In this episode, we are joined by the demographer Paul Morland to discuss his new book Tomorrow’s People. We discuss the decline in infant mortality, the lack of population growth in the developed world and what has caused it, urbanization, fertility, population decline in the West, and a whole lot more.
William Jarvis 0:05
Hey folks, welcome to narratives. narratives is a podcast exploring the ways in which the world is better than in the past, the ways it is worse in the past, where it’s a better, more definite vision of the future. I’m your host, William Jarvis. And I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to this episode. I hope you enjoy it. You can find show notes, transcripts and videos at narratives podcast.com.
Will Jarvis 0:38
Well, Paul, how are you doing today?
Paul Morland 0:41
Very well. Thank you.
Will Jarvis 0:43
Excellent. Excellent. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today. I really quite appreciate it. I know it’s a beautiful day today in London. And I kept you up inside for for most of it here. Well, Paul, do you mind giving us a quick bio and some of the big ideas you’re interested in?
Paul Morland 0:59
Sure. I am a Londoner by birth. In fact, I was born in a suburb and lived in a suburb of London. For my first 18 years, which is very famous in the UK. It’s called Wembley, and it’s very famous for its football. That’s what you call soccer. A sport on which I have absolutely no interest. I married a woman from Wimbledon who’s never been known to wield a tennis racket, but there you go. So I mean, that is relevant in a way because Wembley is one of the areas of the country that has experienced the most rapid demographic change. Suddenly, London one of the earliest. I studied in Oxford, a degree called politics, philosophy and economics and notorious degree which equips you for knowing everything about nothing, or is it nothing about everything? I don’t know. It’s very broad. It’s a great education. But it’s one of my tutors said it really only equips you to be a journalist. Not that I’ve ever been a journalist, I went into banking, I went back to Oxford to do a master’s in international relations. And then I’ve been a consultant for the last a business consultant for the last nearly 30 years with my own business for the last 20, mostly in financial services, always thought I’d do a PhD when I retired. And then I had one very quiet year in 2008, when the markets turned down, and I thought, let’s kick it off now. So I found the perfect supervisor, a chap called Eric Kaufman, I don’t know if you’ve come across him, become a very good friend of mine. I wrote my thesis. He was actually in Harvard at the time, but then he came back 2009, we kicked it off. And that was published as an academic book, demographic engineering, population strategies and ethnic conflict. And it’s essentially about how groups in conflict ethnicities in conflict, deploy demographic strategies. It was an academic book, it got some good academic reviews. But it turned to me at the time, that nobody had written a really good book on a general book on how demography had played out in the last 200 years how it affected history, and been affected by history. It’s obviously part of the web of the historical process. It’s an either a first cause nor purely sort of downstream effect it. So that was that was how I came to write the human tide, which was published in the States as well as the UK and has had eight or nine translations. Interesting, which countries choose to translate it countries generally with, with demographic issues like China, Japan, Korea, Italy, Estonia, some some slightly small audience languages, but nevertheless, it’s an interesting, eclectic collection of languages. And then while I was writing that it occurred to me well, if history has been shaped by the big demographic processes, the births, the deaths, the population explosion, the population slumps, and the great movements, immigrations, emigrations, and so on, then it shaping our world today. And it’s also going to shape the future. And that’s how I came up with the idea of tomorrow’s people, which has just been published in the UK doesn’t have a US publisher yet, but is going to be published again in China, Japan, Korea initially. So maybe the sign that you have I haven’t found a US publisher is indicative of the fact that demography is not yet too bad in the US. So just in terms of biography, the other point I would make, I suppose is I’m of German origin, both my parents were German immigrants to this country, and I’m a dual national I married I’ve got three children, they’re all in their 20s and two of them are married. That’s me.
Will Jarvis 4:39
Excellent. Excellent. Well, Paul, first, I want to jump off the outline and ask you a question. It’s kind of a left hand question, but I think it’s interesting, you know, how was it going back to get a PhD later in life, you know, 2008 we see most academics that go straight, from, you know, undergraduate to PhD programs, at least here in the States, maybe differently. Okay, do you think that gave you kind of a unique perspective on the world, having spent time in financial markets and seeing how the world kind of really works? And having that grounding?
