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The Fertilty Implosion



March 13, 2012 – Comments (7)


The Fertility Implosion

By DAVID BROOKS Published: March 12, 2012

When you look at pictures from the Arab spring, you see these gigantic crowds of young men, and it confirms the impression that the Muslim Middle East has a gigantic youth bulge — hundreds of millions of young people with little to do. But that view is becoming obsolete. As Nicholas Eberstadt and Apoorva Shah of the American Enterprise Institute point out, over the past three decades, the Arab world has undergone a little noticed demographic implosion. Arab adults are having many fewer kids.

Link to the article

7 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 13, 2012 at 8:06 PM, outoffocus (24.08) wrote:

requires a log in to read the rest of the article.

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#2) On March 14, 2012 at 9:19 AM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

I'm sorry about that, everyone. When I ran across the article a log in was not needed.


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#3) On March 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

Outoffocus, thanks for making me aware of the problem.

Here's a way to see it without logging in:

Go to, type *fertility implosion* into the search bar. The article will appear at the top of the results. Click on it and it will take you to the op-ed piece.

If what the article says plays out it may effect some of your long term investments in BRIC countries.

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#4) On March 14, 2012 at 10:47 AM, SkepticalOx (98.77) wrote:

What is the solution? We've gone from one extreme to the other Brooks claims, but what can be done about it given our circumstances? The world has limited resources so a growing population is not a good thing, while most developed nations have huge welfare states that require a vibrant productive population to feed the system. It seems like the world is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

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#5) On March 14, 2012 at 1:11 PM, amassafortune (29.05) wrote:

If we are past peak oil, and I believe we are, voluntary decreased world population is a much better method of adjusting populations to resources than the historical methods of disease and war.

Some studies indicate earth can sustain a human population of about 3 billion.If this is true, and we are already in a worldwide population implosion, the trend indicates a logical response. The link also covers the future critical shortage of potash and phosphates that will limit our ability to feed more people.

Even once past the current economic downturn, future prices and possible shortages of food and energy may be provoking a logical proactive response by populations across the globe. 

If I had a child with the prospect of working at Foxconn for 40 years, I would consider a very limited family. 

If I had a child in an oil-rich land and believed the prospects for youth would be severely limited as pumping declined, a smaller family makes sense. 

Even in the U.S., with U6 unemployment approaching 20%, stagnant wages, and ever-increasing health and education costs, having fewer children means a family may be able to have the same standard of living as their parents if their children have fewer siblings.

A smaller future worker pool is a very logical response to the redistribution of wealth that has occurred over the past two decades. If world population can shrink to the point that owners need to pay up for labor, inequity becomes self-correcting.

Looking out 20 years, artificial intelligence may pass the point that highly-educated humans are needed to discover technological breakthroughs. In other words, just as today's laborer is in less demand because of automation and similar developments, even the best-educated may be less efficient and effective at creating progress than machines in the near future.

It may only be the economy, but another possibly confirming trend in the U.S. is the shrinking square footage of new homes, down by nearly 200 sq/ft. 

For any 20-something getting a late career start, or Boomer who just lost four prime earning years due to this downturn, a smaller home or fewer children are easy ways to make up some ground while maintaining one's standard of living. With the internet, worldwide populations may have the trend information to be making similar logocal choices.  


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#6) On March 14, 2012 at 1:52 PM, rfaramir (28.60) wrote:

"But, over the long term, it’s better to have a growing work force, not one that’s shrinking compared with the number of retirees."

Brooks reveals his statist love of ponzi-schemes like Social Security. SS may need a large base of payers to subsidize retirees (and let politicians spend the surplus), but SS is a failed model already. The only question here is how to end it with grace and some semblance of fairness, given that the pols have already hosed us.

Retirement happens with a person decides he has saved enough to not need to work anymore. Period. How many other workers there are is totally irrelevant.

The birth rate facts in the article were certainly informative. One bit of analysis on China was, too:

"In a culture where there is low social trust outside the family, a generation of only children is giving birth to another generation of only children, which is bound to lead to deep social change."

Also, "it’s probably wrong to see this as a demographic competition" is ideally true. But so long as the State has more power than necessary (or any power at all), there will be competition among various interests, demographic or otherwise, to control it. So long as the government can change tax rates on workers at will and change benefits to retirees at will, they will fight for control over it. End welfare in all forms and end the infighting.



"voluntary decreased world population"

The key word here is 'voluntary'. I don't want the government forcing abortions or birth control or going to war to kill off the excess males any more than I want the government to 'breed' more citizens when it feels there are too few.

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#7) On March 14, 2012 at 2:06 PM, DJDynamicNC (37.86) wrote:

Certainly makes me hope for a more sensible and open immigration (and emigration) policy from the world's nations as population pressures begin to push the other direction. I think it's shocking that we promote a "free society" but so heavily restrict freedom of movement.

Customs and Border Patrol asked me my citizenship and destination on the bus the other day. It was a bus between Rochester, NY and Buffalo, NY. That's internal immigration controls, put in place because I MIGHT go to a different country or come from a different country and then MIGHT stay and, oh, I don't know, trade goods and services for money or something.


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