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31 Ιαν 2015

What are all these people all going to do?

What are all these people all going to do? Youth unemployment in Europe is critical. But Africa is going to get even worse.

In much of southern Europe the unemployment rate for young people under the age of 25 remains stubbornly high – at over 61% in Greece and 56% in Spain. This is not just a disaster for countries on the European periphery. In Italy 40% have no job and in France 25.5% are unemployed. Even the UK, which prides itself in its flexible labour regulations, has 21.1% of young people loitering around with no job. The only big EU country that is not in trouble is Germany, with 7.7% youth unemployment.

This is clearly a terrible state for young people to be in.

What is odd is that Europe is facing a population decline – you would have thought that as the number of people starts to fall the value of people would go up and unemployment numbers would go down. This does not appear to be happening: Europe is losing jobs faster than it is losing people.

As a result, many young, educated, southern Europeans are heading north, driving up competition for jobs in the north as well.

But if you think Europe has problems, look further south to Africa. While Europe’s population is going to decline, Africa’s population is going to explode, as the chart below, from the United Nations, demonstrates. It provides this historical numbers for Europe and Africa, from 1950 and provides four population scenarios from 2013 to 2050.

Europe’s population in the 1950s was more than double the population of Africa. By 2013 Africa’s population was significantly larger than Europe’s. What is terrifying is how under all scenarios the United Nations estimates that the future population of Africa is set to explode. The dashed green line with circles shows what would happen if fertility in Africa remained as it is today – and it rises to over 3.2 billion. In all other scenarios they assume fertility rates will decline. In contrast, the dotted blue line shows that if fertility in Europe remained as it is today it would drop by over 100 million people. In all other scenarios they assume that fertility rates – and immigration – will slow the decline.

What are all these young people in Africa going to do?

Young people need jobs to pay taxes to pay for looking after the elderly and the next generation of young people.

There are only so many primary industry jobs – access to mines, forests and farming. Those raw materials are put into factories to make goods for people who want them.

But there are only so many secondary industry factor jobs out there, and there is no sign that Africa, with all of its structural problems, will become the manufacturing centre of the world.

And as for service sector jobs, well they predominantly service primary and secondary industries.

What you can imagine is lots and lots of servants. African wealth and status in the age of slavery was heavily linked to how many people you controlled. Most of these people were unproductive and were effectively useless mouths to feed. Perfect to sell to unscrupulous western slavers in return for simple manufactured trinkets.

Large numbers of low value people scraping a meagre existence is not conducive to a democratic, egalitarian society.

What you should expect is the wealth of African nations to be controlled by a very few, who are aware of how dangerous it would be to lose power and to become like one the masses.

This would imply an increase in the number of hereditary African dictatorships and an overwhelming desire by rational Africans to emigrate to a depopulating Europe.

This will push up European unemployment levels and will cause social unrest.

This is going to be messy.