This graphs shows it
For some countries like India or China, the effect is very strong. Just a few years of education drastically reduce the number of children, but for other countries like Uganda or Zambia the effect is much smaller. The original source where I first heard this (which I sadly can't find again) claimed this was due women wanting almost as many children as men in these countries.
On average most woman want two children. But when a lot of them die they will get more (average of 6 around 1800).
The combination of enough food, education and good health care are why less babies are born.
So if you live in a country with good education but lack of food most women will still have more babies than two.
I don't believe that's true across cultures. Even in North America you've got social groups and organizations that are continuing to make babies like crazy.
The number 2 comes from the current world wide trend. In developed countries the fertility rate tumbles down but stops at around 2. So it is believed this is the average bottom.
Maybe you like this talk from Hans Rosling: https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies
See Hans Rosling's talk on this  or see it yourself in data . As soon as education, medicine, economic situation improves, you get a drop to ~2 children per woman across all cultures.
Most likely answer, religion. Successful religions grow one of two ways, and generally have encodings for both. That is they tend to have means to convert the non-religious, and secondly, and importantly in this case, have 'strong' rules on having kids. For example, in the old testament Onan was killed for 'spilling his seed' and not impregnating his dead brothers wife.
That said, even in ancient times it appeared that birthrates did go down, as in Greces case, their city state succeeded. This left them open from attack and cultural take over by outside nations and ideals with higher birthrates.
In the modern world we are coming to the point where human labor is not as necessary and has been supplanted by machine labor. Also machine protection, in our weapons of war. This could allow a nation/culture to shrink dramatically while still being able to defend against outside threats. If such a shrinking culture were one that 'grew' by spreading its message to other cultures it may succede to grow and shrink the entire worlds population at the same time. These ideas of disappearing utopia cultures are often touched by science fiction.
"Many more". Israel: 3.11 (down from 4 in 1960s), Faroe Islands: 2.6 (down from 3.2 in 1970s).
Compare to Niger: 7.24.
And especially compare to muslim countries which just love having kids, don't they? Oh, look dropping from 8 kids per woman to around 2 for most of them (some are understandably lagging behind, like Yemen, Iraq, Gaza)
> That seems to indicate that 2 is not in fact a magic number at all.
I said ~2 kids, i.e. about two kids, not exactly 2 kids. There's nothing magic about this number, it's sub-replacement fertility . 2.1 for developed countries, 3.4 for some developing countries. Yes, some nations will dip below 2, can't see how that disproves my words. Neither culture nor religion have anything to do with it. Give people quality of life, education, access to modern medicine, and they stop having 8 kids per woman, and quickly dip to about replacement fertility rates.
> On average most woman want two children. But when a lot of them die they will get more (average of 6 around 1800).
and that doesn't seem to be the case.
And you said that culture had nothing to do with it, but clearly the variation in the birth rates (50% to 150% of the ~2) in countries with roughly the same standard of living is due to something.
Once again. Slowly.
As people gain access to medicine and education, and as quality of life increased, traditions and religion fly out of the window. Even deeply religious countries like the Gulf states go from 7-8 kids per woman to roughly 2 kids per woman.
These factors trump any other factor in determining how many kids a woman will have.
Once the countries get on more or less the same level in terms of these factors, only then will you see variations due to other things like culture, religion, what not.
Israel is 1.5 times more than other developed countries (and the difference is slowly but surely dropping)? So? Niger is almost 4 times more than other countries.
Medicine, education, quality of life. These three universally affect rates regardless of tradition, religion or what not.
A robust pension or welfare scheme makes it less mandatory. Some might want to go with six kids, others are content with zero or or one or two just to carry on a family line in at least a token way.
Citation needed, especially since we are talking about much different cultures.
Use slider at the bottom to vary time.
Had the price (not just monetary) of having child be different, the decisions quite easily can be different.
It's likely because it's not actually about education, but about social hierarchy of women. And education may or may not move them up the ladder in each particular hierarchy. Having children usually does though. But it's still a hierarchy and it can be influenced.
China's current investment into Africa at this time may eventually bring the economic stability to many of these area. That said I'm not sure I'd want China enforcing my long term cultural stability.
* DPR Congo. By most accounts a failed state, although some would rather call it a violent kleptocracy on account of the very successful exploitation of resources by the ruling elite.
