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Demography Roundup #3
Births in Egypt rise despite family planning efforts + new stats on childlessness in Japan and drug use among U.S. adults.
#1: Egypt saw births rise in 2022, much to the government’s chagrin.
According to the head of Egypt’s Population Statistics Sector, the country recorded 2,193,000 births in 2022. That’s a slight rise from 2021 (+0.39% YoY). While a TFR was not provided, we can assume it aligns with the previous year’s reading of 2.8. This puts Egypt in line with U.N. birthrate estimates for Northern Africa + Western Asia (2.8) and significantly above Europe + Northern America (1.6).
This slight rise in births was unwelcome news to Egypt’s government. Most of the time, we write about countries that are trying to increase births. But this is a reminder that there are still plenty of countries, primarily in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, that are trying to lower them.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi often blames overpopulation for Egypt’s economic woes. During August’s Global Congress on Population, Health, and Development, Sisi declared that the country must reduce annual births to 400K. From current levels, that would be a whopping -82% reduction. He also stated that having children shouldn’t “be a matter of complete freedom” and remarked that China’s one-child policy was highly effective.
The Egyptian government does not contemplate compulsory family planning. But it is very willing to incentivize citizens to have fewer children. In 2020, it began the “Two is Enough” campaign to promote smaller families and provide free birth control. The government will also start paying married women ages 21-45 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($32) a year in government bonds if they have two or fewer children. The women won’t be able to access the money until they turn 45, and if they have a third kid, they forfeit the entire payout.
#2: In Japan, over 40% of today’s 18-year-old women may never have children.
Japan has long had the highest share of childless women among developed countries. And that share has been rising. According to OECD data, 22.1% of women born in 1965 had not had any children by the time they were 50 years old. Among women born in 1970 at age 50, this share has risen to 27.0%. This figure is far ahead of the 17 other countries for which the OECD has comparable data, the next being Finland at 20.7%. The number of children in Japan has been falling for more than four decades.
In the future, it’s going to get higher still. A new report from the Tokyo-based National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (IPSS) estimates that among women born in 2005, the share who are childless at age 50 will rise to 33.4%. A high-fertility scenario puts this number at 24.6%, and a low-fertility scenario at 42.0%. The projected childless share is even higher for men born in 2005 at age 50. (This is because men tend to marry younger women, and in Japan younger cohorts are smaller in number than older cohorts.) Their low-fertility scenario is 50%. Fewer Japanese young people are getting married. And of those who do marry, they’re doing so at older ages and having fewer, if any, children.
#3: Millennials and Xers show parallel trends for marijuana use, but divergent trends for alcohol use.
According to the latest Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey from the University of Michigan, 28% of adults ages 35-50 in 2022 reported using marijuana within the past year. This is up from 25% in 2021, 17% in 2017, and has more than doubled compared to a decade ago (13% in 2012). Past-year use of hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin, and ketamine has also reached an all-time high among this age group (4%, up from 2% in 2021). Past-year marijuana and hallucinogen use has also reached all-time highs among adults 19-30 (44% and 8%, respectively).
Where the trends for these two age groups diverge is in alcohol use. As we noted in last week’s roundup (see “Demography Roundup #2”), late-wave Millennials have pushed drinking rates down for adults under 35 as early-wave Millennials and Gen Xers have pushed them up among adults over 35. Among adults 35-50, past-year drinking, past-month drinking, and binge drinking have all increased over the past decade, with the rate of binge drinking reaching an all-time high in 2022. For the first time ever recorded, the binge drinking rates among adults 19-30 and 35-50 are nearly the same.
A note to our readers: Neil is presenting at a conference in Las Vegas, so there won’t be a new podcast episode this week. We’re grateful for all of the feedback that we have gotten in response to Trend Watch so far. Paid subscribers, you can comment here or reply to this email directly—please let us know if there are any topics you’re interested in hearing about in future episodes. Thanks for reading and listening.
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