The economics of population imbalance

That is the topic of my latest column for The Upshot at The New York Times, here is an excerpt:

Unfortunately, regions with rapidly growing populations, like Africa and South Asia, often have lower living standards. In our likely global future, these regions will have more people than they can comfortably support, while many countries in the West and in East Asia will have too few young people for prosperous economies.

As an economist, I see an obvious solution: Relatively underpopulated and highly developed countries could profitably take in young Africans and South Asians — and both sides would gain. Yet it’s far from clear that all nations that could benefit from this policy would entertain it, partly because of persistent racial and cultural bias. There is also the legitimate question of how quickly immigrants can adjust to new environments, especially if they are arriving with weak educational backgrounds as the job market demands ever-stronger skills.

…If you’re not convinced that a declining population is a problem, consider Japan. In terms of real gross domestic product per hour worked, Japan has continued to have good performance, but it has a fundamental problem: The working-age population has been declining since about 1997. And Japan’s overall population has been growing older, so with fewer workers supporting so many retirees, national savings will dwindle and resources will be diverted from urgent tasks like revitalizing companies and otherwise invigorating the economy. Japan has already gone from being a miracle exporter to a country that runs steady trade deficits. Perhaps there is simply no narrowly economic recipe to keep its economy growing; Edward Hugh made this argument in his recent ebook, “The A B E of Economics.”

I am extremely pessimistic that we will manage to achieve any more than a small amount of workable population transfers.  Furthermore potential underpopulation is one of the most serious and underrated problems today, as Robin Hanson argued a few years ago.

There is also this bit, the first sentence of which may remind you of Steve Sailer:

France, Israel and Singapore are three countries where population issues are being discussed quite frankly; all have explicit public policies to encourage more births. And more countries will probably go down this route. Encouraging people to have more children, and generally bidding for human talent, may characterize the economic policies of the future, just as cities and states today bid for football stadiums and factories.

By the way, recent reports indicate that the relaxation of China’s one-child policy have led to many fewer births than were expected.  And this new paper (pdf) indicate that immigrant inflows raise the birth rates of native women by making child care more affordable.

Comments

None of this will matter once anti-aging technology is developed.

For all his idle talk about technological stagnation, Tyler is at heart a small-c conservative when it comes to the future of mankind. Hence his constant pooh-poohing of news regarding potential major innovations.

Hopefully current pro-natalists will have many centuries in which to feel silly.

Someone hasn't come to terms with his own mortality.

It will be funny when we make it and those that don't want it, don't.

We will be laughing and joking about you in the next century.

You are going to die and disappear forever. The sooner you come to terms with that the better.

Too bad you'll be dead by then.

Or in cryo-preservation.

No such thing.

Yes there is. Google "Alcor" or "Cryonics Institute" and you will see that it does indeed exist.

It's not "cryo-preservation." It's "freezing." Those cells are not in suspended animation; they are dead. And when the sun goes red giant, they'll still be dead. And when the universe's entropy increases to maximum, they'll be even deader.

Snake oil. A fool and his money ...

I am encouraged by your pessimism.

Like nearly all economists you believe that people are fungible. They aren't, but your training makes you believe this. Only people with similar value and belief systems are relatively fungible. Take a couple of hundred thousand Somalis (or similar) into a community maybe three or four times bigger (even a 100) and you will end up with problems. They will not assume the values of the host society and will instead impose their own set (while sucking on the welfare teat). Japan is interesting, I doubt it will bring in large or even small numbers of migrants, it knows where that leads. I think that even allowing for longstanding grievances they will eventually accept Korean and maybe even Chinese migrants.

I completely agree with sfw. Japan tried a some limited immigration of ethnic Japanese, but I understand that even this limited experiment was not very successful. Many societies require a superb fit to enable acceptable integration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_diaspora#Return_migration_to_Japan

This would explain why immigrant nations such as Argentina, Australia, Singapore and the United States have always lagged behind the rest of the world in achievement.

Argentina?

Okay, so Argentina is ahead of the pack, but none of those other countries ever amounted to anything.

@Ronald Break

Those countries were founded by immigrants. They weren't integrating into anything existing.

Plus, Europeans and Chinese with IQs of 100 and 110 are not the same as Somalis with IQ ~70. If all ethnicities were fungible, Detroit would be rich.

"Those countries were founded by immigrants. They weren’t integrating into anything existing."

That Mayflower must have been one crowded ship.

Well it took displacement of the native population to make the country grow. Didn't it?

Nice try at a sarcastic red herring, but it's still a red herring. The U.S. and Australia accomplished a lot because they killed the people who already lived there and stole their land. The European natives weren't fungible at all--they brought with them the European values that got them there in the first place.

The U.S. and Australia accomplished a lot because they killed the people who already lived there and stole their land. -

Aboriginal populations were not killed and are still present in seven digit numbers both in Australia and in North America. It's non sequitur to speak of 'stealing' land in a sparsely populated landscape without allodial tenures. That aside, the aboriginal bands on site got there from... displacing some other aboriginal band.

That's a great point. There are very few bloodless claims to any piece of ground.

Of course, absent a past in which humans had invented liberal democracy before expanding, that's sort of inevitable.

In North America, it looks like what happened was the majority of original population died out as a result of disease from contact with early European explorers. In South America, by contrast, the existing societies were conquered and used as slave labor.

One of the great historical ironies is that because North America's east coast had no easily mined wealth or local labor to exploit, they developed institutions that were extremely well-suited to the opportunities for wealth creation afforded by the Industrial Revolution, so that the United States and Canada eventually became the most wealthy countries.

the existing societies were conquered and used as slave labor.

Where and for how long? There was a great deal of resistance to this sort of thing by the Spanish crown and the Church alike (hence the importation of African slaves).

Smallpox killed 95% of them, the rest are still there.

Living on small, destitute "reservations' while their Anglo conquerors clap themselves on the back for how smart they were to grab all the "free" land with the assistance of their communicable diseases, advanced technology and winner-take-all philosophy.

@ chuck martel

Yes, it certainly qualifies as genocide under the definition of genocide, which was coined by Raphael Lemkin in the 40s.

Smallpox killed 95% of them, the rest are still there.

It hasn't yet killed the propensity to replace memes with actual knowledge. Now's the part where you start enlarging on 100 million lost in slavery.

Living on small, destitute “reservations’

You wish to leave the rez? There's the road. Conditions bad on the rez? You think that the Chinese laborers who built the Calfornia Pacific were living in air conditioned motel rooms?

If something's worth doing, you can fail at it, and people do, whether they rot on the rez or rot on skid row. You hope there's very little of that, but as long as people are not in custody, you're going to have it.

No one can deny that Irish Protestant values and their love of baseball rendered assimilation unnecessary.

I'll deny it. Go sue me.

Art Deco, are you suggesting that Irish immigrants to the United States actually under went a period of assimilation? But for that to be true it would have to mean that I am astoundingly ignorant about the basic facts of American history! No, I think it will be easier to ignore what you wrote and just pretend that rather than being something all waves of immigrants under went, assimilation is a new thing that only applies to new immigrants that I don't like and that in the past immigrants all got off the boat already inculcated with American values.

All of those societies are about as successful as a weighted-average of their source populations, except Signapore, which as a very undemocratic city state is sui generis.

What could go wrong?

Relatively underpopulated and highly developed countries could profitably take in young Africans and South Asians

I like this in theory, but would they bring their voter preferences with them? There are various ways to make sure that doesn't matter, but none of them are very palatable.

Still, I think in the very long run this may be a really important question. If the trend of the next century is self-determination, more localized government, and free exit, there will be increasing incentive to design governments that foster high living standards (i.e., people will move there, as happens today). The most successful societies may be relatively undemocratic but paradoxically grant higher more individual autonomy, for the simple reason that such a society could thrive even while absorbing people who have very bad voter preferences.