* Gabon. Very underpopulated and underdeveloped given its size. It's not necessarily a poor country in terms of natural resources, but their massive debt and so-so management of resources and spending basically keep the population poor but healthy and well fed. In the case of Gabon, infant mortality rate is not that high (compared to neighbouring countries which almost double theirs) so I wouldn't take /u/pasta's suggestion that infant mortality or access to food has anything to do with the high fertility rate per mother. I would say that in Gabon it's simply the opposite: infant mortality rates have really dropped whilst traditional roles are still in place. There's also no pressure to have fewer babies as women (and men) don't and can't have much higher aspirations, economically and socially.
* Niger. Okay, literally one of the worlds most impoverished countries.
* The Gambia, perhaps the one I can't quite narrow down a reason for. I've been to Gambia on a few occasions, and I'd say that whilst it's still a very poor country (relying mostly on tourism, which isn't much, and agriculture -- not much land for it), it always felt quite safe. I would say the main reason for Gambia's high birth rate would be education and poverty. Most people still live in poverty and education is still not at desirable levels. In fact, the main reason I've visited the country was to volunteer with some non-profits involved in education.
I've also noticed that a few countries are not in that graph, for instance Ghana and Nigeria, two west-african powerhouses. I'd be curious to see what the line would look like for Ghana as this is one of the success stories of west africa. Extreme poverty has dropped to under 30% (from almost 60%) in two decades and it's one of my favourite destinations in west africa. Unfortunately, I couldn't find figures for female average mean schooling years to compare with their birth rate and infant mortality rate.
I do agree that there has to be a bigger picture here. I believe that the more choice an individual has, the fewer children. Economically successful countries will tend to have fewer children, depending on how their social structure supports them in raising the children. If it's something that may put a halt on your career aspirations, you'll probably delay having children or not have at all.
Gradual increases in population don't really scare me. Technological progress has always scaled with population, and technology can free us of natural resource constraints. But in a world of shrinking population, entire fields of practical human knowledge and know-how can be lost forever.
Plenty of examples of that happening as a result of technology.
> But in a world of shrinking population, entire fields of practical human knowledge and know-how can be lost forever.
I think what you are looking for my be found in farming though. I would think there are entire avenues of research abandoned.
I think about maitaitining really complex infrastructure, you kind of see this in Japan. So much complicated infrastructure, so many people checking out.
Do we know if Japanese businesses realized this at all? I think here in North America companies are still thinking it'll all be fine and the knowledge will somehow magically transfer to the next generation that they couldn't be bothered to train, largely as a lot of baby boomers haven't left yet, but they are going to, and soon.
As for population going to zero, I suspect it'll be a while -- and that we could increase birth rates with financial incentives, 2-3 years parental leave wouldn't be very dystopian :)
So, there must be some balance to overpopulation and destruction it brings, and underpopulation and the progress it halts. Do you think there's a good balance we can / should arrive at? Do you think we're anywhere close to it?
Maybe a drought of elevator specialists decreases the amount of elevators we can have. We have to walk up stairs more often. Not ideal. But maybe more people spend less time having and raising kids and more time working on themselves. Mental health improves and people are more compassionate toward themselves and others. I would choose that world, not actively fight against it.
What timeline are we talking about.
> Could this point in our achievement be enough?
To ensure eventual extinction, yes.
Modern technology is wholly dependant on a great number of unstable and unsustainable systems. Fossil fuels are the best example of a great technological boost that is destroying our atmosphere. Renewables, while so much better, are not without their drawbacks at a world civilization size. Still, it could create a nice, clean, and happy doomed world.
Below us vast volcanoes, things not seen for tens of thousands of years, wait to explode below us threatening to blot out the sun for a decade (hope you don't depend on solar panels). Above us rocks the size of mountains race through the blackness of space at insane speeds waiting to find a gravity well and vaporize what is at the bottom of it. There exists threats, ones we've only come to realize exist in the past century, that can wipe mankind off earth in the blink of an eye. The solution to most of these is making sure we just aren't on earth, and become a spacefaring civilization. For that we will need technology far beyond what we have now.
I don't believe space travel is worth it if we get there through war, interpersonal alienation and violence required by the only current system poised to do it. Sometimes we have to entertain the idea of letting go of preventing every possible bad outcome and focus on what is needed in the current moment. Regrettably I'm not the most persuasive philosopher; Gil Scott-Heron has a song called "Whitey on the Moon" if one wants to think more poetically about it.
Not really, it would make the skyscraper impractical. No one is going to climb 100 floors through the stairs.
Actually, this is not that bad...
