Saturday, June 24, 2006

As We Know, The Rich Get Richer, And The Poor ...

... quadruple their population. Or more than.

Willam Rubinstein on the third world population explosion.

Afghanistan: 12,000,000 (1939); 29,929,000 (2005)

Brazil: 44,460,000 (1943); 186,113,000 (2005)

Chad: 1,433,000 (1931); 9,826,000 (2005)

China: 457,835,000 (1936); 1,306,000,000 (2005)

Colombia: 9,523,000 (1942); 42,954,000 (2005)

Congo (ex-Zaire): 10,384,000 (1942); 60,085,000 (2005)

Ethiopia: 12,100,000 (1945); 73,053,000 (2005)

Honduras: 1,106,000 (1940); 6,975,000 (2005)

India - includes today's India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka: 388,998,000 (1941); 1,407,000,000 (2005)

Iran: 15,055,000 (1935); 68,018,000 (2005)

South Africa: 10,709,000 (1942); 44,344,000 (2005)

These levels of increase are, of course, simply staggering. They are greater, both in absolute numbers and almost certainly in percentage terms, than anything known before in a relatively short period in human history. They have occurred despite losses in wars and civil wars, such as have occurred in India -Pakistan, the Congo, Ethiopia, and Iran-Iraq, among other places, despite totalitarian mass murders as in Communist China, despite immigration abroad, and despite losses through AIDS and other illnesses. In just over sixty years, Brazil's population has increased by 318 per cent; Colombia's by 352 per cent, and Ethiopia's by 503 per cent - and so on, with, in general, the most impoverished of these nations showing the most unbelievable increases.

While everyone knows that the population of the Third World has increased dramatically, how many realize that there are now 73 million people in Ethiopia - more than the population of Britain or France - or 43 million in Colombia ? The supergiants of China (1.3 billion) and the Indian subcontinent (1.4 billion) will be less surprising, perhaps, than the current size of several countries not on the above list, such as Indonesia (242 million), Nigeria (129 million), or Mexico (106 million).

The causes of these vast increases are obvious enough: Western medicine, applied to the eradication of communicable diseases and epidemics and to a decrease in infant mortality, in countries which have not undergone the "demographic transition" to smaller family size and lower rates of population growth, such as Britain experienced after about 1870, and in cultures where birth control and family limitation are shunned.

The consequences of these increases are numerous and are almost always extremely deleterious and dangerous. They include:

- The chronic inability of many of these countries to escape from the "Malthusian trap" via economic growth exceeding population growth. Many Third World countries simply lack the economic or infrastructural base to provide a rising standard of living for most of their people, especially in Africa, the Arab world, and parts of Latin America.

Certainly several of the traditional horsemen, war, famine and plague (HIV/AIDS) have been galloping around Africa for the last few decades - but the population keeps on keeping on. Look at the Congo, basket case of basket cases - yet with a six-fold population increase in 60 years.


ChinaLawBlog said...

Those are amazing statistics. I had no idea about Ethiopia. I love how there are still people in the West who say they are not going to have kids because the world is already so overpopulated, as though having a kid in Denmark is going to make any difference at all.

Anonymous said...

It should be noted the situation is more extreme than those figures suggest.

In many African countries the life expectancy is only 40-50 years or maybe younger.
If you compare the 60 million UK with a 60 million African countries, getting on for half the UK population will be over 40, but almost all of an African nations population will be under 40, ie breeding age.
I don't have the figures, but I would guess the number of 0-35 age group of ethnic English people is lower now than it was 50 years ago, despite the overall rise in population.

If we had some kind of flu pandemic which wiped out the older generations, this would become obvious.

Anonymous said...

There is hours of fun to be had making up your own graphs and looking up stats at Earthtrends

For example: did you know that by 2050, mighty Ethiopia is set to have a population of 170 million. That should keep Bob Geldof busy. Meanwhile famine stricken Malawi, which had a population of 6 million when I worked in Africa in the development business in the early 80s, and was a generally prosperous, well ordered place, now has over 12 million souls and, guess what, 6 million are starving according to the BBC - must be all the debt repayments.

As Ken Livingstone would say "Stop feeding the pigeons."