Did the One Child Policy Matter? Probably Not.

China’s one-child policy is ending. The policy, started in 1979-80, was aimed at slowing population growth, which was much more of a concern in the late 70s than it is now. China’s one-child policy was also horribly coercive. Men bursting in and forcing miscarriages. Forced abortions for millions. Really the stuff of dystopian nightmares.

Did that coercive policy have any impact at all on population? A look at the data suggests not, or at best, not much.

China Fertility Rate vs Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapor, Korea - One Child Policy - Demographics

You can look at the data yourself here.

Two observations:

  1. China’s birth rate was already plummeting. It fell rapidly from 1965 to 1980, when the policy went into effect. For the next decade, the first decade of the one-child policy, the birth rate stayed roughly flat.
  2. Other Asian nations saw birth rates plummet as much or more. Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore – all rapidly developing, as China was – all saw their birth rates plummet. On a percentage basis, since 1980, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam have all seen fertility drop more than in China

Now, all of these nations, and especially China, are dealing with a rapidly aging population, and a lack of young people. Ending the one-child policy, while good from the standpoint of freedom, is unlikely to substantially lift China’s birth rate.

The IMF agrees.

Pieces I’ve Written Around the Web

Over the last few months (and a bit over the past few years) I wrote a number of pieces around the web, primarily on energy, sustainability, genetically modified foods, and economic growth.  I did a poor job of linking to them on my own site.  So here's a roundup.

Science Will Save the Planet (If We Let It), Wired UK, May 2013

Seven Reasons Why China May Lead the World in Fighting Climate Change, Slate, May 2013

Grantham Is Wrong: We Are Not Headed For a Disaster of Biblical Proportions, Business Insider, April 2013

Why Polluters Should Pay YOU to Fix Climate Change, FastCoExist, April 2013

The Limits of the Earth: Part 1, Problems, Scientific American Guest Blog, April 2013

The Limits of the Earth: Part 2: Expanding the Limits, Scientific American Guest Blog, April 2013

Greener Than Green: Biotech and the Future of Agriculture, Genetic Literacy Project, April 2013

Why Organic Advocates Should Love GMOs, Discover Collide-a-Scape Blog, April 2013

Why GMO Advocates Should Embrace Labels, Discover Collide-a-Scape Blog, April 2013

How Innovation Could Save the Planet, The Futurist, March 2013

Can We Capture All the World’s Carbon Emissions?, Scientific American Guest Blog, March 2011

Smaller, Cheaper, Faster: Does Moore’s Law Apply to Solar Cells?, Scientific American, Guest Blog, March 2011 (Cited by Paul Krugman)

Japans population to drop by 1 million each year

An elderly woman walks by a shrine in Tokyo on Dec. 31, 2009.

Japans rapid aging means the national population of 128 million will shrink by one-third by 2060 and seniors will account for 40 percent of people, placing a greater burden on the shrinking work force population to support the social security and tax systems.

The population estimate released Monday by the Health and Welfare Ministry paints a grim future.In 2060, Japan will have 87 million people. The number of people 65 or older will nearly double to 40 percent, while the national work force of people between ages 15 and 65 will shrink to about half of the total population, according to the estimate, made by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

via Japans population to drop by 1 million each year – World news – Asia-Pacific – msnbc.com.