Wednesday, January 06, 2010

On Russian immigration to China and false common knowledge about demographics

I've earlier blogged about the slim likelihood that Chinese immigrants are going to "colonize' and take over the Russian Far East. In the final installment of a five-part Foreign Policy/Slate series on China's role in Russian border zones, Joshua Kucera suggests that the balance of power between the two countries is such that, rather than Chinese populating Russia, Russians are moving across the Amur to a dynamic China.

In 1989, the opening of the border between Russia and China raised Russian fears of a "yellow peril": millions of Chinese citizens flooding north into relatively unpopulated, but richly endowed, Siberia. Some contrarian publications even went so far as to suggest that Russia should just accept the inevitable and sell the whole territory to China.

Demographically, it makes sense that Chinese people would flock to Russia. Look at it in economic terms, though: China's economy is booming, and its prospects seem limitless. Meanwhile, Russia is highly dependent on uncertain oil and natural gas reserves. Professionals already make more money in China than they do in Russia, and as China's economy grows, blue-collar wages will likely outpace Russian pay. So, rather than Chinese people moving to Russia, isn't it more likely that Russians would move to China?

I asked this question of many Russians in the Far East, and I usually got the same answer: It's already happening. Thus far, the Russian migration to China seems to be only a trickle. But it's not hard to imagine that this is just the start.

The energy in Suifenhe, a relative backwater, is so much greater than in Vladivostok-a city three times the size-that taking the four-hour bus trip across the border is like switching from black-and-white to color. The road from Vladivostok becomes progressively worse the closer you get to the border, and the land is almost empty of people. As soon as you cross the border into China, there is a massive shopping mall with red cupolas, an apparent nod to Russian architecture, and an international-standard Holiday Inn.

The mall is part of what was supposed to be a joint Chinese-Russian free-trade zone, where people would be able to come to shop and tour visa-free. But all Russia has built on its side of the border is a church, which Chinese tourists photograph through the chain-link fence.

The day I arrived was one of the biggest celebrations in recent Chinese history: the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Still, at the many construction projects around the city's center, workers were on the job until after dark. I thought back to Vladivostok, where a huge suspension bridge is under construction. It is supposed to be ready by 2012, when the city plays host to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Ostensibly, this is a priority project overseen from Moscow, but when I mentioned to my translator that I hadn't seen anyone working on it, she smiled. "Yes," she said. "We notice that all the time."


Heilongjiang, for all that its economy suffers from a predominance of heavy industry, is attractive indeed.

But in addition to the many Russian tourists, there is a growing population of Russian expatriates living in Suifenhe. One, a journalist named Stanislav Bystritski, is a former reporter for a Vladivostok TV station. He moved here five years ago and produces two Russian-language shows on local Suifenhe TV, one oriented toward Russian tourists and one for Chinese people who want to learn about Russia and the Russian language.

[. . .]

He echoed what I had heard in Blagoveshchensk and Vladivostok-Russians come to China because it is easier to get a good job and easier to do business. "So many Russian businessmen say it's easier to work here, there is so much less corruption and bureaucracy," he said.


and

Viktor, a Russian engineer who moved here at the beginning of 2008, is working on a pollution-control technology that has excited more interest in China than it did in Russia. "The Chinese are more interested in innovative projects, so there are more opportunities here," he said. His wife, Natasha, works as a technician with Suifenhe's pioneering (and, to a civil libertarian, rather ominous) "electronic security" system, in which surveillance cameras all over town are controlled from a spotless control room in a glass-fronted building called the Suifenhe Cyberport. She says she wants her 4-year-old son to be raised "in Chinese traditions," and she is making sure he learns Chinese.

"People are so friendly here, I feel so comfortable," she said. "This is my new home."


None of this is controversial. People regularly move from places with relatively few opportunities to places with more opportunities all the time, even if it means crossing national borders and any number of cultural boundaries. Chinese contract workers may, as I noted earlier, work in the Russian Far East for extended peridos of time, while Russians may move across the border.

I am struck by Kucera's sentence "Demographically, it makes sense that Chinese people would flock to Russia." How does that work? If the income gap was in Russia's favour, if Chinese migrants had unrestricted access to Russian border areas, and if labour mobility in the Russian Far East was such that Russians didn't move in while Chinese stayed, you might have a Sinicized Russian Far East. If Russia itself was an attractive destination for Chinese migrants, things would look different indeed. But it isn't, and I'm left perplexed by Kucera's use of the word "demographically." Nothing in income differences, fertility rates, or migration trends would predict massive Chinese migration north. Heilongjiang's 30 millions outnumber the people of the Russian Far East five-to-one and live in a province with a much higher population density, but population density is irrelevant to migration: does Germany's high population density propel mass migrations to less densely populated France and Poland?

