Posts Tagged ‘Demographics’

The young nations and the aging nations

October 7, 2014
world baby boom

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crudebirthrate

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I think the leveling off of population growth is a good thing.  There is a limit to how many people the earth can support.  I don’t claim to know what that limit is, but it will be passed at some point unless population growth is leveling off.

demographic transitionThe good news is that this is starting to happen.  The problem is that it is not happening in every nation at once.

Some nations have low birth rates and an aging population that is growing in relation to the working-age population.  Other nations have high birth rates and a young population who can’t all find jobs.

Should there be more immigration from the growing young nations to the static older nations?

What happens to the world balance of power when the population of some nations is static and the population of others grows?  If present trends continue, India will have a larger population than China.  Mexico could become a more populous nation than the USA.  What then?

Bertrand Russell years ago wrote that in order to achieve world peace, nations needed to limit their populations as well as limit their armies and armaments.  Is that possible?

Demographers say that a nation’s population growth starts to level off when women are emancipated enough to be able to decide whether or not to have children, and when a nation reaches a level of prosperity such that parents think their security in old age is better with a few well-educated and well-off children than with many poor children.

I hope this comes true for the whole world.  Expressing this hope is as close as I can come to answering the questions I asked.

What do you think?

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The Democratic and Republican coalitions

November 8, 2012

Dems-and-repubs

This chart from the New York Times shows the support of various demographic groups to the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates in 2004, 2008 and 2012.  Barack Obama got more support from most groups in 2008 than John Kerry did in 2004.  Obama’s support decreased in 2012, but remained strong enough to win.

The big exceptions were Obama’s surge of support among Hispanic and Asian-American voters.  Republicans ought to be asking themselves why this is.  Hispanic culture is based on respect for church, family and work, which are all values that conservatives affirm.

This is a highly informative chart, and an effective use of graphics to present statistical information.

Hat tip to The Big Picture.

How white people can stay in the majority

June 15, 2012

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that non-Hispanic whites, now a majority of the U.S. population, will become a minority within the next 40 years.  I don’t think this will happen.  White people will remain in the majority the way they have down through American history, by continually expanding the boundaries of “white.”

In the years immediately following the American Revolution, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants were the majority of American citizens, and Irish and German immigrants were minority groups.  African slaves and American Indians were excluded from citizenship, and did not even have that status.  Americans and English were considered the two branches of the “Anglo-Saxon race.”

By the time I was born in 1936, the white Protestant majority had dropped the “Anglo-Saxon” part, and defined Negroes, Jews and Catholics as minority groups.  I was taught as a boy that I should George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak Co., would not knowingly hire an Italian-American, which is why so many Italian-Americans in Rochester, NY, have British last names.  As recently as 1960, there was uncertainty over whether a Catholic could or should be elected President of the United States.  Now Jews and Catholics are included in the non-Hispanic white” majority.

I predict that by 2050, the majority group will be broader still.  Instead of the majority being defined as “non-Hispanic white,” it will be simply “white.”  It will include all the white Hispanics and all the people of mixed race who consider themselves white.

The U.S. Census defines four broad racial groups, whites, blacks, native Americans and Asians.  Hispanics can be of any race, and more than half of all Hispanic Americans identify themselves as “white” on the census.  Hispanics once were defined as people with Spanish last names.  Now they are defined as people whose forebears came from a Spanish-speaking country, such as Mexico or Cuba, or from Puerto Rico.  I know people who are immigrants from Spain.  It would be absurd to consider them other than white.

In the days of slavery and segregation, a person with one known black ancestor was considered black.  That included mulattoes, with one white parent; quadroons, with three white grandparents; or octoroons, with seven white great-grandparents.  I don’t think that is true now, and I think it will be less true in the future.  People of mixed heritage will be able to choose which heritage, if any, is their primary identity.

Finally I think prejudice against people of Asian ancestry has disappeared, or greatly diminished, since I was young, and Asians will be assimilated to the majority group or closely allied with it.

Mixed marriages, especially between Asian-Americans and whites, and between Hispanic Americans and non-Hispanic whites, are on the increase.  My guess is that most of their children will identify with the majority group, whatever it is called “white” or something else.

Some black people glumly predict that by the end of the century, there will be only two racial groups in the United States—blacks and everybody else—since white Americans have always come to accept members of every other ethnic group except African Americans.

This is highly possible, but not certain.  During my lifetime, I’ve seen more progress than I ever expected toward a society in which people are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.  Given the ethnic conflicts and massacres in much of the world—Africa, southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent—and the racial tensions even in European countries, I think we Americans have much to be proud of.  We’re not where we should be, but we’re on a good road, and I believe we can stay on it.

Click on Adjusting to the ‘Browning’ of America for thoughts of black columnist Clarence Page.

Demographics and the GOP future

March 3, 2012

Jonathan Chait wrote an article for New York magazine about how ongoing demographic changes favor the Democrats, who have the allegiance of the majority of African-Americans, Hispanics and young people.

Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a ­natural-majority coalition for Democrats.

The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.”  Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. 

As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states.  Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base.

via 2012 or Never.

Chait said the Republican strategy is to convince working-class white people that a liberal elite is trying to make them sacrifice for the benefit of undeserving minorities and pool people, and that 2012 represents the last chance to roll back the welfare state before minority groups, the poor and the young become the majority.  If they fail, they face a “Democratic policy steamroller” symbolized by Barack Obama—young, hip, urban and black—who represents everything they resent and fear.

There is a certain about of truth about the Republican strategy, which relies as much on setting up obstacles for voting by minorities and young people as on getting out the vote of their own supporters.

Where Chait errs, in my opinion, is that he thinks that American politics consists of a struggle between coalitions of voters.  I have come to think, from reading writers such as Thomas Ferguson and Jacob Hacker, is that the voting blocs are not the players, but the pieces on the chessboard.

The players are Goldman Sachs, General Electric, Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Exxon Mobil, the Koch brothers, Bain Capital, Halliburton Industries, other big corporations and their industry associations.  We the voters get to choose among candidates, but these organizations choose what choices we get to make.

Thus we have a debate over whether we want Clinton-era taxes or Massachusetts-style health care, but not over what to do about corporate power and the de-industrialization and financialization of the U.S. economy.

Neither party’s leaders address the practical concerns of their core supporters—long-term unemployment, retirement security, erosion of wages and benefits.  If either party were to do that successfully, it would win the allegiance of a majority of voters, white, black and Hispanic, old and young.  They then would have a better reason than in-group loyalty for voting for one party or the other.  But in order to do that, they would have to have to challenge the corporate powers that benefit from the status quo.  Neither party, as now constituted, will do that.  There isn’t going to be any “Democratic policy steamroller.”

Aside from that, a lot could happen between now and November.  We could be at war with Iran.  We could be in the second phase of a double-dip recession, brought on by rising oil prices and the European financial crisis.  Democratic leaders shouldn’t count their chickens before they’re hatched.

Click on 2012 or Never for Jonathan Chait’s article.

Click on Why Obama’s Re-Election Is Going To Look A Lot Like 2008 for an article in The New Republic by Ruy Teixiera.

Click on The Brown Majority for the source and context of the above charts, which was taken from the on-line Boston Review.  The charts are interesting, but I say: Beware of long-range predictions based on projecting current birth rates into the indefinite future.  Over the long run birth rates of various groups tend to decline as the groups become more prosperous.

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