John Lilburne's journal about fertility rates.



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1225 L Sat 5 Jan 2002

I have been thinking about Argentina and Australia. Peter Costello, the Australian Treasurer has an article in The Age today with the headline: Inept policies make Argentina architect of its own doom. He begins:

Argentina has had five presidents in the last fortnight. There is rioting in the streets of Buenos Aires. The economy has been in recession for over three years. Unemployment is over 18 per cent.

There have been other articles comparing Australia and Argentina, that things here could have gone like there.

I think a more important statistic than the economics may be the Total Fertility Rate.

Australia: 1.77 children born/woman (2001 est.)

Argentina: 2.44 children born/woman (2001 est.)

These and lots of other population statistics I got from the CIA. So I wonder if we are measuring the right things. It seems that despite all the problems in Argentina, they are reproducing at a greater rate than Australians.

Below the Treasurer's article there is one by Francis Fukuyama, with the headline Fighting the 21st century fascists. He discusses radical Islamist movements, saying:

... These groups celebrate September 11 because it humbled a society that they believed was at its base corrupt. This corruption was not just a matter of sexual permissiveness, homosexuality and women's rights as they exist in the West, but stemmed in their view from secularism itself. ...

He discusses economic failures in Islamic countries:

There is not a single instance of an oil-rich state in the Persian Gulf that has used its wealth to create a self-sustaining industrial society, instead of creating a society of corrupt rentiers who over time have become more and more fanatically Islamist.

He talks of Saudi Arabia. I look at their fertility rate:

6.25 children born/woman (2001 est.).

I am sure our greater life expectancy and older population are factors. But it seems to me that for all our education, industrialisation, sound economic management we have a society that is not reproducing.

I think last year more Australian recognised the declining fertility rate as a problem. The Australian newspaper had a series of articles on balancing work and family. Geoffrey Blainey spoke about the issue of population in his Boyer lectures, and I have just read the transcript of the first one. But I think we are still a long way from solutions.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne 5 January 2002.

Links to other sites: factbook for a listing of all country's Total Fertility Rate click on "Field Listing" and scroll down.



Boyer lectures

Lecture 1 Australia Unlimited