Demographics matter. People who pay attention to demographics, it must be noted yet again, should take care to examine common knowledge to see if it actually reflects what's going on. Chinese immigration to Russia is but a single example of this.

43 comments:

Brett said...

It seems to be based in a kind of pre-industrial view of where people want to go and work, as if most chinese just want some more agricultural land to work and farm. At least from what I've read, they'd rather have higher incomes and steady jobs, and those are harder to find in Siberia.

Борис Денисов said...

there are very few agricultural opportunities in Siberia

Nobody said...

The anecdotal evidence indeed suggests that Russian Far East is awash with Chinese. I have no idea why the statistics don't square with what is common knowledge among people who live or happened to visit the region. That Russians in their turn are moving into China is extremely interesting though it looks like the trend is more about adventurous and entrepreneurial young people. Another interesting detail about this exchange of populations is that, unlike Russians, Chinese settlers in the Russian Far East seem to be mostly from lower classes. Anyway, if this trend does exist then it can only accelerate the Chinese demographic takeover of the Russian Far East as it means that the region is hemorrhaging its Russian population at an even faster rate.

Randy said...

Nobody:

Anecdotes aren't meaningful next to the statistics, and are in fact counterintuitive. Areas with low population densities don't automatically attract migrants from areas of high population densities, especially if these areas are more highly developed. Canadians aren't flooding to Nunavut, Chinese to Tibet, Russians to northern Siberia, Australia to the outback.

Nobody said...

True. But don't forget that there are lies, there are damn lies, statistics and there are also Russian statistics

Randy said...

The Russian statistics seem to be getting better, though.

The previous blog posting on the subject has more. Suffice it to say that the restrictive policies on Chinese movement into the Far East, even as tourists or guest workers, coupled with the lack of economic opportunity in the area that's encouraging Russians to cross the Amur to live, makes me think it likely that there isn't an overwhelming Chinese majority well. As I said, with things the way they were one may as well expect mass migrations by Germans into Sweden and Poland and France on account on their lower population densities.

If "Outer Manchuria" had stayed part of China, it probably would have been populated and settled like Heilongjiang. As it was, Russia failed to establish a very effect model of settlement in the area, probably ruining the region's chances.

Nobody said...

Re the Russian statistics I have little idea. Many people say that in terms of corruption it's never been that bad. This is obviously relevant to the statistics, in particular in far away and sparsely populated regions. I bet you understand that if your article says that Russians are attracted to some remote China's provinces because of their relative lack of corruption, this is quite something.

What does appear from the so called anecdotal evidence is that Russia does attract some kind of rural migrants, they are not necessarily Chinese and this phenomenon is not limited to the Russian Far East. I hear about Central Asian migrants settling in Central Russian villages too. I don't know how well Russian statistics reflect this trend.

You should bear in mind that Russian provinces are decimated by the alcoholic epidemic. It's on the scale of China's provinces during the Opium wars. Better educated and ambitious people are migrating to big cities. In some provinces and remote regions it looks like only elderly and less able people remain. If you are a not very educated person, but you are ready to work hard and take advantage of opportunities, you can be a king there.

Nobody said...

My family, by the way, is considering in serious switching to agriculture because their business took a direct hit from this crisis. And they are a kind of thinking of moving to the periphery, but the problem is exactly this: it's difficult to find people you can reliably employ. Somebody works for you for a week, then he disappears for two weeks drinking somewhere. If my family could find there Chinese or somebody they would have been ready to pay them double just to have somebody who shows up to work every morning.

Anonymous said...

but population density is irrelevant to migration:

Network effects leads to higher density areas being richer so when emigrate go to densely populated areas and not to backwaters like Eastern Siberia

snakeoilbaron said...

I have heard or read somewhere that many of the Chinese in eastern Russia are seasonal and temporary workers and that the population of permanent immigrants there are growing but not a huge fraction of the Chinese in Russia. Is this the case?

I think the idea of Chinese moving into Russia *seems* intuitive because it makes sense on a nation state level - Russia gets labour, China creates resource suppliers nearby though both states would worry about who really is in control and to who the new population is loyal to - but on the individual level of the potential migrants it is less sensible.

