Gene Expression

By now, you probably know that there is a specter haunting Europe, and that specter is Argentina. Greece’s debt crisis is putting the spotlight on the PIIGS nations of the Eurozone, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain.

One thing to note is that besides mismanaging their fiscal situation, 4 of he 5 PIIGS are more ethical than the Swedes. Sweden’s total fertility rate per woman is ~1.67.

Ireland = 1.85
Greece = 1.51
Spain = 1.39
Italy = 1.41
Portugal = 1.49

Ireland is the bad seed here, being profligate and unethical. The downside to being ethical is that it makes the welfare state geared toward old age benefits a bit less plausibly sustainable. A simple matter of unfavorable dependency ratios. I suppose the Greeks could invite in huge numbers of semi-literate Anatolian peasants to take care of their aged, but I’m not sure that either set is going to be too excited by such a prospect. I for one hope that the Greeks et al. are ready to welcome their robot overlords! It’s either the tin-man or the Turk.

Addendum: Or perhaps Sandmen or soylent green?

Comments

  1. #1 emblazoned
    February 11, 2010

    Well, someone has to say it. I really don’t correlate fertility with ethics. Lifestyle is an intense driving factor in many peoples decisions not to have children, and I see very little that is noble in that motive.

    Ethics are very contentious, yes?

  2. #2 Mark
    February 11, 2010

    Oh, it’s better than that! Sweden’s total fertility rate for women rose from 1.65 in 2002 to 1.91 in 2008, according to Statistics Sweden.

    Go to http://www.scb.se/default____2154.aspx and search “total fertility rate.” It will take you to the relevant database where you can create tables breaking down the tfr by region and sex.

    The tfr for men has risen much less dramatically, from 1.54 to 1.69.

    The total fertility rate for Ireland was 2.03 in 2007 (I couldn’t find the figures for 2008), though. I think the other figures are more or less up-to-date.

  3. #3 History Punk
    February 11, 2010

    “I suppose the Greeks could invite in huge numbers of semi-literate Anatolian peasants to take care of their aged, but I’m not sure that either set is going to be too excited by such a prospect.”

    As they once said on “The Tick” “Prepare for the Return of the Ottoman Empire.”

  4. #4 Paul Browne
    February 11, 2010

    Don’t worry, the birth rate in Ireland will soon start to drop as all the young people start to emigrate again. Why else do you think Ireland’s population didn’t grow during the 20th century despite Catholic Church domination and a reasonably good healthcare system…every year thousands of the most fertile left!

  5. #5 Naughtius Maximus
    February 11, 2010

    In Irelands case it’s corruption, nepotism and cronyism led to the deep doo doo in the form of monster property bubbule?

  6. #6 Anonymous
    February 11, 2010

    The greeks have already invited huge numbers of Illyrian (albanian), Georgian etc peasants.
    I’m not certain of the current estimates, but their numbers are anywhere between 1-2 million (~10-20% of the population) and rising.

    It is also a very common to import house nurses for old people from the former communist countries.

  7. #7 pconroy
    February 11, 2010

    I don’t like this acronym, as it’s not useful. It links economies of recently high growth (Spain) and explosive growth (Ireland) with perennial laggards (Portugal and Greece).

    Italy will continue to have problems as you have a disjointed country, where the highly efficient and productive Po valley virtually supports the rest of the state – much like New York city versus upstate New York. You also have rampant corruption and a black economy that some have estimated rivals the official economy in size. Then there is the inertia caused by unstable government.

    Ireland on the other hand is completely different, as it is the highest growth economy over the last 20 years, and has completed a transformation of its industrial base and business governance, making it one of the most attractive places to do business anywhere in the world. Ireland’s problem is that it can’t control it’s finances – literally! So that as people became dramatically wealthier, and interest rates remained so low – as slow moving, heavily socialist economies like Germany and France wanted – you had a situation where property speculation went completely unchecked, as there was no measure by which the government could slow it down. So a property collapse was inevitable. The other factor is that Ireland is often called the 51 state of the US, and is virtually joined at the hip to California’s high tech industries, so with California’s economy in free fall, Ireland’s must follow.

    Spain is like a mini version of Ireland, as it also has seen recent boom times and a property bubble.

  8. #8 pconroy
    February 11, 2010

    In term of ethics viz family size – my extended family in Ireland are 90% professionals and have on average just under 4 children each – all of which should bode very well for Ireland, or any country that has a similar reproductive skew.

  9. #9 Naughtius Maximus
    February 11, 2010

    pconroy
    Ireland is rotten to the core, the top three people in the government entered politics through inheriting a parents seat. The local parish politics has strangled the country. it won’t go to normal until another 5 years at least (and that will be different than it’s boom). People still think they can rely on property to prop up the economy (and many rushed to buy crap apartments years ago in the hope fo selling them to make quick money and buying upwards, there will be at least a 40% drop in property). It’s the 1980’s with a sh!t load of debt.

  10. #10 pconroy
    February 12, 2010

    Razib,

    Here’s a better article that exposes more of who the Real PIGs are, in Europe that would be Italy, Greece and Belgium, while the US is a little behind them, and countries like Ireland way down the list – not shown in the graph, but between the UK and Spain. Of course worldwide Japan is the biggest pig of them all.

    Spanish Fiscal Crisis

    To quote:

    Spain is an object lesson in the problems of having monetary union without fiscal and labor market integration. First, there was a huge boom in Spain, largely driven by a housing bubble — and financed by capital outflows from Germany. This boom pulled up Spanish wages. Then the bubble burst, leaving Spanish labor overpriced relative to Germany and France, and precipitating a surge in unemployment. It also led to large Spanish budget deficits, mainly because of collapsing revenue but also due to efforts to limit the rise in unemployment.

    If Spain had its own currency, this would be a good time to devalue; but it doesn’t.

    So the problems for countries like Spain and Ireland, is that they have a millstone called Germany+France around their necks…

  11. #11 Clark
    February 14, 2010

    Out of curiosity why doesn’t this apply to US states as well? If California were truly its own economy I wonder how the current economic crisis would look.

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