I think it comes from a competitive philosophy of life. Only some people are good enough to gift the world with their novelty and technology. Most people are fine in menial, alienating service jobs, they're just not good enough. This is inevitably how society works everywhere, and it has made people and life calm, fitter, healthier, more productive...
Even the giant panda, before arriving to this situation, had seen their forests devasted by us.
So at best, I expect our specie to mess up in some big ways, then maybe, the finish blow will be reproduction.
Yet I doubt it.
First, other threats have a way higher likelyhood. India has no water, terrible social tension, instable border situations and the nuclear bomb. We killed 60% of the insects. There are microparticules of plastic everywhere in the oceans. Not to mention climat change, our mad scientist attitude towards everything, and the systematic conversion of limited natural assets into short term cash machines.
Second, fertility is something we have been working on for some time now, and our mad, but smart, scientists are pretty good at it.
Lastly, I even doubt that natural fertility will ever be a permanent problem. Nature has cycles to regular species population, and may impose on us some drastic mesure, but like all cycles, it goes back to where it was.
No intrisic force makes a woman to have children and how many, just cultural and basic economy.
This only changes the question very slightly.
If people in modern cultures are unmotivated to have [replacement rate] babies just like the pandas, what metaphorical forests of human experience have we already destroyed?
PS: I realize now that people downvote not based on the content of the post or the argument but based on whether they don’t think the argument should be made because they dont like the conclusion.
But there is something analogous: look at birthrates, and you have a pretty good idea about which direction the population will trend to within a few decades. It's a pretty straightforward, fundamental relationship.
Obviously the former is global while the latter likely won’t counteract the warming effect much. But it’s extrapolating based on the assumption that we know there won’t be any other mechanisms — feedback, collapse, new phenomena being activated by this like the growing of new phytoplankton-like organisms or trees outside human habitats which automatically sequester trillions of tons of carbon back)
We can’t do it ourselves:
I happen to think that the extrapolation is going to closely approximate what will actually happen, but I could be wrong.
For example, the business insider article seems to imply that we can't "plant our way out" using trees. But you interpret this to mean "we can't do it ourselves". But no one ever said planting trees is the only thing we can do to stop climate change. We can also: change our crop and animal yields, use less fossil fuels, etc.
Same thing with the arizona article about dead forests releasing less CO2 than expected. That isn't to say that they don't release any. And it also isn't to say that live ones release more (live trees consume CO2 and produce O2, if you recall). That article is from 2013, so any climate scientist is going to already be using those findings in their models, so it's ridiculous to assume that a 6 year old article with a minor tweak to a variable means that today's cutting edge scientists are uninformed.
 I'm not even gonna touch the thing about the "cold sun" conspiracy. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2017/01/the-na...
Or how about the entire solar system... I am not talking any conspiracies. I am saying our global warming may in useful and actually happen to coincide with a cooling period by the sun:
Stop assuming the worst of your discussion partners :)
And of course the above headlines ard also hubris because we don’t even know if the sun dimmed a lot or if that was the main cause of the little ice age:
Foukal emphasized this dimming might not have been the only or even main cause of the cooling seen during the little ice age. "There were also strong volcanic effects involved — something like 17 huge volcanic eruptions then," he said.
I prefer to talk about CO2 pollution as a pollution problem, to avoid exactly this argument about temperature predictions.
There is certainly an argument to be made that with more women entering the workforce, and retiring age increasing, that there are less people at home to watch babies. That puts pressure for people to either leave the work force, or delay having children. Government sponsored nannies/childcare would be a natural step to alleviate that economic burden.
It's not like the government doesn't already have tax incentives for having children. It would not be a stretch for them to step in in other ways to reward and incentivise parents for creating future tax payers.
I'm not sure the authors believe humanity will celibate itself out of existence. But I'm sure they'll sell more books with "extinction" rather than "stabilization" as a headline.
I'll give you very long odds against.
8 billion people is still a pretty crazy number of people.
For example if we have 10 billion people and reduced the total population by 2 every year, that would give us 5 billion years, which is way after the sun has gone red giant.
At this moment, every single human population with an IQ over 95 has a fertility rate below replacement; and the places where the most intelligent and productive people tend to live, big cities, have generally fertility rates below 1. Not below 2, replacement, but below 1, half of replacement. As I’ve said again and again, big cities today are IQ shredders, where the genes that code for high intelligence go to get shredded in the corporate and bureaucratic rat-race, depriving humanity of the biological building blocks for a better future.
