's richest city—and our best example of what a richer China 20 years hence might look like—has a fertility rate of only 0.88!

Demographics will play a very large, and maybe so far underrated, role in the story of the 21st century. Many of the most pressing issues in international politics -- terrorism, macroeconomic imbalances, migration flows, resource scarcity -- are related to demographic transitions. Worse, these are hard to predict and even harder to control.


daniel john said...

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I'm Very Happy Matt Rognlie Is Blogging Again
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