As an economist, I see an obvious solution: Relatively underpopulated and highly developed countries could profitably take in young Africans and South Asians — and both sides would gain. Yet it’s far from clear that all nations that could benefit from this policy would entertain it, partly because of persistent racial and cultural bias. There is also the legitimate question of how quickly immigrants can adjust to new environments, especially if they are arriving with weak educational backgrounds as the job market demands ever-stronger skills.

The Blacks we have here now can't do it. The answer is "never."

In 2012, there were more White deaths than births:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/13/us/census-benchmark-for-white-americans-more-deaths-than-births.html?_r=0

Our population is growing due to Vibrancy and Asians. Vibrancy is never going to be able to pay enough taxes to support itself, let alone pay back the debt or take care of the old people.

Try not enslaving and ghettoising your next immigrant community, and they might do better in society. In fact, that's pretty much what you did, so at least you Americans learn from your mistakes.

Wahwahwahwahwah

It is interesting that you think ghettos are imposed. They are not.

Explain how slavery can transfer traits through multiple generations. Explain why blacks not subjected to slavery have similar outcomes. Explain why East Asian immigrants, despite having no education and living in similar circumstances as blacks, are able to rise up after a generation and compete with and even outperform whites in socioeconomic status.

Your 100% nurture 0% nature theory doesn't hold water.

The 60-40 to 40-60 theory explains this easily. There are inborn traits that make people successful socioeconomically. These traits are more common in some populations than others. Not saying nurture has nothing to do with it, but if people want to rise above their station in the US there is ample opportunity if you are looking and working for it. The reason this is so controversial is because it hurts people's feelings, if you hurt people's feelings they won't vote for you, therefore anyone who is a politician, who works for government, or who's paycheck depends on government is not allowed to openly know this fact.

Of course there is "plenty of opportunity"... but only if your parents are rich or high middle class, for the rest of us... one wrong choice and you are done.

>Of course there is “plenty of opportunity”… but only if your parents are rich or high middle class

Or Asian, apparently. Funny that.

Really? You do believe that there is no societal movement into the higher middle class from below? That is quite in contrast to what you see daily in the street.

What about all the boat people from the 70ties, do their descendants still live in tents? No, so many of them are in Caltech that the university tried to impose de-facto numerus clausus on them.

Pretty much the only bad choices that can't be escaped from are committing felony crimes (and getting caught). Don't commit felony crimes.

It is sort-of an article of faith in the contemporary American political discourse that history of slavery dooms ethnic groups to bad results forever.

When you look at world history, nothing is farther from truth. Jews were enslaved in the Roman empire and had very unequal societal position in Europe until the 19th century. Plenty of Europeans were enslaved by Moors and Barbary pirates, and their descendants do not seem to be worse off. Most spectacularly, the Aztecs (Mexicas), who built a huge empire and became slavers themselves, were formed from groups of former slaves who ran away from their masters.

Well, Africans in Africa were victims of colonialism. I'm sure if we let them immigrate they will do poorly in society because of The Legacy of Colonialism for the next five hundred years.

The amount of crackpot racism that goes on in the comments here has started to make me embarrassed to even acknowledge I read this blog.

Believing that populations are fungible, against all empirical evidence, seems to be far more insane.

The challenge of integrating a large number of immigrants who have different cultures and values seems like a legitimate response to Tyler's point.

On the other hand, claims that black people will never be able to be productive members of society are crackpot racism.

On the other hand, claims that black people will never be able to be productive members of society are crackpot racism.

By all means. It is crackpot racism. Or at least racism.

However we have had forty years of Affirmative Action. We have had four decades of giving Black people every chance to become productive members of a functioning society. They have produced Jay Z and Detroit.

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. So by all means, let us agree it is unfair to say that every Black person will fail to become a productive member of society who contributes more than they take from the system. But it is not unfair to say that Blacks as a whole have failed to produce more than they take from the system. Despite all possible encouragement and every conceivable form of education or support or whatever.

Can we agree that there is no sign that this is going to change any time soon? There is no evidence that a single government program can produce a meaningful educational difference for African Americans? Can we agree that in another four decades we are likely to be exactly where we are now, just with a lot more angry Blacks and a lot fewer working Whites?

Well given that you white folks explored/enslaved them for god knows how many centuries, you should not complain too much...

RE: Moreno and god knows how many centuries...

While irrelevant to what is (which is what we must deal with), Europeans were serfs to Europeans for longer than Africans were slaves to Europeans.

Also, significant contact with subSaharan Africa only begins with the Age of Exploration and slavery really with colonization in the New World (to address ahem an underpopulation problem). Which essentially ended in the 1860s. Which, coincidentally is when serfdom was ending. (e.g., outlawed in Russia in 1861). But the point is, even if you don't know the number of centuries, it's an easily derivable number from just a couple of well-known historical dates.

In Sudan, you have an Arabic-speaking elite which enslaves the local non-Muslims since about the 10th century. From the visual point of view, they all look like black Africans.

So, which of the recent Sudanese migrants in the USA should enjoy the protections of Affirmative Action and which not? This is not question of the 1860s; someone who moves in from Khartoum to Washington RIGHT NOW may have his own experience of being a slave - or owning them.

Yet, from the perverse perspective of the law, they are both equally victims or something.

It isn't just slavery. Blacks suffered terribly under Jim Crow and other Democratic institutions like the KKK that were explicitly designed to keep them down. Those only ended a generation ago.

Also, black income are rising faster than white since. That's how we know beyond any doubt that the above matters, and is arguably even the dominant paradigm over that time.

BTW Botswana actually does pretty well, considering it's in Africa and surrounded by dysfunction. They have an economy comparable to Mexico's. That's because they've been able to escape colonialism and the iron law of oligarchy that is its aftermath in most African countries, and instead develop inclusive institutions.

Race means virtually nothing to earnings: there are poor whites, poor Asians, rich blacks. Are black crime rates too high? Yes. Are black fathers doing a really bad job of staying with their kids? Yes. Would much of Africa be just as bad off without colonization? Maybe. But none of those are problems that can't be solved by blacks within a generation or two.

Einstein didn't say that. In fact, he didn't say a lot of things that bloggers and commenters say he did.

Since when is 50 years a generation? And Black incomes have not risen faster than White incomes:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/28/these-seven-charts-show-the-black-white-economic-gap-hasnt-budged-in-50-years/

The gap in IQ stopped converging in the 70s, the gap in crime rates has widened since the end of Jim Crow.

I'm not holding my breath for Blacks to suddenly solve all their problems. They don't even seem to want to solve their problems, they just rant against Whitey for noticing their problems. High crime rate? What high crime rate, the police are profiling us! Low IQ? Hatefact! The idea that they should solve their problems is considered racist. If they ever do manage to solve their problems, then they will have no need to immigrate to America.

That’s because they’ve been able to escape colonialism and the iron law of oligarchy that is its aftermath in most African countries, and instead develop inclusive institutions.

Uh, no. Botswana (fomerly Bechuananland) was a British dependency. Among the few places in the world not appended to one or another European power was Ethiopia. Another was Thailand. A third was Afghanistan. Rather disparate crew these.

Moreno Klaus November 9, 2014 at 5:28 am

Well given that you white folks explored/enslaved them for god knows how many centuries, you should not complain too much…

Yeah. And don't forget the Jews killed Christ. Should never forget that.

TallDave November 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm

It isn’t just slavery. Blacks suffered terribly under Jim Crow and other Democratic institutions like the KKK that were explicitly designed to keep them down. Those only ended a generation ago.

Well two generations ago. You would have to define terribly. After all, Chinese Americans also suffered under Jim Crow. And in Hawaii they suffered under Indentured Labor not entirely dissimilar to slavery.

How is that working out for them?