Apart from that, when you differentiate between men and women, the correlations turn out to be different: while women still have a negative correlation, for men the correlation between IQ and fertility rate turns positive.
See for instance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_and_intelligence
Perhaps in the future the same thing will happen: kids will be reared in cheap places, then move to cities for the opportunities there, then fail to produce at replacement levels, and get buffed up by people moving in to the city from the country.
I find Spandrell (and Land, who helped popularize the idea) atrocious.
Spandrell never said anything like smart people are more deserving. He says smart people have more capacity to accomplish things which most people consider good. E.g safety, comfort, health, stability, wealth - and not just for themselves but for others too.
Hard to argue with as far as I can see.
What's more, people living in poor countries and outside of cities aren't 'incapable' of doing good. They are often poorly educated, lack role models, lack good parenting, lack a good peer group, and fundamentally, lack opportunity and a financially stable childhood. Virtually all of it is structural injustices thrown their way through the roll of a dice.
Absolutely not. IQ correlates well with a number of desirable characteristics, for individuals as well as groups.
education, role models, etc
These things don't matter nearly as much as people like to think.
roll of a dice
A dice that appears to be consistently biased in favour of those with high test-solving abilities?
Obviously "doing good" often means other things too, like calling your mom, and volunteering at a soup kitchen. Morally good. I think it's pretty clear from context that this isn't what he's talking about.
>Capacity' to do 'good' (even per your definition) is so strongly reliant on the environment that one exists in
Yes, an environment created by the people in your community. Or were you talking about the climate and mineral resources and stuff like that? Because considering the inverse relationship between natural resources and the outcomes of countries, that doesn't come close to holding up.
>I also find it mildly offensive that your comment, and that of Spandrell, implies that smartness is measured only in IQ.
My comment implied nothing at all like that. Also even if I said that, which I didn't, it would be nonsensical to find it "offensive" unless you're using offense as a goal or a tactic.
>High IQ is only a predictor of high test-solving abilities.
Absolutely not. It is the #1 most predictive psychometric measure ever devised for predicting important life outcomes. It predicts criminality, longevity, income, education, health, and a host of other critical factors better than any other psychometric test that exists.
>people living in poor countries and outside of cities aren't 'incapable' of doing good.
In the modern world, low IQ people lack the mental tools to have a big impact. They're not smart enough to effectively write books, invent technologies, create or run movements or companies or unions, make strong political arguments, etc. It's not their fault, it's just how they are. They can do good in small ways, and many do amazing things in that area. But the modern world revolves around concentrated power, and power concentrates in the hands of those with high IQ.
>They are often poorly educated, lack role models, lack good parenting, lack a good peer group, and fundamentally, lack opportunity and a financially stable childhood.
True. The question is why.
>Virtually all of it is structural injustices thrown their way through the roll of a dice.
If it these injustices were a "roll of the dice", they would be randomly distributed across the population. They're concentrated in low-IQ communities, indicating that they're not random; they're actually connected to the fact the community is low IQ. I argue that there is a causal relationship: low IQ people tend to make decisions that make their communities worse (crime, dropping out of school, drugs, irresponsible parenting, etc), which creates the injustices suffered by the members of that community.
Capability and goodness are generally orthogonal.
They are not generally orthogonal. They generally correlate well.
See Gwern's "The IQ Halo effect": https://www.gwern.net/iq
Smart people aren't having so many kids now because they don't have to. If they don't have a religion telling them they need to, and they have a good career and a very comfortable lifestyle that affords, why would they want to go to all the trouble that raising a lot of kids requires?
In addition to that, kids are very costly in today's society, and with adults not living near their families so much, you don't get any help with your kids when you need it, so that makes it even more unattractive.
Having a lot of kids made sense back in the days when you needed the help on your farm, and your whole extended family (or village) lived together and could collectively share the burdens of child-rearing. Now, it just doesn't.
The answer to me is simple: we need to outsource child-rearing to the State, as shown in the novel "Brave New World" where children were made in factories and then raised by trained professionals.
Suck it up. What, do you want having kids to be as seamless as an Uber Eats order? It's not. It's hard work. I'm sure your parents gave up on a lot to have you, too. That's part of being an adult.
Seems wiser to remain childless than to have and raise kids that you never wanted. How would that work out for the kid, otherwise? Or are we going on the assumption that once the kid is born, OP will no longer see it as a burden?
I think you're missing the point of the comment.
As countless adults these days have proven, no, it's not. You can just opt out of the whole thing.
Is it a problem? I would submit it is a solution.