Paul Morland 5:10
Well, for me, it was very well, I had no interest in doing going down the academic track. When I left Oxford in 1986, I had other interests. I did go back to do my Masters when I was very early married, and we had our first child. And that was a wonderful holiday from reality, it felt like it anyway. And then I went back into the real world, I had to earn a living academia is not particularly well paid in the UK. And besides, I felt very comfortable in the world of academia and wanted to push myself at that young age into a world of less comfort, I suppose. One of the great things that going late in life, I suppose there are two things I would say. The first is that you do have all those years of extra reading. And you have a breadth of perspective. I mean, it’s kind of funny because Eric’s a few years younger than me. So a few few academic advisors are PhD Advisors, a younger Eric’s a few years younger. And Eric’s own academic advisor, a chap called a theorist of nationalism called Antony Smith was a very good friend of mine. So quite a lot older than me, but a very good friend. So that was sort of slightly odd. And Anthony’s supervisor was Ernest Gellner, very famous philosopher and anthropologist, so I feel I can link to that chain. But you just by the, you know, starting your PhD in your 40s, you if you’re academically curious, you’ve met a lot of interesting people like Anthony, I’d spent years sort of sitting and talking to him, you read a lot of interesting books, and a lot has been going around in your head. So I expect you bring a certain maturity to it. And the other thing is that you have you been in the fine, I mean, London City of London is not so different from Wall Street, it’s perhaps got a slightly less fearsome reputation. But if you’re used to working at that kind of pace, then your approach to academia is very different. And it’s like, right, this time, I’m going to do this chapter, and you write the chapter, you bounce it off your PhD supervisor, he gives you some comments, Eric, and I meet for lunch, we ever schmooze. I rewrite it. Another another term and other chapter. So I mean, it sounds a bit boastful, forgive me, but I did actually write my PhD thesis, I did the whole thing in three years, part time, so I was working at the same time, rarely five days a week, I often had a day like Friday, I would work on work on the research on a write up on the Sunday, but I got it done pretty quickly and pretty efficiently.
Will Jarvis 7:40
So it’s something like, you know, if you bring, you know, Wall Street, or you know, your investment banking, kind of like work ethic, to academia, you can really crank through these things. He’s like, man, we got the deadline, we’re gonna go, where is it that we’re focused from get the stuff?
Paul Morland 7:53
That was my approach, I didn’t get lost in sort of soul searching for what’s the meaning of meaning? And how do I get to write the next sentence?
Will Jarvis 8:01
Yeah, we’ve got this much time, we gotta get it done. I really liked that. And then it kind
Paul Morland 8:05
of business like approach to getting it published, you know, I only got it published. Because, you know, I asked around, and I used my connections and people I knew and, and similarly, then, when I was writing the just sort of amending it and creating it as a book very similar to PhD thesis, but you, you like you, you reduce the methodology section and so on. That was the time I thought, you know, maybe there’s a market for another kind of book. So you, you kind of think in a in a slightly different way.
Will Jarvis 8:32
That makes sense. That makes sense. All right. I really like that. Well, back to demography. I find demography very interesting, because it seems like one of the few really solid predictors of the future we have. So if we look at, you know, total The fertility rate over time, we can kind of get a sense of where things are going and what things are going to look like, you know, how robust is demographic for graph forecasting? Is it fairly robust? Do you have a good idea of what’s going to happen? I mean, I imagine we do barring like big events like Coronavirus, or plagues, pandemics wars.
Paul Morland 9:04
So, so certain things are there. First of all, you’ve got to accept the how question how good the data is. For more, as I say, I think maybe the last but most recent book, the more recent the more developed country, the better the data. So the our guess of how many people were born and died in Denmark last year, is going to be close to decimal points, right? What was the migration into Botswana in 1952? It’s gonna be a finger in the air. So you’ve got to be a little bit skeptical about data historically, of course, you’re talking about forecasts, but there still are parts of the world where it’s not great. So people debate really big issues like just how low is the Chinese fertility rates, partly because it’s a huge country. It developed very well but it’s not not got sort of Danish levels of development, and communist parties had various agenda first of all, to show that it’s over, there’s a real problem then to show that the one child policy is working, then to not be too alarmist, that is working too well. And so you’ve got to take all these things with a little bit of pinch of salt. But I think the rates, so most of these things you can predict. So short of a disaster, like we know, in 50 years, how many native born Italians there are going to be right, more or less, because in a country like Italy, to the age of 50, the mortality rates very, very low. I mean, it could be a little lower, it could be a little higher, but most people under 50, are not going to die if they had been born. Of course, they could move out so they could cease to be Italians, there could be immigrants moving in, and they could be assimilated, so they could become Italian. So it’s not going to answer that sort of question. And the other thing is, as you said, there are always shocks to the system, there could be a pandemic, which puts COVID 19 into the shade. And we could end up with, you know, half the cohort of Italians born last year, dead at 20. So it’s not absolutely cast iron. But it’s, you know, if you were gonna say how big is the Italian economy going to be in 50 years time, versus how big is the Italian population going to be in 50 years time, we have a much better idea, because fertility and mortality are better understood. Now, of course, the other question is, where will they go? So where will Italian fertility be in 50 years time? That’s another question. And people do forecast that, and perhaps we’ll come on to talk about that. I think in terms of the world today, the really, really big question is how fast is African fertility going to fall so outside Sub Saharan Africa, almost every country either has low fertility, or rapidly declining fertility, and in that part of the world, as things stand at the moment, our best guess is that not going to go back up to replacement, how low how fast it will fall, and so on. But basically, we can see that coming almost everywhere. Even India is now moving to sub replacement. But in Sub Saharan Africa, there’s a very mixed picture, you’ve got South Africa, which has got a relatively low fertility rate already. And then you’ve got countries like Kenya and Ethiopia where it’s high, but coming down fairly rapidly, Nigeria barely seems to be falling. So that’s the big or no. So we can you know, with providing the data’s okay, we can say in 50 years time, how many 50 year old Nigerians they’ll be, but it’s really difficult to know how many Nigerians are going to be born in 50 years time.