Also, black income are rising faster than white since. That’s how we know beyond any doubt that the above matters, and is arguably even the dominant paradigm over that time.

Black incomes are not rising faster than Whites and too much Black employment is a disguised form of welfare by giving them jobs in the DMV. The Black Middle class is largely a product of employment by the government, State and Federal.

So we do not know that Jim Crow matters.

BTW Botswana actually does pretty well, considering it’s in Africa and surrounded by dysfunction. They have an economy comparable to Mexico’s. That’s because they’ve been able to escape colonialism and the iron law of oligarchy that is its aftermath in most African countries, and instead develop inclusive institutions.

Botswana has a tiny number of rich White people, a small number of rich Black politicians and a large mass of poor, under-educated, under-employed Black people. It is not as dysfunctional as the rest of Africa but it is proof that democracy, the rule of law, and the rest of it is not enough for economic development. Because it has had so little apart from what the White employees of a diamond company bring with them.

Inclusive institutions? No oligarchy? It has been ruled by the same ruling party since independence. Not one election has been won by anyone but the Botswana Democratic Party. The president is the former head of the BDP Ian Khama. Or more formally Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama. Who happens to be the oldest son of Sir Seretse Khama - the leader of the independence movement.

Race means virtually nothing to earnings: there are poor whites, poor Asians, rich blacks.

That is absurd. Race remains a very good predictor of earnings.

Are black crime rates too high? Yes. Are black fathers doing a really bad job of staying with their kids? Yes. Would much of Africa be just as bad off without colonization? Maybe. But none of those are problems that can’t be solved by blacks within a generation or two.

Well let's be optimistic and say they can be solved by Blacks in a generation or two. I would hope so. Although Haiti has been trying to solve these problems for a lot longer. They do provide as much education to their children as Italy did in 1958 or so. But while Italy produced world-class philosophers, engineered, businessmen and film makers, Haiti has produced ..... ?

But maybe Haiti is the exception and has no connection to the US. Let us hope. The point is those problems cannot be solved by the rest of us. They have to be solved by Black communities themselves. And there is precisely zero evidence that they are going to or want to or have even recognized what the problem is. They are stuck blaming Whitey. And demanding compensation. Their numbers mean in the end they will get it. But of course that won't solve their problems either.

Botswana has a tiny number of rich White people, a small number of rich Black politicians and a large mass of poor, under-educated, under-employed Black people. It is not as dysfunctional as the rest of Africa but it is proof that democracy, the rule of law, and the rest of it is not enough for economic development. Because it has had so little apart from what the White employees of a diamond company bring with them.

Um, no. IIRC, mining exports currently account for about a quarter of the domestic product in Botswana and natural resource rents less than 5%. The income distribution is more skewed than normal - about like Latin America (which does not fit your description). The share of the labor force employed in agriculture has fluctuated in recent years but tends to be around 25%.

Biological determinists dislike Botswana, of course.

“Biological determinists dislike Botswana, of course.”

There are no biological determinists.

Art Deco November 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Um, no. IIRC, mining exports currently account for about a quarter of the domestic product in Botswana and natural resource rents less than 5%.

Botswana's exports are: diamonds, copper, nickel, soda ash, meat, and textiles. In that order. Notice meat on that list.

The income distribution is more skewed than normal – about like Latin America (which does not fit your description).

I do not see how income distribution does not prove my case. The Human Development Index puts Botswana at 109th - between Egypt and Indonesia. As for its Gini, Botswana is worse than Brazil. Worse than Haiti. In fact there are only four countries in the world that have data that are worse - South Africa, Namibia, Comoros, and the Seychelles. How does that not fit my description?

The share of the labor force employed in agriculture has fluctuated in recent years but tends to be around 25%.

Agriculture still provides a livelihood for more than 80%[citation needed] of the population but supplies only about 50% of food needs and accounts for only 3% of GDP. Subsistence farming and cattle raising predominate.

So they cannot feed themselves. And their fifth biggest export comes from the traditional cattle herding culture. This is not a radical success story.

Substantial mineral deposits were found in the 1970s and the mining sector grew from 25% of GDP in 1980 to 38% in 1998. Unemployment officially is 21% but unofficial estimates place it closer to 40%.

So basically a lot of people sitting around doing make-work for the ruling party. No wonder they keep winning elections.

Biological determinists dislike Botswana, of course.

No doubt. Some of my best friends are Botwana. No seriously. I wish them all the luck in the world. They should be a success story because they have done everything right. And yet they are not. People keep comparing them to East Asia. Well, South Korea had 10% economic growth for over 20 years. More or less. You can see what South Korea looks like. What does Botswana look like? Better than Zimbabwe!

Botswana is actually the straw that broke the camel's back in my case and forced me to accept there may be something to biological determinism. Why aren't they doing better? They have done everything right.

But it is not unfair to say that Blacks as a whole have failed to produce more than they take from the system.

That is just not true. It is a myth that blacks do bad in the USA. Most blacks in the USA are not poor(only 1/3rd are considered poor). Blacks do great here. For example they dominate the most desired jobs in the USA (those in basketball and football.) You may look down on sports, but sports are important to people. If a guy plays college sports he will talk about it for his whole life and it will give him higher status.

And who can blame blacks for not getting into the schooling rat race. Spend your youth studying so you can do a boring (though high paying) job for the rest of their lives.

Just because blacks do not live like you want them to live does not mean that they are not doing well.

White people are excessively fearful of blacks most blacks are not that hostile to whites. In fact the median black makes a great citizens. Blacks in the USA invented jazz, blues and rock & roll.The world would be poorer without those. They have added a grace to our sports.

I heard on one of the popular news magazine shows that a black person is 8 times more likely to help in an emergency than a white person.

I think blacks would do from, almost as well to much better without AA, welfare, forced integration and minimum wages. And of course the war on drugs is an awful thing. Also only government would mostly police majority black areas with mostly white police.

“…claims that black people will never be able to be productive members of society are crackpot racism.”

Are you implying blacks are not currently productive members of society?

No. I was just repeating the statement of another comment.

@prognostication

Those pesky racists with all their evidence and facts. Everything would be much easier if the world aligned its outcomes to your preferences.

Except they usually have neither evidence nor facts, but fixations (Section 8 housing vouchers is one), reflexes, and poisonous habits. Have a look at Richard Lynn's bibliography and figure the share of his citations which refer to literature in economics or cognate aspects of sociology, geography, or anthropology. The man has a hammer, so he goes looking for nails. Point out the variation in per capita income and political history in the Anglophone Caribbean, and watch the stevosphere bluster and insult. Point out how many people actually receive section 8 vouchers, and get the same result. Point out the evolution of crime rates in New York City, and watch the biological-determinist imagination go into overdrive.

Point out how much white neighbors cost.

i hear you. i am not comfortable with much of what is said about race, IQ, immigration in these comments. i don't agree with it. i do believe that most people, no matter where they come from, have plenty of educational potential.

but what a lot of open border arguments seem to ignore is that there's no guarantee that this potential will ever be developed or even explored. it costs a lot of money and requires a lot of effort and mental focus to develop that potential. (one must read a lot of difficult textbooks, work a lot of hard problems, write a lot of software, etc.) if someone is stuck in the US working double shifts in a toilet-cleaning job, it is extremely unlikely they'll have enough energy and mental focus left over to go earn a degree in electrical engineering, start a next-gen clean energy company, run a department at Google, etc. this isn't only a matter of IQ. it's a matter of personal time and energy, and personal circumstances.

this kind of personal intellectual/educational advancement usually takes generations and requires a lot of investment from the public educational system. it's expensive. teachers are expensive. a slot at UC Berkeley is expensive. and our educational system is already struggling to move the _existing_ population up that personal productivity curve to the lofty point where it is truly globally competitive. average is over. how will our educational system move millions more poor, uneducated immigrants and their descendants up that curve?

we're taking a big risk with the current, de facto, free-for-all, mostly unfiltered style of immigration. I truly hope it works, because, if it fails, the country is saddled with the burden of providing a high standard of living (by global standards) to even more people who are not highly productive. we seem to have plenty of people in that saddle already.

