The Jordan Harbinger Show
859: Bradley Schurman | Demographic Collapse in Russia, China and the USA
This episode explores the global population growth and demographic collapse, focusing on specific scenarios in Russia, China, India, and the United States. It discusses the challenges of an aging population, declining birth rates, and the impact of war and cyber warfare on demographics. The geopolitical implications of demographic collapse are examined, along with economic challenges and adjustments in China. The episode concludes with hope for a brighter future and the importance of investing in democratic institutions and sustainable progress.
Population Growth and Decline
The global population is expected to stop growing by 2086, with some experts predicting an earlier decline. Many countries are already experiencing plateauing or reversal of their populations. Developed countries face challenges with aging populations and a shortage of younger people.
War and Demographic Impact
The conflict in Ukraine has a high human cost, with fighters on the front line aging. Cyber warfare and economic warfare are emerging as non-traditional tactics. Russia's declining population and low birth rate could lead to fractures within the country.
Economic Challenges in China
China's economy is becoming unstable due to high youth unemployment and an aging population. The working age population is contracting while the elderly population is growing exponentially. China needs to adjust its systems to encourage people to work past retirement age.
Demographic attrition is being used as a weapon against Russia and China, with more people wanting to leave than enter these countries. NATO and the US are taking precautions to protect their interests. The rapid population decline in Russia and China will have significant impacts on their ability to compete globally.
Challenges in Taiwan
Taiwan is facing extreme outward migration and a low birth rate. China may go after Taiwan, but it wouldn't benefit them in terms of population growth or specialized workforce. Economic contingency plans are in place should an invasion occur.
Hope for the Future
Despite challenges, humanity has made remarkable progress in areas such as life expectancy and child survival rates. Continued investment is necessary to sustain progress and avoid regression. There is hope for a brighter future if democratic institutions are strengthened and sustainable development is prioritized.
- Global Population Growth and Demographic Collapse
- Population Pyramids and Changing Family Structures
- Demographic Challenges in Russia
- Impact of War and Cyber Warfare on Demographics
- Fracturing of Russia and China
- Brain Drain and Economic Challenges in Russia
- Demographic Challenges in the United States
- Geopolitical Implications of Demographic Collapse
- Economic Challenges and Adjustments in China
- Challenges and Cultural Factors in China
- Immigration and Demographic Challenges in China
- Challenges and Potential Conflict in Taiwan
- Geopolitical Implications and Future Prospects
- Conclusion and Hope for the Future
Global Population Growth and Demographic Collapse
00:00 - 06:37
- The global population is expected to stop growing by 2086, but some experts predict it could happen as early as 2050.
- Many countries are already experiencing a plateauing or reversal of their populations.
- Developed countries are facing the challenge of an aging population and a shortage of younger people to support them.
- Specific scenarios for Russia, China, India, and the United States will be discussed in terms of demographic collapse.
- The world population has quadrupled in size from 2 billion to 8 billion people in the past century.
- There is a consensus among experts that the global population will reach around 8.8 to 10 billion before starting to shrink.
- Extending human life beyond the current upper limit of around 120/122 years could impact population growth.
- The inverted pyramid shape of an aging population poses challenges for society and future generations.
Population Pyramids and Changing Family Structures
06:07 - 12:57
- Population pyramids in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and Korea have squared off with parity among generations.
- The fastest growing demographic in the world is people over the age of 85.
- Birth rate decline started around 1760 at the onset of the first industrial revolution.
- Urbanization, women entering the workforce, and improved child survival rates contribute to declining birth rates.
- Better education, more women at work, better access to contraceptives, and not needing children as an economic unit of the household contribute to decreasing birth rates.
- Fear is a primary driver for people not having children due to concerns about safety and affordability.
- Vertical trends show housing, education, healthcare, and long-term care costs increasing significantly compared to relatively static wage growth.
- The normal family structure has changed with nuclear families declining while intergenerational families and single households are on the rise.
- People are making decisions based on economic realities such as choosing larger family units or remaining single due to affordability concerns.
Demographic Challenges in Russia
12:29 - 19:38
- Many people, even those with high-paying jobs, are saying they can't afford to have kids.
- Non-traditional parents, particularly women in their forties, are on the rise due to advancements in healthcare and the ability to hire help.
- Russia is experiencing a population decline with more people leaving than staying.
- After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia saw a dip in birth rates which has now led to a double drop in birth rates due to political and economic instability.
