The egregious Dellingpole suggests that “as GDP per capita increases, so people decide to have fewer children and that therefore the solution to Africa’s problems is for everyone to be made richer, faster through the institution of property rights, free trade and incentives for local people to benefit from the safari industry and keep those reserves in the pristine state”.
A few months ago James A pointed me to this remarkable graph, which I had since lost track of. It isn’t actually linked at Wikipedia; it’s, for some reason, an orphan graphic. All the more reason to feature it here, as it’s a stunning infographic, despite the plain color scheme and the lack of little Bob the Builder icons crawling all over it and gratuitous lines running every which way.
But that doesn’t tell us what to make of it. It is commonly claimed that rich countries stop making babies. But it makes at least as much sense to consider that countries that stop making babies become rich. I don’t want to get too deeply into the fraught ethnic tensions of the Southwest, but I will say that the latter theory is certainly the folk wisdom among white southwesterners when considering Mexican and hispano-American culture. Certainly the individual who has children before attaining marketable skills will have a harder time developing them later. That stands to reason.
Now, as with temperature and CO2 on the interglacial time scale, the causation could easily run both ways. Indeed, when the correlation is so tight, we should suspect a positive feedback. But which comes first? Which is the trigger? Which causality direction dominates? Could it be that a decrease in fertility sometimes or often precedes the increase in the wealth?
Compare, for example, the recent history of China vs. that of India.
I am not sure what the implications of this alternative are. I’d like to know if it has been considered anywhere.