Americans are right to worry about the global threats posed by adversaries such as Russia and China. But if columnist George Will is correct, serious problems loom for both countries, and all we have to do is wait them out.
In The Washington Post last week, Will wrote, “Vladimir Putin is a strongman ruling a shriveling country.”
He quoted Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute as saying Russia is in all but inevitable decline. Its population is 145 million, less than half that of the United States. Today a 15-year-old Russian boy has a shorter life expectancy than a child of the same age in Haiti. A 15-year-old girl’s life expectancy is only slightly better.
As for China, its economy is starting to pay a severe price for the communist government’s one-child policy from 1979 to 2015. Its working-age population has been declining for several years, and the overall population will start declining after 2027.
The country’s biggest problem stems from the one-child period: Many couples that wanted a boy had an abortion if their child was a girl. That means there are a lot of “surplus men” in China because there are no women for them to marry.
Will, again quoting Eberstadt, says India probably will be the world’s most populous nation by 2030. And other countries with large and growing populations, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, may become more important U.S. allies as the 21st century moves on.
Those predictions fall in place with estimates from two and three decades ago that growth in Asia would make that region more important during the 21st century. But there is no reason for American relevance to decline.
A drop in the U.S. birth rate since the Great Recession is definitely a “negative demographic concern,” but our country’s population is still growing because immigrants continue to see America as a land of promise.