Merrill Lynch claims that an average retirement 'costs' about $740,000. Demographic breakdowns are much harder here, since they depend on both luck (health, mostly) and post-retirement location, so let's just use it as is.
The average age of first motherhood is 26, and fatherhood is 31. However, to my surprise, that's a bimodal distribution; let's use age 30 for our coastal/urban parents. The average age of retirement is apparently 63, so childrearing costs arrive 16-33 years before retirement costs. A stock market index fund held over the long term can reasonably expect perhaps 8% returns after inflation. Investing that $15k annually for 17 years should produce a retirement nest-egg of a bit over $2,000,000.
I tried to be pretty generous with my math here; paying for college, going from zero to one kid, or adjusting for cost growth all worsen the picture quite a bit. (Having >2 kids or living off the coasts improves it somewhat.) But the really damning part is that kids may not take care of you at all (it's a pretty heavy expectation), and even if they do most people face needs and expenses family can't take care of. If you have health needs that require regular care from a nurse, much less costly surgery, your kids are only going to be able to help by putting up money. And quite a few health problems like severe dementia make living at home with family nearly impossible by requiring full-time monitoring.
Living with family is probably a much better experience than living in a nursing home, and of course it's inherently rewarding for a lot of people. The data is irreparably confounded, but I wouldn't be shocked if people with kids are healthier and even longer-lived than comparable people without them. But there's really no salvaging the idea that having a family substitutes for an expensive retirement.
Studies probably do show that people with kids are healthier and longer-lived than childfree people. And "sucking it up" and having a kid or two like someone above says can give you this. However, this still results in a declining population, remember, which is what the main article was talking about in the first place. Every couple having 1 kid isn't going to maintain the population, for obvious reasons, and not even 2 will do it (you have to have an average of 2.1-2.2).
Now add to this the fact that more and more people aren't even getting married in the first place (which is improving the divorce rate), and not having kids, not necessarily because they don't want them, but because they can't find a suitable partner. I see this all the time here in the DC area on the dating sites: women who are 35+, frequently 40+, sometimes even 45+, saying they're never married, have no kids, but want them. 45 is a little old for a woman to have kids, and most likely if she hasn't found a man to her liking by that age, she never will.
This is a good point.
Even on the callous ROI level I was looking at, 1-2 kids is a particularly weird span. The first kid is most expensive and life-altering, so someone viewing kids as a retirement plan would almost certainly want to have a bunch of them. They're 'cheaper', it hedges against a kid not not taking care of you (for any of numerous reasons from a bad relationship to health problems of their own), and it makes providing care much more doable as a shared responsibility.
Honestly, a whole lot of social norms we took for granted actually seem to rely on families having 3+ kids who grow up to live nearby. Some mix of "community support" and "network effects" mean that the difficulty of raising kids has gone up substantially as family size and proximity have gone down.
Why does childrearing look so hard and expensive these days? Well, you probably don't live near family members with their own kids; my grandparents freed up time by trading 'daycare' with their multiple siblings who all had families.
Why does taking care of parents seem so rare and demanding? (Partly because we've improved longevity ahead of good health, so there are more parents who genuinely need specialized care. But also...) It's relatively easy to have a parent move across town into the spare bedroom that freed up when your kids moved out, and have your siblings come over when you're out of town. It's way harder to uproot your parents to come live in your one-bedroom apartment, or leave your job and friends to move back home and care for them alone.
Not sure what your point about poor people is...
Why don't you suck up me not having any?
Humans in (actual or perceived) stable social and economic environments with strong extrafamilial support systems adopt low-number, high-investment K-strategy, humans in (actual or perceived) unstable social and economic environments with weak extrafamilial support systems adopt high-number, low-investment r-strategy.
> kids are very costly in today's society,
Kids aren't (generally) nearly as costly for the people having lots of them in our society as they are for those having fewer, as a direct result of different child-bearing approaches.
> The answer to me is simple: we need to outsource child-rearing to the State, as shown in the novel "Brave New World" where children were made in factories and then raised by trained professionals.
In the short term, immigration works. If the whole world is ever developed to the point where K-strategy dominates to the point where maintaining population is a real concern, then, after the giant global celebration we should have for that accomplishment, setting economic incentives so that people with means to raise multiple children at the level society as a whole considered appropriate investment levels also have a rational incentive to do so isn't particularly hard. It's a problem we haven't solved today because we aren't anywhere close to having it, not because it's even a little difficult or requires some kind of drastic reform like you describe.