So having exploited the physical resources of the third world for the last few hundred years, we will now proceed the extract the human capital - all in the name of freedom, of course. Nice.

Replace the word "now" by "already is extracting".

Every place on the planet was "third world" three centuries ago and Britain built its industrial base with it's domestic coal supply.

Yup, no cheap source of energy in Africa, Australia, The Middle East, Asia or the Americas.

'Cheap' compared to what? Any advance in energy production replaces some previous technology or source. Your advantage to be had is the difference in costs before and after, which is an agreeable increment but not that decisive.

While we're at it, IIRC the first oil well in the Arabian peninsula was sunk in 1932. Commercial oil exports from Nigeria date to 1956. Those from Ecuador date to 1967. Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela exports appear earlier, just before the 1st World War. You're attributing 19th century industrialization to untapped Asian and African oil and early 20th century industrialization to Indonesian and Venezuelan production?

What Tyler proposes is offering an opportunity to millions of people. These people would voluntarily choose to take advantage of it, or not--no one is "extracting" anyone. Making this sound like pure exploitation is a real feat.

Yes, brain drain is a concern. But what is the alternative? Forcing people to stay in their own countries in horrible conditions because we think it is for their own good? That seems awfully paternalistic.

So, Japan has been running trade deficits? Why else would they have run trade surpluses in the past.?

In Average is Over TC talks about machines eliminating the need for much human labor, resulting in not enough jobs for workers. When the subject of immigration comes up a 180 is made, suddenly we don't have enough workers for the jobs.

Agreed - it seems like the bigger crisis is not enough income producing jobs - not low birthrates

Tyler is extremely inconsistent and has some crackpot ideas. But a chair at a Koch-funded thinktank and a popular blog mean people listen to him. People are cute.

What's wrong with money donated by the Koch brothers? Is it a different color than Soros money?

Nothing wrong with the money, but obviously the people receiving the money promote a bias.

No, they promote a viewpoint. If they did not, Koch would find something else to do with the cash. Last I checked, George Soros was pouring about $38 million a year into the Center for American Progress. While were at it, their "experts on economy" number 23, of whom six are economists and three or four have training in cognate disciplines like public policy or urban planning. The background of four of them suggests they have the makings of rank-and-file academic economists. There corps of 'experts on economy' include more lawyers than economists (appropriate for a Democratic Party brain trust).

Both are supporters of mass immigration of non-Whites into traditionally White countries.

Japan is already crowded though: look at the white-gloved men employed to push passengers onto rush-hour trains, or look at their tiny housing, coffin-sized hotel rooms, and microcars. This is not a country that can easily accept millions of new migrants.

Hong Kong and Singapore are even more densely-populated. At some point you just can't cram any more people into the same few square miles. Should Singapore's elderly citizens move to Bangladesh on a one-for-one exchange system? Clearly not, because your premise states that poorer countries are already overcrowded. More importantly, those old people (who vote a lot more) don't want to leave their homes.

This is not a country that can easily accept millions of new migrants.

The TFR in Japan is 1.41 children per mother per lifetime and has been below replacement levels for 40 years. There problem is incipient population decline and young cohorts smaller than the older cohorts they have to carry.

You'd be hard put to find an affluent society less able to adapt to a migrant population. Japan cannot even sensibly handle the descendents of the Tokugawa era low castes. The solution is for Japansese to get busy and have more kids. How to get from here to there?

Discussions about the utility of immigration that don't address culture are completely useless.

The migration of 100,000 Koreans is going to be different from the migration of 100,000 Pakistanis.

The evidence is so blindingly obvious - from Malmö to Tower Hamlets.

Tell us why.

Why, so you can call him a racist?

A more sophisticated response would lay the blame on the host society for failing to be all the migrant population was persuaded it should be or all that utopian social researchers think it ought to be. Sociologists of immigration have been pushing this line for a generation at least. So have opinion journalists like Leon Wieseltier, whose public writings on this question resemble a caricature dreamed up by Steve Sailer.

Why people have different traditions, religions, norms?

The Why is not important to this discussion. It only matters that they do, and that they lead to different outcomes.

Why does falling from the 15th floor onto a kerb kill you?

Do you really need to know in order not to do that?

I already know why.

@Millian

Because different people have different levels of ability, different personalities and different cultures. Koreans are extremely intelligent, extremely law abiding and very willing to integrate. Pakistanis have very low intelligence, commit lots of crime (particularly sexual violence), marry their cousins and have an authoritarian religious culture that is incompatible with liberal democracy. There is no reason the next fifty years is going to be any different than the last fifty in this regard.

Don't worry, I know, it's racist to point it out.

Koreans are extremely intelligent...Pakistanis have very low intelligence,

Richard ("Reverse-causation-and-multivariate-analysis-what-dat-I-don't-need-to-consult-no-steenkin-literature-in-ecnomics") Lynn did not make that claim. He contended South Asians tended to score about a standard deviation lower than Koreans and others.

Do you ever read what you write before you hit the submit button?

1. Yes I do,
2. Even Richard Lynn did not say what he said.
3. Richard Lynn's a mad treehouse builder.

I disagree about Pakistanis having low intelligence. I don't think they have a propensity to commit more crime-some elements found a way to get away with something and so did a lot of it. They do marry their cousins, sometimes. They do have an authoritarian religious culture.

Are Indians also low intelligence, being genetically so similar to Pakistanis? Do they also commit lots of crime, especially sexual violence?

Are the Indians really so genetically similar to the Pakistanis? AFAIK genotypes of South India are very different from that of North India, and the Indian cultural tradition indicates that the best thinkers/technicians/scientists are disproportionally coming from the South.

BTW The cousin-marrying is very pronounced in the northern tribal areas of Pakistan, and the consequences are quite dire - there is an incredible concentration of birth defects in that region, possibly the worst in the world.

An easy solution is giving incentives for adopting babies from poor countries. It's good for everyone and doesn't create the cultural problems mentioned. In this way, you can use the potential of older and homosexual couples for raising children.

you can use the potential of older and homosexual couples for raising children.

Less than 3% of the adult population is incorporated into the gay subculture at one time, the share which are ensconced in stable 'relationships' is even smaller, and the share interested in children and who could conceive of them as something other than a statement or accessory is smaller still. Not much manpower from that front; it's just that social workers and family court judges fancy it's cute to twist public policy into a pretzel to accommodate them.

Mr. Cowen,

Your NY Times Upshot is totally devoid of any indication that you have any awareness that we live on globe with finite and limited non-renewable natural resources.

It is the most blatant example of Flat Earth Libertarian dogmatizing that I can remember seeing.

Lawrence Rupp
New London NH

http://www.peakprosperity.com/?utm_source=newsletter_2014-11-07&utm_medium=email_newsletter&utm_content=newsletter_header&utm_campaign=weekly_newsletter_152

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows-were-nearing-collapse/print

While Cowen's approach does appear small minded in its way, I also believe the progressive approach to be small minded in its refusal to support and build walkable communities as means for both global and economic sustainability. I also believe the progressive approach to limit knowledge use to the few has considerable bearing why they have not attempted to do so. In this sense the progressive takes advantage of the sprawl mindset just as anyone else.

I admire Cowen for supporting the benefits of surplus labor; no, I'm not being sarcastic. It's consistent with his view that inequality isn't a problem because inequality globally is actually declining (even as it is rising within countries including less developed countries). It's a short step from comparative advantage (who doesn't believe in comparative advantage) to open borders. If foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, Cowen has one of the smallest.

"If foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, Cowen has one of the smallest."

