The future of the three "Pakistans"

By Razib Khan | August 29, 2012 10:55 pm

Over at Econlog Bryan Caplan bets that India’s fertility will be sup-replacement within 20 years. My first inclination was to think that this was a totally easy call for Caplan to make. After all, much of southern India, and the northwest, is already sup-replacement. And then I realized that heterogeneity is a major issue. This is a big problem I see with political and social analysis. Large nations are social aggregations that are not always comparable to smaller nations (e.g., “Sweden has such incredible social metrics compared to the United States”; the appropriate analogy is the European Union as a whole).


So, for example, India obviously went ahead with its demographic transition earlier than Pakistan. But what this masks is that the two largest states in terms of population in India, in the far north, actually resemble Pakistan in demographics, not the rest of India. Uttar Pradesh, with a population 20 million larger than Pakistan, has similar fertility rate as India’s western neighbor. Bihar currently has a slightly higher fertility rate than Pakistan when you look at online sources (though the proportion under 25 is a little lower, indicating that its fertility 10-15 years ago was lower than Pakistan’s, it is simply that Pakistan is now transitioning toward replacement faster than Bihar).

The key for Caplan’s bet is that over time Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will become a larger and larger proportion of India’s population. Though they’ll probably drop in fertility, for the purposes of Caplan’s bet perhaps the better question is whether Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will attain sub-replacement fertility in 2032, not India. That’s a much different question than India as a whole. I think Caplan has an even chance of winning, but it’s not guaranteed.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis, Demographics
MORE ABOUT: India, Pakistan, Population
  • Rashid

    “the appropriate analogy is the European Union as a whole” – almost a perfect analogy, as India and Pakistan are constructs created by the British, while the EU is a construct that only reluctantly participated in by the British. :)

    Bangladeshi fertility rates are the true wonder here. I think that the perceived notion that Muslim. societies are especially resistant to declining fertility should be reconsidered.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    as India and Pakistan are constructs created by the British, while the EU is a construct that only reluctantly participated in by the British.

    i think the the analogy that works is western civilization (excludes the east roman/orthodox), india, and china. the EU is the attempt by western civ to recreate political unity after the roman collapse. the british imposed it de novo on india, though unity had been achieved sporadically over the course of its civilization, while china is the inverse, in that it was more unified than not, especially in ideology (ie.., second halves of dynasties tend toward de facto decentralization).

  • Hermenauta

    ““Sweden has such incredible social metrics compared to the United States”; the appropriate analogy is the European Union as a whole”

    I think this is not true; despite the invention of the European Union, the history of european countries is much more diverse than that of the american states; their roots are solidly planted in a scale of millenia. The USA are a social experiment aprox 300 years old, and much more homogeneous.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #3, depends on the metric. 20 to 35 percent of america’s population is non-white depending on how you define it.

  • Rashid

    “20 to 35 percent of america’s population is non-white depending on how you define it.”

    That is an interesting inquiry. We’ve somehow developed a notion that a Spanish surname and eating posole precludes ‘whiteness’, i.e. white = homogenous northern European background. At the same time, on the census, my wife from Mashad, Iran is told to check ‘white’ (she is close in complexion to Razib). Arabs are also ‘white’ on the census, and no one ever considered Steve Jobs to be otherwise. But Arab is a linguistic construct, if nothing else.

    And don’t get me started on how Indians are ‘asian’ and lumped in with east Asians, although they tend to be linguistically and physically closer to Europeans. Saudis, Iranians and Israelis aren’t asian despite their presence on the continent.

    Its utter self-contradictory confusion.

    It is ironic how this granular differentiation from ‘white’ comes during a period when the concept of ‘whiteness’ is being obviated (intermarriage, grandpa admitting he is 1/4 black, people just don’t give a fuck about it anymore, etc).

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #5, a lot of the weirdness in the USA has to do with census and gov. benefits. indian american businessmen lobbied to become asian in 1980 to get asian gov. contracts, etc.

  • Alai Mac Erc

    Why would the entirety of the EU be the “appropriate” comparison with the US? It’s not a federal state, and there’s little similarity between the pretty consistently social democrat track taken by Sweden and the hodge-podge of squirarchies, croney capitalist, and outright kleptocratic regimes that have lurched across the rest of the continent. Indeed, most of Europe wasn’t even *in* the EU for their post-War (say) economic development.

    It might be a convenient size, but as a political category it has very limited meaning.

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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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