Every advanced country has built a system for vacuuming up the most talented individuals from the countryside, and giving them important jobs in rat-race cities, where (for various reasons) they will have fewer kids. To counter this, you'd have to draw from somewhere else equally talented newcomers, and maybe a few countries can.
Don't blame the boys - I've known equally pain-in-the-ass families of girls, and wonderful boys. It's the parents.
To me your experiences only emphasize this point. Large portions of our society have decided that masculinity is inherently toxic. We've also, generally speaking, de-emphasized the role of discipline in parenting (I'm not talking about spanking). Our school system has long been stacked against young boys. I think that, as a society, we've forgotten how to parent children, especially boys.
Children learn from other children. Usually older children. Children are largely being raised by the state and that is never a good thing as it leads to conformity. Educational institutions look at children as future workforce and not as individuals.
As far as defining masculinity, I mean it in the sense that psychologists use it: the traits that are generally common to males.
Do we know enough about the Y chromosome? I think being ‘male’ is a genetic mutation with some undesirable effects. The SRY gene turns on/off around 4-6 weeks after conception determining whether zygote would be XX or XY. This has something to do with gonad formation.
I think fundamentally everyone is formed female as default. Not female = male. Which means it’s the Y. Something is wrong with Y.
The parents' DNA, in particular.
Depends on what you're counting on in the future.
If you want to be taken care of when you're older, and almost no one has children, then your future is bleak no matter how much you earn now. Inflation will eat most of your savings that you'd want to spend on care. Of course there's immigration or you can move but you're going to be lonely nevertheless.
It may sound controversial but it's a bit like not getting vaccinated and counting on herd immunity. Who would be writing all those HN comments now if our parents hadn't had children?
Is your (now 32 year old) kid going to have the means to provide you that much assistance in your retirement?
Now may be the best time to stop having kids and instead invest what you’d otherwise spend. Chances are there will be few remaining un-automated jobs by the time they need employment. I say this as someone who has a kid—I fear for her future honestly.
Now translate demand for housing to demand for services, and low supply of houses into low supply of workers providing those services. Everyone around you is using compound interest, so relative to each other you have similar purchasing power to them. Now you compete with the same people for those services. It's the relative power that really decides whether you can afford the services or not. If the workers don't have to compete with each other then you'll spend all that nice compound interest chasing them.
What? This is why investment advice for retirement generally revolves around allocation into stocks and bonds while leaving only an emergency fund plus regular expenses in more liquid assets like savings accounts. Inflation will only eat your savings if you fail to invest. If you want to talk about risk, well, inflation is why a total failure to accept risk is extremely risky!
To take the extreme example, if everyone tried to save up and then take a sabbatical year in 2025, they would all find that their money became almost worthless -- they could buy capital goods (made before) but nothing else.
Before Paul Krugman metamorphozed into a political hack, he wrote some quite solid stuff about economics. His famous baby-sitting co-op  runs into this problem: Everyone wishes to earn tickets on weekdays / winter and spend them on weekends / summer, but this is impossible:
Now think about what would happen if there are a lot of old retired people but the number of people willing to work for them is 50% of what is required, in most branches of the economy.
Money will start chasing the workers, and they pay will sky rocket. It's more like SV skyrocketing housing prices and total compensation, bit wider in scope.
Why do you think that this will entirely fail to incentivize prospective retirees to work for more total years of their lives in order to benefit from increased pay?
Please don't bring right-wing racist thought into HN.
It was an interesting observation regardless of who made it.
But you certainly could quote bin Laden here if it were relevant and interesting. It doesn't mean you agree with him or the terrible things he did.
I don't know anything about Spandrell or what else the person has said or written, so all I had to go by was the quote itself. I found it interesting and thought-provoking.
Not that I agree with all of it. I especially do not like the concept of an IQ scale. Different people are good at different kinds of things, and I think IQ is a dangerous oversimplification.
While I still frequently see references to “out-of-control population growth” among laypeople here on HN or on Twitter, often in reference to Africa, I have long gotten the impression that the scientific and political communities have turned to models showing drastically lower birth rates coinciding with increased development.
Lower infant mortality, access to birth control, and social safety nets that do not rely on immediate family are obvious factors here.
This is umabigoulsy good news, unless you posit a harm from not being born. In any case, it’s unlikely that humanity is going to disappear of its own choosing.
The fact that birthrates are falling and many countries will be left with a huge number of elderly folk without enough young folk to take care of them is not unambiguously good, particularly when it happens everywhere so there's nowhere to import young immigrants from.
