View Full Version : Population and warfare question

21 Oct 07,, 15:56
It has been said that every country where birth-rate fells below the 2.2 kids in every family is not able to effectivly fight any serious war . Or to have sustainable agressive / expansionist foreign policy .

Do declining birth-rate cut back the ability to wage a big-scale war ? I remember reading that the current rising star , China is especially challenged in this sense because of the 1-child policy . Basicly ´No way a chinese family is going to let goverment kill their only child´.

In west the sensitivity over dead soldiers numbers date back to the time where families got smaller with less children .

Currently the hottest spots in the world all have growing birth-rates . Would the same logic apply for them too if their birth-rate would fell ?

What do you think ?

21 Oct 07,, 23:49
Generally speaking countries with low birth rates have well-educated populations, first or near first-world economies, stable and free governments, etc.

Countries with very high birth rates tend to be poor, be characterized by a lack of human security, ineffective governments, and are generally very underdeveloped. You'll generally see an inverse correlation between GDP per capita and fertility rates. I see very high fertility/birth rates as symptomatic of the more endemic problems facing countries and their societies in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.

Examples of hot-spots not experiencing growing birth rates would be the former Yugoslavia. The fertility rates there were below or slightly above replacement levels. You can also look to Russia under Putin which effectively brought a close to the Chechen issue through the application of brute military force with little in the way of fanfare domestically.

With regards to China, it actually has a fertility rate substantially above one child per family, at 1.75 children/woman. This is comparable to France, the UK, or Iran. In the event of war I don't see China having any difficulties in sustaining mass casualties, ie there's not going to a reaction like the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia that was founded to protest the Afghanistan War in the late 80s.

One thing to keep in mind that different societies can be classified psychologically as being individualistic or collectivist, or somewhere in between. This makes a large difference in the willingness to sustain casualties. Western society places a high emphasis on the individual, whereas people in Arab nations or especially the Far East define themselves more as being a member of a family, a society, or a greater grouping of people than their own qualities. This is getting a bit into social psychology though.

Some quick excerpts on collectivism and individualism:

Collectivism is a term used to describe any moral, political, or social outlook, that stresses human interdependence and the importance of a collective, rather than the importance of separate individuals. Collectivists focus on community and society, and seek to give priority to group goals over individual goals. The philosophical underpinnings of collectivism are for some related to holism or organicism - the view that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Specifically, a society as a whole can be seen as having more meaning or value than the separate individuals that make up that society. Collectivism is widely seen as the antipole of individualism.
Collectivism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_society)

Individualism is a term used to describe a moral, political, or social outlook that stresses human independence and the importance of individual self-reliance and liberty. Individualists promote the exercise of individual goals and desires. They oppose most external interference with an individual's choices - whether by society, the state, or any other group or institution. Individualism is therefore opposed to holism, collectivism, fascism, communalism, statism, totalitarianism, and communitarianism, which stress that communal, group, societal, racial, or national goals should take priority over individual goals. Individualism is also opposed to the view that tradition, religion, or any other form of external moral standard should be used to limit an individual's choice of actions.
Individualism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individualism)

As far as these two theories are concerned, American culture would probably best exemplify individualism, whereas Chinese culture would best exemplify collectivism. This is without getting into differences in government, political ideology, and the sort, really the more baser elements in the cultural psychologies.