I've been reading this blog for a year, and this kinda sums him up for me. There's a reason Piketty's book is a massive bestseller and Cowen's is not. Guess which name will be remembered as a landmark economist 100 years from now.

Most likely neither. More likely Cowen. Fad related items like Piketty fade quickly and are only remembered with a little wince.

lol whatever man

Did anybody ever contemplate, that in overcrowded places like Japan, a small, controlled decrease of population is actually a good thing ?

They have nearly no energy resources, agriculture is way more difficult on those small strips of near-coast flat land

The same goes for China, most of the population is concentrated in only a part of the country and the air pollution shows the clear limits of population densities too high

London is a good example. The only solution to the Great Smog and not producing any of the food they eat, was.........reducing population, right?

The claim is that the old need the young to support them, but I wonder what the numbers are. How many old Japanese need financial support to live and how much money are we talking about?

I don't know much about contemporary Japanese culture, but if old movies are to go by (And why wouldn't they be?) Japanese are very into death with dignity. Perhaps old people in Japan aren't like Americans who want to spend millions of dollars just to live 12 more months in a hospital bed.

Does anyone seriously believe that Japan would be a better place with 120 million people, of which 60 million would be young Africans, than a population that declines to 60 million Japanese? And why would you wish ancient people and cultures like Japan, Korea, and Denmark to be replaced? You wouldn't do this with a rare type of owl, so why would you do it to a unique human population?

Some owls are more equal than others. I am absolutely sure that the Western elite would be horrified if anyone wanted to destroy Papuan tribes through massive immigration from Australia.

It's been ongoing in western New Guinea since 1962, when Soekarno buffaloed the Netherlands into handing the territory over. Half the population now consists of Austronesians from Java and other parts of Indonesia. No one seems to notice. A sorely violent and ineffective counter insurgency the Indonesian military conducted in Portuguese Timor was noticed, eventually.

You're right. If we straight line current trends, Ponzi economies are screwed.

I think Japan, the canary in the demographic coal mine, will be ok.

Japan and the industrial Orient generally have chronic and intractable problems with maintaining replacement fertility, as do the Germanophone states. The problem is more fluid elsewhere and less severe. France has had an agreeable fertility recovery over the last 20 years which has led it to near replacement rates. If the rest of Europe can emulate that over the next 30 years, they'll be in adequate shape. Russia's fertility has improved handsomely in the last 15 years (half again as fast as that of France), though it's a wager that's largely attributable to rapid economic growth and its merely brought them from a very depressed position to the European mean. Still, it's worth investigating.

Intractable? That's a prediction.

I'm more open-minded about the future. So many levers. An improved labor market mismatch. Longer careers. Automation. International trade. And yes, maybe fertility and immigration.

I tire easily of the ongoing "where will we find the people?" versus "what will we do with all these people?" cage match, in which the only two viable options are Open Borders and industrial scale eugenics.

Japan is a rich, high trust country full of well-educated and productive people that will be fine.

If it's in a demographic death spiral, it won't be fine. Hasn't happened in the Occidental world since the period running from about 250 ad to 650 ad.

As long as they maintain their current immigration restrictions, the "demographic death spiral" is practically certain to self-correct.

1. As population density decreases and e.g. land prices adjust to reflect this, the costs of children fall and the relative benefits rise. This economic effect isn't just a theoretical curiosity, it has demonstrably affected fertility across a wide range of contexts.
2. The Japanese who, due to some combination of memetic and genetic anomalies (religious belief? high attractiveness and low conscientiousness by Japanese standards?), are bucking the low-fertility trend will leave more descendants in the next generation of Japanese, and this process iterates. Maybe this generation some subset has 1.8 TFR (total fertility rate) instead of 1.2 TFR; naively, it's "sub-replacement" but if the analogous subset in the next generation, living under lower population density, has 2.0 TFR, and the one after that, 2.2, there's no problem at all.

There are other reasons for Japan to consider accepting at least a little bit more immigration. But demographic necessity is not one of them, and anyone who continues asserting otherwise after the math has been explained to them cannot be trusted.

The only real danger (corresponding to 250-650 ad) is a loss of carrying capacity due to reduced technological capabilities. And low, not high, immigration to Japan is the way to minimize that risk.

Correction, there is a second "real danger" explicitly worth noting: a catastrophic war, which does become more likely in the high xenophobia limit. This is one of the legitimate reasons to keep immigration levels above zero. But to maximize empathy for foreigners, it's better for the visible foreigners to be an unusually well-behaved group than for them to be representative; sad but true. We need to choose our policies in light of how human nature actually works, not how we wished it was.

South Asia? The total fertility rate of Bangladesh is 2.2 and falling rapidly. India's is higher due to the Northern states but the TFR for the southern states are below replacement level. It seems India will need their children, and internal migration will be needed.
For Africa, TC has a point, but these kids would need to be sent to Russia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Iran, Australia, Sweden etc etc. there aren't enough to make this work. Besides, African TFR is declining too.
What is plan B?

Much of the problem of population decline is based on 1) encouraging/allowing people to "retire" who could still be working and 2) not making social safety net benefits/taxes cohort-neutral.

"Bad" voter preferences are a function of how well immigrants integrate economically, not an independent problem to overcome.

Tyler talks about this as if we haven't been trying it for sixty years. To take the UK as an example, non-European migration has cost the state £120 billion over the last 17 years, and that includes migration from very intelligent South Asian ethnic groups with low birthrates in the UK and in India. Why should we expect future migration from higher-birthrate groups to do the opposite?

Considering that high birthrate countries are all Tropical African states (leavened with a few others like Afghanistan and Yemen) amply populated with people who have little human capital deployable in a non-agricultural economy, and amply populated with people who are likely to be very disoriented by aspects of contemporary urban life (if better adapted than the Amazonian tribesman Dr. Kenneth Good married), the idea seems ill-advised. But maybe it isn't if you believe in trillion dollar bills on the sidewal,.

I'm sorry, did you just say that Africans are not welcome to come work in the US because of racial bias? That US corporations, who gleefully send jobs to India and China and Mexico and Indonesia, are sitting around thinking "Thank God we don't have any black people on the payroll?"

Is this type of moronic insinuation required for articles that get published by the NYT?

Bonus question: did you seriously refer to Africa as a "region"? Lord. Talk about cultural bias.

Bonus question: did you seriously refer to Africa as a “region”? Lord. Talk about cultural bias.
-

What the hell?

"Many economists are uncomfortable with population issues, perhaps because they aren’t covered in depth in the standard graduate curriculum, or because they touch on topics that may be culturally controversial or even politically incorrect." (From the article, but not excerpted above.)

As much as I am disappointed by the secular stagnation debate, I hold out some hope that it will re-ignite broad interest in economic demography. There are a number of trends from lower labor force participation (e.g. http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2014/201464/201464pap.pdf) to less fluidity in job allocations (e.g. http://www.kc.frb.org/publicat/sympos/2014/083014-1.pdf) that seem at least somewhat related to population aging. Population imbalances are issues that economists have studied since pretty much the beginning of economics (this was the class I took in grad school: http://personal.psc.isr.umich.edu/~davidl/Economics%20667%20Fall%202007%20Outline.pdf), but it's true that the policy interventions (as well as the status quo) are often fraught with difficulty.

I find the examples of France, Israel, and Singapore funny for countries that looking for solutions for low births. Israel is in a Cold War and the highest birth rates are non-preferred minority. Singapore has the lowest birth rate in the world and well below Japan. And France is the most hated country in Europe for free market.. (Because France has more kids than Germany their long term fiscal outlook is better.)

I agree that this is a bigger problem in the modern world. However, every single competitive productive global economy has low birth rates because in these economies it takes too long for young people to get settled in their careers. (Assuming Israel has a Cold War and India most productive area is in the South where the birth rates are low.)

the highest birth rates are non-preferred minority.

