Binah (binah1013) wrote,

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Nova last night was very interesting.  Our public station played a 2-part Nova (7-9pm) all about our world's burgeoning or not so burgeoning population.  Of course, that depends on where you live.  

I thought the most interesting segments were on China, though Japan and the rest of the "First World" countries were fascinating.  The First World countries are "suffering" from low fertility rates.  The U.S. fertility rate has remained below replacement rates (2 children per woman) for 30 years.  The only thing that keeps our country growing is the massive influx of immigrants we take in each year.  

Japan values its ethnic purity and therefore does not welcome immigrants.  If current Japanese fertility rates remain at 1.2 children per woman, their population will be reduced by half in the next 50 years.

The reason for this amazing shift in population is the same reasons why we see these trends in all the First World countries.  Greater reproductive freedom of women is a factor, but also a powerful factor is that if a family wants to maintain a middle class lifestyle a second income is often required.  And that tends to discourage bigger families.

Watching this show, it was weird to know that I was part of this trend.  I have no children and I do not plan to.  I've never felt the need.  Yet even if I did, the idea of a full time job and children seems an exhausting concept.  I don't think I could be the mother I'd want to be, and with something that important I'd rather not do it if I couldn't do it right.  I guess I do think you really cannot have it all. 

I just want to finish up talking about China.  Consider the one-child policy China had for a long time and its relationship with the economic boom the country is experiencing.  Per Nova, "No country has ever gotten so rich so fast."  It's still a Second World country, but they're catching up in a hurry.  But probably more jarring to my mind was this simple fact, most young people in China have never known what is like to have a sibling.  A whole generation of only children.  I knew this intellectually, but it hadn't dawned on me in a practical sense until I saw this show. 

I have a sister.  My husband has a brother and two sisters and is uncle to many nieces and nephews.  How strange it would be to have no uncles, aunts or cousins.  Strange to our experience, I suppose.  It would seem normal to a person in that situation.  China has relaxed its one-child rule, but evidently they tax you up the wahoo for more children.  So, folks still tend to having only one child. 

It was food for thought.  I highly recommend the show if it comes on later in the week for you.


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