[saymaListserv] Re: Politics and Economics

Stan Becker sbecker at jhsph.edu
Sun Nov 23 16:16:41 JEST 2003

Janet and Friends

Greetings from Baltimore.

 I just returned from the Am. Pub. Health Assn (San Fran) where I gave a 
presentation on "World Population Dynamics now to 2050" so can comment 
from some reseach  on this matter.   First, we live in a demographically 
divided world: from the  perspective of growth there are  now really 3 
groups of countries in the world: those with very rapid growth 
(fertility above 5.0 children, mostly in Sub Saharan Africa), those with 
moderate growth (fertility 2.1 to 5.0 children, India, Indonesia, Egypt, 
most of Latin America, etc) and those with below replacement fertility 
(nearly all of Europe, China and selected other places).  

While 59 countires have below replacement fertilty (44 percent of world 
population but including China), only 14 or 15 countries actually have 
more deaths than births (Russia and aside from Italy all others are in 
Eastern Europe).. The rest of the 59 countries continue to grow due to 
population momentum (e.g. China has a fertilty rate of 1.8 but continues 
to add 9 million people each year).  

Meanwhile, as a world we continue to add 75-80 million persons each year 
or about 200,000 per day.  47 countries have fertility levels above 5.0!

The U.S. is a special case.  Though our fertility is near replacement, 
due to population momentum and immigration we continue to grow by about 
3 million persons per year (about 1.5 million more births than deaths 
each year and the other half of growth is immigration, legal and 
otherwise).  Rather than, "the US is close but not quite at the point of 
population deficit yet", the projections from the U.S. Census Bureau 
show the U.S. population climbing from 275  million in 2000 to 404 
million in 2050 (medium projection).   Recall that we were 76 million in 
the U.S. in 1900. and 150 million as recently as 1950!  

Friends who are intested can access the data and projections directly 
(done by United Nations Population Division for each country of the 
world (see Pop. Estimates and Projections at 
http://www.un.org/esa/population/unpop.htm) and by U.S. Census 
Bureau(Projections under People at: www.census.gov ).  Data are also 
available in a concise data sheet from Pop. Reference Bureau.(www.prb.org).

The media seem quite interested in matters of population decline but 
give little attention to the continued problem of rapid population 
growth in much of the world (e.g. India is adding 16 million persons per 

I hope this helps clarify the matter.

Stan Becker

Worldwide we still add

Janet Minshall wrote:

> Dear SAYMA Friends,  Just a note to tell you about a very short 
> article that is worthy of discussion, and to offer an apology.
> I have always been on the side of population control and have been 
> especially concerned about how many children are having children.  I 
> worked for Planned Parenthood for several years as paid staff and, 
> eventually, ran a regional office of Planned Parenthood on the Eastern 
> Shore of Maryland. We taught Adolescent Sex Education on a grant from 
> Johns Hopkins to address the problems of the high birth rate among 
> teenagers in that area as well as an unusually high incidence of 
> sexually transmitted diseases.  The program was quite effective (I 
> understood later from the Planned Parenthood office in Baltimore that 
> the rates of adolescent pregnancy and sexual disease transmission were 
> down by 25% and 30% in our area after the Johns Hopkins program was 
> implemented). Of course, the program was quite controversial and so 
> was shut down after a few years primarily because of protests from 
> fundamentalist Christians on the Eastern Shore who were steadfastly 
> opposed to birth control, abortion and sex education.
> But something else quite significant has happened since then.  It is 
> summarised  in a one page article in National Geographic, September 
> '03, by Scott Elder.  The title is "Europe's Baby Bust" It is about 
> the change in world population that has been occurring for some years 
> and is now beginning to have a dramatic effect in much of Europe. 
> Because of my long term concern with population studies I found it 
> most interesting.  It illustrates clearly that much of the world is no 
> longer suffering from rampant population growth as it seemed to be 
> when I worked for Planned Parenthood in the'70s, but rather from the 
> reverse. The developed world is now facing a population deficit, which 
> is causing alarm and the rethinking of long term entitlements such as 
> Social Security and Medicare.  Elder says "Without babies to replenish 
> the labor force and pay taxes Europeans will be hard pressed to fund 
> the pensions of longer-living retirees."  And the problem is not just 
> in Europe.
> The US is close but not quite at the point of population deficit yet. 
> However, that population deficit is looming large in our future and in 
> the minds of many of our politicians who have been briefed on this 
> matter. The politicians fear especially that if we keep on funding 
> Social Security and Medicare at current levels, the money available 
> for other government services, and especially the pork barrel 
> government programs that keep many politicians in office, will run 
> dry.  One answer to the problem for the US and Western Europe is to 
> admit more young immigrants and refugees who are anxious to work and 
> pay taxes.  The insistent pressure of migration on the US and on 
> certain Western European countries (France, Britain, Ireland, the 
> Netherlands and Norway) has enabled these countries to delay facing 
> this monumental economic change. However many people, including those 
> near the top in the present US administration, don't really like 
> having more refugees and immigrants in their midst.  There is still a 
> prominent racial and cultural bias which appears to be the source of 
> resistance to increasing the number of foreign immigrants and 
> refugees. That tension, between the unpleasant realities in our 
> economic future and a dislike and mistrust of foreigners, may underlie 
> much of the political debate in the US, Western Europe and the rest of 
> the world for years to come.
> If anyone in SAYMA wishes to comment, respond or argue about this I 
> would love to hear back online. My previous messages have engendered 
> responses but the messages were all addressed to me and the rest of 
> SAYMA didn't have the privilege of sharing in the discussion.  I think 
> that as Friends we believe in and try to embody "one standard of 
> Truth" so please share your thoughts.  It will make for a  more 
> interesting dialog.
> Now, for my apology: On June 28th of this year I wrote on the Kitenet 
> list the following:
> "Actually, the only places in the world where poverty is still 
> increasing are in remote areas of China and India. These are areas 
> where one aspect of globalization, moving jobs away from affluent 
> workers in the US to impoverished workers in the rest of the world, 
> has not yet reached. Everywhere that globalization has reached both 
> employment and incomes have increased, sometimes dramatically, for the 
> poor."
> I completely left out the largest area of entrenched poverty in the 
> world, Sub-Saharan Africa.  I have worked in Africa and am well aware 
> of the severe economic problems so why did I leave it out of my 
> message entirely?  I really do not know. I only realized the mistake 
> when I reread the message much later on.  That omission may have been 
> related to my disability which leaves me in pain most of the time and 
> in severe pain some of the time.  When the pain is severe I don't 
> think, speak or write clearly.  I'm not offering this as an excuse, 
> just a possibly relevant fact.
> (To update the message from 6-28, in recent economic data both India 
> and China have turned the corner and are fractionally up in 
> alleviating poverty among their people and environmental degradation 
> in their countries.  Both Chinese and Indian people are becoming less 
> poor. China is ahead in some areas of economic advancement and India 
> in others, primarily as a result of globalization.)
> Janet Minshall

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