China's economy is spun and hyped to look strong while heading full-speed into a crisis of its own making, Russia is already far ahead on that road to ruin. Between that economic disaster, the political environments and fertility trends in both nations, there is a lot of uncertainty in that region.

Nobody said...

snakeoilbaron said...
China's economy is spun and hyped to look strong while heading full-speed into a crisis of its own making, Russia is already far ahead on that road to ruin.


I believe that China knows what it's doing. Even if it's a catastrophe of their own making, it's a controlled one. My impression from some of their policies regarding agriculture and biofuels is that not only they treat the issue of food supplies with the same seriousness as energy, but that they may also think the current size of their population to be unsustainable. In fact, they are gradually relaxing the one child policy, but it seems like they want the population to eventually stabilize at much lower levels, something like 800-900 millions and they don't think it's the right time to fix the fertility at the replacement level.

On the other hand, you should not underestimate the fact that these are not normal democratic governments. Both China and Russia are perfectly capable of implementing painful policies that won't pay off until after 10-15 years. In the case of China in particular, if the CCP decides that it's time to move to the two child policy, this will be implemented with the same iron fist as the one child one. People who fail to comply will be punished with fines and discrimination at workplaces and universities (their children). These Communists are not going to chart fancy graphs and theorize about the fourth stage of the demographic transition for decades. They will just do it.

The same goes by the way about Russia. If the current uptick in Russian birth rates runs out of steam, Putin is not going to sit for ages meditating on Russian demographics. The pro natalist policies will be escalated. And Putin will not allow any environmentalists to sneak around bullshitting people. Putin said that demography is Russia's number one problem and the Russians know that Putin wants families to have two-three children. There is no ambiguity or uncertainty about this issue in Russia, it's crystal clear.

Anonymous said...

A 1 child policy is so much easier to implement than a 2 child policy. It is something that can be done with an Iron Fist because it can be done "fair" unlike a 2 child policy in which you have to deal with infertility etc.

Time is also an issue. Economically it is for society best if women get their 2 children in their late 20's, for the women themself it is best to get early 30's. But even the late 20's makes it to difficult to implement a discriminatory policy with teeth. There is also the issue that you get a braindrain

Nobody said...

A 1 child policy is so much easier to implement than a 2 child policy. It is something that can be done with an Iron Fist because it can be done "fair" unlike a 2 child policy in which you have to deal with infertility etc.

There is no difference at all. Infertility does not mean that you can't pay a fine for failing to contribute your share to national demographics. Maybe such people can be exempt, but as far as I can get the Chinese authorities logic, they won't miss the chance to give these people one more reason to try their hand at infertility treatments

Cicerone said...

Yes, population density does matter, but in a modern industrial society, the trend is reversed. Usually people now migrate to areas with higher densities, Heilongjiang is the Province in China with the most unfavorable demographics. Adjusted for underreporting, Heilongjiangs TFR is around 1.3, and therefore a bit lower than in Russia. Both areas are a source of migrants, with the Chinese going south and the Russians going west.

The only thing that until now prevented massive depopulation is population momentum, but it fades away. So if I would be Chinese I would rather live in a warm, rich and booming City like Shanghai or Shenzhen than in the frosty north.


Is it a coincidence that in many countries the northern region is usually loosing population due to migration? Also most of the northern regions have lower than average fertility rates. (Hokkaido, Scotland, North East Spain, Manchuria, northern part of Scandinavia, Newfoundland and Labrador are the regions of their countries that have the lowest population growth)

Cicerone said...

@Nobody

Do you realkly think that a 2-child-policy would work? afaik Cuba is demographically seen a fail in the last years, lowest TFR in the Americas with Habana having lowest low fertility. Cuba is also the strictest dictatorship in the Americas, so it would be easy for Castro to 'encourage' Cubans to have more than their 1.4 children.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is.

With a 1 child policy you can do a "3 kids and we will make your life hell". You simply can't do that with a "0 kids and we make your life hell" without using much more force as there is much less free will in the decision of having kids than there is in the decision of not having kids.

You can say that fining worked with the one child policy but that was only part of the "punishment". Something much harder to implement with a 2 child policy. There is also the question what to do about the dad. With a one child policy you can punish the dad (or not knowing the dad is an extra punishment). But with a 2 child policy you get men who will purchase their name on an birth certificate. Is that something you want and how do you solve that?

Nobody said...

Cice

Of course they would work. You should not think that the problems of the West have anything to do with real problems, they are all self inflicted. If your hands are not bound by some delusional self destructive ideology, whether it's scientific communism or scientific liberalism, most problems have very simple and straightforward solutions. The only issue here is if you want to solve your problems, or you are chasing some utopian pipe dreams the style of universal brotherhood, global community and other lunacies. As to Castro, he simply does not care for this stuff. What does he care for demographics?

