Empty Planet: Preparing for the Global Population Decline

“Empty Planet: Preparing for the Global Population Decline”

“I’m sitting there shaking my head and I’m going is this guy serious and then I realize of course it doesn’t matter
whether they’re serious or not, you always answer the question, so I said off the top of my head China
in the short run in India in the long run and the guy said why and I said demographics. well, what the book points out is that China’s population will peak at 1.4
billion around 2030 and India around 1.7
billion in 2060 so five years later I’m
“I’m actually from Cambridge Ontario…so it’s a bit of a homecoming to talk about a global book and what this book
is about is what John and I like to call vertical knowledge, it’s that thing that everybody knows. We just all repeat it
and it may not be correct and the vertical knowledge in this instance is that the world’s population according to
the UN is going to get to 11 point 2 billion people by the year 2100. I think John and I make a pretty convincing
argument in the in the book that this is never going to happen, we will probably get somewhere between 8 and 9 billion people, you might argue that that’s already too many people, but it’s certainly not 11 billion people probably
around mid-century and then the human population is going to start to decline and it’s not going to stop and the
reason is because we’ve stopped having kids. We’ll get into a cup in a couple of minutes why that is that we stopped
having kids, but to have a replacing population you need to have at least 2.1 children born for each woman in a
country, so that means that you need a little for yourself, someone to replace you, someone to replace your partner and
a little bit extra for those who won’t or can’t have kids.
Canada right now has a birth rate of about 1.6, China has a birth rate of 1.5 and India has a birth rate of 2.1, they’re now at replacement level by the way 36 percent of the world’s population lives in two countries China in India
and if they’re not having kids there aren’t any other places that are going to have enough kids to replace them so
this is going to put us in a position by the time we get to mid-century in which the population as I said is going to
peak somewhere between 8 and 9 billion and then start to decline and how far the decline will go will only can depend
on the number of children that we decide to have in fact most of the population growth that’s taking place in the world
today is coming as a result not of people being born and arriving in our population but people living longer and
not leaving and the problem and the problem of course when you have a lot of people hanging around for a long time is
that they’re not in the particularly fertile production years of their lives in the sense that they’re not having kids so we’re reaching this point in human history in which the first time in any time that human beings have existed on the face of the earth and at a global level that we’re actually deciding, deciding to have a smaller population…countries like Brazil, the 5th largest country in the world is at 1.8.”
“Speaking in terms of pure economics, they have other advantages, but just in terms of economics, a second thing happens when a society goes from being mostly rural to being mostly urban, women acquire autonomy, this happened through the course of the the developed world and it is happening at an incredible pace in the developing world women in the city
have access to education systems that they don’t have in the village they have access to state schools, they have access
to mass media in the city in a way they don’t in the village they have access to other women who educate each other when
they’re in the city in a way that they don’t when they’re isolated in the village, women, once they have more education
demand control over their lives and their bodies, this happens everywhere in the world without exception there is no
exception to this anywhere in the world once women to get a certain amount of education they begin to make demands one
of the demands they make is they get to decide how many children they’re going to have and invariably they decide to
have fewer children than their mothers had, the third thing that happens the power of organized religion declines, every religion in the world and it’s really quite remarkable there isn’t one exception that I we’ve been able to come
across every religion in the world believes that women should be subordinate to men and that women should you know have lots of children and stay at home and look after the family, it’s remarkable how many religions believe this, it would be accepted all major religions are dominated by men but one
and and in the rural environment religion is powerful but once you move into the city the power of religion begins to decline….well the Philippines is urbanizing and by the way it’s fertility rate is crashing at them same time..Clan ceased to be important..when you’re living in the village
environment that big extended family places a tremendous pressure on you to get married, to settle down, to have kids
to do all those things when you move to the city the power of the clan is replaced by coworkers they’re the ones
you spend most of your time with when was the last time one of your co-workers urged you to have a baby, so urbanization
produces an economic disincentive to have children, it gives women power to make decisions about their bodies, it
weakens the power of religion and it weakens the power of the clan and all of this leads to what we are seeing and what we described in the book which is rapidly falling fertility rates throughout those parts of the world
where we would think in the UN still thinks you were going to continue to see high fertility rates.”
“Japan’s in about three decades now of economic stagnation caused in large measure by population decline and an
aging society and then in terms of geopolitics it’s a mixed bag and why don’t I throw what the ovary the mixed
bag over you. – Well the the good part of it is that what do old people don’t do? They don’t have wars… Wars are a young person’s game, so with the ageing of the world’s
