Demographics

I have been reading and listening to a guy named Peter Zeihan who spends a lot of time looking for trends and eventual outcomes. A great number of his premises are based on data accumulated on everything from gigawatts of power to bushels of wheat. He reaches conclusions that are compelling if not controversial. Fun to spend time on. 

One of his priorities has been the study of our populations and their effect on food, consumption and even global warming. Birth rate is the key number here in that we have x number of people being born per person and the corollary is y number of people dying. Sounds simple enough but not really. 

The numbers become very interesting when one looks into how many people are in each generation ranging from the current Gen Z to Baby Boomers and beyond. Simply put people are not having as many babies as before. In olden days with an agricultural economy you had a bunch of kids because they were cheap labor. Now with a more urban emphasis, kids are kind of expensive. 

Now when those Boomer families were young and growing we had a lot of jobs to fill with a lot of people. Now with less kids we are scrambling and it will only get tougher. Ah you say that is good for the economy. Yes and no. Sure wages will go up but you don’t have as many people paying taxes and contributions to Social Security. And as more and more people retire there will be an outsized hit on the existing and dare I say failing Social Security vault. 

Things are not as dire here as they are in older countries like Japan,Russia, Italy and even good old China. The latter’s recent drop in population was stunning in principle if not numbers. Their population went down by a million people. That is only going to accelerate, due to the long time one child policy. Big deal, why would I worry about China?

This little blue marble is powered not by oil/gas or alternative energy but rather the desire of people to have stuff. Our current economy is 75% consumer spending. People wanna have and gotta have, which is great as long as you are young and handsome. As you age you are not quite as worried about whether you are up to date. Sensibility overtakes lust. That old shirt or car works just fine. China’s burgeoning economy is starting to falter. Not only do they make a lot of goods, they are new to the scene and want a lot of the world’s hot shot goods from cars to jeans. 

This is both scary and interesting. Let’s for a moment thing about Russia and China with older populations. There is never going to be a better time to make your moves militarily because I don’t care how many tanks or ships you have built if you don’t have people to man them then what good are they? Now this is not just science fiction. You can’t create people out of nowhere. Wait, maybe you can.

We look at our border crisis as an ugly mess and it is. But think about the lack of labor in this country. These immigrants make money, pay taxes and yes, buy things. Our medical system right now is greatly understaffed because of COVID and retirement. There are a bunch of people sitting on that border with medical experience. The underlying premise that people want to come here is overshadowed by politics. 

You think they are all thieves and drug smugglers? Think again. They want to fill jobs that nobody wants. 

The older generations, Baby Boomers et al don’t contribute in a meaningful way. That is not dumping on my brethren but stating reality. Sorry about that. Financially we don’t really invest but rely on pensions and benefits to live. We eat up a whole lot of monies in healthcare. In the final stages of life it only goes up not down. We need a younger generation to support the older ones. We might might eke out a victory in the US but a big portion of the rest of the world ain’t so lucky. 

There is a move afoot to try to cut the costs of medicines by negotiation of Medicare pricing. Heretical you say. How can drug companies  do research and market? We are doing everything to prolong lives but at what cost and quality of life. Yep,I just ripped the band aid off that one. Should we spend money on old people’s diseases or on young ones? Personally I don’t want be 90 and bedridden or drooling. Holy shit, did I just say that?

I know some of you are here because of modern medicine and I applaud you and wish you nothing but well. I will bring up an ugly word called sustainability. I think we have done a rally bad job of utilizing our resources both in the ground and in our bodies. We consume so much without thinking about the damage we are doing. Not just the climate but for generations to come. 

Maybe I just see things in a different prism. We spend billions on octogenarians and yet stand by as we kill 10 or 15 younger people  at a clip. We shell out thousands for a concert ticket but do nothing about the homeless. We pay $100,000 for an EV and want a tax break. 

What has my study of demographics taught me? To look at things in a totally different way. The numbers and graphs are compelling. I can reset my priories and try to shape up my act but that is just me. We have to do it first and foremost  as a country and then as a planet. Numbers don’t lie unless we let them.

As always 

Ted The great 

Factoids:

Baby Boomers. 1946-1964. 72 million. Retired

Gen X. 1965-1980. 65.2 million. Soon to Be retired

Gen Y 1981-1996. 72 million

Gen Z 1997-2012 68 million

Gen A 2013 to now 48 million. This is our future suppliers of capital. 

Marriage rates are falling 

A couple of factors are behind this trend. When men’s economic prospects aren’t promising, their wages fall. With lower chances of marrying and supporting a family, men tend to work less. For women, access to a college degree allowed them to enter the workforce. As a result, women put off parenthood to tend to their careers. In addition, access to birth control puts them in charge of their fertility. With the ability to earn for themselves, women did not need to be married for economic survival.

Demographics can include any statistical factors that influence population growth or decline, but several parameters are particularly important: population size, density, age structure, fecundity (birth rates), mortality (death rates), and sex ratio

, https://zeihan.com. Interesting dude. You don’t have t believe everything

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