Will Jarvis 12:39
That makes sense. I want to talk about Sub Saharan Africa. You know, what’s your sense of fertility, fertility is going to drop in Sub Saharan Africa fairly quickly, or do you think it’s continued to stay high?
Paul Morland 12:51
Well, as I say, that is the great question. That is the great demographic question of the day. And there are various books that have been written recently, with very different views on that. youthquake, by Edward Pais being one of the more recent empty planet from a couple of years ago. As part of writing tomorrow’s people, my intention had been to get on the road. So I haven’t been to Sub Saharan Africa since I went camping in Mali in 1990. So I really felt I needed to go out and speak to people use my eyes, but also go and see local demographers and get a sense of what’s going on. I think the picture is very, very patchy and it will be patchy. I think there are going to be countries where it comes down really slowly. And there are going to be countries that continue to surprise us. And you can kind of name those command Uganda, for example, it was cut it was they actually had a pro natalist government, which is quite unusual. But that’s changed. And now it’s starting to come down fast. East Africa is generally coming down quicker than West Africa, most of southern Africans already come now. I think it’s really important that people realize, however, that first of all these countries are way off replacement level. So the way way higher than replacement level. And it’s a long time before any of them was that Southern Africa is perhaps there already, but a lot of them are not going to get to replacement level for a long time. The other thing is, and I think this is generally not understood, your population doesn’t stop growing. When you get to replacement level. It means long term it will stop growing Britain went sub replacement in about 1972. So here we are 50 years later, and only in the next few years, are we going to have more deaths than births. So to get migration, obviously, you can always top up with migrants as a given. But it’s taken us 50 years and the reason is that in 1970, women started having fewer than two children or 2.1. But there were so many young women from the baby boom and relative to the population pyramid that will view old people because they had been a smaller cohort dying so you even if the way Then we’re having fewer children. There were still more people being born with a sub replacement fertility rate than there were people dying. So you continue to get so Africa has got decades of organic, natural population growth in the works. Even if tomorrow, every African country went to a 2.1 fertility rate,
Will Jarvis 15:21
but lag, it likes a lot. That makes a lot of sense. What’s your sense about why as countries develop, you know, fertility, it’s like this almost law of nature that it drops.
Paul Morland 15:34
Again, there’s a really interesting debate on this. And you know, I think one of the reasons I write my books is there’s loads of quite intricate debates about is the driver education is the driver urbanization, he, there’s a lot of minutiae, which is interesting to academics, but I think you can not skirt over but you can synthesize, I mean, the three things that do seem to drive lower fertility rates, or have done historically, our education, particularly for women, urbanization, and a rise in income levels. And you can see why each of these works in an urban environment, you can actually invest in a child, you’re more likely to have access to education, that child is more likely to be able to benefit from that education. If you invest in that child, that child can bring in very significant returns. I mean, this is an economic argument, whereas the extra pair of hands in the village is always useful. So that’s sort of the urbanization route. In terms of education, I think we can all see I mean, those of us who have traveled in places where people are not educated, and not able to take control of their fertility, whether they want more children or not, they don’t really have the means to control it with education comes the means to control your fertility and very often for women the opportunity to do other things, and those two things are associated with the rise in income. What I talked about in my most recent book, though, is what I call postmodern fertility, our postmodern demography. So what I call pre modern is the world of Malthus, the people breathing like rabbits dying like flies, and that was the world generally, of course, Malthus came on in his later works to look at actually how that there it and how fertility was controlled, and they had later marriages here and they involve themselves, they committed infanticide there and so on. But broadly, fertility rates were very, very high, and life expectancy was very, very short, almost everywhere, then you get what I call modern demography, which is the transition we’ve just talked about, to urbanization and to more education and to higher incomes, and over time, fertility and first of all, mortality comes down and populations boom, and then fertility falls and a larger population starts to stabilize. Now, what I call post modern fertility, or post modern demography is a world where everybody is aspiring to long life expectancy. And generally, life expectancy is long. I mean, places like India now are heading for a life expectancy of 70. You know, we are in a different way than that, it’ll get up to 80. But the great gains in in life expectancy are being made in countries where it’s shortest, and everyone’s getting up to those kinds of levels of life expectancy. So shorter pandemic, that’s not that interesting. What’s really interesting is fertility. And there, what’s starting to happen is the economics. Whereas in the modern period economics and economic development row that drop in fertility, what we’re seeing now is fertility is driven more by value. So there are some really interesting cases of this compare fertility in Vermont and Montana, for example, look at the fertility of Trump voters versus people who voted Democrat. And those are huge, but you know, that’s half a child or three quarters of a child, it’s quite interesting. And that’s not about income, that’s about values. That’s about beliefs, that’s about lifestyles. Then you have the more extreme cases of, to some extent, Mormons not so much now, but Amish, Haredi Jews, and then Israel is a very interesting exception, because it’s a very urban, very educated and very wealthy country. And in Israel, the fertility rate is three, which is the only OECD country with a above replacement fertility rate, and it’s significantly above replacement. And actually, that’s there aren’t enough ultra orthodox Jews or Arabs in Israel to make that the case if you actually look at secular people, they have large families. So you know, again, you can get into a very interesting debate about why that is and what’s driving it, but it’s all about value is it’s no longer about where you are. So what I’d say it’s 1970 Tell me the urbanization, the income rate, and the percentage of girls who complete high school and I will tell you the total fertility rate roughly broadly, that’s going to break down as we move into a postmodern era, where even quite poor countries like Thailand than and Morocco are leapfrogging in their demography, even ahead of their economics and getting quite long life expectancy, quite low fertility rates, and, of course, much better survival among children and low mortality. So in the late phase of modernity, for countries like Morocco and Thailand or, or Sri Lanka, people erase even ahead of their economic progress, they’re racing to lower fertility and longer life expectancy. And then in the postmodern world, it’s going to be about religion, and ideology and nationalism, versus a more liberal worldview. And that is going to be what drives fertility rates.
