Steve Sachs Duke


Wednesday, February 18, 2004


Demography is Destiny? ALDaily, Tyler Cowen, and Dan Drezner have all picked up a fascinating essay by Nicholas Eberstadt on "Power and Population in Asia." Quick summary: the "greying of Europe" will only be copied in Asia; China and Japan will see their populations age dramatically in the early- to mid-21st century. The changes will be especially hard on China, which is poorer, lacks an effective pension program, and has an economy far more reliant on physical labor. Not only that, but China's skewed sex ratio (caused in part by sex-selective abortion and male-favoring exceptions to the one-child policy) could mean that in some regions there will be 30 percent more men than women, which (barring a substantial increase in fertility) will only accelerate the demographic decline.

Of course, all of these projections are based on current trends. But Eberstadt's projections are unlikely to be far off the mark; because of low death rates, most of the people who will be alive in East and South Asia in 2025 have already been born. And in fact, the only major country expected to retain a larger, younger, and potentially more productive workforce may turn out to be the United States of America. Well worth a read.




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