Population collapse can be both quick and silent
Basic background mortality in the industrialized world is about 1% per annum. Every year, on average two people die in your approximately 200-sized group of friends, family and acquaintances.
With regard to total population, this is offset by nativity. The average fertility rate in the industrial world is about 1.4-1.6, which regards children born per female during her lifetime (South Korea is at about 0.8, France at 1.8).
Replacement fertility rate is about 2.3 globally (and around 2.1 in the West), which is the number needed to balance out the mortality and thus maintain present levels of population. In other words, with no mortality, a fertility rate of 2.1 per 75 years would approximately equate to something just below an exponential population growth of 1% per year.
In reality, there is of course a massive amount of of other factors to take into account here, such as the age of the population, changes in living standards, policy and behavioural patterns &c, but this quick and dirty raw number crunching gives us a broad indication.
The actual and much messier pattern shown below gives you a general idea of the correlation.
So let’s assume you have an increase in the background mortality rate with no changes in the (initially replacement-rate) fertility. Say that 2% of the population dies per year, netting an annual 1% decrease.
Would you notice this in your immediate circumstances, without any access to data?
Maybe, but it’s hardly a calamity. All this would simply mean that now, four people in your wider circle of friends, family and acquaintances, die every year. Perhaps something entirely unsurprising in relation to the age-composition of the population. I.e. when you’re sixty, it’s not really that strange if a couple of your friends don’t show up at count one morning.
But what happens if we also add a minor reduction in fertility at the same time?
Let’s go down from the average 1.6 per female, which is already a good bit below replacement levels, and drop it to one child per female per lifetime. This is very much back-of-the-envelope, but I don’t think we’ll go far wrong by equating this to an additional 1% net drop in population levels per year. And quite a bit less noticeable - people would still have children in your social circle, yet just not as many. Nothing to call home about.
And where does a 2% annual population decrease get us?
Without even taking the age composition into account, the population gets approximately halved in 30 years. In other words, assuming that everyone dies at the same average rate, in 30 years, there’s only half of us left.
This is the age composition of the European Union as of 2016. Kind of heavy around the mid-section, no? In more ways than one.
Suffice to say, the single two largest cohorts here, i.e. the 45-49:ers and the 50-54-year-olds, are not going to keep dying at the same conservative percentage as the average background mortality for another thirty years (the average for 50-year-olds is about 4%).
The 90-year-olds? It’s unlikely that even one of them will be left.
So if we on top of the above add the high average age of a population such as that of the EU, you can easily cut it in half in about a generation.
And without making much of a scene.
On an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT topic, this was posted yesterday by SVT, Sweden’s main public news broadcaster, on our trusty old teletext service:
The last headline reads: “Fertility in Sweden at low levels: Covid [shots] one of the explanations”. “Wow”, I thought. The correlations are so glaringly obvious that our mainstream media are raising the issue? But the actual article said absolutely nothing on this purported cause.
And moments after I (and the three or four of the aforementioned 90-year-olds who still use the teletext service) had caught this little gem, the subline was also edited into reading “couples’ priorities were changed by [the shots]”.
Interesting way to spin it, I think. There’s a correlation between the covid shots and a (hopefully temporary) reduction in fertility, no way to argue anything else. But getting out in front of this, the marketed hypothesis will seemingly be that young couples simply postponed having kids because they’d received these treatments.
To such an extent that we basically see famine-level drops in fertility in some locations.
Not sure I buy that.