Demographic Doom
Why the World is Falling Apart

A Book and Website Project by Glenn Campbell

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Key Points

On this page: | Population Implosion | Population Explosion | Debt & Economic Collapse | Talent Migration | Population Quality | Complexity

Here are some key points to be addressed in the Demographic Doom manuscript, grouped by the topics above.   UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Population Implosion

  • Most countries of the developed world are not producing enough babies to sustain their populations and have been failing to do so for decades.

  • The drop in birth rates in recent decades can be largely traced to the legalization of the birth control pill in the 1960s.

  • Today, birth control comes in so many forms that it is virtually impossible to ban by even the most conservative governments. Abortion and the Pill might be outlawed, but it would be difficult to stamp out condoms or oral sex.

  • The number of babies an average woman produces in her lifetime is called a community's fertility rate. To sustain a population over time, each female must produce an average of 2.1 live births over her lifetime, which is called replacement fertility.

    • Related: Replacement fertility would be much lower—say, 1.1—if a community consisted almost entirely of females who bore mainly females. If you wanted to build a population quickly, reducing the number of male births is one way to do it.

  • A drop in a community's birthrate does not result in immediate population loss, due to a phenomenon called demographic momentum. If the low-birth period was preceded by a high-birth one (like the postwar Baby Boom in the USA), population can continue to grow for decades after fertility has fallen below replacement. People from the high-birth period have to start dying before total population falls.

    • Related: Total births reflect not just the fertility rate but also the relative number of females currently in their childbearing years. For example, the Baby Boomers had fewer babies than their parents, but because there were so many of them, the total number of births continued to rise in the late 20th Century.

  • As long as birthrates remain below replacement fertility, the average age of the population will rise until it consists mainly of elderly people.

    • Example: If fertility is 1.0 and remains so for four generations, it means that for every newborn baby, there are, on average, two parents, four grandparents and eight great-grandparents. The old vastly outnumber the young.

  • No government program has proven successful in improving birthrates, because bearing and raising children is a losing economic proposition for parents. If you are not already motivated to do it, the costs and risks of raising a child are far greater than anything the government can offer.

    • Government incentives for childbirth offered include tax breaks, cash bonuses, subsized daycare and appeals to patriotism. Methods not yet attempted might include forced pregnancies and penalties for women who do not have children.

    • The success or failure of government incentives is difficult to judge because there is no control group (adults not offered the incentives). If you offer a cash bonus for childbirth, people who have already decided to have children will collect the reward, but it is unclear whether it changes anyone's mind.

Population Explosion

  • Overpopulation is easier to address than underpopulation, because if you give people access to birth control, they will use it.

  • Only a handful of countries are currently suffering from a population explosion—that is, with fertility rates significantly higher than replacement level. They are mostly in equatorial Africa and war zones like Afghanistan.

  • These countries are so chaotic and misgoverned that basic services like birth control can't be delivered.

  • These countries are often racked by civil war, which feeds on population growth. Unemployed young people provide the cannon fodder to keep the wars going. The wars, in turn, prevent access to birth control, encouraging still more population growth.

  • The excess of babies in these exploding countries cannot realistically address the shortage of babies in the developed world. The developed world doesn't lack babies as much as it lacks parents to raise them and integrate them into society. Average adults raised in poverty do not make good citizens when transported to, say, France, because they cannot be assimilated into French society.

    • Immigrants who do not assimilate into their new country tend to form enclaves within the new country where the interact only with their own countrymen. In essence, they import all the problems of the old country into the new one without joining the new one.

Debt & Economic Collapse

  • Workers from the earlier high-birth period (e.g. the U.S. Baby Boom, 1946-1964) are currently retiring in large numbers, depleting the workforce and drawing on government resources.

  • As the workforce shrinks and elder care costs rise, national economic growth becomes impossible.

  • As economic growth slows and reverses, the huge debts of nations, companies and individuals become unsustainable and must fail.

  • Eventually, key debtors like the U.S. Government will have to default on their unpayable debt, leading to a massive economic crisis I call the Great Reversal. This is the painful adjustment period between the economic expansion of the 20st Century and the long-term contraction of the 21st. I can't tell you when the crisis will start or how long it will last, but it is coming soon, and will be deep. It will be far worse than a standard recession, because this time the government will fail.

  • The Great Reversal can only end when unsustainable debt is eliminated and governments have reduced their expenditures to the taxes actually received. This may mean the end of some governments that can't survive on taxes alone. They will be replaced by smaller and more nimble governing forces. For example, if the U.S. federal government falls apart, state and local governments may take over, but "local government" could also be brutal tribal warlords in the Mad Max vein.
  • An economic crisis is bound to suppress birthrates even further, because no one wants babies during hard times.
  • Even in the best times, the most successful and best educated adults are having fewer children than the less successful and least educated, and there is no end of this trend in sight. People who can plan ahead understand how expensive and dangerous child rearing can be. People who can't plan ahead have no such qualms. The people best equipped to bear and raise children aren't having them, and this has to have a long term effect on the quality of the new citizens being produced.
  • Without a dramatic increase in birthrates, which seems highly unlikely, the population of all developed countries will continue to fall, until they can't be called countries anymore.
  • As national governments fail, Planet Earth will be left only with local communities. These are people living in close physical proximity who band together for mutual survival. If a traditional government can't protect you, you may have to form a de facto government with your neighbors.
  • Most of these local communities will consist mainly of old people, but a few may learn how to restructure themselves to encourage the production and raising of children. Instead of expecting couples to bear the main burden of parenthood, the whole community must take responsibility.
  • The communities that focus on their children and produce a lot of them will eventually take over the world. Any community that can't achieve this goal will become extinct.
  • To preserve the healthy functioning of society, a community must be concerned with not only the quantity of their offspring but their quality, as determine by both genetics and upbringing. No community will survive in the long run if it does not exert some control over who procreates and how children are raised.


  • There are no short-term solutions to population implosion and the resulting Great Reversal. Nothing governments can do will avert the disaster.

Page Created: 19 Jan 2019