Are 8 billion people too many — or too few?

“In 2015, the Chinese government did something it almost never does: It admitted it made a mistake, at least implicitly.
The ruling Communist Party announced that it was ending its historic and coercive one-child policy, allowing all married couples to have up to two children. That was how dire China’s demographic future had become.

The one-child policy had helped lead to the mother of all demographic dividends, as China’s working-age population grew from 594 million in 1980 to a little over 1 billion in 2015. China’s dependency ratio — the total young and elderly population relative to the working-age population — fell from over 68 percent in 1980 to less than 38 percent in 2015, which meant more workers for every non-working person.

More young workers who had fewer young or old dependents to care for was the fuel in China’s economic rocket engine. But no fuel burns forever, and over the past decade, hundreds of millions of Chinese have hit retirement age, with a plummeting number of young people to replace them. So the slogans went from “Having only one child is good” to “One is too few, while two are just right.””

“If population decline can come for the first country to reach 1 billion people, it can come for anyone. And while China’s demography was skewed by the one-child policy, dozens of countries without a similarly coercive program have seen near equally drastic dropoffs in fertility, much older demographics, and population decline, either now or soon. The most recent numbers for Japan: 1.3 births per woman, and a population shrinking by 0.5 percent. For Italy: 1.2 births, and population shrinking by 0.6 percent. For Portugal: 1.4 and 0 percent growth. For Russia: 1.5 and shrinking by 0.4 percent.”

The great millennial migration that wasn’t

“At age 26, the authors find, 30 percent of Americans live in the census tract they lived in at 16. Fifty-eight percent live less than 10 miles away; 80 percent live less than 100 miles away; 90 percent live less than 500 miles away. Census tracts are tiny, hyper-local designations, with populations between 1,200 and 8,000 each; mine is only 0.2 square miles in area. The small town where I grew up has three tracts within it. Staying within your tract is an extreme level of residential stasis, but 30 percent of young adults do just that. By contrast, huge leaps, like my great-grandmother’s from New York to Honolulu or my parents’ from Honolulu to New Hampshire, are extremely uncommon.”

The solution to “differential demography” is more migration

“In 2020, the general fertility rate in the US hit its lowest level on record, and provisional data for the first six months of 2021 showed a 2 percent decline in the number of births compared to the same time period in the previous year.

And what’s happening in the US is taking place in much of the rest of the world, as people are slower to marry and slower to have children.

That trend has helped contribute to what will be one of the dominant themes of the 21st century: the slowdown of population growth, especially in developed countries, and the eventual shrinking of the number of human beings on the planet.”

The major blind spot in Bill Gates’s pandemic prevention plan

“Over 1 million Americans have now died from Covid-19. It isn’t a random group of people: one preprint paper found that working-class Americans were five times more likely to die from Covid-19 than college-educated Americans. Working-class Hispanic men had a mortality rate 27 times higher than white college-educated women. Another study analyzed Covid-19 mortality rates in over 219 million American adults and found that if racial and ethnic minorities between 25 to 64 years old had faced the same mortality rate as college-educated white Americans, there would have been 89 percent fewer deaths.”

The Politics of DNA

“”Luck,” E.B. White once said, “is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” They worked hard, no doubt, to get where they are. But they also benefited enormously from good fortune, not just in life but in life’s building blocks. A fortunate combination of thousands of slight genetic differences boosted their intelligence, motivation, openness to experience, task perseverance, executive function, and interpersonal skills.

“Like being born to a rich or poor family, being born with a certain set of genetic variants is the outcome of a lottery of birth,” the behavioral geneticist Kathryn Paige Harden argues in The Genetic Lottery. “And, like social class, the outcome of the genetic lottery is a systemic force that matters for who gets more, and who gets less, of nearly everything we care about in society.””

A professor said her students think average Americans make six figures. That’s a long way off.

“”I asked Wharton students what they thought the average American worker makes per year and 25% of them thought it was over six figures,” she tweeted…”One of them thought it was $800k.”
As she estimates the real answer is around $45,000 a year, Strohminger has a hard time wrapping her head around what some Wharton students believed was an average wage.

“Really not sure what to make of this,” she wrote.

Neither did the Internet.

Strohminger’s tweet set off a range of reactions from experts and observers wondering if this classroom interaction accurately reflected what future business leaders think about the state of wages in the United States.

“People tend to believe that the typical person is closer to themselves financially than what it is in reality,” Ken Jacobs, the chair of the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, told The Washington Post. “It is an odd notion in America that people think of $200,000 or $100,000 as a typical wage when it is quite a bit above.”

According to the Social Security Administration, the average U.S. annual wage last year actually was $53,383, with the median wage at $34,612. The Labor Department reported that median weekly earnings in the fourth quarter of last year were $1,010, which comes out to an annual wage of $52,520, according to MarketWatch.”