But with a 2 child policy you get men who will purchase their name on an birth certificate. Is that something you want and how do you solve that?

I don't want to do anything. I am just saying that when the time of the two child policy comes, and if the CCP will still be around, it will resolve these problems in no time. What's so complicated about the dad? If the dad is divorced, then he is paying aliments to his divorcee. If the given dad does not father two children directly or by paying subsidies to his former wife, then he is subject to the same fines.

For poor countries pro natalist policies may be prohibitively expensive if they are based only on positive stimuli. However, by using negative stimulus, any government can tune the total stimulus to be just big enough to have a desired effect. This is not nuclear physics and this is what the CCP will do if it decides that the policy should be changed.

Another thing is that when you have a coherent policy supported by effective propaganda campaign, the population will cooperate. You don't have to fight people so much. The demographic mess in the West is very much a result of confusion. Go to any Western forum and see how environmentalists are rallying for collapsing the global population, calling for one child policies and the stuff. You will find much more commenters arguing for more population decline than the other way round. It's a general cultural crisis of the West multiplied by the spread of all sorts of lunacies.

There is very little to argue about or be meditating on here. Some people may call for free markets on the grounds that economy is a self correcting system. But it's obvious that human demography is not, it's not a self correcting system and so it should be subject to substantial government's intervention with a view of stabilizing the TFR around the replacement level. All pro natalist policies should be concentrated within the first two children per family or per parent, the third child should be neural in terms of stimulus and starting from the fourth on or below the first two, negative stimulus should be applied.

Nobody said...

By the way, I know infertile couples who adopted and this may pass for the same as having one's own children. In short, don't worry for the CCP. If they decide that it's time for upward correction, they will find means to do it.

Anonymous said...

Ease of implementation is important in the realization of the policy. You don't answer that except with stating Iron Fist. This simply doesn't work that well otherwise the Great Leap would be a massive success.

You don't think that "fathers" without any connection to the child except an untrue claim will be less than ideal fathers? They also will discourage the real dad.

Negative stimulus need a much higher level of being seen as fare and in this is were 2 kids police fail. Also policing this is so much harder than a 1 child policy especially with the large illegal emigration that China has (at the moment mostly internal but i expect that no so future Chinese will write about the takeover of China by the Africans)

But china would want a 2 child policy, not a as many kids as possible policy. In this case you have to also allow no kids advocacy as counterbalance for many kids as possible.

10% of the couples can't get children so a 2 kids policy leaves you with a TFR of 1.8 To get to a TFR of 2 you don't need 2 but a TFR of 2.22 for women who get kids or 1 in 5 mothers will 3 kids. For that you need more than neutral.

Adoption on the scale needed is massive and highly disruptive. There is also the moral problem with adoption. Realistically drug smuggling and trafficking of women is less immoral.

Nobody said...

Anonymous

You really got me with this pointless arguing. You are such an example of everything that's wrong about this line of thinking you represent.

You don't think that "fathers" without any connection to the child except an untrue claim will be less than ideal fathers? They also will discourage the real dad.

I don't see how it discourages the real dad and obviously no fine will encourage an unwilling man to start fathering stranger children, let alone to pay subsidies for them to an unknown woman. It's not that you create a system that arm twists people into this kind of things.

But china would want a 2 child policy, not a as many kids as possible policy. In this case you have to also allow no kids advocacy as counterbalance for many kids as possible.

Your official policy is that the ideal family is about 2-3 children. At this level you don't destroy the environment by overpopulation, neither you are endangering people's future pensions and breeding other troubles. It's a very simple message to communicate to your population because it's constant instead of alternatively scaring people with either overpopulation or underpopulation. It's this endless barrage of conflicting messages that created the confusion about demographics in the West in the first place. But once you have a clear and consistent policy, you will never have to explain yourself twice and more. With such an approach you do have a real chance to win cooperation on the part of a significant part of your population. On one hand, you are accusing me of ignoring human aspects of the situation, on the other you refer to people as a kind of livestock who breeds only depending on the amount of subsidies provided by the government. The message is important. And the message of a stable state demography is something that most people can perfectly comprehend. And if this message supported by adequate policies, then it demonstrates to people that the government is serious.

10% of the couples can't get children so a 2 kids policy leaves you with a TFR of 1.8 To get to a TFR of 2 you don't need 2 but a TFR of 2.22 for women who get kids or 1 in 5 mothers will 3 kids. For that you need more than neutral.