Will Jarvis 20:39
That makes sense. I am curious about this, this demographic explosion in Sub Saharan Africa. You know, there’s a lot of talk about, you know, migration problems in Europe, like, just recently, this wasn’t a big story here at all. So I mentioned it for the listeners. But you know, the Russian President brought a bunch of migrants over to the border with Poland, that was a big story in Europe, what I understand, it seems like that, that comes only gonna get worse than the migrant crisis, as the population explodes in Sub Saharan Africa, and people go to sleep more opportunity in developed countries in Europe. Do you see this problem getting any better? Or is it kind of like, at what it looks like? It’s just gonna be a very large problem that you’re gonna have to deal with?
Paul Morland 21:23
Well, I mean, first of all, I think you have to qualify the word problem. So there are people in Western Europe who think it’s a wonderful thing. And the more immigrants we have, the better. And there are people who don’t believe that, if you think that mass migration is not a great thing, and that very rapid demographic and ethnic change in Western Europe is not a great thing that it is a problem. But what is driving it? Well, you’ve got to see both sides of the equation. So on the one hand, you have this very high fertility rate in Africa, that’s not new, by the way, what’s new is the survival rates, what’s new is going back 50 or 100 years, a third of kids were dying before they got to the age of one, most kids never got to the age old adolescents and having their own children. So you keep those high fertility rates, but the mortality rate goes down, you have a population explosion. So that’s the key kind of demographic trend, because they have, they may not have great lives, and they may not have great incomes, but they have clear, better cleaner water, a little bit of medicine, quite, it’s a kind of 8020 thing. It’s a curve, whereby when you start to get some of these things, the impact on infant mortality is very unlikely, very, very strong. So that and then the incremental gains for countries like the US and the UK are much smaller, in terms of life expectancy. So we’ve got these booming populations, because of falling infant mortality, and general extension of life expectancy. We have the problem of many African countries in absorbing those people into their workforces. It’s not universal, and some countries are more successful than others. And I think there will be stars in Africa, and there will be basket cases. And we can already see it already today, you could categorize countries by their successes and failures. But certain countries are going to struggle economically, and also struggle to get that fertility rate under control. Some countries will go through what’s known as the demographic dividend where you start to get the fertility rate down. And then you have a big cohort of people in their late teens and early 20s, entering the workforce, not necessarily burdened with huge families. The fact that they’re not having big families itself a suggestion that they’re taking more control of their fertility, that they’re better educated. And very often, that’s the time you have a great economic boom. I mean, Indonesia is a good guy. I’ve done some work in Indonesia in the last few years. That’s a good case where you you started to get fertility rates down significantly 20 or so years ago, 2030 years ago, and you can see the effects of lots of young people in the workplace, I’m able to move into a global market. So some countries will succeed and some countries won’t in Africa, then in terms of Europe, we have to think of the huge demand we’re going to have for labor, because we as I said, we’ve had 50 years of sub replacement fertility in the UK. And we’ve had a huge amount of immigration. When I started working in the 1980s. There were roughly two people in their early 20s For every person in their early 60s. So of course people can people can start work a bit later a bit earlier and retire earlier later. But all other things being equal. We had two entrance for every Exeter now the two are roughly balanced, and that balance is going to get worse and worse. So we’re going to have a big demand for labor question, do we try and get our fertility rate up? Do we try and get immigration if we get immigration? Can we control that immigration anyway? Where do we want it to come from? Can we get it from countries where people are sufficiently educated that they start making a contribution on day one? I’m what how determined are weak to control our borders? And then there’s a technological question which kind of beyond my paygrade as it were, but a very interesting one where demography meets technology, and the rise of the robots is all the robots ready before the people run out if you like. So, you know, I read all these lovely things about robots. But when I have a, an electrical problem, or a plumbing problem, or my lawn needs cutting, well, I cut my own lawn, or I can’t do my own plumbing. But you know, it’s lovely to hear about all these fantastic innovations. But is there someone who’s gonna fix my dripping tap? Or is there a robot? Who can do it? Or do I need a person out there, or if you’ve got a parent in an old age home, is there really a robot who’s going to take that person to the toilet. So if I look around the shortages of labor at the moment, we have got shortages of labor in the UK, I don’t see tomorrow, these problems going to be fixed by technology. And you know, maybe someone will put for example, if we got self driving cars, that would release a huge amount of labor, a lot of people driving taxis and minicabs, or tanker drive and so on. But I even that’s the most obvious and famous case of where labor is going to be substituted. But I don’t know if that’s going to be feasible in five years, or in 30 years. So for today, and for the force. And that’s, that’s something as I say, which is, we all know is going to be replaceable with someone who can really do the weeding in my garden, or really cut my lawn. I mean, I’ve heard about, you know, technological solutions to lawn cutting, but I’ve never seen one. And so I’ve also got a house in a relatively remote corner of France. And they’re they don’t have huge depopulation. But again, if you want a plumber or an electrician, you struggle now if those people have been having three or four children 3020 3040 years ago, and France is far from the worst fertility rate in Europe, by the way, then those people wouldn’t be there. They’re not they’re
