Numbers, numbers.  Who’s got the numbers?
Birth rate is the single most important driving force in history.  I see no need to qualify that statement.  No babies – no people – no history.  It seems pretty simple. 

So I try to stay alert to any way to keep track of the relevant numbers, which of course for me means birth rate and consanguinity over several generation.  The consanguinity issue is devilish.  The most tireless investigator I know of calls herself hbd chick.  That for “human biodiversity.”  Her interest seems mostly to be the relationship between consanguinity and altruism.  Her site, as I have mentioned in the past is

In contrast with the extraordinarily difficult task of getting a handle on consanguinity in different groups through different times in history is the matter of counting babies.  That should be easy.  Everybody does it.

Only they don’t.  In fact statistics, even birth rates, are collected in a woefully inadequate way.  (Vital Statistics NATURE vol. 494 no. 7437 February 21, 2013 page 281)  100 countries, and not just the poorest, don’t have a registry for births and deaths.

This leaves me incandescent.  You would at least think the US would have good numbers.  The constitution in fact requires that there be a census every ten years.  Yes, it costs a bit of money.  But it is more than the law.  It is stated very explicitly in the document that spells out how we even have laws.  So last I heard there was a plan to stop doing the census.  They would just do some spot checks and calculate what the census would be if they had bothered to do one. 

In other words they will collect numbers and then going on some assumptions do a calculation that does not test the assumptions.  The assumptions, even if correct at one time, cannot possibly be suitable at all times.  Things change; that’s the one thing that doesn’t change. 

Birth rates?  Well really nobody knows.  That makes my own work most troubling.  Fortunately the statistical bedrock for me turns out to be Scandinavian countries where I’m pretty sure they do it right.

But birth rates are our best window on the future.  It is most distressing they are so widely neglected.

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