The Population Bomb and Bust

                                                        Nicholas Kristof            

Nicholas Kristof and his wife SherlyWuDunn have authored, “Half the Sky”.  It has a lot of material on child birth in poor nations and the treatment of women.  There are calculations on what small sums would be required to reduce the number of horrific maternal deaths in primitive environs.  There is a dearth of reporting on the birth rates.  A lower birth rate would make improvements more doable and sustainable.  The unvarnished grim reality of treatment of women in a number of Muslim nations is presented.  None of this is cleared with John Brennan.  Given the dearth of Western reporters in poor Muslim nations away from the best hotels, this behavior goes unreported in the popular press.         

                                                  The World According to the CIA              

In American political commentary, birth rates do not get a lot of ink.  Not so with the CIA.

The CIA’s World Fact Book tracts not only the ethnicity of nations but the birth rates and other factors.  It records the births per woman as well as the growth rate and the age distribution of the population.  All that is viewed as important to the future American security.  Growth or decrease in population is dependant on the age of the mothers as well as the number of births per woman.  Mortality rates in newborns and children are recorded -factors which have a larger impact in poor nations.  Rates of migration are recorded.  One might question the accuracy of the latter.  Obviously, migration from Hispanic and Caribbean nations is to the United States. 

The CIA does not distinguish between legal and illegal migration.  The CIA does not record the fertility rates amongst migrants to America.  Fertility of illegal immigrants is generally higher than in their home country.  It is about double the rate for legal residents.  Legal immigrants from Asia have a higher birth rate than in their native land, but for most groups it is below replacement level.  

It is evident that Meg Whitman and a host of other candidates attempt to calibrate their campaign slogans – appealing Hispanic voters while striking a note of compassion.  In the past, Whitman has explained that she did not want to punish children of illegals for the “sins of their parents”.  She adopted a harder line in the primary, but shows signs of an awakening of the old compassion at least in Spanish spots.  Media commentators have not missed the obvious duplicity.  American Hispanics will be better off if illegals are reduced.  Legal Hispanic residents pay taxes and like other American taxpayers “pay for the sins of the illegals”.  We all pay for education/incarceration/medication for illegals.  Obviously Whitman is a preferable to Jerry Brown.

                                                            The Population Bust

Singapore and Hong Kong have birth rates barely over one.  This is obscured by the ability of both nations to attract large numbers of young talented persons.  Mainland China has a rate of 1.59.  There is a reservoir of young persons with low productivity in rural areas who continue to migrate to urban areas to work.  In a few decades, this population will exhaust.  Since the overseas Chinese prefer to stay overseas rather than move to the mainland, the only source of workers will be those born there.

European birth rates are far below replacement level.  Nations which are historically Catholic have some of the smallest rates.  Poland has a rate of 1.29.  There is a small rate of emigration – 0.5 per 1000.  The population is not only aging, it is actually declining.  Poland is the home of John Paul II who like his successor lamented the spectacular decline in fertility, but has been unable to affect any change in behavior.  There are aggressive pronatalist government programs in many European and Asia nations.  France, Great Britain, and a few Scandinavian nations show signs of improving birth rates.

Japan has a rate of 1.27 births per woman, South Korea 1.21, and Taiwan 1.14.  (Taiwan is not tracked by the CIA, WHO, or the UN since they do not recognize it as a separate nation.)  Some nations in Southern and Eastern Europe are on the verge of a collapse in the population of native Europeans.  The number of Japanese and Poles in the productive and reproductive ages has declined. 

Morgan Stanley has made the dire prediction that Japan and some European nations cannot avoid some form of default brought on by the cost of entitlements to seniors and the decline in the numbers of productive adults.  The default may take the form of an forced devaluation of the currency.  Since the Japanese debt – in the form of government bonds – is almost entirely held by Japanese, the suffering may be contained better than the default of a medium sized European nation.  None of that will be good for the American economy.                

                                                         The Population Bomb

The population bomb was proposed as a threat to the welfare of humankind by Paul Ehrlich in 1968.  More recently, Thomas Friedman warned of global warming due to a growth in population and the increased production of carbon dioxide.  Late last year Friedman made a squirmy appearance on CNBC.  He adamantly refused to discuss global warming.  In his book, he correctly named Niger as having the highest birth rate.  The CIA reported the rate at 7.6 children per woman.  The nation is 80% Muslim.  There are a lot of potential migrants. 

