DEMOGRAPHY – THE COMING GEOPOLITICAL SHIFT

More and more geopolitical books are focusing on coming demographic problems. In 2006 Mark Steyn in his America Alone –The End of the World As We Know warned that to have a stable population a fertility rate of 2.1 live births per woman was needed. That is what America had. Canada had 1.48, Europe as a whole had 1.38, Japan 1.32 and Russia 1.14. Steyn warned of self extinction.

When pundits presently revel in declinism it is as usual the imminent demise of the United States that is predicted. There is, however, reason to be cheerful when it comes to America. The worry should be about Europe, Japan and Russia.

How is it possible to be cheerful about the future of the United States? Unemployment is at 10 percent, there has been a financial crisis from 2008, bailouts have further sharpened the crisis and now the struggle about health care reform which is costing billions. Then there is the Chinese juggernaut.

Even if the present might not be so good it is much brighter in the near future. There is reason to listen to Joel Kotkin in his new book The Next Hundred Million – America in 2050 (Penguin Press, 2010). The birth rate in America is growing. Young workers are immigrating from poorer countries. The future of America seems to be ethnic diversity.

Kotkin believes that population expansion between 2000 and 2050 will translate into economic vitality. It will be possible for the present hegemon in the future to create wealth and a rapidly growing standard of living which can resolve the problems of burden in the future. Europe and Asia will be veritable old-age homes. This will create great problems for the vast welfare-states of the Old Continent. The pension obligations will be crushing. Meanwhile people in working age are protesting. In France the pension age is 59 and is not much higher in Greece. Who wants to loose the benefits mostly created by socialist governments.

Europe and Asia will decline and America will continue to expand and thrive. During the four coming decades the United States will emerge, in the words of Kotkin, as the most affluent, culturally rich, and successful nation in world history. Could civilization shift across the Pacific Ocean to China? No problem because the great tyranny across the ocean will decline due to the rising burdens of retirees. The one-child policy has also contributed to the coming slide.

Mr. Kotkin believes the coming hundreds of millions of new citizens will live in the suburbs. It would be the best choice for the raising of families and the enjoyment of the benefits of the community. With 100 more millions of inhabitants USA will be less crowded than Germany.

The vision in this excellent book is convincing although as a result upward mobility will be more difficult. At the same time the family in America is taking ever new shapes. It is adapting and taking on different forms.

It should be added that with continuing prosperity American can retain its military strength and continue to be able to protect the rest of the West. The problem with Europe, however, is that continuing decline of birth rates may cause Europe to be unable keep up its already small part of the defense of the West.

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