Monday, June 16, 2008

One reason for population decline

Many of the industrial countries in the world have a big population problem. They are imploding. A country with a static population size has what is called a Total Fertility Rate (TFR)of around 2.1 to 2.2. If every man and woman married and had two children, the population would be stable, but because of people dying before they have a chance to have children, and some people not having children, the replacement rate needs to be a bit higher.

Over the last hundred years the TFR of Europe has dropped. It has gotten to the point that many countries have a TFR of 1.5 and lower. This list of countries by TFR says Poland is down to 1.23. With low numbers like this a country is imploding. In one generation the number of people can drop to half or less. (As in interesting side note with the current trends the United States will have more people than China around 2060.)

There has been a lot of debate on the causes of the decling birthrate in industrial countries.

I found this possible factor fascinating - Soap Operas may lower birth rates. A study found:

"Using census data from 1970 to 1991 and data on the entry of Rede Globo into different markets, the researchers found that women living in areas that received Globo's broadcast signal had significantly lower fertility. (And yes, the study did control for all sorts of factors and addressed the concern that the entry of Globo might have been driven by trends that also contribute to fertility decline. I'll spare you the gory econometric details.) Additionally, people in areas with Globo's signal were more likely to name their children after novela characters, suggesting that it was the novelas specifically, and not TV in general, that influenced childbearing."

As soap operas became available, people stopped having children. Amazing. It happens so gradually in much of the rest of the world it would be hard to pick up on. In Brazil they could check from one year to the next and see the drop.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: population, TFR, soap, opera

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