Thursday, November 3, 2016

What the World Looks Like "Ex-Africa"

Those wishing to explain how this time isn't different refer to the chart below, global population growth.  It moves lower left to upper right, so they infer all must be right with the world?

However, if one simply subtracts the continent of Africa from those numbers, global population growth looks a whole lot different.  The chart below shows the global population (columns) plus global population minus Africa (blue line).  Going forward, the UN's medium (red line) and low (green line) variants for future population estimates (again, Excluding or Ex-Africa).
High fertility rates and population growth in Africa is nearly solely offsetting the contracting populations of young across the remainder of the world.  The chart below highlights global fertility rates for 2016....where the global population growth is coming from.  In two words, Central Africa.

Those highlighted in yellow, orange, red, and magenta (indicating nations that, on average, have 3 to 6+ children per female) are almost entirely located in Africa.

Why Ex-Africa?  Simply put, Africa is economically a non-entity.  Crudely put, people are units of consumption and from a growth standpoint, it doesn't matter if you have 7 million or 7 billion people on earth.  In terms of growth, all that matters is the year over year change in the number of people (new consumers) multiplied by their ability to consume or GDP per capita (synonymous with purchasing power parity or PPP).

No surprise, Africa is poor beyond belief and most global commodities and exports cost the same nations with high PPP's (and particularly those with relatively easy access to credit) can consume far more than those with low PPP's.  The bulk of nations highlighted in red (chart below) have PPP's below $2000 a year...(and as low as $400/yr).  Nations with PPP's of $2000 year are generally in-line with the GDP per capita of Haiti and a third the PPP of Cuba...or about 4% of US GDP per capita.  Sadly, the lack of growth in the rest of the world coupled with the ZIRP/NIRP driven overcapacity of nearly everything means there is no pathway for Africa to export themselves to prosperity.
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). Countries with a low purchasing power parity are marked in red, moderate is in green, high values in blue and very high in magenta.
Although Africa represents about 15% of global population, Africa only consumes 3.9% of global oil, up from 2.3% in 1980.  In comparison:
  • In 1980 China consumed 2.8% of the worlds oil.  China now consumes 11.5% of global oil.
  • The 35 OECD nations represent about 18% of the worlds population but consume 50% of the worlds oil.
  • S. Korea & Taiwan combined, with a combined 75 million inhabitants, consumes about 3.6% of the worlds oil nearly on par with Africa.

So, what does the world population look like with Africa removed (or x-Africa)?  Below, global x-Africa population with split out showing under 45yr/olds and 45+yr/olds.

Those under 45 represent the population capable of having children and forming households.  The global under 45yr/old population have essentially peaked, will flat-line for a decade, and then begin what appears to be a very long decline.  THAT IS A BIG DEAL.  With interest rates already at zero, debt and overcapacity rampant, and no population growth anywhere that matters (economically)...that means the current game premised on growth is over.  The only question is what will the new game look like?  Clearly the issues we face mean free-markets will not be allowed nor is a democracy seemingly capable of voting for long term solutions that mean significant short term pain.  In truth, neither functioning markets nor functioning democracy's appears to exist any longer.

And the rise of the elderly 45+yr/old population.  THAT IS A BIG WEIGHT (too big) THE UNDER 45yr/olds MUST BEAR.

And below, what the change per 5 year period looks like for the two groups.  Under 45yr/olds will begin outright shrinking within a decade (of course this means the under 35yr/old population has already begun contracting...also known as depopulation from the bottom up).

Just in case you wondered how population growth related to GDP and were impacted by interest rate policy & debt?  The chart below really couldn't make it simpler.  OECD, China, Russia, & Brazil combined 15-64yr/old annual population growth (blue columns), Federal Funds Rate (black line), global debt (red line), and global GDP (green line).  Since 1981, population growth moves from upper left to lower right (mirrored by interest rate policy...the start of the bond "bull") and the attempt to paper over the declining growth with surging debt...but GDP (flawed as it is) makes it plain there is no real substitute for population growth.

The companion articles that dovetail with this article:
Peak Oil Demand
Post Peak US Treasury Demand

If you wonder why interest rates have collapsed, its to incent fewer to spend more.  If you wonder why central bankers have seemingly gone mad, its simply a doomed rear guard action in the face of decelerating to outright shrinking numbers of people with the capability to consume.  If you wonder why your Social Security or your pension or IRA won't be there when you need may want to scan the charts above again.  A system insanely based on perpetual growth has ceased growing and is beginning to contract.  It really is that simple.

Extra Credit:
Below, total global births (x-Africa) peaked in the 1985-90 timeframe & have fallen 13%...and how far down from here really depends on which outcome you think most likely.  The red lines represent the UN medium variant estimates and green lines the low estimate.  The reality will be somewhere between the two but decidedly upper left to lower right.

Births among developed nations have collapsed nearly 30% since peaking about 60 years ago.

But if the developed and developing worlds are seeing collapsing is the total number of births flat-lining?  Africa!

Asia...births down 13% from the '85-'90 peak.

Europe, births down 35% from the '55-'60 peak.

As for the US, down 10% from the '55-'60 peak...but potential for 20% upside or 45% downside...I'm taking the under based on collapsing birthrates and immigration flows.

And the US's neighbors, Canada...

Mexico...a collapsing birthrate seems to also mean a collapsing flow of immigrants (outlined HERE).

Finally, just to round things out...Central and S. America also moving upper left to lower right.


  1. Africa is not the only area that will see population growth in the 21-st century. MENA is projected to grow from o.5 to 1 billion people in 2100.

    Of course, MENA is just an insignificant region from a GDP point of view. But the point is that some regions may decide to open the doors for immigration from Africa and MENA.

    This, for example is the strategy of Germany and Angela Merkel. Germany imported 1 million people for 2015. They intend to import more. What do you think about the European strategy for mass importing people from MENA and Africa?

    Also i see that you only use birth rate but not total fertility rates, using TFR is also a good way to show what country will see a natural population growth (those with above 2.1) and what country will see population decline (absent of immigration) - those with below 2.1


  2. I saw Asimov talk about robots and artificial intelligence. Maybe 500 trillion AI robots will come within 100 years, with IQ of 400 or higher. They will solve cell aging and make all humans immortal. How does that change the charts above? Remember data the robot from Star trek.

  3. To answer the question of immigration being some kind of answer, it could be some time in the future. As of now though, mostly it's the poorest and least educated immigrating for the social programs in Germany and elsewhere. Instead of contributing to the society they are a drain on it. This only makes it worse as we have seen in many European nations.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.