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China's Unstoppable Population Collapse


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I'm putting this here just because I thought it interesting (as well as scary) in terms of the kind of possible collapse that would definitely affect us here in the West. It looks like China is likely heading for a wild ride that will not end well, and of course we'll all be dragged into it in one degree or another.

The person being interviewed is Peter Zeihan, an American geopolitical analyst and author. He sounds like he knows what he is talking about, to me at least.

I gather this is a snippet from a longer discussion.  

ETA: Just watched the full discussion, and it is really interesting. It's an hour long, and it covers a wider area of concerns. Just the link to the longer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRT7P-VKM0k

 

 

 

Edited by Stargazer
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This isn't unexpected. It's part of what demographers call the Demographic transition. The transition seen in Europe and the United States is further along than China's is. China's current situation is largely a result of moving through the transition much more quickly than the West did (the video discusses this briefly). The one child policy created a huge population time-bomb. This is also mentioned - but one thing that doesn't get discussed in there (at least not that I noticed - but I am multi-tasking) that is really important for understanding is that the one-child policy combined with a preference for male children and (most important) the technology in ultrasounds to often determine the gender of the child created a significant gender imbalance - the imbalance is mentioned, but not a lot of detail of how this really triggered the problem and the way that technology made it so much worse.

The good news is that here in the U.S. we have already gone through this first stages of this transition - it took us a lot more time and so the impact wasn't as overwhelming. Additionally, we have offset some of the impact of the demographic transition by continuing to recieve an influx of immigrants (and despite all of our current political rhetoric, we have a really good record on integrating immigrants successfully both in terms of economics and in terms of space). Sustainable (replacement) fertility rates require about 2.1 births per woman. The U.S. is well below that right now at just below 1.8 (the last time we were above 2.1 was in 1972 but between 1990 and 2012 we generally stayed above 2.0). This is still far beyond what China sees - they were at 1.16 in 2021. Our Census Bureau predicts that by 2030 (which is not far off now), the single largest component of population growth in the U.S. will come from immigration (and a part of our shift is being caused here by boomers dying off). So we are continuing to grow the population, but much of that growth currently comes from (and will continue to come from) immigration (and just as importantly from immigrant families who maintain higher fertility rates for a couple of generations after immigration). China on the other hand is still a net exporter of people (more people immigrating from China than to China) which adds to their demographic woes.

I think that we are seeing some symptoms in our own demographics that suggest that complete population collapse isn't inevitable - but it will take some considerable investment and rethinking of how we want to encourage population growth to move in a more positive direction (most of what we have tried hasn't been very successful - but it has also been so tied up in political ideology to make real change difficult). Immigration cannot be the only long-term solution, and even where it occurs, the sustained population growth benefits of immigration tend to disappear after a couple of generations.

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3 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

but one thing that doesn't get discussed in there (at least not that I noticed - but I am multi-tasking) that is really important for understanding is that the one-child policy combined with a preference for male children

He did mention it as important, but just in passing without any discussion. There was a lot of ground to cover. He's written and published three books that I am aware of (I've just purchased his latest, which is unfortunately not available as an eBook so I can't search it), and he may have discussed this in one of them.

  • The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeihan | Jun 14, 2022
  • Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World Hardcover – Illustrated, March 3, 2020
  • The Absent Superpower: The Shale Revolution and a World Without America Hardcover – January 1, 2017
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23 minutes ago, blackstrap said:

IIRC  Elon Musk says that population collapse is the greatest threat to humanity.

He's kind of correct, I think. It can lead to great turmoil, and would likely set global civilization back for centuries. And besides, would result in incredibly brutal and bloody wars.

Which is kind of why I think it's bound to happen, and foreshadows Christ's return and the Millennium*.

* I suppose I should have posted this as a discussion point in the main forum, but didn't think about it at the time. This is the forum for idle chitchat, not vigorous debate.

Edited by Stargazer
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3 hours ago, blackstrap said:

IIRC  Elon Musk says that population collapse is the greatest threat to humanity.

Elon Musk also decided to waive all due diligence and buy a huge and expensive internet company for no discernible reason except maybe to ban people who are harassing him or it is quite possible it was done while drunk or high. I don’t think anyone should take him as an expert on much of anything.

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14 hours ago, Stargazer said:

He did mention it as important, but just in passing without any discussion

It wasn't the preference that is the issue, it's the technology that allowed them to determine the gender of children that were born. A preference on its own wouldn't make a huge difference for the demographics. There was an attempt to address this preference but it ended up being limited in scope and ultimately not very effective.

Demographics is a difficult thing for predictions. It is easy to do with mice and fruit flies - they have short lifespans and reproduce rapidly. Humans not so much. Predictions for the second demographic transition have already proven to be incorrect in some ways that are encouraging for stabilizing population growth.

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13 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Elon Musk also decided to waive all due diligence and buy a huge and expensive internet company for no discernible reason except maybe to ban people who are harassing him or it is quite possible it was done while drunk or high.

It's probably irrelevant that the huge and expensive internet company has been banning people because it doesn't like their opinions -- and in case you missed it, at least one of the reasons for wanting to buy Twitter was to stop it from banning anyone whose speech was not per se illegal.

Of course, it might have just been a stunt, possibly in aid of getting Twitter to stop its egregious censorship of disagreeable opinions.

13 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I don’t think anyone should take him as an expert on much of anything.

Yep, it is commonly known that complete nitwits normally build multi-billion dollar enterprises.