Will Jarvis 27:04
definitely that way. And just, you know, I work in tech, and I think it’s a ways off. You know, we talked to a Facebook automation robotics researcher a couple of months ago, and he’s like, it’s much farther off than you think. So,
Paul Morland 27:18
yeah, I might have to be waiting with a dripping tap for a long time. If I’m waiting for a robot. I have to wait a while and the weeds are gonna get completely out of control. Right. Exactly.
Will Jarvis 27:28
Exactly. I’m curious. We’ve seen a lot of countries try to increase their their fertility rate, you know, most notably, Hungary is the big case we hear about in Europe all the time, whereby I’m trying to increase the fertility rate. Is your sense that any of these interventions work? Is there are there things we can do like policy interventions we can try that you think will actually increase fertility rate?
Paul Morland 27:54
Governments have been very successful at reducing fertility rates, but I always say they’re working with the direction of history. Gotcha. So if your population is getting more and more educated and rich, then if you help popularize and make available contraception that will bring the fertility rate down, whether the government action did it or the general process of history. So that’s clear, we know another most draconian China had a one child policy, which by the way, I think was completely unnecessary, because fertility was all were already falling very fast in China in the 70s. And other countries in East Asia saw big falls in fertility without that kind of coercion. So that’s kind of on the way down now on the way up. The jury’s out a bit. But generally, I think we can say a number of things. One is, at best, these things are only modestly successful. And secondly, but they are going to cost quite a lot of money to have a big effect. So there’s a classic case in Hungary, where the Hungarian government has given subsidies for third children, and the fertility rate did go up. But it seemed mostly to be first and second children who are being born not third children. So there’s always this kind of question about causality. In Russia, the fertility rate did rise, but it’s sunk back again. Now, there’s something there’s another technicality, I don’t want to bore you. But I’ll sort of briefly briefly it’s called the tempo effect, which is that when women have children when we’re going through a period when women are delaying their childbearing, fertility looks depressed, and then when they cease delaying it, it bounces back a bit. What you really what’s really interesting is to compare the completed fertility of cohorts. So let’s look at the women born in 1940, versus the women born in 1960. And that’s a done deal, right? I’ve got a friend who had a baby, her fourth baby in her early 50s, but very, very unusual. So we can we can we can didn’t say women born in the seventh in 1970 Compared to when completed for timber that’s very backward looking. The way fertility rates are calculated year by year, it’s just a look at the number of kids born, the number of women who are fertile and say, okay, that many women have that many children in a given year, then over a fertile lifestyle that I thought lifetime, that’s what the fertility rate would be. And so when women are delaying their childbearing, that looks a bit lower than they catch up later. And the thing bounces up a little bit. So it’s also difficult with Hungary and Russia, which of the most famous cases of pro NATO policies to be sure whether there’s been a little bit of that going on, or there’s actually a result of policy. But what is absolutely clear, is that where there has been an attempt to do this, even where there’s been some success, we’ve got nowhere near replacement levels a maybe Russia went up to 1.7. And it’s back down at 1.5. I don’t think Hungary even got anywhere near there. So the policies that have been tried so far, have not succeeded. And I don’t think there’s a magic bullet. And I very strongly believe that it’s going to be about values. And what I see among I think you call them generation Zed in a male Generation Z. So I’ve got three kids in their 20s, but the youngest is 23. So what I see among his friends, in terms of their social attitudes, I don’t think that correlates with large family size, I don’t think it correlates with what we would have considered a traditional lifestyle, which we associate with high fertility. So I think in some communities, they do have those values. Now, those communities are very small. But it’s like the late that the you know, the puddle that doubles every hour or something, you don’t notice it until quite late, it’s gonna be a long time, at a national level between before Haredi Jews and America are a huge number. If you’re sitting in parts of New York, Brooklyn, Williamsburg, curious, you’re all or wherever you’re going to notice it. But if you’re nationally, it barely showing up in the numbers. But if they keep certain groups with certain values, keep number one, keep those values and retain high fertility, which is known by naming certain and number two, of course, are able to retain within the flock the vast majority of children born, then that’s what’s going to turbocharge fertility rates, I think governments can do their best. But I think governments would probably do best thinking carefully about value, and how they can affect values. Rather than thinking about let’s throw a load of money.
