Tag: Demographics

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Simon Kuper, writing in the UK publication Financial Times, had an article the other day with the title “Why the US is becoming more European”…a rather smug article, in my view.  He asserts that for decades, influential Americans looking at other countries used to ask “When will they become more like us?”…and argues that this […]

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How the US Economy Can Counter Its Demographic Headwind

 

The excellent 2016 book The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon — a book I frequently write about — is often portrayed as a work of technological pessimism. But Gordon doesn’t see it that way. Tech progress and innovation, as eventually reflected in productivity growth, isn’t going to slow in his view. It will pretty much continue as it has for decades — just no acceleration to the boomy 1920-1970 productivity pace due to advances in AI or robots or medical miracles. The demise of rapid economic growth is due to various “headwinds,” he argues, not technology. Not only will those factors slow per capita GDP growth, but much of that growth will be captured by wealthier households. Indeed, inequality is one of Gordon’s headwinds.

Another growth constraint, according to the economist, is demographics. This is uncontroversial. All those baby boomers are heading into retirement, and Americans are having fewer kids. Labor-force growth used to be so rapid — especially with women entering the job market as never before —  that overall economic growth stayed fast even as productivity growth weakened. A San Francisco Fed analysis in 2018 noted the following:

In the 1970s, labor force growth alone contributed 2.7 percentage points to GDP growth, meaning that even if productivity growth had been zero, the economy would have expanded at 2.7%, slightly faster than the pace of our current expansion. Since that peak, labor force growth has come down substantially. As the forecast for 2025 shows, labor force growth is expected to remain stuck at 0.5% for the next decade. This means that, absent a surge in productivity, slow growth in the labor force will be a restraining factor on the U.S. economic speed limit.

The World is Getting Better – Honest!

 

Is the world getting worse or better?  Given the constant barrage of bad news, it is easy to think things are going from bad to worse.  You would be wrong, though.

“Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know (And Many Others You Will Find Interesting),” by Ronald Bailey and Marian L. Tupy, explains why. They show, using objective data, the different ways in which the world is improving.

They wrote the book because “You can’t fix what’s wrong in the world if you don’t know what is actually happening.” Using straightforward data and graphs they demonstrate why and how the world has improved, especially over the last 72 years.

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Leftists like to celebrate the idea that demographics will destroy the GOP and ensure an ascendant victory to Democrats. I’m here to counter this argument with a few data points that show demographics actually favor Conservatives and Liberals and harm extreme views like Socialists and Libertarians. My first argument is that non-white Democrat voters tend […]

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On the New York Times and the Rural “Brain Gain”

 

This story in the New York Times on a “brain gain” underway in rural America is old news for many of us. We’ve long spotted the small but growing trend away from urban centers towards rural communities. It first became evident more than ten years ago, as outmigration become evident in California for the first time in the state’s history it added no new congressional districts after the 2010 Census. Outmigration from high tax northeastern states and cities has been underway even longer and continues unabated.

There are some obvious reasons for that, mostly positive, but not without some emerging conflicts that are already apparent in places like Texas.

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Sorry, couldn’t resist. Mark Steyn once joked about Mitt Romney’s annual gathering in Utah as the ‘GOP Spectre board meeting’. Well Lord Ashcroft, former Conservative Party deputy chairman and owner of the excellent Conservative Home website, gave a speech to Mitt’s band of goons this year. Far from being a secret plan to destroy the […]

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In a version of the “Spirit of McCain,” it’s time for a little straight talk about how conservatives, traditionalists and Republicans need to understand and approach the coming mid-term elections. The Democrats are becoming a coalition of “woke” anti-racist white progressives and various minority tribes, of non-whites and pathological whites, arrayed against the GOP’s mostly […]

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The example of Japan is frequently raised as a warning sign of the dangers of “Demographic Decline.” If current trends continue, Japan is set to experience a decline in its population, which will also be growing much older. This is why, we are lectured, we need to avoid Japan’s fate by importing as many young, […]

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An article in the March/April Issue of Victoria Magazine described a woman who married for money, then later fell in love with her husband. They eventually divorced, and she left her home state of California for a small town in Virginia. The selling point was a set of railroad tracks through the center of town. She purchased […]

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Trump’s Picks

 

donald-trump-cabinet-list-of-appointmentsEarly last week, Michael Barone published a piece analyzing the election returns in which he focused on the manner in which “the double-negatives” — those who thought highly neither of Donald Trump nor of Hillary Clinton — broke at the very end decisively for the former. Here is the way he put it:

One reason polling may have been misleading, or at least misled many of us in the psephology racket, is that this is the first presidential election since random sample polling began in 1935 in which most voters had negative feelings toward both major party candidates.

Election analysts have had experience dealing with elections in which majorities have positive feelings about both nominees; that has usually been the case in contests which turn out to have been seriously contested. “Double positives,” people with positive feelings about both candidates, will usually split along partisan or perhaps ethnic lines, and ordinarily pretty evenly.

Coalition Politics and the Respect Gap

 

handshake-respectEconomist Bryan Caplan sought to explain why so few Asian Americans support the Republican Party, despite their seemingly aligned philosophies. Asians would seem to be natural Republicans, as they tend to be highly entrepreneurial and have socially conservative traits, including low rates of single motherhood (lower than whites, actually). Yet, despite this, Asians vote for Democrats in higher proportions than even Latinos.