- Russia's average lifespan is below 70 years, causing further strain on the economy.
- The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has accelerated their demographic decline and dependence on other countries for resources.
- Ukraine also faces demographic challenges as fighters on the front line are aging.
Impact of War and Cyber Warfare on Demographics
19:10 - 25:53
- Fighters on the front line in Ukraine are pushing age 40, which is not ideal for a winning strategy.
- Life expectancy in Bachmut, Ukraine is about four hours due to the intense fighting.
- Older men and women have fought in wars before, but the situation in Ukraine is different as some are going willingly while others are being pulled in without their will.
- The conflict in eastern Ukraine has a high human cost with many people dying.
- The future of war may involve non-traditional tactics such as cyber warfare and economic warfare.
- Russia has been engaging in cyber crimes against the United States and its allies, and there is a growing economic offense by countries like China to create a separate economic block.
- Russia's decreasing population size and low birth rate could lead to fractures within the country, potentially creating different warlords and posing bigger problems if access to nuclear arms is involved.
Fracturing of Russia and China
25:24 - 32:18
- The fractioning of Russia could create different warlords and bigger problems
- China wants to reclaim Outer Manchuria from Russia
- Russia is becoming a client state of China due to energy and trade dependence
- Russia's population loss is significant, with an estimated 1.2 million people lost in 2020-2021
- China's population loss is comparatively smaller
- Russia needs constant investments and decades of efforts to reverse the decline
- Current incentives for mothers to have children in Russia are not effective
- The Russian economy is facing challenges with low ruble value, no foreign investment, and potential financial crisis
- Russians with means are leaving the country, taking assets with them
Brain Drain and Economic Challenges in Russia
31:54 - 38:37
- Russians are leaving the country and taking sizable amounts of money with them
- Assets have been seized, leaving behind a poor and undereducated population
- Brain drain is a self-reinforcing cycle, as skilled individuals leave for better opportunities
- Russia's plunging birth rate is a big problem, making it difficult to find labor from outside
- Labor will be a battlefront for the future of nations
- Russia's birth rate is expected to be the lowest in modern history
- Birth rates have been declining since the Industrial Revolution
Demographic Challenges in the United States
38:11 - 44:51
- Birth rates have been dropping since the last financial crisis.
- The percentage of households with children has decreased from two-thirds to 40% in the US.
- Half of the states and three-quarters of counties in the US have deaths outpacing births.
- Immigration is crucial for the growth and labor costs of the US.
- Some people's opposition to immigration stems from a fear that their way of life is dying.
- Life expectancy in Russia is lower than in the US, especially for men.
- Russia's low birth rate is due to accumulated bad behaviors like alcoholism and drug abuse.
- Russian deaths from poisoning are higher than expected.
- Social protections play a significant role in extending human life.
- Russia faces challenges with air and water quality, food safety, and other issues.
- Russia has faced historical hardships caused by authoritarian leaders and wars.
Geopolitical Implications of Demographic Collapse
44:31 - 51:18
- Russia's decline serves as a cautionary tale for the US about the dangers of authoritarianism and neglecting investment in its people.
- Demographic attrition is being used as a weapon against Russia and China, with more people wanting to leave than enter these countries.
- NATO and the US are taking non-military precautions to protect their interests in Ukraine and Taiwan respectively.
- Economics is playing a role in the war of attrition, with companies looking for alternative manufacturing locations due to rising labor costs in Russia and China.
- The rapid population decline in Russia and China will have significant impacts on their ability to compete globally.
- Population projections suggest that China could lose around 700-800 million people by the end of the century, causing a shift from growth to contraction.
- Power transition theory suggests that demographic changes can lead to riskier behavior, but the impact of population collapse is unknown.
Economic Challenges and Adjustments in China
50:49 - 57:55
- Population collapse is a concern as most systems are based on economic growth models.
- Russia has been pushed into a corner due to demographic decline, while Japan has been in decline for over a decade.
- Japan and Western European countries are taking rational approaches to demographic change.
- Russia is an outlier in terms of aggression and authoritarianism.
- China's economy is becoming unstable due to high youth unemployment and an aging population.
- China's working age population is contracting while the elderly population is growing exponentially.
- China needs to adjust its systems to encourage people to work past retirement age.
Challenges and Cultural Factors in China
57:25 - 1:04:33
- A woman who works in the manufacturing sector is allowed to retire at the age of 50.