The Arab Muslim advantage is modest and declining.

> Israel is in a Cold War

Israel is in an ongoing real war with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran.

@Tyler: retirement plans are not mentioned at all. One of the reasons people care less about children is the promise of a secure and regular retirement income. Retirees in some countries still enjoy the pay-as-you-go retirement system. It doesn't matter if they didn't contribute enough to retirement fund, they'll have a nice retirement. Moving to a fully funded retirement system, either will make workers save enough for retirement or motivate them to have children that support them when they're old. In any case, funding problems end.

It is often claimed that people once had children to support them in their old age, but it happens to be mostly untrue. There were exceedingly few frail and incapable old people in the past needing any support. The reality of it is that people worked until they died. Once their health started to decline it was only a matter of time (and not very long time) until they died. Of course children might stay around and help out-- but generally in expectation of inheritance. The large families of past eras were mainly due to A) ineffective or non-existent birth control and B) the need to have many children in order to ensure that a few survived given that chiuldhood mortality rates were frequently in excess of 50%.

Perhaps that's the cold reality, but the expectations of parents most of the undeveloped world if that the youngest daughter must take care of elderly parents. If the youngest child is male, then the responsible is his wife. There are particular differences between Latin America, India or China, but it general the social contract revolves around adult children taking care of elderly parents. Japan industrialized long ago, but I'm pretty sure that before expectations like these existed.

Like nearly all economists you believe that people are fungible.

Also, that 'we' for academic economists does not include the HVAC techs who work at their institutions, but their 'colleagues' and circle of friends. It's just that Dr. Cowan lacks Dr. Caplan's defoliating tactlessness.

Is exponential population growth a necessary condition in order to have a prosperous economy?

No. It depends on what you bake into your economic models. If demographic decline causes a horrible problem, check your model for Ponzi elements.

I'd like to be lumped with those who think that if your septuagenarian cohorts number x and your duogenarian cohorts number 0.6x, you have a problem.

Yeah, how will they be able to support all those old people? The same thing happened when people got out of farming - only a couple of percent now, as opposed to what, 90% a few hundred years ago? No wonder we're all starving.

Let me see if I understood it correctly.

Tyler Cowen believes world population can be divided into two groups;
- East asian and white westernes. These people are capable of creating rich societies.
- African and Southeast asien people. They are basically to lazy and stupid to create anything but trouble. Tyler even goes on with the old racist idea; those black ba....... are making babies like rabbits.
Som many babies they just dont know what to do with them. And they dont understand how to make fewer babies. They are just that stupid.

Then Tyler concludes that the superioer people have to take responsibility by giving a free ride to the stupid people.
A strange view for a libertarian who normally believes in no kind of responsibility for other people well-being. He does support that relatively poor people in america just get a fair share of Microsoft stocks, a fair share of the Tyler Cowen mansion and so on.
But this is different. It just is. You know, even though Tyler Believes in jobless growth, then suddenly when it comes to immigration a lot of new jobs will be created - the famous truck driver I guess.

Is it all just a bit racist?

No, you're just pathetically bad at reading comprehension.

+1

I'd be willing to trade some social security or medicare for a more sparse population. Quality of life isn't entirely based on money...

Japan is xenophobic, but that xenophobia is actually what will save Japan for future generations. Japan and Japanese culture will still exist in 2050 and 2100. Not clear if the same can be true about English, Russian, French or American culture.

You bring in enough aliens with alien culture ... at a certain point you aren't assimilating them, they are colonizing you.

Unless we suffer nuclear war, a supervolcano or an asteroid strike, American culture will still exist in 2050, and indeed in 2100 and beyond. It will not if course be identical to our culture today-- but cultures that do not change become extinct. Out culture is not the culture of 1964-- let alone of 1864. Which is nothing to bemoan: Change Or Die is a law of nature too.

Chang: Actually I happen to know a certain dead austrian ex-dictator, who would agree with you .... Oops did I make you uncomfortable?

So what? You'll be dead, and your descendants will have adopted the new culture.

The idea wouldn't work anyway, Tyler. The essential problem is that someone is supposed to support the retirees, but the new immigrants, and quite rationally so I will add, will be more interested in supporting themselves and their offspring (and they would likely want to bring over their own older family members to support them as well. The politics would change to reflect that desire and the native retirees would still end up in the same tough spot.

This is not to say that it wouldn't still be a good policy overall, but it won't benefit the natives nearly as much as you think.

Here's just a few thoughts on the matter.

Compare where people lived in 1900 to today

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_in_1900

France 1900 - 38m today 66m
Britain 1900 - 38m today 64m
USA 1900 - 76m today 319m

Compare that to

The Congo 1900 - 280,000 today 69m
Nigeria 1900 -16m today 178m
Philippines 1900 -8m today 100m

Whats the point of discussing solutions to population growth when its not occurring in the nations where the discussions are taking place.

Does anyone think that governments in these poorer nations have the capability to enact policy that would be effective in managing population growth if they cant manage internal wars / extreme corruption / disease

Can you imagine the US or the EU deciding to take in millions if not tens of millions of people from these nations every year into the future? Its easy to imagine that such a plan would be politically impossible.

Really population growth will continue to progress unabated until some of these nations get rich enough to go though the same transitions that the westernized nations have. But depending on how long that takes will be the difference between competing with a new emerging world power in a relatively tiny nation geographically with a population of either 100 or 500 million.

Doesn't bode well for peace if your nations lost something like %30 of its population over this period.

Really i think its imperative that the rich nations should aim for as much population growth as possible. Sod the carrying capacity. Its not like the balls in their park anyway

It doesn't really make sense to speak of areas having 'more people than they can currently support.' Land is an important resource, and so a falling ratio of land to people might be expected to restrict growth as the population gets big - but we live in an age of free trade and low transport costs, so it really doesn't matter for economic efficiency where the land is relative to the people.

What that sentence is really saying is that there is an inefficiently large number of people in Africa because those people could be a lot more productive elsewhere. But this isn't, as Tyler implies, a result of Africa's high population. (In fact, the higher the population of Africa, the more productive we might expect Africans to be - economies of scale, specialisation, trade etc.) If there were fewer Africans, those Africans could still stand to benefit from moving to for example the USA, because the institutions and norms of the USA are far superior.

Economist Dean Baker has a response to Tyler's NY Times article. Baker sums his response up like this:

"The reality is that changes in productivity swamp the impact of demographic change. A country with decent productivity growth has no reason to fear slow growing or even declining work force. Conversely, a country with weak productivity growth is likely to find rapid population growth to be a serious burden, not an asset."

The whole article, "The It's Hard to Get Good Help Crowd Promotes Population Growth", is here:
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/the-its-hard-to-get-good-help-crowd-promotes-population-growth

I think somebody somewhere got a Nobel for pointing out why a country that employs one vo-tech grad with a backhoe generates better living standards than a country that employs two dozen coolies with pickaxes. Maybe I'm imagining things.

Immigration is one of those areas where all the liberals suddenly become old luddite Southern planters, wondering how in the world anybody's going to be able to harvest cotton without being able to buy a stout team of darkies from the Charleston market.

Easy solution: stop spending so much money on old people. Life should be for the young.

Almost correct. Life should be for those who want it and can afford it.

wow... is that what libertarianism is all about?... Huuum, No thanks

Life should be for those who don't want it or can't afford it.

I don't get why Cowen keeps trolling his readers with this stuff. Can someone explain the Straussian subtext to me?

The comments section is purely for driving page views. He doesn't share any of the prevailing opinions (which of late tend to be racists of the HBD variety and sexists of the PUA variety, which share a unshakable belief in the acumen of their pop evolutionary psychology.)

"He doesn’t share any of the prevailing opinions"

I doubt that, but I guess I can't prove it.

As a longtime reader, I doubt it too. Too many hints.

