A Baby Boomlet

March 18, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Economics, Science | 2 Comments

The US experienced a minor “baby boomlet” in 2007, during which the fertility rate rose to the sustainable 2.1 births per woman.  (This means that my wife is doing the work of three.) 

However, most of the economically advanced nations of the world continue to trail the USA, with the exception of Israel and Greenland, nearly tied at 2.41 and 2.40 respectively.  The next closest is Iceland at 1.92, followed by Ireland at 1.86 and France at 1.84.  Poor Hong Kong is at the bottom of the list at 0.95, which means that each successive generation there is less than half the size of the previous one.

The preliminary figures for 2008 are mixed.  The European nations seem to have arrested their decline, with most remaining even or showing a modest increase, with the exception of France and Russia, which posted a whopping 0.14 and 0.11 increases from the prior year.   This translates to an increase of about one extra baby per 1000 people in each country.  Still, both countries are still well below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman, so absent some serious immigration, their populations will continue to face some serious shrinkage in the future.  So too, interestingly enough, will China (1.75), Japan (1.23), Iran (1.71), and South Korea (1.28).

As expected, the fastest growing populations are in Africa, with Mali (7.38), Niger (7.37), and Uganda (6.84) topping the list.  It is a sad fact of life that the most children are born to the populations that have the least resources to share with them.

As I’ve said before, all this population instability cannot bode well for the future.  A decreasing share of the world’s children are being born into societies that can offer them education about, socialization in, and familiarization with advanced economies.  When the next generation takes the reins of what we call human civilization, will they be able to control the beast?



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  1. Well, if there’s beasts to be fought, David will take them on. Beyond that, not so sure.

  2. Although, come to think of it, there may be a lot of value in having those around who are schooled in simpler economies and the ways of frugal/more “primitive” living. When this world economy self-destructs, we may well need to go back to the basics and learn how to share and barter all over again.

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