One child with the devil?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 63dot, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. 63dot, Jan 13, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016

    63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    When I first heard about Italy's couples deciding to have fewer children, I saw the people who thought the long term result as economic downturn via too few workers as alarmist. Back then Italy was a growing, vibrant country and housed many companies that didn't appear to ever be seeing any decline. Today the country is losing 155 people per day and any replacement of their population is coming from elsewhere which will eventually change politics and policy. Once the world power, downgraded to just one of the major European powers, may fall into irrelevancy in the future.

    Later on, China went the same route, but did so largely through a one child policy (and not by choice like Italy) and while the short term policy avoided mass starvation and disease and at the same time grew the economy to its highest levels, makes the long term less bright in its outlook. The long term brings in two new, possibly unsolvable problems:

    1) eventually too few workers to keep up with the tremendous yearly demand for Chinese goods and services as the 1.4 billion people propping up China's economy cannot be replaced by a new population of far less than a billion people

    2) a way to fund what will become a large financial burden of taking care of the faster growing elderly population in an inverse population pyramid

    IMHO, I think the one child policy brought on China's economic growth and averted unsustainable population growth is the same factor that will result in China losing their top position as a world power.

    Some say that China will peak in its population within the decade but then undergo a quick depopulation and may not be able to fill both skilled and unskilled positions as this trend continues. Where will China look to man their factories, offices, and agriculture positions?


    Note: estimates of India surpassing China in population in less than ten years and moving toward 1.7 billion people will happen while China moves quickly to fall below one billion people could result in India filling more demand and surpassing China as the economic power of the region by mid-century
  2. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Good times ahead for China.

    Honey, we have to **** for the good of the nation!
  3. aaronvan Suspended


    Dec 21, 2011
    República Cascadia
    I really don't see China rapidly depopulating even if their population does peak in the next decade.

    Italy--and Europe as a whole--are having fewer children. As is the United States. Europe is fortunate in that their political elites were wise enough to open the floodgates to millions of new residents of amazing fecundity who are not having fewer children. And there are your new workers.
  4. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    Sounds like an economic incentive for increased automation and robotics, in a way that significantly reduces costs. It has to be cheaper to automate than to hire a person.

    Same thing here: automation and robotics.

    The Japanese are at least tinkering with products in the "old person robotic assistant" area (google it), but I'm not aware of any huge breakthroughs in either cost or capability. There's some US research, but it's pretty thin and even farther away from a consumer product.

    For an analogy, consider drones. It used to be that radio-controlled model helicopters were expensive and took a lot of skill to control. Now, literally any kid can fly a $500 drone, where the machine itself takes over all the hard parts. The main constraint is acquisition cost, rather than any training or ongoing maintenance costs.

    Overall I see relatively few options:
    1. Automate for the individual (elders remain more or less independent).
    2. Combine into groups ("warehousing").
    3. Import labor.
    4. Soylent Green.

    These aren't all mutually exclusive.
  5. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    Did that US statistic also take into account all the 1st-generation immigrant families? And I'm not just talking about the "undocumented illegal" numbers. I'm mostly talking about immigrants who arrived in the USA legally like the SE Asians, Indians (South Asians), and some Middle Easterners who were allowed in recent decades due to asylum reasons, etc. You know they don't stop at 1 child, right?
  6. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    How they will depopulate is anyone's guess. All I remember is, the one child policy was officially abandoned, but it would be hard and expensive to keep that regulation enforced anyway.
  7. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    I wonder if anyone is considering the world population growth. We have far too many people to manage at this point. We can't feed, house and employ the people we have. Remember, those young workers will get old someday too. What then?

    It's a classic pyramid scam, and we've fallen for it. If we can't make an economy work for a static population, there's something wrong with the economy.

    Also, notice how the new people come from lower IQ nations. These are lower end producers. High IQ people have fewer children, this is by design. Lower IQ people don't see a problem with over population.

    Look at all the problems that over population and wide spread poverty has brought. Do we really need an overpopulated, low IQ population that can't produce in a world that has AI robots that'll end their economic value?

    As far as Europe is concerned, it's gone. It used to be a group of nations that had a great (mostly great) history. Now, it's just a big group of people that'll never get along. Watch what happens in Europe as their population gets raped and they move over towards a middle east war zone.
  8. LizKat macrumors 68040


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    China has invested billions in infrastructure in Africa, trading that for resources it needs to import. Likewise in Latin America, where it has lined up control of a lot of oil production in Venezuela, also importing commodities like soybeans and iron ore elsewhere in Latin America (Brazil, Argentina). In the US it has begun to invest in land and in pork production, importing the breeding technology and ultimately the pork but leaving the raising and slaughter of the pigs here.

    None of this is direct investment stuff is without cultural issues and some resentment on all sides but I wouldn't worry too much about China's ability to feed its population in future. They know they'll lose political conrol if they can't manage that problem for a second time in its modernization period and they've learned they have to get out of China and invest elsewhere to be able to do it.

    Meanwhile at least in Africa the Chinese are not the only foreign direct investors, there's hardly a country in other continents that doesn't compete for raw resources and in some cases labor in Africa, usually offering infrastructure investment in trade (roads, shops, factories, cell networks).