Why does he care about page views?

Never noticed the ads?

Someone already commented on how effective anti-aging biotechnologies will make short-work of this problem. The other shoe to drop is simply automation, especially when we get decent machine vision that makes robots more effective than they are now (machine vision is what holds robotics back right now). I think under-population will turn out to be as much a load of hype as the population bomb of the 1970's.

Saying anti-aging will solve the problem is like saying AGI will solve the problem.

In theory, yes, but in practice it will cause a host of other problems and we are no where near a breakthrough.

With proper funded, we could have it within a decade.

The Japanese or the Singaporeans ought to have their JFK moment, "We will cure aging before this decade is out.".

Anyways, automation and robotics are a reality today:

http://www.therobotreport.com/news/latest-research-report-shows-xx-cagr-for-robotics-to-2025

Randall Parker says that Tyler Cowen and Robin Hansen are like the generals who want to fight the last war when the next war is upon us:

http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/009646.html

With proper funded, we could have it within a decade.

No one worth a dime believes that, or it would get proper funding. Crackpots on the internet don't count.

When they heard the JFK speech in 1961, many at NASA were astonished and quite openly said that it would be impossible to land on the moon by the end of the 60's. Its the same thing will aging today.

AL, the difference is that the moon landing had no market value. Anti-aging that actually works would be worth countless billions.

While many at NASA were skeptical it could be done by 1969, few of them doubted that it could be done at all. If Kennedy had set a goal of 1979 there would have been little skepticism from the space community. Or if those skeptics in NASA, which was only 4 years old when Kennedy gave that speech, knew that their budgets would double the next year, and double again in the year after, and stay at that high level till the goal was reached, they likely wouldn't have been so skeptical.

Compare that to the medical community -- hose who believe that aging is a problem that can be solved are a handful of people on the fringes of their fields, and no serious medical scientist thinks practical major breakthroughs are just around the corner.

Put another way, you should be comparing the idea of solving aging in the next decade to Nixon's declaration of war on cancer in 1971, though maybe you think there wasn't sufficient resolve and money applied to that goal over the last 43 years.

I think so too. Automation could offset the adverse effects of underpopulation.

Especially considering that populations are not fungible.

One more thing. Populations are not fungible. There are significant cultural and cognitive differences between populations.

Legalize prostitution. A population can never have too many legal sexual options.

If you fear crime, solve it with mobile technology. With anti-rape or anti-assault emergency apps, violence can be identified and deterred.

This will create additional jobs both for immigrants and non-immigrants, and it will reduce sex crimes through substitution.

Another solution to this problem: "Relatively underpopulated and highly developed countries could profitably take in young Africans and South Asians — and both sides would gain" - move to southeast Asia from the USA, as I did.

What clinches Tyler's argument that wealthy countries require rapid exponential population growth (say with a 2% rate, so doubling every generation and a half) in order to prosper is the invocation of Robin Hanson. Robin Hanson believes the absence of exponential growth in the population of rich countries is the (in italics) biggest problem facing humanity. Robin Hanson also believes that in the next fifty or so years, economic growth will increase by a factor of about 200. When that happens, the economy will grow not by a few percent but by a factor of one million, give or take, every year. Ronin Hanson is having his head frozen in liquid nitrogen after he dies in the hope that he will be revived after the singularity. This combination of the authoritative views of Robin Hanson together with anecdotes about Japan (Japan's economy is stagnant; Japan's population isn't growing; therefore Japan and all other wealthy countries need rapid population growth to prosper) is extremely compelling.

Can't.Tell.If.Serious.

this is what Ronin Hanson's future will look like once they dethaw his head.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7Lzr3cwaPs

The taxation and monetary inflation necessary to support the welfare state make family formation less affordable and depress birthrates. Not a single Western country has found a way out of this dilemma. Westerners think immigration can make up the difference for the children they didn't bother to have, as if Third Worlders are clamoring to come here to pay taxes so the USG can bomb Arabs and make transfer payments to old white people.

Mark Zuckerberg bought four houses around himself in Palo Alto and a 750 ac. spread in Hawaii. Tom Friedman's family lives on way more acreage than it needs. Bill Gates has an enormous spread. It's funny how all these open borders types will spend millions of dollars buying low population density for themselves.

And this is just precious: "And this new paper (pdf) indicate that immigrant inflows raise the birth rates of native women by making child care more affordable." In other words, having women work outside the home has only made the pie slices thinner, so we need more desperately poor Third World women so two-income earners can afford the taxes and childcare. Looks like women in the workforce hasn't delivered those sidewalks paved with trillion dollar bills either.

Importing third world populations, claiming it will help us solve our first world problems.

Nice.

"Yet it’s far from clear that all nations that could benefit from this policy would entertain it, partly because of persistent racial and cultural bias "

Nations have genetic interests. Swamping european or asian countries with black africans will result in the long term annihilation of the indiginous population of these countries. So Tyler Cowen is assuming that you can separate matters of economic growth from the cultural and ethnic issues. The problem is that immigration is associated with a bunch of externalities. Like race replacement, crime, education, environmental degradation and ethnic political cleavages Externalities which often are ignored when lliberals or marxists choose to focus on the issue of immigration.

The racial and cultural bias which Cowen mentions is completely natural. And it is also morally defensible that an ethny wants tp preserve itself. So I believe people by and large are acting both morally and rationally, when they are resisting large scale replacement immigration.

So you're saying that black people are genetically superior and will outcompete Asians and whites unless artificial barriers are built between them, and it just so happens that the currently existing national borders are the best barriers to do so.

And that for some reason it is moral to stop evolution here, but not rewind it, say, to a time when all humans lived in Africa?

Sounds like a lot of pseudoscientific junk mixed up with absurd values.

Craig Venter said about race and IQ once that humanity is a genetic continuum, and I will defer to his expertise on the matter. Either way, what will replace us in the (not so very) long run will be decidedly nonhuman. Or posthuman, depending on how you want to put it.

Evolution is not synonymous with "progress." If a virus wiped out humanity that would be natural selection at work. Evolution, not progress.

Either way, what will replace us in the (not so very) long run will be decidedly nonhuman. Or posthuman, depending on how you want to put it.

First you have to invent the thing. What does invention require?

No not "outcompete", everything isnt a "market". But they will outbreed and invade the indigenous populations of europe and asia if migration trends continue.

And this has nothing to do with genetic superiority, but is mostly a numbers game. As the saying goes "demography is destiny".
Resisting mass-immigration is not equivalent to stopping evolution. This is a fallacy on your part, evolution continues no matter what.

People have ethnic genetic interest. This explains why racism, ethnic nepotism and violent conflict based on ethnicity is so common. No pseudoscientific junk here. or absurd values for that matter.

Yes humanity is a genetic continuum, which is true for many species. This however does not rule out the existence of subspecies or races, or distinct ethnies.

The "posthuman" prediction on the other hand is nothing more than a fantasy. There is no empirical evidence to sugest that humans will be replaced with something non-human. This is the real pseudoscientific junk idea.

Evolution is not synonymous with “progress.”

Tell that to A nationalist bigot.

What does invention require?

Free markets for goods, services and labor, proper incentives and no artificial barriers from idiots with guns. Of course, you already knew that.

Libertarianism in three words:

"People are widgets."

That doesn't really warrant a response. But I do hope you don't vote with the same intellectual depth.

Libertarianism in three words:

"Leave me alone."

Free markets for goods, services and labor, proper incentives and no artificial barriers from idiots with guns. Of course, you already knew that.

You didn't invent that!

The complaints against South Asian immigrants in this comments section seems strange given the relative success of South Asian immigrants in the United States.

Pakistani Americans are better educated than the population as a whole and Indian Americans are one of the most successful subgroups.

The underperformance of South Asians is a European, not American problem.