In an earlier most, Caplan looked to the 2012 Presidential Election for examples of what he calls “the Respect Motive.” In that election, Romney won the following demographics: whites, people with income > $50k, whites under 30, white women, and independents. Meanwhile President Obama won majorities of: non-whites, people with income < $50k, non-whites under 30, and non-white women. Caplan observes:

In terms of objective material well-being, it’s unclear whether Romney or Obama would be better for any of these groups. In terms of respect, though, the difference seems pretty obvious. At least to me.

The Future: More Religion in Scary Places; Less Religion Everywhere Else

 

shutterstock_340682378When did demographics get so depressing? It really has replaced economics as the “dismal science.” But at least with economics, you get market-based prices and (often) a tax cut. Demographics, as this recent study shows, is pretty much endless bad news:

People who are religiously unaffiliated (including self-identifying atheists and agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular”) made up 16.4% of the world’s population in 2010. Unaffiliated populations have been growing in North America and Europe, leading some to expect that this group will grow as a share of the world’s population. However, such forecasts overlook the impact of demographic factors, such as fertility and the large, aging unaffiliated population in Asia.

Meaning: People in North American and Europe — in other words, us — are gradually becoming less “affiliated” with a religion. People everywhere else — in other words, them — are going in the opposite direction:

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The conversation you will find below started in Mr. Aaron Miller’s fun discussion of games & therefore I felt it should be taken out, because it’s ugly stuff. The book is, I believe, a must-read for people interested in American war & modern warfare. I expect more than a few people here on Ricochet have read […]

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Is Mexico Still Catholic?

 

shutterstock_138057008Let me preface this by pointing out why non-Catholics and non-Christians might find this discussion worthwhile. First, Mexico is the United States’ largest source of immigrants (legal and illegal) and influential states like Texas are heavily colored by Mexican culture (the Texas population is already nearly half hispanic), so its culture is a significant influence on our own. Second, religion is the foundation of culture: it encapsulates many of the most basic perceptions and priorities on which political decisions are made. Thus, the ideas Mexican immigrants bring with them impacts all Americans.

Though more than 80% of Mexican citizens identify as Catholic, I’m hearing a different story from Catholic educators in Texas. American Catholics often complain generally about the state of catechesis (education about the faith), but it seems to be even worse down in Mexico, where many people are ignorant of the beliefs and traditions they claim as their own.

When I lived in San Antonio, I was surprised how many mexicans (the little “m” is intentional; I’m using it as a more specific term than “hispanic”) joined Protestant and Evangelical denominations. That’s not a knock on Protestants, but simply an observation of the shallowness many mexicans’ feel toward the Catholic Church. Even those remaining within it are often what we orthodox call “cafeteria Catholics” or “cultural Catholics;” i.e., Catholics who prefer the Mass, but willfully ignore Church teachings. Others, I’m told, send their children to religious education classes, but not to Mass.

Income Classes, Defined

 

I created the table below when I realized that people’s intuition about who was in the American middle class corresponded (roughly) to low $30k to around $100k in annual income and that the logarithm of those numbers happened to be about 4.5 and 5, respectively. To me, this range seems about right for married couples. I then extended the principle to create ranges for the other classes. So, lower class for married couples is between $10^4 ($10,000) and $10^4.5 ($31,623), and upper class is between $10^5 ($100,000) and $10^5.5 ($316,228).

Class single married 1 kid 2 kids 3 kids 4 kids 5 kids
bottom lower $7,071 $10,000 $12,247 $14,142 $15,811 $17,321 $18,708
lower $10,379 $14,678 $17,977 $20,758 $23,208 $25,423 $27,460
top lower $15,234 $21,544 $26,386 $30,468 $34,065 $37,316 $40,306
bottom middle $22,361 $31,623 $38,730 $44,721 $50,000 $54,772 $59,161
middle $32,821 $46,416 $56,848 $65,642 $73,390 $80,395 $86,836
top middle $48,175 $68,129 $83,441 $96,349 $107,722 $118,003 $127,458
bottom upper $70,711 $100,000 $122,474 $141,421 $158,114 $173,205 $187,083
upper $103,789 $146,780 $179,768 $207,578 $232,079 $254,230 $274,600
top upper $152,342 $215,443 $263,863 $304,683 $340,646 $373,159 $403,058
bottom wealthy $223,607 $316,228 $387,298 $447,214 $500,000 $547,723 $591,608

To find the corresponding ranges for households of other sizes, I scaled it by the square root of the number of people (multiply singles bracket by sqrt[household size]) because I’ve heard that’s a good approximation of the additional costs when you add a person.

Ron Bailey: The Anti-Malthusian

 

As conservatives, we’re dispositionally inclined to worry about the things we might lose — or have already lost — and it sure feels like we’ve been on the losing side of things of late. And, heck, even if all goes well in 2016, it’s going to be devilishly difficult to undo the damage that’s been done. In short, there’s no shortage of legitimate reasons to feel down about some very important issues.


On the other hand, there’s also plenty of reason for optimism and hope, and Ron Bailey’s new book The End of Doom showcases some of the most promising trends of the next century. Specifically regarding population growth, access to commodities such as food and energy, medical advances, and the likelihood that we’ll be able to adapt to innovate our way out of the challenges of Climate Change.