The demographic changes ongoing in East Asia

East Asia is undergoing significant demographic changes right now. Reputed China hand Gordon G. Chang has even exaggerated the changes by claiming that East Asia, including China, is dying. He cites the low total fertility rates of Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore.

It is true that these countries will face a demographic crisis in the near future. The latter three countries have the lowest total fertility rates in the world: Singapore the lowest at 0.78 child per woman, Macau at 0.92, Hong Kong at 1.09, Taiwan at 1.10. South Korea is barely slightly better at 1.23 child per woman, Japan at 1.39, China at 1.55, Thailand at 1.66. Australia does slightly better at 1.77, but it’s still somewhat below the generation replacement rate (2.1 CPW).

But China’s total fertility rate, at 1.55 child per woman, is far better than the rate Chang claims (1.20 CPW), and impressive for a country where – as Chang admits – the one-child policy is strictly enforced.

Furthermore, many other countries of East and Southeast Asia have higher fertility rates – ones that are just slightly below, at, or above the population replacement rate.

For example, Vietnam has a rate of 1.89 child per woman; North Korea, 2.01; Sri Lanka, 2.17; Mongolia, 2.19; Chinese ally Burma, 2.23; Indonesia, also 2.23; Bangladesh, 2.55; India, 2.58; Cambodia, 2.78; Laos, 3.06; the Philippines, 3.15;  Papua New Guinea, 3.39.

So not all East and Southeast Asian countries are undergoing a demographic crisis; only some of them. North Korea is on track to retain its population, while South Korea’s population is projected to dwindle significantly; Burma’s and Laos’s population will grow, as well that of potential American allies like India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Indeed, Filipino, Papuan, Laotian, Cambodian, and Indian women are very fertile and are giving birth to a lot of children these days.

This is not surprising. None of these countries has a foolish “one child policy” or a high abortion rate, and none of them has the culture that China has.

Most Chinese women are shallow, materialist princesses who want the richest guy they can get. And, given that they are vastly outnumbered by men in marriageable age, they can choose from among many men. Furthermore, the significant shortage of women in the age in which marriages are usually contracted means that China will suffer a significant demographic decline in the next 2o-30 years. To avoid it, it would need to abolish its one-child policy.

But the US is not doing any better. In the US, over one million unborn children are aborted every year. America’s population will hold roughly steady solely because of immigration. But most immigrants coming to the US these days are from the Third World, mostly from Hispanic countries like Mexico, and they don’t feel any allegiance to or affinity for the US. They consider themselves Mexican/Argentine/Brazilian/Venezuelan, not American. America is only their residence. They will not fight for America.

Meanwhile, the Philippines are poised for a demographic boom. This is not surprising; the vast majority of Filipino women just want a good, loving, caring husband and a family with many children. They don’t need a rich, handsome, or smoothly-talking guy. Indeed, they know that the best seducer is not the best husband.

The bottom line is that not all East Asian countries are poised to see a demographic crisis. Quite the contrary. Many will see their societes rejuvenate and grow. Only the countries listed by Chang will see their populations decline. Moreover, it is still not too late for China to reverse its demographic decline.


2 thoughts on “The demographic changes ongoing in East Asia”

  1. China’s one-child policy was a quick answer to overpopulation, and in fact it may have been a good solution – China’s natural resources are overburdened as-is. But China must be able to estimate when to repeal that policy, or it may have very problematic consequences in the future.

  2. Apart from post-soviet countries, nowhere on Earth population has declined substantially over a few years, not even in Germany!

    Why is it so difficult for demographers to take seriously the simple hypothesis of (intrinsic) demographic saturation, explaining all these unexpected changes in fertility, e.g. extremely low fertilities in regions having experienced very rapid population growth in the past, or the current increase in fertilty in European countries because of aging (resulting in more deaths)?

    In any case, future will show whether reasonable or not:

    Wolfgang G. Gasser

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