The difference in Pakistani performance between the US and UK probably comes down to population density - in which a scattered population of Pakistani immigrants assimilated while a concentration clings to old values.

There are large areas of cities in England that are predominantly Pakistani or Bangladeshi. They wed overseas brides and maintain strong cultural links and norms from the past.

Tower Hamlets in London is undergoing a degree of electoral corruption and intimidation that is completely akin to what happens in Dhaka.

We need more Muslims so they can be more numerous than Jews here and that will solve Obama's problems with Israel as Jews will lose their place in the Democrat Party. Then the only move for Jews is to make aliya and go to Israel as they will be hunted down in the US with Obama's blessing.

Of course it will create new problems for the rest of us.

Watch Obama, the Democrats and the State Department.

Oh, Karl Rove Republicans are almost as stupid as Obama.

TC seems to assume that "innovation" can counter any natural resource tensions posed by increasing population. Sure we can probably find a process for making even more food from less land, desalinate water, and build taller buildings. But there is a loss in quality of life from the greater crowding and destruction of open spaces.

But there is a loss in quality of life from the greater crowding and destruction of open spaces.
Both are susceptible to innovation, too. Noise control is probably not perfect yet. The experience of open spaces can be virtualized. We still have plenty of surface area that is undeveloped. We can build taller buildings or go underground. We could have floating cities on the ocean and cities in the desert.

It's not true that people move to where there is more open space, they tend to move to the cities.

Or am I missing something?

More people live in apartments than in mansions. It isn't because apartments are more desirable.

The experience of open spaces can be virtualized.

I hate you.

Seems like you've already accepted the virtualization of personal conflict.

Barring a catastrophe on the scale of the Black Death we are very unlikely to see actual underpopulation anywhere on the planet. Most countries (yes, including Japan) have a problem with unemployment and underemployment. As long as that continues to be true, underpopulation is not present. If we start to see rock-bottom unemployment rates, record high rates of labor force particpation and inflationary pressure coming mainly from the wage sector-- then I will change my mind.

How about this?

We give American parents a lot more financial support so they can have the second or third child they want but feel they can't afford?

Have some of the billionaire boys pick out the Top 10 or 20 countries expected to have the highest population growth and pay the poor families to use long term contraceptives and limit family size?

We give American parents a lot more financial support so they can have the second or third child they want but feel they can’t afford?

So the richest people ever say that they cannot afford to have 2 children per woman, so you propose that we tax them and give the money back if they have more children as a solution. It might work but it proves that they can afford to have the children.

The American people as a whole are "the richest people ever" but individual Americans and American families are not.

I do not see how what I propose "proves that they can afford to have the children". The cost of buying or renting a bigger place or sending another child to college can seem to make having a second or third child seem irresponsible to many of today's parents. And of course the smaller everyday expenses over the years add up too.

How can we be unwilling to help our own people but agree to bring in more new people and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on each of the immigrants' children's education?

I really do not see a very big problem with falling populations. Japan and the USA are very rich and many old people could work. Mechanization will help. Gov. programs like SS will need to be adjusted but that is not so hard.

Related: Why Eliminating the Deficit is Technically Easy but Still Politically Impossible
It is impossible now but in the future it will be done.

The population growth will be among the low income, low skilled groups that nobody in the First World wants to come to their country now, for the most part.

Expecting that to change as the low income and/or low skilled immigrants already present in First World countries start to multiply and their numbers swell is completely unrealistic, in my view.

There are far too many smart people who look around at the number of newcomers from other races, cultures and backgrounds in their country today and think, oh not much has changed, without considering how many more of these people from other groups there will be by 2050 or 2100 just through domestic population growth.

As the continuing changes to these countries' demographics from domestic population growth become more apparent, I can't help but believe there will be much enthusiasm for high immigration levels from overpopulated countries on other continents.

The countries that haven't allowed much immigration in the past know they can always get millions of people anytime they want, if future generations want to do that. There's no need to change in advance.

Who can look at those overstuffed migrant boats that seem to be inviting death and disaster and not be appalled? Yet the people on those boas paid money that poorest of the world's poor do not have today and won't have tomorrow, either.

In view of the billions of additional people in a short time that we are talking about, it seems to me the emphasis must be on changing the behavior of the people who are having too many kids.

The willingness of the First World to be rescuing angels for billions simply isn't there today. Encouraging others to rely on future First World people to save their kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren from disaster can't be right. It's making commitments we will be in no position to fulfill.

This is an area where Tyler is at his weakest. Enough has been said about the cons of immigration, some of it racist but a lot of it just good old common sense. What annoys me is the way Tyler lazily follows the fashion of fear-mongering about population decline and greying.

The fear-mongerers claim population growth is somehow necessary for a prosperous society. But they can't explain why.

They rightly point out that population growth is a precondition for inflation, and claim inflation is necessary for a prosperous society. But they can't explain why.

They point to Japan and show how it hasn't been growing much for decades, and warn that such "lost decades" lie in our future. But they can't explain why even with all its flaws unrelated to its lack of population growth and inflation, such as its notoriously inflexible labor market, Japanese productivity growth has only slightly lagged the US.

The fact is there's no evidence whatsoever that lack of population growth is bad for living standards or for growth-per-capita.

Greying is another matter and is a genuine problem, especially if there's a sudden reduction in birth rates that temporarily distorts the retired:working ratio, and especially if the retirement age isn't extended. But it shouldn't surprise and certainly shouldn't disappoint anyone that most people would prefer to carry the greying burden than to invite in large numbers of immigrants.

In the future, there won't be enough jobs to employ everyone due to automation, but we will have a labor shortage. It seems like Tyler should have to choose one or the other of these views.

I'm unclear on why it's profitable for a growing country to export its young. High growth means expansion, which means new schools need to be built, new roads, new hospitals, new homes, etc. That is to say, economic activity. Past a certain point of population density quality of life tends to decline, but that point is pretty far out there. For a country to export its young necessarily moves the population balance in the "older" direction, which is generally not thought to be a good thing (see: Japan).

Speaking of countries like Japan, btw, the huge elder class is mostly a result of the fact of a sudden drop in fertility, not low fertility per se. The steady state in a low-fertility scenario has a larger elder class than the steady state in a high-fertility scenario, but the current size of Japan's elder class is larger than the low-fertility steady state. It's basically a bubble.

As long as they move into and stay in Tyler's neighborhood, fine. Otherwise not so much.

I'd love to live in a neighborhood full of young, highly-skilled, highly-educated immigrant families. The trick is to skim off the creme of the crop, so to speak.

TREASON?

This is Tyler at his weakest. Graying of populations is a burden on living standards in the sense that society must spend a growing share of its wealth taking care of elders. But it shouldn't surprise or disappoint anyone that most people prefer to carry that burden than to gamble with the supposed benefits of mass immigration.

But there is no evidence or plausible theory that suggests that either graying or low or negative population growth lowers the growth rate in per working-age person terms. Having to support a larger elderly population surely leaves less resources to enjoy ourselves, but it doesn't hold back our abilities to generate wealth. The only evidence connecting population growth with growth-per-capita or living standards shows is that overly high population growth appears to correlate with low living standards.

Pointing to the low national growth rate of Japan while forgetting to adjust for the lower (negative) growth rate of its working-age population is deeply naive. Pointing to the lack of inflation in Japan as if that in and of itself proves that Japan's living standards are stagnating is deeply naive. Citing Ed Hugh on these matters is quacky.

If we look at the pace of improvement of living standards and productivity growth and growth-per-working-age-capita across the advanced economies, we find that the US is just barely outpacing Europe and Japan. The difference is so minor that the only way to attribute any advantage to the higher US population growth rate is to conclude that the US has no other advantages relevant to productivity growth. Which would seem to fly in the face of everything every supply-side economist ever taught.

I would like to hear the racial determinists explanation for the differences between the societies of North and South Korea?

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