- China is transitioning from a manufacturing society to a service sector economy, but there's a mismatch in terms of skills.
- China lacks products that people want to purchase, except for brands like Lenovo computers.
- China doesn't have a dominant car brand that has made it out to the world.
- China has made significant investments in sub-Saharan Africa, creating a market for Chinese goods.
- The region with high birth rates and significant population growth is Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.
- China doesn't have massive amounts of immigration and it's not part of their culture to have people come in from another place and decide to be Chinese.
Immigration and Demographic Challenges in China
1:04:12 - 1:11:07
- China has a lack of immigration and is a monocultural society.
- There are immigrants in China, primarily to marry men who can't find wives.
- There is a small expat community in China, but they are not immigrants and do not diversify the nation.
- China's attitude towards immigrants is similar to Japan's - you can work there but not necessarily stay or become Chinese.
- China's population has recently shrunk due to declining birth rates and deaths outstripping births.
- The one-child policy in China worsened the decline in birth rates.
- Young people in China are getting married later or not at all due to various reasons, including a lack of suitable partners.
- Demographic indicators such as pet ownership, ordering out food, and buying luxury goods suggest a drop in birth rates in China.
- Housing and education costs in China are high, making it difficult for people to afford having children.
- Chinese adults are legally required to take care of their parents, even if they live far away from each other.
Challenges and Potential Conflict in Taiwan
1:10:38 - 1:17:11
- Living on the coast in China puts a burden on individuals who have to regularly visit their parents who live far away.
- The inverted pyramid of older people relying on younger people is causing strain on the younger generation, especially with a low retirement age and a poorly developed pension system.
- The dependency ratio, which measures the number of people out of work versus those in work, can negatively impact an economy when it becomes imbalanced.
- China's outward migration problem is unlikely to be solved as many Chinese immigrants have become more Americanized and are not interested in moving back to China.
- China may resort to saber rattling and potentially invading other territories as a distraction from its internal problems and to reunify its empire.
- Taiwan has diplomatic relations with three countries that recognize it as a nation: Lithuania, United States, and possibly Ecuador.
- Taiwan is highly acculturated in American life and has elements of Chinese, Japanese, and American culture.
- The US supplies Taiwan with military goods and has committed to defending them if anything happens.
- China may go after Taiwan, but it would be a distraction from other bigger problems.
- Taiwan is the fastest aging country in the world with a low birth rate and extreme outward migration.
- Going after Taiwan wouldn't benefit China in terms of population growth or specialized workforce.
- There are economic contingency plans in place should an invasion occur, including relocation of Taiwanese employees and their families.
- Historically, major global conflicts have involved relocating valuable individuals to other countries for their expertise and loyalty.
- India recently surpassed China in population due to its high birth rate, although it fell below replacement rate last year.
- India's population growth will mainly come from extending lifespan rather than immigration.
- India's English tradition and liberal democracy make it unique compared to China as an ally of Western countries.
- India's population size influences the cost of certain products and services, particularly in the service sector.
Geopolitical Implications and Future Prospects
1:23:06 - 1:29:55
- India's growing population will influence the cost of services, leading to a rush of business and investment in the service sector.
- China's declining population makes it unlikely for the country to fracture into smaller republics like Russia.
- The majority of people in China live on the coast, making it difficult for a similar split as Russia.
- There have been skirmishes between India and China over disputed areas in the Himalayas, which could escalate into a regional or global conflict.
- India is sitting on both sides of the fence, aligning with China economically but also maintaining ties with the West politically.
- Investing in democratic institutions and a free and open economy is crucial for building a better future.
- Retiring people at younger ages creates dependency ratios that lead to unnecessary conflict.
- Despite challenges, humanity has made remarkable progress in areas such as life expectancy, child survival rates, and access to clean water.
- Continued investment is necessary to sustain progress and avoid regression in these areas.
Conclusion and Hope for the Future
1:29:29 - 1:36:25
- Demographics have been mishandled as a species, but there is hope for a brighter future.
- The most disruptive demographic period in history is leveling out.
- Increasing immigration in the United States may help solve the problem, but it also brings potential problems.
- China's success is desired, despite the negative impact of the Chinese Communist Party.
- Russia faces a high rate of soldier deaths and an exodus of young and educated individuals.
- Russian propaganda fails to promote higher birth rates.
- A Russian priest urged women to have more children for easier war recruitment, but he was killed while carrying out pastoral duties in Ukraine.