population the likelihood that we’re going to be resorting to the old form of methods of conflict to solve world
problems is probably going to be reduced, but the part that’s probably going to be really interesting in terms of
geopolitics is how incredibly wrong everybody who’s analyzing China these days is getting it, I mean I can’t pick
up a magazine or a book these days without reading something about the ascent of China, maybe there’s a moment where they spend time talking about the demographic challenge that’s presented by China, but rarely does anybody focus on it…China is going to get old before it’s rich enough
to be old…. so I don’t know why the U.N. would make that
prediction, it makes no sense…worked on on this analysis of global population trends they have it at 1.4 and with a number like that the expectation is that by 2030 the Chinese
population is going to start to decline, remember that the average of the median age of a person in China today is 37, back in 1950 the average Chinese person lived to the age of 42, by 2030 they’re going to live to the age of 80…but who is going to be the emerging demographic superpower when John
mentioned geopolitics in all of this two countries number one is India. India has a very young population that is going to
continue to grow for the foreseeable future, but even in India the population fertility rate is at a replacement
level now so the young population will continue to increase the the Indian population but also increasing longevity
in India will increase the Indian population so if India hasn’t already passed China in terms of population size
today, it will in the next couple of years and through the course of the 21st century India is going to become the
dominant, as Bbob was talking about,
the dominant population power, but as India is growing, so is America. America’s birth rate is below two it’s about one
point depend the estimates you look at 1.7 to 1.9…
“so in order to maximize Q&A time which is is
usually the most fun part I think we’ll try to bring it in at half an hour which means there just a couple of things left
to wrap up what if you if you want to keep your population stable right you’re not trying to become you know it was a
sub-saharan Africa which is sort of the one place left on earth where there is still very high fertility rates though
those fertility rates too are going down, those societies are urbanizing, one quick stat.”
“Child supports are great supports for child care are great daycare in the office all those things are great so that if you want to have another child the supports are there for you to have another child but the state cannot compel you to have
a child they cannot bribe you to have a child for a reason that’s called the low fertility trap which is simply that when you get into a society where one or two kids is the norm you get into a society where one or two kids is the norm.. it’s just what everybody expects and society adapts, the school system and the hospitals, the health care system, everything adapts to the idea that parents will have one or two children you don’t often just think about if one of if one of your friends said we’re getting married and we want to have five or six kids that would be interesting right here is
it what really five or six why is that well, I’m from five, my partner is from eight, so you know these expectations change the low fertility trap is also the result of why you have a child changing your not having a child because the state says it’s your duty to have a child the army needs you know men to fight you’re not having a child because God says you must be fruitful and multiply you’re not having a child because your family is pushing you to have a child, you’re having a child, because you want a child, you’re having a child and this is raise my eyebrows but in the sense you’re having a child as a lifestyle choice you and your partner decide that your lives would be more rich more rewarding more fulfilling if the two of you brought a child into the world and raised that child, it’s infinitely more important than you know whether you go to Ecuador this year or what kind of furniture you want for the living room, but it is a choice about what will fulfill you in your life and again most people find that they are very quickly fulfilled, one or two is usually enough, so the consequences of this, I think, down the road are going to be fascinating, we worry a bit about the loss of creativity that having fewer young people every
year will have because you know trust me I know younger people are more creative than older people the the innovation the entrepreneurship that is so powerful among the young there may be less of it that said in the great scheme of things…Canada used to bring a lot of people from China, now not so much China is reaching developed world status
it has an aging population.”
“..and we think this geriatric peace is as it’s called is going to ultimately be a great thing if migrations well as will decline and and and we will be a more peaceful place
whatever else we are… we have never decided to
decline we have never decided that we will deliberately because of the choices we made become a species of whom there
are fewer every year…we also suspect that it might be a world in which a poet first notices that for the
first time in the history of our race humanity feels old and I think we should stop it there and and get the
conversation. – drop the mic John – thank you folks.”
“so thank you that was entertaining and informative and you left us on a good note so that’s good because the word
empty planet is a scary title in some way but it’s something we’re not used to.. it’s not just the UN think
of our pop culture we think of zombies, we think of you know overpopulation, they’re gonna come and .. the Avengers that all is wrong, we didn’t need to wipe out half of
the Galaxy.. Good to know… but you guys are going
against the grain here there’s a lot of people out there who are going to basically challenge your numbers and challenge your assumptions… Look at the data..”

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