This is only true if the income disparity is not out of control. Current trends show us that income disparity is increasing where the super rich gain everything, and the poor are screwed without some kind of income redistribution (high wealth taxes for example).
Open Source Software
If a modern government can force every young person to to join the army for the ostensible "defense of the nation" (e.g. Israel) , why not force them to take care of old people?
"Joining the army" and "Fighting a battle every day" are two different things. Most of the time armies are not doing anything. And when they are, it is a significant threat to ones continued existence, something humans are highly optimized to fight for.
Keeping the old people alive has a few problems. First, if you take grandma to the roof and throw her off, it does not directly affect your continued existence (unless you consider law enforcement action, but we'll leave this out for now). In this case you are economically better having a geriatrics purge. Second, taking care of old people is insanely depressing. Throwing most people to these terrors is just going to increase the suicide rate in young people.
Third, and separately, how does the government 'force'? Right, they take young men with guns and point said guns at the population. So you're telling me that the larger old population is going to vote to tell part of the young population to take guns, point them at the other young population and have them take care of the old one. Um, so you want to have a revolution, ya ya.
Also, young (working age) people create wealth. Old people consume it. Where is this government going to get its tax dollars from?
The opportunity to help and care for other people is a great gift. Killing or culling individuals, populations... directly affects everyone's spiritual and mental existence.
Which is why lots of people love the idea of pediatric care. You help them, they get better. You don't get better from old age. You deteriorate and die.
At most the author seems to disagree with UN about ~1 billion people. Well within the uncertainty.
The article and book sound pretty biased and clickbaity from what I can tell so far.
I'll stick with the UN for now ;)
In the USA for example, republican ruled states have more babies than democrat ruled states . Or in israel, the fertility rate of the orthodox haredi minority is very high with 6.9 children per woman in 2017 (children not childbirths) compared to the non-haredi per-woman value of 2.4 .
So where will this lead us to? I think we'll experience growing percentages of conservatives/orthodox populations across the world while the liberal populations will shrink. Overall there will be a shrinkage but the conservative population growth might eat up that shrinkage and one day we might have overall growth again. But predicting the future is hard of course. For example, you could have the conversion of the conservative mindset towards liberalism which is happening in the entire world since maybe 100 years or such eat up every population increase of the conservative minorities.
Or you could have sci-fi tech that influences population infertility quite much, e.g. with artificial uteruses. With them, minorities that value large amounts of children might grow quicker and governments could want to influence how many children are being grown to fight population declines.
Or it might be figured out how to prevent/reverse aging and the number of "natural" deaths will sink to zero. Then your population will start growing again even without the contribution from conservative/orthodox minorities as the number of babies would still be larger than the (low) number of deaths due to accidents, crimes, etc.
I don't worry about liberals for that reason: the more conservatives, the larger the pool of people they can convert to their ways. Liberalism originated in a world that was far more conservative than the conservatives we have today, and they still managed to get where we are now. I'm definitely not worried.
Can any demographers weigh in?
We were half a billion in 1600s.
If everyone had 1/2 surviving child, we will start coming down in about 200 years. Would love it if someone smarter than me can do that mathematical projection?
We need everyone to have 1/2 child so we have genetic diversity.
This was 18 months before the Liberals won a massive majority.
First, we should look at the authors of the book. Again, I've NOT read it, so this is based on a bit of internet sleuthing, and nothing more. The authors are primarily writers and news commentators in Canada. John Ibbitson writes for The Glode and Mail and is a political commentator. Dr. Darrell Bricker is a pollster, political commentator, and author of a few books focusing on Canadian current events and issues. I cannot speak for their personal knowledge on Earth's population nor the accuracy of a book that I have not read. However, based on their Wikipedia bios, I can conclude that they are not career professionals in global demographics. Speaking personally, they give me a Robert Reich/Thomas Friedman vibe more than anything.
Now, specifically about the Wired interview, there are some things that stand out:
> And then I saw one woman reach in and pull out a smartphone, look at it, and put it back. And I realized, here we are in a slum in Delhi, and all these women have smartphones. Who can read. Who have data packages. And I was thinking, they have all of human knowledge in their hands now.
Depending on the time and place that the authors were in Delhi, this may be incorrect. Free Basics was recently shot down in 2016, so if they were there after that decision, they are correct . If they were there before that ruling, then it is highly likely that these women were only able to access Facebook and not the internet at large. In addition, though the Wired interview was very short, they may not have had anything other than basic phone functionality. I would love to know more about the actual data on how internet penetration occurs in the lower castes/classes of India.