 The economies and the welfare of individual nations is interdependent.  This is especially true for small nations and the poorest nations.  The poorest nations are extremely dependant on world trade.  In many cases the poorest nations have very limited human resources.  There is the prejudicial term – banana republic.  Apparently President Obama does not acknowledge differences in talents.  In his address to Ghanaian politicians, he scolded them for their level of corruption which he suggested was the reason for their poor progress.  He noted that in the 1950’s, the per capita income of Ghana was comparable to South Korea.  President Obama failed to note that South Korea had suffered thirty five years of Japanese occupation and after a seven year hiatus a three year conflict with North Korea and China.  The media did not comment. 

The financial networks are the best source for meaningful reporting on poor nations.  The developed nations not only buy natural resources and agricultural products from poor nations, they supply the technology and aid which is essential to progress.  Ghana has a birth rate of 3.6 children per woman.   

Sub – Sahara Africa and some other nations receive aid from much of the developed world.  Haiti is the beneficiary of 10,000 organizations for nine million people according to Bill Clinton and Theodore Dalrymple.  The birth rate in Haiti is 3.72 children per woman.  The migration rate is 2.07 per 1000. 

Cambodia is poor and dangerous.  It is the beneficiary of directed donations from a number of NGO’s to support the children.  The birth rate is 3.0 children per woman.  The longevity at birth is 60.0 years for men and 64.27 years for women.  Thailand is more developed.  It is inhabited by different ethnicity’s.  Thailand has a birth rate of 1.67 per woman.  The longevity is 70.7 for men and 75.5 for women.  A hospital in Bangkok ( Bumrungrad) claims to treat more foreigners than any hospital in the world.   


In America illegal immigrants, the poor, and the underclass including  criminals and/or dope fiends receive obstetric and infant care through government programs.  Since 1986 In any hospital emergency room, there is a sign which informs the viewer of the federal mandate requiring the hospital to provide emergency care regardless of ability to pay, ethnicity, residence status, etc.  The program was expanded to include prenatal care.  The state is on the hook for the complications of pregnancy or sick infants and it makes sense to obviate bad outcomes in a cost effective manner.  As with many federal mandates, the funding for this service is problematical.  The health care law will not make it better.   

Liberal and conservative American commentators have had very little to say concerning birth dearth.  Many European and Asian nations have pronatalist policies.  Illegal aliens have a birth rate about twice that of legal residents.  Local communities struggle with the public school demands, police, and health care.  There is no chance of Meg Whitman’s or John McCain’s children/grandchildren attending school with the children of illegals. 

                                   Barack Obama and Pope Benedict Advocate Open Borders

The pontiff would welcome the non-Muslim peoples from Africa and other impoverished regions to Europe and America.  The Catholic Church and some Protestant Churches have used their influence – minimal in Europe  but significant in America – to support open borders policies.  President Obama has similar views without the concern for the religious background of the immigrant.  These are policies which are not in the interest of the United States or Europe.


The United States has pronatalist policies for poor and underclass persons regardless of residence status in the form of free obstetric and child care.  No such support is provided to the middle class.  This is a mistake.  This flies in the face of what is traditionally thought of as conservatism.  Building a stable society from the crib up trumps political philosophy.  At this point in history, babies trump ideas.  Legal immigrants with small children should be given preference if they meet other qualifications.     

American governmental aid to poor nations should be accompanied by contraceptive programs.  Tax deductible status for NGO’s should be dependant on accompanying woman’s health programs including contraceptive services which actually move the birth rate to near replacement levels.  The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation does provide contraceptive services in Kenya.   

                                              African – American Churches

During the presidential campaign, the media belatedly covered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright fiasco.  The Rev. Wright and numerous cohorts had been around for decades.  Afrocentric theology was active in Los Angeles forty years ago with many Louis Farrakhan imitators.  Forty years ago a pamphlet from a pronatalist African American preacher came to rest on the emergency room floor in a Los Angeles hospital.  It pointed out the obvious.  More African American babies would increase political power. 

In his novels, John Grisham has protrayed long services, devotion, and morality in traditional African American churches.  Fox TV has presented African American ministers who disagree with the Rev. Wright and his ilk.  Journalists should provide that data regarding the numbers of what are really competing groups.  There is the matter of security for reporters, but African American reporters could collect the data.  America needs more accurate reporting from the media to go with the political doctrine of whatever kind.