There are more than enough people who will do all three with no encouragement. There are dozens of millions of newly born Christians in China. China has Muslim populations. There is no reason to waste subsidies on the third child when you know that some people are going to have it anyway. Before subsidies people did not make children? What happened now?

The same goes about 1.8 or 2.2. It's not that relevant. Some people would prefer to pay fines. Fair enough. Nothing wrong with it. Limited and controlled immigration is always possible. It's unlimited and uncontrolled one that's creating problems. If it's 1.8, then it's 1.8. We can't get it 100% right.

You seem to be dreaming about some sort of ideal policy. Such a thing simply does not exist in the nature. But rejecting imperfect policies will soon send quite a few countries tumbling down. Watch Japan, many countries in Eastern Europe. Then you will tell me if it's better to have an imperfect policy rather than having none whatsoever.

Randy said...

Nobody: Um.

It's worth noting that the sorts of coercive pro-natalism that's being talked about here requires the imposition of a totalitarian state and traditional gender norms on a population, doesn't co-exist with a viable economy very well at all, and is ultimately fundamentally unstable. Ceaucescu's Romania was many things, but it was never a viable model for, well, much.

Cicerone:

"Is it a coincidence that in many countries the northern region is usually loosing population due to migration? Also most of the northern regions have lower than average fertility rates. (Hokkaido, Scotland, North East Spain, Manchuria, northern part of Scandinavia, Newfoundland and Labrador are the regions of their countries that have the lowest population growth)"

It's not a matter of northern regions so much as it is peripheral regions, where whatever fertility dynamics are in play are aggravated by net migration out of the region.

Randy said...

Cicerone:

"afaik Cuba is demographically seen a fail in the last years, lowest TFR in the Americas with Habana having lowest low fertility. Cuba is also the strictest dictatorship in the Americas, so it would be easy for Castro to 'encourage' Cubans to have more than their 1.4 children."

Perhaps Cuba's demographic structures aren't dissimilar from that of Mediterranean Europe, with a tight family structure and delayed parenthood.

Anyway. People form families and become parents when they feel able to comfortably do so. The main issue nowadays in countries in the later stages of the demographic transition is the extent that people can combine a work life with a family life, without having to choose between the two or being looked down upon for so doing. General living standards also play an important role.

Coercive pronatalism doesn't work in a modern society. The only middle-to-high income country where those policies were applied, in Romania, was able to do so only because the country was thoroughly insulated from foreign influences and run by a totalitarian regime quite happy to micromanage the lives of its citizens. When the regime cracked, as brittle totalitarian regimes tend to do, fertility rates promptly collapsed to lowest-low levels in two or three years, not without having created a baby-boom generation of children who'd now be passing through school and health systems and a job market unprepared to absorb them.

(Well, it might if it had a source of income independent of industrial or agricultural production, like resource rents. Even those can go only so far.)

There's always going to be conflicting messages about demographics and proposed solutions in any pluralistic society. That's because it's a complicated set of questions which vary according to situation and don't need to correlate with popular wisdom.

Nobody said...

Randy

Just to make sure that we are synced about our facts. I bet you are aware that China was the world's fastest growing economy for the last few decades and this year Russia was reported to have reversed its population decline, just two-three years after Putin designated demography as the nation's number one problem in his new year address to the nation.

Another thing is that I don't know what is coercive. There are Chinese who exceed the quotas of the one child policy. They are not sent to prison. They are just made pay for this and for some Chinese this is a price worth paying. This anti natalism is coercive?

Another question: If I pay people child subsidies, this is coercive or voluntary? If I pay for these subsidies in taxes collected from one child and no-child families and parents, this is coercive or voluntary?

Yet another thing is that what you and anon seem to overlook is that people are not reproductive machines that only respond to purely economical stimulus. Technically speaking you have here two components. You have a desired family size and actual fertility.
Now one time payments, subsidies, tax breaks, maternal leaves, subsidized daycare, fines, discriminative measures are meant to close the gap between the actual and desired.

But what is considered ideal or desired is neither something given from God or nature. To a substantial degree the desired reflects the society's general orientation. Fancy graphs and models are not everything as both demographers and economists could have lately noticed. People are more complex creatures than that and if you have your media constantly bombarding the population with demoralizing, environmental or whatever information, while the government is unable to come up with a coherent and making sense message, then you should expect this to be reflected in people's preferences regarding the desired family size. It's at this point where both China and Russia can beat your models and theories since on one hand you have here a strong government in an increasingly nationalist country formulating its message in the clearest terms possible. Russia's pro natalist policies by the way seem to be based around the second child. So they don't encourage overpopulation or explosive growth of minorities. The methods are crude, but the program is very precise in terms of its targets.