> The UN says they’re already baked into the numbers. But when I went and interviewed ... Wolfgang Lutz in Vienna, ... he walked me through his projections, ... All he was doing was adding one new variable to the forecast: the level of improvement in female education. And he comes up with a much lower number ..., somewhere between 8 billion and 9 billion.
Based on some quick googling of Dr. Lutz, I would be a fool to disagree with his expert assessments . He holds two doctorates, one in Demographics from U. Penn, and one in Statistics from U. Vienna and has been working in global demographics issues since 1985. I've not researched him in depth, but he seems like a level-headed person without much of an 'agenda'. He is a recent editor of a 1000+ page tome titled "World Population and Human Capital in the Twenty-First Century". So, if Dr. Lutz's believes that just adding in female education will drop the world population by ~two billion babies, then I would be loathe to argue with him.
> In the Philippines, for example, fertility rates dropped from 3.7 percent to 2.7 percent from 2003 to 2018. That's a whole kid in 15 years.
I'm not certain what 3.7 percent fertility means. I believe that there may be a mis-transcription here. What I think the authors mean is that the Philippines had a birth rate of 3.7 children per woman. For reference, Yemen is an even more extreme example:. In 1986, the fertility rate was over 9. Today it stands at 4; so 5 children in 30 years.
Overall, the Wired article stands as a good promotion for the recently released book. However, I feel that listening from Dr. Lutz himself may be a better and more productive use of time .
there are lots of stupid, impulsive religious zealots with quiverfuls. But also a lot of wonderful, loving religious folks with quiverfuls.
I wish there were more other types who had a birthrate above replacement, but outside of religious circles, having more than 2 kids is rare and even considered uncouth.
If lots of couples have 1 or no kids and lots of people aren't even in couples, then we're going to need a LOT of people having 3 or more kids. But we aren't. Especially among the non-religious.
It could be that in the future, religion is a social trait selected for because it leads to higher birth rates.
I haven't seen a lot of introspection on this idea that doesn't quickly verge into, um, questionable rhetoric, and I'd like to see a lot more of it.
Why could it not also have been the case in the past as well? Many religions have tenets about raising many children. Could it be that this is why religion is very highly ingrained in society to begin with?
They move in similar circles, because it is ideology. But I don't think they are much sizeable even among religious.
I doubt that very much, that has not been my experience, my colleagues, or my relatives.
In fact, I wouldn't even agree with the point that religious people tend to have bigger families.
That would be pretty silly then. Most successful religions have two things, both of them based on growth. One is a means to capture people not in their religion by conversion. The other is by codifying good parenting and breeding habits. The biblical old testament is rife with teachings like this for example.
Population fade with success is not a modern problem, it is an ancient one. In the past if you didn't have a large enough population you were at risk of attack by stronger nations.
I’ve never heard people having more than two children being referred to as uncouth. Honestly that’s disgusting.
They are so stupid, yet everyone else let themselves be out-bred by them? I think if that happens in the long-term, it more or less suggests "religious zealots" have adapted better.
I'm not suggesting that all muslims are "religious zealots", but yes, growth of population sections by religion is a real thing. On the other hand atheists are expected to stay the same, or even decline. No one can say what percent of people are going to be "zealots", but you could say it's hard to be a "religious zealot" without a religion. So, it seems likely, all other things being equal, that yes, religious zealotry (and all religious activity) will increase.
This is an individual vs. society issue: having few kids is better at the individual level, but for society it's not sustainable unless we can figure out how to significantly extend lifespans (i.e., reduce the death rate in-line with the reduction of the birthrate).
I think it's a safe assumption that those with religious dogma and those in regions of high child mortality will continue to have many kids, one way or another. The "educated" non-religious class is probably the only one that has a real choice to make. If they keep up reproducing at 2.1x replacement level while everyone else exceeds that level, the worldwide population is just going to continue to grow and then we're in real trouble.
I'm perfectly happy to let "my society" be taken over by "the other kind" who out-reproduced me and my peers. One way or another, we'll have to stop growing as a species, and one group's excesses have to balanced out by another group's shortfalls.
Personally, I just don't see a way to avoid some kind of major collapse of society due to one or more of the many factors facing us. For this issue, I think greatly improving human longevity is absolutely necessary, and if we don't do that, we're going to have another Dark Ages of some kind.
In the end the only thing one can really do it have your own kids.