Saturday, August 19, 2006

Population Crisis and the Noh Response

The Korea Times ran an article on Korea and Taiwan having the lowest birthrates in the world. This is the second year in a row for Korea. It just so happens I have done a bit of research on this matter. Some of the more interesting tidbits:

1. The Japanese population is estimated to begin its decline this year. By the year 2100, if current trends continue, the population of Japan will be half of what it was in 2005.

2. Before the Koreans start celebrating this, however, they should realize they are not far behind. The Korean population should begin to decline around 2020 and will likewise be severely reduced by 2100.

3. In 2020 the Korean workforce will lack over a 1.5 million workers. Around 2040 the economy will pretty much be fucked unless Korea is willing to let in millions of migrant workers.

4. The Noh Response? Way too little and way too late. Current incentives to have children are very little and predictably are having no effect. A friend of mine in Seoul will have 3 children soon, and found out that all he will get is a one time payment of 50,000 won for his third child. Yippie! People who make less money than he does will get more, but that misses the whole point. It's the middle and upper classes that are having less children, knowing what each child will cost them in education costs (about 128 grand from birth to graduation).

They also plan to provide more for childcare around 2010 (can't do it now, as all their extra money either goes to keep the North Korean army fed and clothed or to increase their own military spending so they can defend themselves against said army. You try to financially support your own army and your enemy's and see how much money you have left over!).

I can't see better childcare having much effect anyway. Germany has one of the best childcare and maternal leave programs in the world and their birthrate is the worst in Europe (which is saying something).

5. Korea is not alone in failing to address birthrate problems. No country that has fallen below 1.5 birth rate has managed to bring the birth rate back to the replacement levels of 2.1.

6. By 2050, Korea will have the highest proportion of elderly citizens to those in the workforce: 1:1. To enjoy the same level of government assistance the elderly have now, taxes will need to more than double.

7. Real estate prices in Japan have been dropping since the early nineties. Prices for commercial land now are roughly the same as they were in the late 1970s. Any house or apartment that is bought today will most certainly be worth far less after the average young couple will be able to pay off the housing loan. There is no reason to believe that Korea will not follow the same pattern in the future, though I suspect certain areas like Kangnam will resist the decline to some extent.

8. Russia's population has been in the decline since 1992. There are roughly 8 million fewer Russians now than in 1992. Currently, the population is declining by about 800,000 a year. Not only do they have a low birth rate, but their death rate is quite high.

9. The population of white Americans (non-Hispanic whites, that is) is at a standstill, while minority populations are still growing. Half of the population of LA is Hispanic. In Texas and Florida, Hispanics will be the dominant ethnic group in a few decades. By 2050, the white race will make up less than 50% of the entire population.

10. #9 shouldn't really be troublesome to 'white America'. Second and third generation minorities seem just as 'American' to me as white people. It just seems like a fulfillment of what the 'melting pot' was supposed to be all about anyway.

11. Thanks to immigration and minorities having a lot of babies. America isn't going through the crisis that Asian countries face. While most minority groups assimilate relatively well in the States, European countries can't say the same. Muslims make up the bulk of immigrants, and they are far more resistant to assimilation. It's a problem that many politicians and intellectuals don't want to face, but the fact is 'liberal Europe' may be all but extinct by 2100.

The way I see it, America will be one of the very few developed countries that will get through all of this relatively unscathed.

12. In terms of being an economic powerhouse on the world stage, Korea and Japan do seem completely screwed, and China will have its own problems as well. However, for individual Koreans and Japanese, all of this is not necessarily bad news. Even though Japan's economy has been stagnant for years, per capita incomes have been fine. The population shrinks faster than the economy, so per capita incomes actually have a greater chance to rise than decline. Homes become more affordable and overall living standards are likely to increase. This is how business analyst Michael Backman sees it, anyway, in his book 'The Asian Insider', and he backs up it well with current data on Japan. Overall purchasing power of Japanese has increased significantly over the past few years and there is no reason to see Korea being different.

Comments from original blogpost

You paint a rosier picture of America's demographic future than does Pat "The Cannon" Buchanan. I prefer your picture to his. Ol' Pat's sorta scared of us off-white folks.


Posted by: Kevin Kim | August 23, 2006 at 10:49 AM

That was very a edumacated and fascinating analysis Pooper. Here's a summary: Roh is a fucktard.

Posted by: Massive Panda | August 23, 2006 at 05:17 PM

Fuck em I say. There are too many people in the fucking world already. Too many snot nosed brats and shit faced idiots using up oxygen and resources in their dumb pointless lives. The less people the better. BRING IT ON.

Posted by: Cockestien | August 28, 2006 at 07:43 PM

Great Post, Pooper:

What you mentioned about Japan is right on. They've had stagnant and even negative growth for several years in the late 90's and since 2000, and the sky hasn't fallen. It's not that big a deal.

But as for America, what you say about Americans assimilating is right on. I don't know of any other country where the immigrants, after simply one generation, take on such a Rambo style patriotism. Some of the biggest Bush supporters are second generation immigrants. They've totally forgotten (or never learned/retained) their culture, but they are dyed in the wool flag waving patriots. Is it the American dream (a wood and sheetrock house in the suburbs with a 2 car garage) that makes them that way?

Posted by: yankabroad | September 07, 2006 at 06:08 AM

Actually, Cockestien, I totally agree with you.

Why don't you present your case to the retards at the Korea Development Institute?

Posted by: yankabroad | September 16, 2006 at 08:57 AM

I usually only comment when I am angry at someone, but your blog entry is a very, very good piece of analysis. Thank you,
Tae from Maryland.

Posted by: sumo294 | September 21, 2006 at 08:14 AM

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