    What I find even more interesting is growing individual Chinese emigration to Africa in particular, often as merchants or even itinerant peddlers and sometimes in countries you would not really expect to find them, like rural areas of Egypt. The New Yorker had a long piece about that last summer by Peter Hessler, so worth the read: Learning to Speak Lingerie: Chinese merchants and the inroads of globalization

    Below are a couple excerpts to entice you to read the whole thing. It's interesting that in these cases there doesn't seem to be the resentment between locals and Chinese that there often is in the Chinese sovereign investment situations. In the latter, the Chinese often refer to their deals as win-win but almost in a pleading manner, like "see this works for both sides" despite a lot of grumbling from Africans about environmental damage and abuse of local labor or substitution of Chinese labor brought along for the projects. But in these individual situations of emigrated Chinese as bosses hiring local Egyptian labor and selling to local Egyptians, it actually seems like a win-win. The Chinese are there to make a buck and seem to leave it at that, not really exploring the local culture past how not to offend the Egyptian authorities, customers or employees.
  9. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2010
    I sure wish they would hurry up on that project.

    But, getting back to the basic concept here: No, you can't go on rapidly growing the world population forever. Growth will stop, either by choice or catastrophe. When it happens, and, if people continue to live 15-20 years or so beyond their economically productive years, robotic assistants are a good bet for how we all will get taken care of.
  10. Scepticalscribe, Jan 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016

    Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    The world is grotesquely overpopulated as it is, and, as a species we are busily destroying the resources of the planet that gave rise to us, or, put another way, gave birth to us.

    In fact, if anything, we are running the risk of being a major cause of the planet's next extinction event, such is the collective impact of our species on other life forms, including animal species, marine life, plants, insects, and our wanton plundering of the planet's resources.

    Now, yes, granted, the population is falling in some of the most advanced and developed parts of the world. And I also read the touching faux concern for the future of Europe mingled with what seems to be an almost savage glee - evident in the wild and intemperate tone of the writings of some of our American posters about the future of Europe.

    Look, Europe has been around a long time, and is perfectly capable of adapting to change - it will do so again. Yes, the change may not be easy - change rarely is, but the continent will adapt. It has been adapting for at least four thousand years. Now, it may not be the dominant bloc in the world, - what country or region holds that position forever? - but its wealth and clout will mean that it will still have a say - possibly even a major say - in how the world is run, and I don't see that changing in the near future.

    Anyway, contrary to hysterical articles (and thread titles), this is not a 'deal with the devil', but is rather a consequence of societal changes over that past century in what we now call the First World.

    The single main cause of this change is the transformation in the position of women. I read so many articles by demographers, economists, and political scientists - almost always invariably male - about retirement costs, robots, technology, reduced working age populations and so on. And it is all utter tosh because - unsurprisingly - it misses by a mile the two key points, which are firstly, the altered - utterly transformed - position of women, and secondly, the altered - yes, utterly transformed - position of the labour market. (And the transnational, unaccountable, grossly irresponsible, greedy and nihilistic role played by capital and financial markets, which is a different matter entirely, and probably one for another post).

    Re women, access to education, legal rights, safe, reliable and affordable birth control, and economic independence, has meant that women in the First World can now choose when, whether and if they wish to have children. And, when women have a say in such matters, the birth rate will always plummet. Women will not willingly choose to have 10 children - or, rather, given a choice, few will.

    It is not a coincidence that cultures with the highest birth rates also are the very countries where the patriarchal structures are most powerful (often reinforced by religious teaching and values), where the position of women is subordinate to men, where women enjoy limited - or no - economic, social, political, legal, rights, and where their right of access to education and their economic independence is severely curtailed. Large families in general require a patriarchal society. And sentimentalising motherhood is no substitute for legal and economic rights cast and carved and chiselled in stone, and reinforced by law courts.

    More to the point, with the transformation in women's lives afforded by access to education, birth control and jobs, they can choose to avoid the costs (in time, delayed, deferred or destroyed career & economic & pension opportunities, physical cost, - for pregnancy exerts a huge toll on a body - financial cost both direct and indirect, emotional cost) associated with choosing to have children.

    For, even now, women bear the brunt of the costs of bearing children and rearing them. If western society wishes to increase the birthrate, they have to create conditions where women - who now have choices - are not penalised financially, or career-wise, or otherwise - for the cost of having children.

    That means extensive state support, in the form of child care, creches, jobs being kept open, promotion not being denied, and women not penalised for taking full maternity leave - and, bottom line, it also means higher taxes. Far higher taxes. If a nation wants this sort of a future, it needs to be prepared to help create the conditions to make it more likely to happen.

    But this brings me to the other point I wish to address - namely the dramatic and utterly transformational changes in the market - the employment market, not the financial market.

    The old world of secure, stable careers - permanent jobs, - especially for working class men - has been destroyed by modern market forces, and replaced by a world of limited contracts, zero hours contracts, temporary contracts, part time jobs, internships, and other such nonsense, invariably described in weasel words intended to disguise what this dismantling of an economic system is all about. Trade union membership - and hence, protection - has fallen and contracted, as rights - hard fought and won over a century - have been consistently undermined and eroded. Since the late 1970s, there has not been anything resembling full employment in the First World.

    Thus, even if women were not penalised economically for having children, the sort of men who used to be breadwinners can no longer provide for a family. The sort of stable, secure, permanent jobs which allowed them to do so no longer exist.

    So, rather than wailing about 'there aren't enough people of working age to pay for pensions', I would instead argue that there isn't enough work, full stop, to fund pensions, as the economic world of pensions, sick pay, holiday pay, and even paid employment is consistently being undermined by the forces of modern capital.

    Given that women now have choices, and are no longer compelled to have children, and secondly that women tend to be penalised career wise if they do have children - caught in the caring trap of caring for elders, and children, while holding a job, and thirdly, that the old style male jobs are increasingly insecure, is it any cause for surprise or wonder that women are arguing with their feet (or wombs) and saying, thanks, but no thanks?

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