Saturday, January 01, 2011

Some predictions for the near future

Yesterday's post dealt with the demographic patterns of the past. What of the future?

I'm making these predictions keeping in mind what I noted in November about the huge error bars which can apply to predictions--especially but not only if they're not made conservatively. There are all kinds of feedback loops in different populations, with the selective incorporation and implementation of different cultural traits by different subpopulations, these subpopulations interacting and influencing each other in any number of unexpected fashions. I can imagine some interactions producing wildly different scenarios, unexpected surges (ro collapses) in migration and fertility and mortality and technology.

Still: Let me go out on a limb.

  • Reproductive medicine is going to become steadily more advanced, effective, and in-demand, as research continues encouraged by the continuing postponement and recuperation of fertility aqs a result of changing cultural mores and economic pressures. I want to write more about this next year, but suffice it to say that I think compelling reasons can be made for access to reproductive medicine as a human right, as a matter of equity.

  • As I've noted before, longevity is going to be interesting. On the one hand, we know the sorts of cultural and other interventions which produce not only extended lifespans but healthy lifespans--"integrated" cultures, moderation in diet, and so on; on the other hand, the growing importance of the metabolic syndrome of obesity's side-effects is going to create pressures for effective medical interventions. This may mitigate the effects of population aging by creating healthier elderly cohort better able to participate in society, thus undermining the premise of the classic dependency ratio. Whether or not cultural inclinations will change in response is another question.

  • There's going to be interest in any number of low fertility societies in the cultural norms of high-fertility societies, whether the American model of relatively early fertility accompanied by more classic patterns of nuptiality in an individualistic context, or the northwestern European model of relatively late fertility largely outside of traditional family contexts (common law relationships and civil unions, say) in a state supported context. Immigration can only compensate so much. Again, whether or not the changes necessary to support shifts to higher-fertility regimes will be implemented--not only government policies, but the underlying cultural attitudes towards the role of women and the composition of families--is another question. At some point change may be necessary.

  • The economic incentives for migration remain, and notwithstanding the shift to lower and eventual subreplacement fertility in traditional sending countries migration from relatively disadvantaged to relatively advantages regions and countries is going to continue. These migrations won't be defined solely by geography, but will be defined by cultural and historical connections and may be quite unexpected in their directions and intensities. I'll go out on a limb and expect that Poland, with its cultural ties to a poorer eastern Europe, a dynamic economy, and links to China and Vietnam, will follow Spain as an emergent and major destination for migrants from its Eurasian hinterlands.

  • Thoughts?


    Борис Денисов said...

    compelling reasons can be made for access to reproductive medicine as a human right

    and as a totalitarian sect ;)

    Timothy said...

    Thank you! Been reading you for over a year now and always look forward to reading my Monday blogs (demographics/economics), which includes yours.

    Happy new year and best wishes for continued success...