On the other hand, the CCP spent all of its history doing mass mobilizations. Go to any forms where Chinese are posting, you would quickly notice this. Subsidies and fines are important, but the message is equally important. And when it comes to formulating the message and delivering it to the population, the CCP has a record hardly matched by any other single party or government in the world.

Nobody said...

By the way, if I remember it right, Eduard Hugh noticed in one of his posts a link between awareness of dangers of low fertility and actual fertility itself.

Nobody said...

Coercive pronatalism doesn't work in a modern society. The only middle-to-high income country where those policies were applied, in Romania, was able to do so only because the country was thoroughly insulated from foreign influences and run by a totalitarian regime quite happy to micromanage the lives of its citizens.

Having proactive demographic policies does not pass for totalitarianism by the way. Neither a two child policy can be equated with pro natalism. Finally, the collapse of the Communist regime in Romania was followed by a severe economic crisis and a period of political instability which alone can account for the collapse in fertility rates. Never mind that I think that the demographic policies of the Communist regime were discontinued because of the crisis. So it was a bit more complicated.

Randy said...

"Just to make sure that we are synced about our facts. I bet you are aware that China was the world's fastest growing economy for the last few decades and this year Russia was reported to have reversed its population decline, just two-three years after Putin designated demography as the nation's number one problem in his new year address to the nation."

Yes, there's a slight natural increase. The extent to which this will endure is doubtful, inasmuch as the very large cohort of Russian women born during the 15-year-long period of very depressed fertility are coming of reproductive age now.

"Another thing is that I don't know what is coercive. There are Chinese who exceed the quotas of the one child policy. They are not sent to prison. They are just made pay for this and for some Chinese this is a price worth paying. This anti natalism is coercive?"

Inasmuch as legal sanctions are involved, yes, coercion is involved.

"Another question: If I pay people child subsidies, this is coercive or voluntary? If I pay for these subsidies in taxes collected from one child and no-child families and parents, this is coercive or voluntary?"

The family policies that we've been talking about here, and that I support, involve enabling people to form whatever families they wish. Inasmuch as the structure of work makes it difficult for women to combine work and famuily, the structure of work is the problem. It's the main factor substantially responsible for low fertility in West Germany, actually; the combination of a family policy aimed at reinforcing traditional gender roles in the family structure and popular prejudice against women who make use of daycare and other, similar institutions, is responsible for a large number of West German women deciding not to have children at all, thus depressing completed fertility.

"Yet another thing is that what you and anon seem to overlook is that people are not reproductive machines that only respond to purely economical stimulus."

We haven't been overlooking that, as I mentioned above in West Germany (for instance). What I'm questioning is the extent to which nationalist propaganda will actually work in overcoming serious economic issues which influence fertility. If I'm a city-dweller in an increasingly high-density Shanghai that lacks adequate economic and other support for multiple children, how likely am I to have more than one child?

"It's at this point where both China and Russia can beat your models and theories since on one hand you have here a strong government in an increasingly nationalist country formulating its message in the clearest terms possible."

The record of nationalist propaganda, at very best, is mixed. Sustained pronatalist rhetoric sdid nothing to reverse the ongoing slide in completed fertility in France, and Weimar and Nazi propaganda did little to reverse fertility decline in Germany. Underlying economic and cultural pressures were responsible for falling fertility, with state-sponsored propaganda doing little.

"Subsidies and fines are important, but the message is equally important. And when it comes to formulating the message and delivering it to the population, the CCP has a record hardly matched by any other single party or government in the world."

For good and for ill, and so far only in situations where the CCP dominated public discourse and strictly regulated individual behaviour. In the much more open and pluralistic society of modern China, that's just not possible. The Chinese government has proven itself unable to reverse an unbalanced sex ratio at birth, and it hasn't yet boosted fertility in Shanghai, where if not for migration the city's population would already be declining.

Randy said...

Nobody:

Having proactive demographic policies does not pass for totalitarianism by the way.

Your suggestions formed an integral component of Romanian policies.

The decree stipulated that abortion would be allowed only when pregnancy endangered the life of a woman or was the result of rape or incest, or if the child was likely to have a congenital disease or deformity. Also an abortion could be performed if the woman was over forty-five years of age or had given birth to at least four children who remained under her care. Any abortion performed for any other reason became a criminal offense, and the penal code was revised to provide penalties for those who sought or performed illegal abortions.