Will Jarvis 32:44
That’s, that’s really, that’s really an interesting observation. Because they’re definitely better at throwing money at things and changing values seems. What do you think? Are these values? Is it is it you know, these quote unquote, family values, you know, conservative politicians love to talk about in the US, is it, you know, encouraging people just to settle down, you know, get married, things like that? What’s your sense of that?
Paul Morland 33:06
Well, it was interesting. I was on a TV show last week, and there was a woman on it young woman, and we were talking about this very subject. And she said, well, at the moment, there’s no incentive to have children. And I thought, I mean, I didn’t want to argue with that, too. We talked about incentives. I thought if we had needed government incentives to have children, we would not be here, right? When I think of the circumstances under which my parents were born, and my grandparents were born, and even when I was born, you know, the shadow of nuclear war and the Cuban Missile Crisis, not very far behind, because everyone was massively poorer than they are now. So that’s why I do think it is about about values and priorities. And I’m not trying to preach, I’m just trying to explain to people what the consequences are. So where we are today. Those values are the values that produce high fertility rates. Oh, what you could criticize is patriarchal and old fashioned. However, there’s two nuances. Number one, the worst fertility rates are in countries where women are given an education, and they’re not encouraged to enter the workforce and combine that with with parenthood. And actually, you found that countries are quite progressive in helping women into the workforce and combining childbearing with with careers, like the Scandinavian countries, and to an extent the UK and France have for a long time had higher fertility rates than more traditional countries, like Italy and Greece where yes, the girl goes to university, but maybe she gets discrimination in the workforce, what workplace or Japan’s another case, but she’s certainly not encouraged to combine motherhood with with a career so I you know, there’s that nuance and I think from And that nuances, the second point I wanted to make, which is, if people want to reproduce the kind of liberal societies that most of us quite like living in, we’re going to have to find a way to talk about these things. And to do so and to and to create a sort of ideological space, which is both liberal and pro child. Now, clearly, that’s going to have a lot to do with men stepping up to the plate, which, you know, I did my very fair share of nappy changing, I may well have changed more nappies than my wife did. I do know, we weren’t counting, but you’re often fertility rates per woman. And that’s because it’s very easy to associate a child with a woman and therefore, we start talking about women as if it’s all their job, which it absolutely isn’t. So I think I think we’ve got a cry, kind of create a prune natal liberalism, if we don’t want all the all the pronatal ism to exist in fairly patriarchal, religious and closed communities. Well, and
Will Jarvis 36:06
you bring up a really good point there, which is, you know, demographics. You know, the fertility rate now is the politics of the future. And that, you know, if we think of democracies is essentially judging the the weighing the number of people that have certain opinions, if people with certain opinions are reproducing more, and they have some genetic predisposition disposition, even if it’s slight to a certain political belief, or whatever, you know, they will win out in the end, is that is that a wild assumption? Do you think that’s correct?
Paul Morland 36:37
Well, I mean, the most famous book on this subject is by my friend, Eric Carlson, which you may know, which is shall the religious inherit the Earth, which he wrote back about 10 years ago. And I mean, Eric has been a huge influence on me. The other thing that Eric has pointed out to me, which I wasn’t aware of is that there seems to be and I think it’s quite early, I don’t think this is absolutely established. But there seems to be a pro natal gene, or a genetic tendency to be prenatal to like children. Now, the reason that, you’d say, well, that would have come to the fore historically, but of course, people couldn’t control this stuff historically. So it was kind of irrelevant, more or less irrelevant, historically. And so we didn’t select people on that basis. Now that we have choice, we haven’t had that many generations where we’ve had choice. Now that we have choice, it could be that what we’re going to see is the people with the anti natal genes, breeding themselves out of history effectively, and people who are pro Natal, having larger families, and obviously, those genes will continue, and then eventually, you could end up with a much more pro natal community. Now, what I have no idea about is whether there’s an association of those genes, with what we’re told is, and again, this is a little bit beyond my area of expertise. You know, we’re told that there are genetic dispositions, which Dr. Want to predict particular political perspectives conservative or liberal in American, the American set. So you kind of suspect that the prenatal gene might go along with a bundle of conservative attitudes, because places like Montana, have bigger have higher fertility rates and Vermont and Trump voters, though, to have larger families than Hillary Clinton or Biden’s so you could see that a tendency in that direction. I do think we need to be careful though, you know, this term demography is destiny. It’s sort of suits my book as it were. But I don’t want to over claim for demography. And the thing I always say about how important I think it really is. But it can’t possibly be the only thing. So imagine someone gave me a total description of the demography of the world in 1920. Right, right. Therefore, you predict Hitler World War Two, a holocaust. I mean, it’s nonsense obviously isn’t right. So if cut perfect demographic knowledge at time t does not allow you to predict the world time t plus tell you suddenly tell you interesting things about what the world will be like like in 1920. You might have said, Oh, my goodness, fertility rates in Germany are really falling and they haven’t fallen yet in Russia. The manpower difference is going to be really big. So these countries end up in a war in 20 years time, the Germans are going to complain that the Russians keep coming and coming. So there are certainly things you can predict. And looking back, of course, you can see what the historical links are to what’s happened demographically, but overclaiming and thinking demography is the only factor is shown up as as ridiculous as I say by this point I’m making that at time t I have perfect demographic knowledge. What can I predict at t plus one something but very far from everything.