So what are you saying? He's the consummate generalist? His bachelor degrees are in economics and physics. Was accepted to study at Stanford, but decided to leave to pursue business instead. Founded a startup that was bought for $307 million. Then founded another one that became PayPal. Then founded SpaceX. Invested in and later became the leader of Tesla. Despite his missteps (and there are many), his expertise appears to be in entrepreneurship and business. And given his success, I'd say he's an expert in that. Perhaps a world-class expert.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

It's probably irrelevant that the huge and expensive internet company has been banning people because it doesn't like their opinions -- and in case you missed it, at least one of the reasons for wanting to buy Twitter was to stop it from banning anyone whose speech was not per se illegal.

Of course, it might have just been a stunt, possibly in aid of getting Twitter to stop its egregious censorship of disagreeable opinions.

He was in a Twitter slapfight at the time.

15 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Yep, it is commonly known that complete nitwits normally build multi-billion dollar enterprises.

I wish it was commonly known.

15 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

So what are you saying? He's the consummate generalist? His bachelor degrees are in economics and physics. Was accepted to study at Stanford, but decided to leave to pursue business instead. Founded a startup that was bought for $307 million. Then founded another one that became PayPal. Then founded SpaceX. Invested in and later became the leader of Tesla. Despite his missteps (and there are many), his expertise appears to be in entrepreneurship and business. And given his success, I'd say he's an expert in that. Perhaps a world-class expert.

I am saying he is a mediocrity outside of being good about rewriting his own history and creating an image of genius. That and being good at using social media to manipulate markets which is illegal but no one does anything about it.

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

He was in a Twitter slapfight at the time.

I wish it was commonly known.

I am saying he is a mediocrity outside of being good about rewriting his own history and creating an image of genius. That and being good at using social media to manipulate markets which is illegal but no one does anything about it.

Whatever.

Musk isn't the subject of the thread, as it turns out. Population collapse, on the other hand, is.

 

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4 hours ago, The Nehor said:

The value of Elon's opinion is probably just bringing the idea to people's attention and, as one demographer said (in the article you linked to): "He's better off making cars and engineering than at predicting the trajectory of the population." But I assume Elon hasn't come up with his opinion in a vacuum. He must have read about it, or heard about it from someone. I assume that a multi-billionaire can afford to hire people to do research on topics of interest or concern, so I'd be surprised if Elon is spouting off in a vacuum.

Peter Zeihan, the gentleman the interviewer in the embedded video is speaking with would seem to disagree with those quoted in the CNN article. I assume that he isn't the only person who thinks contrary to those gents cited by CNN. By the way, I am not on either "side" in the debate; not being a polymath, I have to rely upon others for their analysis, and after hearing those folks out, I have to piece together who best to believe at the end of the day. I haven't yet decided what I believe to be true in respect of a population collapse.

But as you point out, if Elon Musk says anything there are people out there who will oppose him about it. Bill Gates, on the other hand, being a more "mainstream" multi-billionaire, doesn't get anywhere near as much chaff.  Maybe because he doesn't tweet as much.

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Mormonism's interests in this topic has changed considerably over time. Early Mormonism - as part of the restorationist movement - believed that we could speed up the second coming by completing all the requirement for it. Having a determinate (finite) population of people intended to be born on earth meant that we could influence the timing of the second coming by increasing population growth.

Later Mormonism abandoned this part of its restorationist roots when it adopted dispensationalism. The idea there is that it will occur when the time is right and not directly as a result of our activities.

Our societal views also shift. When I was young, world over-population was still considered a major problem to be solved. We were seeing the issue of longer life-spans, less mortality, and a population that was rising quickly. Then we began to understand the demographic transition and we saw that the more the world developed, the more it corrected for these causes of population growth. Our growth is slowing (still growth, just starting to slow down), and it is predicted that before the end of this century (long after I am gone I presume - but potentially within the lifespans of my children and certainly within the lifespans of my grandchildren), the world population will begin to decline. At some point, perhaps we will figure out what a truly sustainable population level might be, and begin to develop policies aimed at helping it get there and helping it stay there. It seems clear that we should be able to do this without resorting to method's like China's one child policy. We just haven't found the right set of carrots yet.

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3 hours ago, Benjamin McGuire said:

It seems clear that we should be able to do this without resorting to method's like China's one child policy. We just haven't found the right set of carrots yet.

The method seems already to have been found out: just make sure women receive just as good an education as men, and allow them to decide how many children they wish to bear. In the West, this results in a lower-then-replacement birth rate. I assume that it would do so everywhere it is tried.

Of course, there may be cultural reasons why this doesn't work as well everywhere as it does in some places. But overall, it would probably average out to a stable population.

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1 hour ago, Stargazer said:

The method seems already to have been found out: just make sure women receive just as good an education as men, and allow them to decide how many children they wish to bear. In the West, this results in a lower-then-replacement birth rate. I assume that it would do so everywhere it is tried.

Of course, there may be cultural reasons why this doesn't work as well everywhere as it does in some places. But overall, it would probably average out to a stable population.

I agree with you that this will be part of it. I also think that over time, even those places where we see cultural resistance now will move in this direction (at least this is what the theory tells us).

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2 hours ago, The Nehor said:

If this trend continues evolution will also start to kick in over the coming centuries and favor women who can bear healthy children later in life which in most of human history would be a more minor factor.

I don't think evolution has enough time to catch up to us in that respect, at least to catch up in time. Maybe it does, but I doubt it.

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On 9/22/2022 at 8:42 AM, The Nehor said:

He was in a Twitter slapfight at the time.

I wish it was commonly known.

I am saying he is a mediocrity outside of being good about rewriting his own history and creating an image of genius. That and being good at using social media to manipulate markets which is illegal but no one does anything about it.

Yeah cuz everyone is landing reusable rockets on drone barges. The best one was the first one where they landed right back where they took off from. Everybody else is throwing them away in the ocean.

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