Other punitive policies were introduced. Men and women who remained childless after the age of twenty-five, whether married or single, were liable for a special tax amounting to between 10 and 20 percent of their income. The government also targeted the rising divorce rates and made divorce much more difficult.

[. . .]

[T]he pronatalist policies had an immediate impact, with the number of live births rising from 273,687 in 1966 to 527,764 in 1967--an increase of 92.8 percent. Legal abortions fell just as dramatically with only 52,000 performed in 1967 as compared to more than 1 million in 1965. This success was due in part to the presence of police in hospitals to ensure that no illegal abortions would be performed.

[. . .]

The increase in live births was short-lived. After the police returned to more normal duties, the number of abortions categorized as legal rose dramatically, as did the number of spontaneous abortions. The material incentives provided by the state, even when coupled with draconian regulation and coercion, were not enough to sustain an increase in birthrates, which again began to decline.

[. . .]

Although government expenditures on material incentives rose by 470 percent between 1967 and 1983, the birthrate actually decreased during that time by 40 percent. After 1983, despite the extreme measures taken by the regime to combat the decline, there was only a slight increase, from 14.3 to 15.5 per 1,000 in 1984 and 16 per 1,000 in 1985.

[. . .]

In 1986 mass media campaigns were launched, extolling the virtues of the large families of the past and of family life in general. Less subtle were the pronouncements that procreation was the patriotic duty and moral obligation of all citizens. The campaign called for competition among judete (counties) for the highest birthrates and even encouraged single women to have children despite the fact that illegitimacy carried a considerable social stigma.


"Neither a two child policy can be equated with pro natalism."

How is legislation that mandates fertility at a certain level not pronatalism?

"Finally, the collapse of the Communist regime in Romania was followed by a severe economic crisis and a period of political instability which alone can account for the collapse in fertility rates. Never mind that I think that the demographic policies of the Communist regime were discontinued because of the crisis."

The demographic policies of the Communsit regime were discontinued because the regime as a whole, and these demographic policies were (correctly) seen as an integral element of the Romanian state's effort to thoroughly dominate the intimate lives of its subjects.

As an added irony, the baby boom didn't do much for the Romanian economy, apart from straining educational, health and other resources in a time of impoverishment and unemployment. The generation of the baby boom is the generation that has left Romania to seek work elsewhere in Europe.

Nobody said...

Having proactive demographic policies does not pass for totalitarianism by the way.

Your suggestions formed an integral component of Romanian policies.<


My suggestions has nothing to do with any Romanian policies besides negative stimulus. You can just as well say that because Western demographic policies are usually based on positive stimulus, they are copy pastes from totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe. Why not? Romania used positive stimulus too. What you are saying is pretty much the same as to claim that because the Nazis and the rest of humanity are using bipedal locomotion, we are all Nazis now.

Never mind that I see the idea of tying pensions or retirement age to the number of children quite often suggested as part of reforming the pensions system and it may be eventually implemented. There is actually no major difference between positive and negative stimulus, it's the same thing. The first is preferable, but the latter may be inevitable for nations lacking sufficient funds.

"Neither a two child policy can be equated with pro natalism."

How is legislation that mandates fertility at a certain level not pronatalism?


For starters I never suggested mandating fertility and I am not a kind of person who easily allows to replace himself with a strawman. So don't do it.

Why it's not pro natalist? Because it does not seek to escalate fertility, but only to stabilize it. It's not an open ended project escalating child benefits indefinitely, but only concentrating them within a range of the first two children per family or a parent. In fact, I bet that a significant number of environmentalists could compromise on such a program in exchange for practical measures to discourage fertility from shooting up above the replacement level.

As to:

The family policies that we've been talking about here, and that I support, involve enabling people to form whatever families they wish. Inasmuch as the structure of work makes it difficult for women to combine work and famuily, the structure of work is the problem.

Good point. Should be part of any demographic stabilization program as far as I am concerned.

Nobody said...

Re your historical examples,With your permission I will tell you hat you are the case of a person who knows too much. You can send all this ballast the way of the window. The world of sub replacement fertility will be a very different one. It's a bonds market now. It's going to operate on very narrow margins. Historically important factors will have no importance in the future. The marginal ones will be of paramount importance. The rules of the game have changed.

Anonymous said...

Russia is at the end of transition fase between a communistic and a capitalist birth profile. In other words the postponement effect is nearing its end and that leads to highe TFR.