Will Jarvis 39:59
Absolute That’s an important thing. But it’s not the only thing. That’s, that’s a good thing to keep in mind. Yeah, absolutely. So, Paul, I’m curious, what’s next for you, you’ve just got this new book that was released. I want to point the back. But but you know, what do you want to look into next with demography? Or is it something else?
Paul Morland 40:17
Well, I’ve got another three books on in mind, although I haven’t got publishers for them. And they’re not written, but I like to think I’ll have something to do my duty. So I would like to write a book, which is like a summary of the human tide and tomorrow’s people, but a purely British book. So it says, Okay, where was Britain’s demography in 1920? Say, Go for 100 years, look at the life of our queen, who’s now in her mid 90s? And say, how did that change over the years tell that story? So that would be like the human tide, but but in much more detail about the UK? And then say, All right, so how is this shaping the UK that we now experience in terms of its aging, in terms of what we expect the state to do the support of? You know, for pensions and health care? How is that affecting the macro economy? Because I, I talk about gray capital and gray labor. So we’ve got old workers. And if most of the money is held by people who aren’t very safe investments, how does that drive the economy and force the government to step in and sort of take on a sort of perpetual Keynesian role, though? They’re also plus the multiracialism of the UK, the massive change in ethnic demography, the growth of minorities? How’s that all? So what’s the story past? And then how is that all playing out? So that’s one idea I’ve got. And I think there’s a book to be written like that for the United States. But I would leave that to a, you know, I just don’t have the, the hands on experience, you can write a big book about the world because no one lives everywhere. And you can write about your own country. But I would, I would hesitate to do that about the US. And if I did it about the US, I think I’d have to, you know, move over and live somewhere in America for some time. So that’s one idea. Another idea I’ve got is, is I like this term, I’ve used it here and there, the inner Fertile Crescent. So you can walk from Singapore to Spain, and only walk on countries where the fertility rate is replacement or sub replacement. And that’s all moving in that direction. So I think that just focuses on this question of where is fertility low? Is that the future of humanity? Is everyone going to get there eventually? Why is it happening? And what are the consequences? So really getting to that level, because as I said, I think the mortality questions ceasing to be that interesting, everyone’s getting to Denmark, as I say, in the book, you know, and then the latest book in demographically, everyone’s getting to Denmark, but in terms of life expectancy, and the biggest gains have been made in the worst country. So we’re all going to live to 70 or 80. And then it will incrementally move beyond that. So fertility is where the story is at, and really understanding how universal it’s going to be, and who’s bucking the trend. And why this issue of valleys I’d like to get into that a little more in detail. And then I’ve got a sort of slightly Maverick idea up my sleeve, which is a book purely about the demography of the Israel Arab conflict, for which I’ve got a very good title so far, but I’m not sure everyone will get it, which is Genesis, Exodus and numbers, the struggle for demographic mastery in the Holy Land, that’s a good title doesn’t necessarily make a good book. So I mean, that’s a particular interest of mine. And I would like to go and research that and spend some time on it. But whether I like to admit whether I’ll ever get around to an idea. And so those are three ideas I’ve got at the moment. And I think you should always have the idea of the next three books by the time I’ve written them. If I’m still alive, there might be another three up nicely
Will Jarvis 44:06
off that ball. Well, I’ve only got one more big question for you before I let you go this morning. I’m curious, it seems to me like on long enough timescales, we will bounce out of this, you know, low fertility thing, right? Because there will be some group, maybe it’s the religious people made somebody else that you know, does have some innate, like propensity to have more children, that will start to become more of the population and it just bounces in my right to assume that or, you know, is it like some other fact about, you know, economics or the shape of the world now, that will keep us from doing that?
