Wednesday, 11 November 2009

China and demographic consequences

From an article in Forbes.com: China might have problems being a dominant player unless it comes to terms with its ethnocentric problems.
These anxieties have the air of self-fulfilling prophecy. Given that many if not most Koreans prize ethnic homogeneity, migrant workers will remain on the margins of society. This, in turn, will fuel alienation and resentment among this class of permanent second-class citizens. And so South Korea's major cities could very well see the rise of segregated ethnic slums. It's worth noting that anti-foreigner sentiments are flourishing in a time when South Korea is experiencing rapid economic change, including a new social and economic inequality. Just as racism provided the basis for solidarity among whites in U.S. history, it could be playing a similar role in South Korea.

Next to China's race problem, South Korea's pales in significance. Earlier this year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies issued a report that found that the current ratio of 16 retirees to 100 workers is set to double in the next 15 years. In absolute terms, the number of over-65s will go from 166 million to 342 million. Someone will have to care for them, and though China has relaxed its profoundly wrongheaded one-child policy, the reform has come too late to arrest rapid aging.
The bigger problem, almost paradoxically, is demographic. If China hadn't arrested it's development, they could have gone on as racist as they'd like with just a few institutionalized consequences. The same is true for very `developed` nations. Are we seeing a new form of source-sink dynamics among human populations? Certainly, some areas are more productive biologically than others, but the trend among nations has been to population stability, or even contraction. So I suppose it has to do with the rate that the source populations (i.e., poor, biologically productive nations) transition...

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