China is Singapore big. And Singapore is "highly" successful with increasing their TFR

Randy said...

Nobody:

"Why it's not pro natalist? Because it does not seek to escalate fertility, but only to stabilize it."

. . . at a higher level. Ergo, pronatalist.


"The world of sub replacement fertility will be a very different one. It's a bonds market now. It's going to operate on very narrow margins. Historically important factors will have no importance in the future. The marginal ones will be of paramount importance. The rules of the game have changed."

Sure. The thing is, some rules people are going to try to implement just aren't going to work, and some things that governments might wanty to do are going to be impossible to implement regardless of their ethical qualities.

Randy said...

Re: minorities, any large population is going to evidence numerous subpopulations which demonstrate different trends: rural versus urban, one region versus another, poor versus rich, et cetera. If the proportion of minorities was an issue--I don't think so; I think that when it's raised it's usually used as an excuse not to deal with problems of integration--then, well, only the most intrusive sort of family policy could deal with that.

Nobody said...

Sure. The thing is, some rules people are going to try to implement just aren't going to work, and some things that governments might wanty to do are going to be impossible to implement regardless of their ethical qualities

So societies will have to find a combination of rules that work. The reality of the situation is such that on one hand the world may be already overpopulated and this is not obvious only because a large part of it remains underindustrialized. On the other hand, as it looks now, it may be impossible to shrink population by means of aging without collapsing social systems. There may be little space left for maneuvering between the two options anyway. As to integration and the stuff, immigration or demographically superactive minorities are only an illusion of solution, actually it's not even an illusion anymore. These days the world is discovering how dangerous unchecked global capital flows can be, soon it will discover that global migration flows can be even more devastating.

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Nobody said...

Randy said...
Nobody:

"Why it's not pro natalist? Because it does not seek to escalate fertility, but only to stabilize it."

. . . at a higher level. Ergo, pronatalist.


By your logic if it's at a lower level, then it's antinatalist. So it's antinatalist or pronatalist?

Anonymous said...
China is Singapore big. And Singapore is "highly" successful with increasing their TFR

Singapore is still not so hard pressed in terms of aging of its population. Once it starts getting serious, expect more action.

And in general, pro natalist policies were shown to work, they are just very expensive. In this sense pro natalist policies aimed at allowing working couples to raise children are no different. Extended maternal leaves, free daycare for children, motivating employers to employ working mothers in part time jobs and securing that the women still earn enough requires a massive budget. However, by combining positive stimulus with a negative you can both scale up the total stimulus which is the difference between the positive and negative stimulus and get more funding for your pro natalist programs. The question is really if a given government has guts to go all the way to achieve its targets and both the Chinese government and Putin's government may very well have them.

Nobody said...

And again, this is a new situation and it's about very thin margins. Basically even the TFR is 1.8-1.9 may be enough, people live longer these days, they stay active for longer. So it's basically just about a few decimal points and a few decimal points is a matter of political will and nothing more.

Anonymous said...

I used Singapore explicit because Singapore is that kind of country. IIRC they tried it in the 90's with some early success but it failed anyway.

Nobody said...

Anon

We still don't have a country that crashed because of its demography though during this crisis demographically struggling countries seem to have been the first to fall to pieces. I bet that during the next decade we will get something like this in Eastern Europe or elsewhere. Then the sense of urgency will grow

Nobody said...

Or if there is a serious mess because of immigration in some West European country.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of regions went through a demographic collapse in the near past. You only have to look at the mountain regions of Europe and calling Ireland a demographic struggling country is plain weird.

PS. The Irish in the UK did produce a serious mess

Nobody said...

I am not very bearish on Ireland. I am watching countries such as Greece, Spain, many countries in Eastern Europe. Italy is also very interesting. Japan is fascinating. There is a plenty of cool stuff around besides Ireland

:D :D

Anonymous said...

Is there anyway of estimating the possible extent of birth postponement in Russia?

Richard said...

Pro-natalist policies can't really work. However,
1. A large rural farming population
2. No pension plan to speak of
3. Long, historical cultural norms that prize children (well, boys, anyway) because of the the 2 facts above

mean that Chinese for the next 30 years will still reproduce at above replacement rate if the shackles come off. The problems will come in 2050 when China is 80% urban & richer (where having a child is more costly and you don't capture all the benefits). The one-child policy really should have been modified to the 3-child policy 10 years ago. Already, it may be too late to keep China from plunging in to demographic crisis in 2050.