POPULATION: by Steve W. MosherNews Weekly
UN in denial over "demographic winter"
, July 9, 2011
Steven Mosher is president of Population Research International, an organisation which has documented the paradigm shift in population growth over the past 20 years, as reproductive rates around the world plummet to below replacement levels in many countries. He spoke recently at the World Congress of Families’ Demographic Summit, which was held in in Moscow, in a nation already in the grip of a demographic crisis.
You will be glad to learn that we all have official permission from the UN people-counters to panic about “overpopulation” — yet again.
The UN Population Division (UNDP) apparently decided that its earlier predictions about world population growth were too restrained. So it upped the ante in its 2010 report, revising almost all of its numbers upwards.
According to the new numbers, the world’s population will reach 9.3 billion by the time 2050 rolls around — or several hundred million higher than earlier predictions.
Not only that, instead of beginning to fall at that point, the UN now claims that the numbers will continue to grow until the end of the century, reaching 10.1 billion in 2100.
But these new predictions fly in the face of all we know about human fertility.
It turns out that every last one of the factors affecting fertility — with the sole exception of advances in reproductive technology — are moving in an anti-natal direction. Factors such as age at marriage, age at first child-bearing, educational levels, etc., are all tending to lower fertility.
Birthrates are falling everywhere, farther and faster than anyone thought possible several decades ago.
The UNDP itself admits that 79 countries, including several dozen in the less developed world, now have fertility rates that are below the level needed to ensure the long-term survival of the population.
Most of the rest — everybody, that is, except the UN — now seem to know that we are likely to cross this demographic fault-line over the next few decades.
Whistling in this looming demographic darkness, the UNDP blithely predicts that people in low-fertility countries will suddenly become enamoured of babies again. You got that right! They predict, without providing a shred of evidence, that birthrates will somehow gravitate to the replacement levels again.
What planet are they living on?
Many of today’s young adults in Europe, Latin America, Asia and elsewhere are too enamoured of sex, the city and the single life to think about marriage, much less about replacing themselves.
A single Swedish woman may eventually bear one child as her biological clock approaches midnight, of course, but she is unlikely to bear a second.
What was supposed to be the perfect family — a boy for you and a girl for me and heaven help us if we have three — has been scorned by moderns on their way to extinction. The declining number of traditional families has been unable to fill the fertility gap thus created.
The UNDP is supposed to be objective in its predictions, but its latest batch of junk science suggests that it has become anything but.
In fact, after the retirement of director Joseph Chamie, its prognostications seem more and more driven by politics. At the very least, it has produced numbers that tend to show population growth as far more exuberant than it really is.
The reason for this, I fear, is that the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) provides part of the UNDP budget — and the UNFPA is first, last and always a population-control group.
The UNFPA seems to be using its funding to “leverage” the UNPD into producing numbers that the UNFPA can in turn use to justify the continuation and expansion of population control and abortion.
There is a real population crisis, of course. I am speaking of the crisis of ageing and dying populations, for which there seems to be no easy solution.
It is a crisis that, by reducing the amount of human capital available, will have a dramatic and negative impact on every aspect of life.
Peter Drucker, the late management guru, wrote way back in 1997 that “The dominant factor for business in the next two decades — in the absence of war, pestilence, or collision with a comet — is not going to be economics or technology. It will be demographics.”
Drucker was particularly concerned with the “increasing under-population of the developed countries”, but a decade later this reproductive malaise has spread even to the less developed world, and is a truly global phenomenon.
The UN needs to stop spending time, money and resources trying to solve a problem that we’ve never had. Science shows that the world’s population is due to fall dramatically, not rise uncontrollably.
To recklessly seek to curb procreation in countries that are, or soon will be, dying will only compound the tragedy.
People are our greatest resource. Everyone, rich or poor, is a unique creation with something priceless to offer to the rest of us.
I have long wondered what it would take for the Chinese Communist Party to abandon the one-child policy that it instituted back in 1980 when I was first in China.
Now we know. It certainly wasn’t the bitter complaints of the Chinese people about this assault on their families and children that changed the Party’s collective mind.
The Party has never shied away from imposing its will on the people it controls. Indeed, it believes, despite rhetoric to the contrary, that the Chinese masses exist to serve the state, not the converse. It is a crime in China to criticise Party policy, and critics are punished, not heeded.
Nor was the Party at all concerned about the millions of children, both born and unborn, who have been sacrificed as a result of this policy. After all, eliminating people was what the population-control policy was all about.
Diminutive Deng Xiaoping set the tone of the policy back in 1979 when he said, “Use whatever means you must [to control China’s population], just do it. With the support of the Chinese Communist Party you have nothing to fear.” Party officials have been “doing it” to Chinese women ever since, to the tune of 7 to 10 million abortions a year.
Did the Party leadership finally begin to regret the massive and ongoing human rights violations that the one-child policy entailed? Hardly.
It takes a pretty hardened leadership cadre to send mobile abortion squads to hunt down pregnant women, to arrest them for violating the one-child policy, and then to abort and sterilise them against their will.
This has been going on for 30 years.
It is highly unlikely that China’s President Hu Jintao simply woke up one morning wracked by guilt and said to himself, “This is wrong.”
No, the reason that the policy may be ended has nothing to do with human considerations at all, but with cold dollars-and-cents calculations.
You see, as a result of the elimination of 400 million productive young people from the population over the past three decades, China now has a labour shortage.
For 20 years, the coastal provinces have been scouring the backwaters of China for young people to fill factory jobs in assembly plants that would otherwise go begging.
The villages of China have been emptied out as a result, and are now primarily home to the very young and increasing numbers of the very old.
China is now facing the “Lewisian turning-point”, named after Arthur Lewis, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who first defined that critical moment in a developing country’s economic rise when its labour supply dries up.
In my view, China has already hit the Lewisian turning-point, given that wages, prices and inflation are now soaring in China. Others, like Dong Tao, chief regional economist for Credit Suisse Bank in Hong Kong, say that China will hit it within two or three years.
China’s communist leaders now realise that they have created, by means of their draconian one-child policy, an artificial shortage of labour by eliminating an estimated 400 million people from the population.
But they have a problem. They cannot admit that their policy was wrongheaded from the get-go without delegitimising their rule.
So they have decided to back away from the current policy slowly, by moving to a nationwide two-child policy.
This will not eliminate the abuses, of course. Women will still be arrested for the crime of being pregnant, locked up until they give their consent for an abortion, and then undergo an abortion against their will. But these now will be women who are pregnant with their third child, not with their second.
The state, by all accounts, does not intend to give up its control over the reproduction of the Chinese people.
And so the Chinese Communist Party will continue to violate one of the most fundamental rights of the Chinese people: the right to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children.
Steven W. Mosher is president of the Population Research Institute (PRI). Website: www.pop.org