Thursday, January 23, 2014

Foreign Aid is Permanently Saving the World

Bill Gates writes:
By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse. The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful.

Yep.  I have said the same thing myself and even "bet the farm" on the future of the world (OK, it was an ant farm, but still, it was real money from a guy who works for a living).

This morning, before posting this note to the blog, I sent a note to two people I know from back in the days when I worked on U.S. and world population policy, noting the current Total Fertility Rate for countries that used to send tremendous numbers of immigrants to the United States:
The Total Fertility Rate for the US is now 2.1. For Mexico, it's just 2.2. For El Salvador it's 1.99. For Vietnam it's 1.89. For Cuba it's 1.46.
For the record, replacement level fertility is 2.1.

Countries as diverse as Korea (1.24 TFR in the South, 1.99 in the North), Tunisia (2.01), Iran (1.86), Italy (1.41), France (2.08), Ireland (2.01), and Morocco (2.17), have low fertility rates.

China and India combined (TFR of 1.55 and 2.55 respectively) have replacement level fertility.

South Africa's Total Fertility Rate has dropped to just 2.25.

Sure there are areas where fertility remains high, but even here it is falling fast. Kenya has a TFR of 3.76, but that's down from 8.1 in 1977. Iraq has a TFR of 3.5, but that's down from 7.40 in 1970. Pakistan's TFR is 2.96, but that's down from 6.60 in 1980.

The simple truth is that thanks to information, education, and access to family planning, clean water, antibiotics, vaccines, and a little bit of capital and guidance from overseas, the world is dramatically improving, which is exactly what the Marquis de Condorcet predicted.

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