Wednesday, October 31, 2012

China: Too Little Too Late

A Chinese governmental think tank has suggested ending China's population control policy which is commonly, if inaccurately, known as the one child policy.  China's elite are starting to realize, or perhaps knew for some time, the demographic trap that they are in. The unfortunate truth is, ignoring the inevitable bad end to state directed economy, is that they will get old before they get rich. China has seen a rather dramatic change in the make up of their country already.

Back in the 1980s, around the time the policy was introduced, the median age of China was 22, making it a very young country, and is now 34, which is only 3 years fewer than the United States. In fact, from 2010 to 2050 while the US population is expected to grow by 30%, assuming that the coming economic crisis doesn't reverse our immigration trends, while China is expected to decrease by 3.4%.  The population drop could even be more drastic for China if we consider the implications of a major economic contraction in China; a possibility that I am almost certain will happen.

The key lesson to take away from this is that China has effectively shot themselves in the foot.  While I am sure that an economic contraction will happen in China, if they had still been a young country, there is a possibility that they could weather it. But instead they will also have to deal with an old population, and the lack of their greatest advantage, a cheap young workforce. Even worse is that the article fails to mention a major gender imbalance, due to the one child policy, that will make it incredibly difficult to avoid a dramatic population contraction.

 This is the best, or shall we say worst, example of the ability of the state to dramatic harm to the future of its people even if the fallout is unintentional.  As bad as the FED and the effects of monetary depreciation are, societies and nations can survive them, see Rome, Germany, the American colonies, so on and so forth.  It is a very difficult thing for a society and a nation to survive when its population have collapsed, see the Minoans, Etruscans, Ainu, Sumerians, Aztecs, Mayans, and countless others. Of the hundreds, or thousands, of cultures that exist today, they are but a small microcosm of the millions that have been snuffed out and no longer exist.  Given the size of the Han people I don't see their culture completely disappearing, but it could very well be drastically different, in terms of size and cultural impact in East Asia a century or two from now.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.