Paul Morland 44:41
Well, that is the big question. I think. There are two views on that. And, you know, we there’s a kind of Francis Fukuyama view of history, which you know, I’ve got a lot of time for Francis Fukuyama, but he’s a very interesting thinker, but his view that we were all going to become like a Um, I don’t know, like Denmark or like a monitor, you know, we’re all going to be liberal, we’re all going to be Western. It had its day in the 90s, didn’t it. And then we got some nasty surprises with with 911 with all the problems that have kicked off in the Middle East, and now, Russia and Ukraine, it’s not the world that we predicted. And in many ways, that’s extremely disappointing. I mean, it’s very, very disappointing. I’m very disappointed that Russia is not what we consider a normal western country. In other words, that it hasn’t got demography, it hasn’t got liberalism, whatever that meant means in the specific context. So you know, Japan is a liberal democracy, but it’s not a carbon copy of Denmark, American. So how even the idea is, can a culture kind of civilization incorporate these ideas remain true to itself, and yet fit into the kind of global order and norms that most of us would like to see. So we’ve been a bit disappointed on that score. So bringing it back to demography, it could be that everyone is heading for this, I’m pretty sure short of a disaster, we will all get get to long life expectancy. And there are some wobbles there, you know, there’s the depths of despair in the US, and how far is it going to go? Let’s assume we’re not going to move to people living for 500 years and magic cures and reversing aging, that could change a lot. But let’s just keep in the science are not the sort of science fiction and all that I dismissed the science fiction, but I just don’t know. But let’s assume, then we could imagine, you know, there could be parts of the world where we get a life expectancy in the mid 80s. And it retreats a bit. And then it goes forward a bit. We’ve had a few wobbles in the UK in terms of life expectancy, and you’ve had them in the US, you know, as you get towards the frontier, it’s not all going to be plain sailing, but most of the world is going to move towards that kind of 80 ish life expectancy plus, so all we’d say, I think that’s in the bag. So then the question, which is your question is, are we going to move towards every body being sub replacement fertility or not? Now, one way you could look at this is to say always surprises us, who ends up with low fertility. In my book, The Human tide, I quote The French saying the germ in the 19, Solenn, late 19th century, the German woman is perennially fertile, the Teuton produces work child after child, and they pressed down on us in 1870, and all that. So we know now that Germans have very low fertility rates for a long time. And you can find similar things in Germany about 15 years later, saying, Oh, the Slavic woman with endless fertility. And we know that Russia has a very low and actually every Slovak Slavic country, you know, from Russia, to Bulgaria, to Poland, they all and south, south slobs, that former Yugoslavia, they’ve all got really, really low fertility. So that was a fantasy. Who would have guessed, I mean, I’m old enough to remember when Chinese families were quite large, Italian Catholic families were large, you know, Italian mama with her. That’s all history. And so there’s that point of view that says everyone gets there eventually, India now a country where, you know, we were having five or six kids not that long ago, has got down to replacement level and in urban areas, and it’s very, very low. So it’s even even Germany from the perspective of 19th century France, or Russia, or China or India is going through this, then where where isn’t going to go through this? And why would Sub Saharan Africa be any different? Now there’s a really interesting theory about why sub Sahara might be different. And that is that in most countries, there has been historically a shortage of land, and they’ve lived in mouth using conditions. So in China, they were constantly pushing up against this. And as late as the 20s, there was a lot of infanticide in China. And although they had big families in China, there was a sort of anti natal culture lurking there, because they were always pushing up the back against the boundaries of what could be produced. And eventually you get to very low fertility, whether enforced by the government or not. What’s unusual about Africa is its sheer size, its Condor population, partly perhaps because of the slave trade, the idea that for centuries, Arabs were skimming millions of Africans and then eventually Europeans on a mass scale taking off. So there was a shortage of people, and that there could be a genuinely pro natal culture in Africa that maybe doesn’t disappear. Maybe takes longer to go, you’re an African women could be the last repositories of pronatal ism and a sort of lesson to the rest of us in not giving up on humanity. So So and again, it sounds like I’m preaching, I don’t think we should have six. But I mean, three has suited me very well. And three is a kind of two or three is a very sensible number that allows a country to grow gradually. We haven’t, of course, talked about the environmental issues. That’s another, another story. So so there is a view that we’re all going to get to Denmark. And there’s another view that Fukuyama was wrong on politics, and that there are going to be islands of surprises. Africa, May, there may be islands with Africa, areas with Africa that retain high fertility, and in the developed world, we’re seeing these today, very small communities, Haredi Jews, Amish, to some extent, Mormons still quite small. What could that be a harbinger of something for the future?
What do I believe I tend to be a sort of empty Fukuyama list on this, I think we will get a surprise. And the surprises won’t be where we expect them. I suppose they wouldn’t be surprises if we did expect them. But I think we’ll never quite know where the next little pro natal Island is going to crop up. And against a background of generally low fertility, these islands are going to be even more powerful and effective and numerically important than they would otherwise be.
Will Jarvis 51:21
That’s great. That’s great. Paul, thank you so much for taking the time today. Where can people find the book? Where should we send them to pick up a copy?
Paul Morland 51:28
So the human tide is on Amazon, both in the UK and the US? As I said, I don’t have a publisher yet for tomorrow’s people. It is in the US. So it’s on amazon.co.uk. So if you want to buy it in the States, I believe you can access it there.
Will Jarvis 51:45
Excellent. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to come on.
Paul Morland 51:49
Thanks for your time. Lovely to speak to you.
William Jarvis 51:56
Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next week with a new episode of narratives.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai