Demographic futurist Bradley Schurman joins us to explore a future where over-65s outnumber under-18s — and the changes society will have to face.
What We Discuss with Bradley Schurman:
- In the not-too-distant future, a staggering shift looms over the developed world: at least 20 percent of national populations will surpass 65 years of age, outnumbering those 18 years of age and younger.
- Termed the Super Age by Bradley Schurman, this demographic transformation carries immense potential for growth or, conversely, risks leaving many behind.
- Take Russia, for instance, where this trend unfolds amidst geopolitical turmoil and a high military mortality rate — 25 times that of Chechnya and 35 times Afghanistan’s monthly casualties.
- Failure to prepare for these impending changes would usher economic stagnation, increased isolation for vulnerable communities, and hastened decline of rural areas.
- Yet, there is reason for optimism. By proactively planning, we can unlock the advantages of the Super Age: prolonged and healthier lives, enhanced intergenerational collaboration in workplaces and households, and unexplored markets and innovations.
- And much more…
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The Super Age, coined by demographic futurist Bradley Schurman — author of The Super Age: Decoding Our Demographic Destiny — is a future fast approaching: where those over 65 will outnumber our youth, driven by longer lifespans and declining birth rates. This seismic demographic shift presents both opportunities and challenges for society. Countries like Italy, Japan, and Germany have already reached the Super Age, and many others will follow suit. If we fail to prepare, we risk economic stagnation, increased isolation of at-risk populations, and the decline of rural communities — as witnessed in present-day Russia, exacerbated by its high-mortality invasion of Ukraine.
In this episode, Bradley Schurman joins us to shed light on the road ahead. Governments and businesses must be nimble, adapting to a dwindling workforce and the strains it may impose on social programs. Architects and designers, in turn, bear the responsibility of creating inclusive environments that cater to individuals of all ages. And let us not forget the marketers, who must keenly attend to the needs and desires of our older consumers. Through these proactive measures, we can harness the immense potential of the Super Age, a future defined by extended and healthier lives, intergenerational cooperation, and the exciting exploration of new markets. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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Thanks, Bradley Schurman!
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Resources from This Episode:
- The Super Age: Decoding Our Demographic Destiny by Bradley Schurman | Amazon
- Bradley Schurman | Website
- Bradley Schurman | Twitter
- Bradley Schurman | Facebook
- Peter Zeihan | Mapping the Collapse of Globalization | Jordan Harbinger
- Five Key Findings from the 2022 UN Population Prospects | Our World in Data
- In Some Places, Fertility Rates Declined Before the Industrial Revolution | UCLA Anderson Review
- ‘It Is Devastating’: The Millennials Who Would Love to Have Kids — But Can’t Afford a Family | The Guardian
- America Can’t Afford Kids Anymore, But We Might Have a Chance to Change That | Matriarchy Report
- How Do Ordinary People Afford Kids? | Reddit
- Advanced Maternal Age (Geriatric Pregnancy) | Cleveland Clinic
- Opinion: Russia’s Population Crisis Is Making Putin More Dangerous | The Washington Post
- Russia Has Already Lost in the Long Run | Foreign Policy
- Putin’s Folly and the War of Demographic Attrition | LinkedIn
- Russia’s Population Is in Historic Decline from Emigration, War, and Plunging Birth Rate | Fortune
- Could Russia’s Dire Demographics Have Played a Role in Its Invasion of Ukraine? | PRB
- Russia’s Demographic Decline Continues | PRB
- The Brief: The Demographics of War | Euractiv
- Russia’s Population Nightmare Is Going to Get Even Worse | The Economist
- Russia’s Economy Is Starting to Come Undone | WSJ
- Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare by Juan Carlos Zarate | Amazon
- China’s Population Decline Is Not Yet A Crisis. Beijing’s Response Could Make It One | Council on Foreign Relations
- China’s Population Decline Can’t Overtake America’s Economy | Foreign Policy
- China Plans to Have Its Currency Rival the Dollar. A New Study Assesses Its Prospects. | Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
- Key Facts about China’s Declining Population | Pew Research Center
- $1.3 Trillion China Housing Crackdown Hasn’t Fixed Unaffordable Property Market | Bloomberg
- How China’s Economic Slowdown Affects You | The Balance
- Top US General Says China Has Become More Aggressive to US over Last Five Years | CNN Politics
- China’s Population Drops for First Time in 60 Years | CBS News
- India to Surpass China’s Population in 2023: Why it Matters | India Briefing
859: Bradley Schurman | Demographic Collapse in Russia, China & the USA
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[00:00:21] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:25] Bradley Schurman: We have this expectation that populations are always going to continue to grow, and for those of us who are here today, at an exponential rate, but that's not the truth. In fact, many countries are starting to see a plateauing, if not a reversal, of their populations in terms of overall size. And believe it or not, the UN says by 2086, the global population stops growing. However, there's a consensus of people, people like me, that are saying it's actually going to happen a lot sooner than that, maybe as early as 2050. So we might tap out somewhere between 8.8 and maybe 10 billion people worldwide, and then the global population starts to shrink.
[00:01:09] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker through long-form conversations with a variety of amazing folks, from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, performers, even the occasional drug trafficker, former jihadi, astronaut, extreme athlete, or Russian chess grandmaster.
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[00:02:22] Today, Bradley Schurman is with me. He's a demographic expert. We're talking about demographic collapse. And it sounds scary, right? And it is, especially if you are Russian or Chinese, or maybe Korean or Japanese. If you're American, well, our birth rates are also well below replacement rate, but we've got other things going for us that might help us dodge this incoming catastrophe. Many countries, especially developed countries, are quickly running out of younger people to replace slash support the aging population. So what happens when the vast majority of a nation is over the hill? We're going to dive into specific scenarios for Russia, China, touch on India and the United States. Take a peek at what the numbers look like and how these will drive catastrophic, potentially catastrophic changes in society, and what can be done to stem the tide.
[00:03:10] All right, here we go with Bradley Schurman.
[00:03:17] What's crazy to me is that I feel like I'm just learning about this. Peter Zeihan talked about this on the show that demographics were kind of like a time bomb waiting to go off in China and in Russia, although in Russia, they're like running towards the brick wall of demographics. And some of the most advanced countries in the world are going to become, for lack of a better word, incredibly old over the coming decades. And we're going to have one in five people over 65. And usually, what population is the opposite of that? Is that correct? Am I? Am I close?
[00:03:49] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. So for most of human history, we've grown, albeit at a very slow rate. So for about, well, certainly the best 10,000 years of civilization, humans have grown in terms of their overall size on the planet. It really wasn't until about 150 years ago that our populations started to explode. In fact, from about 1920 until today, the world population quadrupled in size from two billion to eight billion people. So for those of us who are living on the planet, we have this expectation that populations are always going to continue to grow and for those of us who are here today at an exponential rate. But that's not the truth. In fact, many countries are starting to see a plateauing, if not a reversal of their populations in terms of overall size. And believe it or not, the UN says by 2086, the global population stops growing. However, there's a consensus of people, people like me that are saying it's actually going to happen a lot sooner than that, maybe as early as 2050. So we might tap out somewhere between 8.8 and maybe 10 billion people worldwide. Then, the global population starts to shrink.
[00:05:00] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense. I mean, I'm going to contribute to population decline by dying somewhere after reason, probably not too far after 2050, and I assume you're going to join me.
[00:05:09] Bradley Schurman: I will be there with you. Unless, of course, you know these longevity scientists that are working out in your part of the world in California, really figure it out and figure out how to extend human life past the upper limit, which is around 120, 122 today. If they're able to do that, populations might continue to grow for longer periods of time because we'll have people living for longer too.
[00:05:32] Jordan Harbinger: Right. We will probably touch on that because I assume that's kind of a thing. But usually, population, what, looks like a pyramid with lots of children at the bottom, and now we're inverting the pyramid where a lot of us are going to be old and maybe semi-coherent and definitely not working by 2050, 2060, and that's a problem. I mean, I will also be a burden to my children. You're welcome.
[00:05:54] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. It's a TBD. There's a couple of things happening here. You're absolutely right. Population pyramids were the norm for all of human history, large numbers of children at the bottom, small number of people at the very tip top. But those pyramids in the United States and Western Europe, in Japan, in Korea have really squared off. So now there's parody among generations in this country. So the Boomers are about 69 million people. Gen X is about 67 million people. Millennials are 72 million people. Gen Z is right about 69 million people. So we've never had this before where it's really been squared off like this.
[00:06:31] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:06:31] Bradley Schurman: In fact, the fastest growing demographic in the world right now, believe it or not, is people over the age of 85.
[00:06:37] Jordan Harbinger: Why is this happening? I've heard as countries industrialized, they have fewer children, but can we explain why that is?
[00:06:44] Bradley Schurman: Well, there's two things that are happening here. There are birth rate collapse, essentially birth rates going into remission, and we're also seeing an increase in longevity. So there are two competing things that are happening here. Birth rate decline started around 1760 at the onset of the first Industrial Revolution. So there is a correlation between declining birth rates and modernization industrialization. I think it goes one step further than that because the real drop off didn't happen until really the last century, and a couple of things happened in sync. Urbanization became normalized. People moved to the cities. It was a different economic order, a different reality for people. Women were educated, started coming into the workforce. The family structure as a whole started to shift and perhaps the most important thing, the biggest driving factor is kids survived childhood.
[00:07:36] You know when my grandfather was born in 1914, he had a one-in-two survival rate to adulthood. I mean, you can imagine. So he was one of eight kids. The expectation was that only four of them would survive to adulthood—
[00:07:50] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:07:50] Bradley Schurman: —if they were lucky. And this is a guy who was born into abject poverty on the coalfields of Western Pennsylvania. The fact that any of them survived is remarkable.
[00:07:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:07:58] Bradley Schurman: Fast forward to today, notwithstanding the United States and the challenges we're facing with gun violence and automobile deaths, for the most part, kids survive into adulthood everywhere in the world. There's like a 90-plus survival rate. So because of that, we don't necessarily need to have more kids. So better education, more women at work, better access to contraceptives, and the fact that we don't need children necessarily as an economic unit of the household anymore, all really contribute in this perfect storm. If you want to look at it that way, to a decrease in birth rates.
[00:08:31] Jordan Harbinger: All the younger people that I talk to, and here's the problem with this, right? I'm talking to younger people who are like, "No, I want to go travel around Europe." So their minds change. But I don't know anybody right now, aside from people in their 40s and late 30s who want kids. And I feel like when I was younger, all my friends said they wanted kids eventually. And now, I don't hear anybody saying anything like that. Now again, sentiments can change, but when I ask the reason, it's not just, "Oh, I want my own money, I want my own freedom." It's, "I can't afford to live without roommates. I'm paying off my car and I'm a doctor and I have two roommates and a Prius." Or something along those lines, or I don't know, "There's a war over there and it could be that the world is in a good place to be. And so I don't want to bring anybody into that." I mean, these are things that I never heard in the late '90s, early aughts. Never did anybody say anything like that. And I'm wondering if the sentiment that the world is a dangerous place and too expensive and yada yada, is contributing to this as well.
[00:09:34] Bradley Schurman: I certainly think one of the primary drivers is fear.
[00:09:37] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:37] Bradley Schurman: People don't have children when things are bad. So even though things are relatively good worldwide now, we're not getting those messages every day.
[00:09:44] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:09:44] Bradley Schurman: Every day on the radio, the television, social media, we hear about how the world is falling apart. It's not really, it's not really falling apart, but those messages stick. There's another piece to this, though, Jordan, that I think is really important, and people seem to miss it every time because we don't look at long-term data. Essentially, if you look at the trends across the board, there are vertical trends and there are horizontal trends. The vertical trends, essentially where things are just going up and price at an astronomical rate are things like housing, education, healthcare, even long-term care for our parents and our grandparents. You know, the one trend line that stays almost static from 1965 until today, wage growth?
[00:10:25] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah. I could have guessed. I should have got it.
[00:10:27] Bradley Schurman: No, no, no, no, no. You don't have to because not a lot of people do. But because wage growth has remained relatively static against all of these other pressures, people have to make choices. We're rational human beings at the end of the day. So if you're looking at your pocketbook and saying, "Man, I'd love to have kids, but I can't afford them," that's why, because all of these pressures are here. And most of us, I think most of the people who are listening to your show, we grew up in nuclear families for the most part.
[00:10:54] So we grew up in a two-parent household with two kids, maybe a dog or a cat, and that was normal. The normal family is gone. The normal family is changed. In fact, there are really three types of living situations in this country right now. Two of which are on a growth pattern, one of which is actually in decline. The nuclear family is in decline. The growth of the intergenerational family is on the rise. Multiple generations living within one household, grandma, the adult children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. And single households, they're also on the rise in this country.
[00:11:29] So people are making decisions based on the economic realities in front of them. Some people are choosing to bind together as a larger family unit, the long-term historical tradition of families. Other people are saying, "I'm out. I'll be single or I'll be coupled. We're not going to have kids because we can't afford it."
[00:11:49] Jordan Harbinger: The people who are telling me they don't want to have kids, by the way, I'm not necessarily talking about random show fans and email. I mean, even in my bubble here in Silicon Valley or friends and family who work for like Tesla making 150 grand a year, or lawyers who I know that are successful, even they're saying I can't afford it. So I can only imagine what somebody who makes $45,000, $65,000 a year is thinking. Now they probably live in a place with a lower cost of living, but the problem is going to be even more real for somebody like that. So if one percenters are like, "I don't know if we can afford kids," that's very problematic.
[00:12:25] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[00:12:25] Jordan Harbinger: The perception almost seems insurmountable at that point.
[00:12:28] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. And you also have another competing trend here. You know, you've talked a lot about 35-year-olds, people who are kind of traditional parents.
[00:12:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:35] Bradley Schurman: Non-traditional parents are on the rise too. And I mean, from an age-based perspective, you know, women in their 40s are the fastest-growing group of mothers in this country today. And they're able to be mothers. They're able to have what our doctors referred to as geriatric pregnancies—
[00:12:52] Jordan Harbinger: I know.
[00:12:52] Bradley Schurman: —because of science. Also, because, you know, women are healthier today than they were 20 years ago, 40 years ago, a hundred years ago. And they're able to take on these pregnancies with greater ease. Some of the reasons people do defer pregnancy until later in life is because of those financial reasons. And then, they can augment parenting with a nanny or a night nurse or an au pair.
[00:13:17] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:17] Bradley Schurman: Where they wouldn't have been able to do that in their 30s, even a hundred, $150,000 job.
[00:13:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:23] Bradley Schurman: They need to go a little bit further to get over the hump.
[00:13:25] Jordan Harbinger: All right. I wanted to talk about not just the United States and population in general, but especially places like Russia, because of course, look, the older population in the US we're going to, it's going to stress the tax base. Wages are going to rise. We're going to have fewer workers. Products are going to be marketed differently. I'm imagining, you know, future Apple watches can remind, not only time your run, they can remind you to change the baby's diaper. You might have to even change your own diaper. I don't know. It's just going to be completely different. There's so much we can talk about with population. But I'd love to talk about Russia and China because I think that's where we're going to see major issues. Now, the United States, I wondered why we weren't seeing our population shrink, and I guess it's because we just have tons of immigrants coming in. And if you're Russia, I don't know, people may be going the other way. That's what the news is telling me. Not that that's always correct, but I don't see a ton of immigration to Russia being very likely, at least anytime soon.
[00:14:18] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. Ain't nobody's moving to Russia.
[00:14:19] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:14:20] Bradley Schurman: And more people are leaving than staying. In fact, you know, something between 30,000 and 60,000 Russians tried to cross the southern border last year alone. That's according to our own customs and border patrol. They're desperate to try to get out, mostly young men. And of course, the war in Eastern Ukraine has certainly sped up this demographic time bomb that really Russia created on its own. There's another thing at play here. You know, this goes back to your previous point about people not liking to have babies during bad times. After the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Russia saw a pretty significant dip in their birth rates. It was a period of economic, political, social instability, and people stopped having babies. Well, fast forward 30 years—
[00:15:05] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:05] Bradley Schurman: —those babies that were born are now thrust into another politically, economically, socially unstable time. So we're witnessing a double dip in the drop of birth rates in Russia. At the same time, Russia's actually seeing a pretty significant reversal in their lifespan. It's below 70 years now, I think about—
[00:15:26] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:15:26] Bradley Schurman: —69 years as the average lifespan for a Russia, and it's lower for men, a little bit higher for women. But it's really a catastrophe in the making because like you said, when you pull young people out of the country, you're pulling them out of the economy, you pull them out of the workforce. That really grinds the economy to a halt. And of course, there are things you can do to mitigate that. You can increase labor force participation for older people. You can increase the use of technology to improve productivity. But Russia doesn't even have any markets really to sell to. They essentially sell food, gas, and military equipment. That's what they do there. And they do it pretty well. I mean, their energy is great. Their military arms are great. Their food serves a significant portion of the world. But if you can't get people to make the machinery, you can't get people to harvest the fields. So what?
[00:16:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And now you can't buy foreign machinery because you're under sanctioned, because you invaded another country now you can't get a lot of what you need. You're buying crap from China that can't make what you need.
[00:16:28] Bradley Schurman: Exactly. So I think really an unintended consequence of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it sped up this demographic catastrophe that's laid at their feet and has actually pushed them into greater levels of dependency with a country like China, because they still will trade with them.
[00:16:46] Jordan Harbinger: And ironically, depending on who you agree with here, it seems like the invasion of Ukraine was almost, if you're listening to Peter Zeihan, for example, an attempt at restoring the empire, grabbing more population, grabbing more, well, yeah, people who can run things and it sort of horrendously, not sort of, it's spectacularly backfired and ended up with something, estimates range, but what, like a million people have left and these are prime young men who would be working and are now leaving and it's maybe a million, or it's maybe a few hundred thousand. And then a few hundred thousand more are fighting in Ukraine and then another, what, a hundred thousand are dead or injured. So therefore, out of the game. It's like that was just a crazy self-own in terms of trying to jumpstart your population growth.
[00:17:32] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. I mean, I call it Putin's folly.
[00:17:34] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:17:34] Bradley Schurman: Because in, in many respects, he brought this on himself and I think Peter is right, you know, this was one last grab while they had the population to take back territory, they believe is theirs. There is a cultural component to this. You know, Kyiv is the birthplace of modern Russia. People don't connect the dots there because we don't understand history. But the modern Russian people were descendants of the people that were living in Ukraine. So there's a long-term history that goes to the desire of Mother Russia to take back, you know, its children that split off after the fall of the Soviet Union. But it really is shortsighted because Ukraine has similar demographics to Russia. So they're making a grab for another country that was essentially also in to some degree demographic to decline. They really just sped up the process for both nations to slip into a demographic obscurity.
[00:18:29] Jordan Harbinger: I've got word from a, another friend of mine who said something along the lines of fighters on the front line are pushing age 40, which is not great if you are, and I don't know if that was just Ukraine or if that was Russia and Ukraine, but that's saying something when you're putting past their prime old farts like me in a trench, that's not a winning strategy.
[00:18:50] Bradley Schurman: Right. I don't belong on the battlefield at 45.
[00:18:52] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:18:53] Bradley Schurman: I can tell you that right now. But that estimate is actually pretty consistent. It's been verified by a number of different sources, and I believe it's more for the Ukraine side than the Russian side, although I would have to go back and double check that. One thing that has been consistent is the life expectancy in a city like Bakhmut, where reports come out that say that life expectancy for the men who are there now and the women, because both men and women are fighting in this conflict, is about four hours.
[00:19:18] Jordan Harbinger: Four hours?
[00:19:19] Bradley Schurman: Four hours.
[00:19:20] Jordan Harbinger: That's truly horrifying.
[00:19:22] Bradley Schurman: Horrifying is an understatement. And that just shows how difficult the fighting is. Now, let's be clear, older men, older women have fought in wars before. In fact, during the Second World War, it wasn't unusual for really young men to try to enlist people that were below the enlistment age.
[00:19:40] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:19:41] Bradley Schurman: And really older men. In fact, my grandfather was a CB in the Navy. The guys that actually rebuilt the Pacific after the US Navy and Marines went through and he worked with men who were upwards of 65 in that unit.
[00:19:54] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:19:55] Bradley Schurman: And these guys had lied to get in because they believed in the larger goal. Now, I think you can say for the Ukraine side, based on the reports that are coming out, these men are going willingly. On the Russian side, not so much. They're being pulled in without their will.
[00:20:09] Jordan Harbinger: I can't get past the four-hour thing. So explain to me what that means. Does that mean I get off a bus and I'm going to fight in Bakhmut and they give me a rifle and a helmet and four hours that by afternoon, by lunchtime, I'm dead? Is that what that means?
[00:20:21] Bradley Schurman: That's the numbers game.
[00:20:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:20:22] Bradley Schurman: So obviously, we're talking about not simply just four hours, but the rate at which people are being killed—
[00:20:28] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:20:28] Bradley Schurman: —on whole comes out to average to be four hours. So you might live throughout the conflict. There are plenty of people that do, but on average, that's what the grind looks like. That's why it's so appropriate that Bakhmut and Eastern Ukraine are really called the meat grinder now because so many people are dying in that region. This is completely avoidable. This is completely avoidable.
[00:20:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So the way you just put it, if somebody lives throughout the entire conflict, or let's say makes it a couple of months, that means other people lasted minutes on the battlefield to create that average.
[00:21:02] Bradley Schurman: Entirely possible.
[00:21:03] Jordan Harbinger: Oof.
[00:21:03] Bradley Schurman: It's gruesome.
[00:21:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:05] Bradley Schurman: War is ugly. And the reality is that most of us that are alive on this planet today, at least in the Western world, have not lived through a conflict like this, a traditional on-the-ground slog. We've seen things like Operation Desert Storm, the actions in Afghanistan that have shown a very sophisticated military using air as the primary tactic for dominance. This is ground, this is hand-to-hand. It's a lot different and it's a lot higher human cost at the end of the day.
[00:21:36] Jordan Harbinger: There are no words to describe something like that. I mean, you, you hear you read about Stalingrad and things like that, and it's just, that's what it sounds like.
[00:21:43] Bradley Schurman: It's Stalingrad 2.0 in a different place.
[00:21:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:46] Bradley Schurman: And with slightly different actors. And of course, this begs the question, what is the future of war?
[00:21:51] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:21:51] Bradley Schurman: If these countries are actually decreasing in size, they don't have the people to fight anymore, are they going to be using non-traditional tactics? Is cyber war going to become more common? Is economic war going to become de guerre? It's all very possible and we're starting to see some of that. Russia has been a nuisance for years now as it relates to cyber crimes against the United States and its allies. I certainly think that we're going to see more of that. We're also starting to see an economic offense by the BRICS led largely by China to try to create a secondary currency, a shadow currency, to the United States so that we can't leverage things like sanctions against these countries anymore. That's part of the reason they want to do this, to build a separate economic block to compete with us directly. It's a form of warfare.
[00:22:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I'm going to be doing a show about that with Juan Zarate. Do you know Treasury's War, that book?
[00:22:41] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:22:41] Jordan Harbinger: So that should be interesting. That's sort of his whole area of expertise. So, we'll put that nightmare aside for later and put that in the bank. But this whole thing, Russia's really scary because it seems like there's kind of no end game. I mean, look, they've demonized the West because it's a kleptocratic regime that steals from its people, period. And that's the whole point. Russia's life expectancy is going down. Places like Germany and the United States, I think were going up, maybe not when you'd factor in COVID stuff, but generally were going up and the birth rate is low, which we kind of covered. Do you know the birth rate and what the replacement rate would have to be? Is that off the top of your head?
[00:23:21] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. The birth rate in Russia was just before the war, about 1.5. Replacement rate is about 2.1.
[00:23:28] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:23:28] Bradley Schurman: You have to have 2.1 babies on average per woman—
[00:23:31] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:31] Bradley Schurman: —in order to keep the population stable. Obviously, there are things like immigration that can change that. Also outward migration, so in a situation like Russia where the birth rate is really low, about 1-4, 1-5, they also have to contend with high degrees of mortality amongst older people, which is lowering the pop total population size and also extreme outward migration, and of course, death by COVID and death in Eastern Ukraine. It's just a caustic mix of different elements coming together to really undermine Putin's government. And you know, there is some talk here in Washington, of course, this talk happened during, during the Soviet Union too, but it's very possible we might start to see Russia fracture in the next 10 years. Russia, that we know it today, could be gone.
[00:24:17] Jordan Harbinger: When you say fracture, and I think somebody else had brought this up, it again might have been Peter Zeihan, but do you mean we're going to see what, like Moscow and St. Petersburg be in different countries or Siberia—?
[00:24:27] Bradley Schurman: Yes.
[00:24:27] Jordan Harbinger: —be in a different country?
[00:24:28] Bradley Schurman: Yes.
[00:24:28] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:24:28] Bradley Schurman: Entirely, and it'll look a lot like, although without maybe more historical boundaries, of course, we knew what Ukraine looked before the Second World War.
[00:24:36] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:24:37] Bradley Schurman: We don't know what the big landmass of Russia looked like before the Second World War because it was Russia as far as we knew it. This fractioning of the country could create different warlords, could create even bigger problems for us. Because at least with Putin and the current Russian government, we kind of know what we're dealing with. If it breaks off into a number of different smaller elements with access to nuclear arms—
[00:25:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:25:01] Bradley Schurman: —that could create even bigger problems for us. Then, of course, you have this additional unknown question mark that sits in the back of my head and actually keeps me up at night. There's a pretty significant piece of land that Russia took from China in the 1860s. It's known as Outer Manchuria. And Outer Manchuria, it's kind of above and to the east of North Korea, and in this area is the city of Vladivostok.
[00:25:26] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm. With a big port.
[00:25:27] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. For anybody who knows, Vladivostok is the home of the Russian Pacific fleet. It is highly important to Mother Russia. It also handles about two-thirds of the tonnage of Hong Kong. That's how much tonnage of freight goes through that place. It's absolutely huge. China reverted on their maps to these historic Chinese names. They want it back.
[00:25:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:25:49] Bradley Schurman: They want that back a hundred percent. Just as much as they want Taiwan back. Just as much as they want back the land between the Himalayas, between India and China. So there's going to be a couple land grabs in this too that could be problematic and further destabilize the region.
[00:26:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's interesting. Especially as we see Russia lose power and become by all accounts sort of a client state of China because they have to get or sell their energy to China, they have to get basically everything that they want to buy from China. I mean—
[00:26:17] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[00:26:17] Jordan Harbinger: —we all do that now, but they don't have any choice and they're selling their oil at a discount because nobody else can buy it or will buy it. So they might end up trading that in a way, or at least allowing the use of that. I mean, that's kind of a scary thought because that makes China way more powerful and also destabilizes Russia in a way that is probably just not healthy for anyone.
[00:26:38] Bradley Schurman: China's still very dependent on Russia, let's not mistake that.
[00:26:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:41] Bradley Schurman: They're highly dependent on Russia too. They're a net importer of energy, so they need the energy coming out of Russia.
[00:26:46] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:26:47] Bradley Schurman: And they're a net importer of food. They don't have food from Russia. They're not feeding their people. Starvation sets in at some point because they can't feed the 1.45 billion people that live there. That's a big issue for China. So in many ways, this conflict and the response from the West with sanctions and a unified front has really pushed these two friends even closer together. And now that they're both in this demographic fall from grace. They need each other now, probably more than ever.
[00:27:16] Jordan Harbinger: I looked this up and so you correct me where I'm wrong. I should rename my show to that because I feel like I say that every time. But there's basically no immigration to Russia. I mean, there is, but it's like Russians who live in Kazakhstan, going back to Russia and it's like low six figures, if that, every year. And Russia loses the equivalent population of Omaha, Nebraska pretty much every year since the end of the Cold War. And some of that's covid, some of that's people leaving because of the war. Some of that's people leaving because they get a better job at Google in Silicon Valley than they do working for, I don't know, Kaspersky in Moscow.
[00:27:53] Bradley Schurman: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:53] Jordan Harbinger: And they also see that there's just better things for their kids here or wherever, anywhere but Russia in a way. That doesn't sound like something that you can reverse easily. Because it's not just, okay, we need to incentivize people to have kids, that we need to make things safer and stop the drinking and stop the violent crime and stop the pollution. And then we need to build industry that people want to live in. And then also not invade our neighbors, but then also maybe give people some freedom that they don't. I mean, you have to unplug the whole country and plug it back in and do it right over decades to reverse this. And how are you going to do that? You can't do that.
[00:28:28] Bradley Schurman: You don't turn on a dime. And Jordan, your numbers are mostly right. The big difference in the number is that like everything during the COVID years, a shot of adrenaline of change kind of was pulsed into our veins.
[00:28:39] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:28:39] Bradley Schurman: Russia added, in addition to COVID, a war right to the mix.
[00:28:44] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:28:44] Bradley Schurman: And that really sped things up. So the best estimate that I know of how many people Russia had lost in 2020 and 2021 is closer to 1.2 million people.
[00:28:54] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:28:54] Bradley Schurman: So closer in size to like Dallas, Texas. You know, if we were to lose a population that size in this country, people would be horrified.
[00:29:02] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:29:02] Bradley Schurman: And you know, Russia's not a very large country. We're much bigger than Russia too. So the impact of population loss is sizable. You know, in a place like China where they lost, according to their official figures, which I dispute, they lost about a population the size of San Francisco last year. It's probably much larger than that. But for a population that's 1.45 billion people, that's kind of like a nick. For a population of Russia to lose a population the size of Dallas, that's more like a deep cut. So are they bleeding out? Yes. And how do you fix that? Well, you have to triage. Where are the problems that exist here within our society? How can we make this a place that people actually want to live in, to stay in, to have a family in? And you're absolutely right, it takes decades and we'll take an entire generation of constant investments to turn that around. And there's still no promise of that. You know, Putin has been very adamant, very diligent in upping the benefits for mothers to have children. It's not working. It's not working because you can't do one without thinking about the other. It all kind of coalesces together.
[00:30:05] Jordan Harbinger: I read something like Russia offering the equivalent of a domestic car for each kid that you have. I was thinking to myself, okay, would that work for me? If somebody was like, "Hey, we'll give you a brand new Ford Explorer for every kid you have." That's going to work only for a small subset of people. But even if you're on the fence, you're going to go, "Okay, but then what do I do in seven years when that explorer doesn't work anymore? And then also, I don't know if I want to raise a kid where they can't get a job and I can't find a job and housing is too expensive or whatever." I mean, look at the Russian economy right now. Earlier, it did seem like higher oil prices and a higher ruble were going to like sanctions totally backfired, look at their account. But now the rubble's down over, I think over 20 percent against the dollar, there's no foreign investment. What foreign investment there was is long gone. And you even have oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska, who's like a materials magnate for those who don't know. He's saying things like, there's going to be no money in Russia next year. That's bad news, everybody. You rarely are you going to hear somebody speak that plainly. So it's got to be pretty awful.
[00:31:10] Bradley Schurman: Yeah, and I think the Russians that can are leaving. So you're taking pretty sizable amounts of money out of the country at the same time, going to places that are, you know, somewhat friendly to Russians, places like Turkey—
[00:31:24] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:31:24] Bradley Schurman: —where Russians can still enter rather freely, but a lot of assets have been seized at the same time. Yeah, if you have the means to get out, you're going, that seems to be the, the common refrain. And that leaves behind a really poor population, typically undereducated population too. There's not a lot you can do with that without making these investments that you don't have anymore because you've spent all of your money on a war and you've got to pay off that debt. It's really problematic for them. And I feel for the people that live there.
[00:31:56] Jordan Harbinger: You are listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Bradley Schurman. We'll be right back.
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[00:34:36] Now back to Bradley Schurman.
[00:34:39] I think brain drain also is a self-reinforcing cycle, right? So if you have locksmiths, welders, machine operators in high demand, but then they're getting drafted, or even if they're getting an exemption from getting drafted, fine, but then wages go up in a weird way that doesn't necessarily decrease brain drain. There's going to be an increase in brain drain of anybody with good marketable skills and education because they can get quality of life by simply buying an airline ticket. That's a big problem for a country where unless you're going to restrict freedom of movement entirely, which is very hard to do when you're a country the size of Russia, I would imagine you're just going to lose anybody who's got the, like you said, the ability to leave. It's a plunging birth rate perfect storm with the immigration and the war.
[00:35:26] Bradley Schurman: You know, as the global population really does start to plateau, the battle for labor actually really starts to heat up. So the fact that Russia's can't reproduce its own population is problematic. They can't even find labor from outside to really bring in, even if they want it to. Take a look at Germany, you know, a close neighbor of Russia that's suffering from some similar challenges to its birth rate. Germany also has a very pro-immigration policy. In fact, if you want to move there and get the equivalent of a green card today, and you're a highly skilled laborer or fit within a certain category, you can move there no questions asked. You could move there tomorrow if you wanted to, and they're going to take care of you. So the next kind of battlefront for the future and the future of nations is really going to be around labor. Who can you coax into your country to keep the economy afloat, to keep the economy moving ahead? And we are seeing Americans, too, moving overseas, trying that expat life for a change. So it's not completely unique to Russia, but what Russia's experiencing is unlike anywhere else on the planet, it is just a steep downward trend. And there aren't those rights moves to really turn things around. That's why there's very little hope for the future for them right now.
[00:36:38] Jordan Harbinger: I've read they're going to have the lowest birth rate in modern history, so I think it's 1.2 million births next year if the war continues.
[00:36:47] Bradley Schurman: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:47] Jordan Harbinger: Because of the instability of that. I don't know if that the modern history claim makes sense, but that's pretty damning either way. Let's say it's tied with the fall of the Berlin Wall. That's saying something.
[00:36:59] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. I'd have to double-check that number because, yes, their birth rates are terribly low, but no one has beat Korea for a low birth rate in the world yet.
[00:37:07] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I meant the lowest in Russian history.
[00:37:09] Bradley Schurman: Oh, in Russian history.
[00:37:09] Jordan Harbinger: Not like in whole world.
[00:37:10] Bradley Schurman: I'm sorry. Yes, yes, yes.
[00:37:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:37:11] Bradley Schurman: Yes, of course. That actually makes complete sense. Maybe in their total history because, like I said, since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, birth rates have been in decline. The drop below 2.1 for most nations happened in the late '80s, early '90s. When I was born in '77, the birth rate was 2.59, and we always used to joke, you know, who has 2.59 kids? But the drop has been happening ever since then. I really think a turning point for the world was the last financial crisis. That's when, you know, birth rates, it kind of evened out and that happened and then they just started dropping again. But it all comes back, like I said, to this economic question and this question of whether or not people feel safe, whether or not they feel that they can raise a child comfortably in this modern world. And I think the answer for a growing number of people is no. You know, even just looking back to 2002, you know, roughly two-thirds of households had children in them. Today, it's only 40 percent. And that's in this country.
[00:38:08] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:38:08] Bradley Schurman: So there is a real shift that's happening here that we have to pay attention to. And Jordan, you know, we talk a lot about Russia. I always think it's really important to bring it back home to this country as well because we think that we're somehow immune to this stuff.
[00:38:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:38:21] Bradley Schurman: And I state this, and I want to make sure that people here very clearly. Half of the states and three-quarters of our counties have deaths outpacing births.
[00:38:30] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. I didn't know that. But I suppose it makes sense because it's just immigration that's keeping us from shrinking.
[00:38:36] Bradley Schurman: Immigration keeps us alive, it keeps us growing, it keeps our labor costs relatively low against the rest of the world. Immigration is what this country is based on. So when we push back against immigration, we're pushing back against our future here.
[00:38:52] Jordan Harbinger: I agree with you. I think what scares people is that it's not white people immigrating. And I'm not saying I agree with that. For the record, I want to be very clear.
[00:39:00] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[00:39:01] Jordan Harbinger: A lot of the people that I talk to who are sort of anti-immigration, when you put a whiskey in them, it comes down to they're scared that their way of life is dying. That's the different podcast, right?
[00:39:12] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[00:39:12] Jordan Harbinger: Or they'll say, "I'm fine with immigration, I just want legal immigration." But then you say, "Okay, here's a bunch of people that came over legally from Africa and Central America." And they're like, "Well, you know—" it's just, a lot of times they mean they want white people to come over legally because that's who they think is coming over legally. And they think everybody who's not white is coming over illegally and it's just sort of disinformation that's been around for a really long time. Again, that's a different podcast entirely.
[00:39:38] I looked at the life expectancy. I just wanted to look that up because Russian life expectancy at birth is 71. In the US, it's like 77, and I thought, okay, how does that compare? Because I don't know, six years, no big deal. But Russia is, when you look at men, only the life expectancy in the US is 75 and Russia at 66. So it, okay, now we're getting a bigger disparity. Then I looked up what are some places that definitely have crap life expectancy for men, North Korea, Syria, Bangladesh, Russia's worse. And Russia has the 11th largest economy in the world, but is 96th in life expectancy? Are those things usually sort of correlated? That seems pretty bad. That seems very detached from the economic success, or the economics, I should say, of Russia.
[00:40:25] Bradley Schurman: There's a bit of a convoluted way to give you the answer on this because it's not just a one-size-fits-all. You know, the United States has been seeing its own life expectancy slip for the past couple of years, and most, like most nations, there is that two-year dip because of COVID. Our challenge here is really on the front end of life. So not just a dip in birth rates, but also a high youth mortality rate. So, you know, the Financial Times did a great analysis that came out about four weeks ago. Now that said, a child born today has a one in 25 chance of dying before the age of 40, largely because of gun violence, automobile deaths, et cetera. So we're seeing a reverse—
[00:41:01] Jordan Harbinger: That's in the United States?
[00:41:02] Bradley Schurman: That's in the United States. That's in the United States.
[00:41:04] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:41:04] Bradley Schurman: But once you make it to 40 in this country, your life expectancy jumps to above 80. It's really a significant success of making—
[00:41:11] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I've made it to 40 it.
[00:41:12] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[00:41:12] Jordan Harbinger: All right.
[00:41:12] Bradley Schurman: You're doing well, man. You're going to live a very long life.
[00:41:15] Jordan Harbinger: Good. So far, so good.
[00:41:16] Bradley Schurman: In Russia, though, they're slipping. Their birth rate isn't necessarily because of youth mortality. It's because of accumulated bad behaviors over the course of a lifetime, alcoholism, drug abuse, nicotine. They're building people that are sick for long term. If you survive youth here in this country, you're actually really strong. The people who are living are really strong, really healthy. You're going to live a long life. So it does create a really confusing situation for their economy because these people are getting sicker earlier. They're dying earlier, they're coming out of the economy earlier. They can't work as long as we can here in this country.
[00:41:51] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, yes. Okay. I do have a quote that says, given the country's income and education levels, Russian deaths from both causes are several times higher than expected, and they list poisoning, which is kind of terrifying.
[00:42:02] Bradley Schurman: Yes.
[00:42:02] Jordan Harbinger: I don't know if that means drug abuse and drug overdoses and things like that, but poisoning is pretty, you don't see that on lists of causes of death, you know, high in the list. You see heart attack, you see stroke, you see maybe accidents or homicides somewhere in there. But you poisoning is very kind of weirdly specific.
[00:42:20] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. You know, but so much of human excellence in extending human life is because we have social protections in place. Because we have, you know, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, those places make sure we don't die from things like poisons.
[00:42:38] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:42:38] Bradley Schurman: They make sure that they don't get into our foods or our water supply or, you know, in our air. You know, Russia is a dirty place. It doesn't have great air quality, doesn't have great water quality. Then you have issues around food safety. You have issues around just about everything you could possibly imagine. Things were actually really commonplace in this country up to the 1920s and '30s. They're just not commonplace here anymore, despite the occasional story of the Flint water crisis, et cetera.
[00:43:06] Jordan Harbinger: If you think about that kind of thing happening countrywide, it's really a shame. And I don't want people to think we're celebrating how bad Russians have it.
[00:43:14] Bradley Schurman: No.
[00:43:14] Jordan Harbinger: Because I really do find that — well, first of all, the Russians I know here in the United States are all usually here because they're super talented and smart. So I'm looking at that kind of sample size. But I also just feel like any country like that that's made their mark on history is usually because the people, they have super high potential, and usually that potential has been stifled by authoritarian leaders who throw them into senseless wars over centuries and kill millions of them. Or they have to defend themselves against something like the Nazis and die by the millions. I mean, Russia has had it rough, and I don't want people to think, "Oh, look at you guys thinking, celebrating the death of all these Russians." I would love to see Russia succeed long term, and by succeed, I mean join the rest of the world in not destroying themselves and their neighbors and maybe, I don't know, elect or get a leader that cares about you a little bit.
[00:44:07] Bradley Schurman: Russia is a cautionary tale. I mean, this is the nation that gave us Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, like these really—
[00:44:12] Jordan Harbinger: Tetris.
[00:44:13] Bradley Schurman: Tetris. Of course, Tetris.
[00:44:15] Jordan Harbinger: Come on.
[00:44:15] Bradley Schurman: But like we've gotten these really amazing gifts from that nation, these cultural gifts that really can't be replicated. They essentially guarded the world against the Nazi rise by their own massive sacrifice. But because of, you know, 70 years now of kind of siding with authoritarianism and this kind of grab for power rather than investing back in its people, it slipped and it slipped pretty far from where it really should be. It's a very cautionary tale for this country about how quickly things can go away, how quickly prosperity can slip, how quickly economic prowess can slip. Cultural prominence can slip away if these authoritarian-type figures continue to slip into not just the discourse but leadership positions across the country.
[00:45:04] Jordan Harbinger: I read something that said, as a result of this population decline, the United States and its allies may be working to contain Russia and China, but they may let demographic decline do the heavy lifting. As a result, we may witness demographic attrition, weaponized for the first time. What do, what does that mean? Weaponized, how?
[00:45:21] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. Weaponized. And it's a waiting game. There are more people that want to get out than want to get in. This is a slow bleed essentially, and with low birth rates, struggling economy, they're essentially doing the heavy lift for us. Why would you want to fight a battle with somebody when you can just wait for them to bleed out? That's what demographic attrition really is defined as.
[00:45:40] Jordan Harbinger: Gotcha.
[00:45:41] Bradley Schurman: So you're waiting, essentially waiting for them to do their own work. Lots of people could argue, you know, that NATO could have marched in. Obviously, not by its rules, but certainly, some of the allies could have marched in and taken a bigger role in the Ukraine conflict. In fact, Zelensky asked for that. They've made a decision not to. The same is true for China right now. There's obviously a lot of saber-rattling around the island of Taiwan and whether or not they invade it. The United States is taking non-military precautions to ensure that our interests on that island are taken care of. In fact, there's this massive plant that's being built in Arizona right now to manufacture semiconductors, microchips. Because Taiwan makes one-fifth of the world supply of those right now. Without those, we have nothing.
[00:46:26] We're also starting to see economics play a major role in this war of attrition because we're starting to see the cost of labor inching up in both of these nations because they have fewer people to do the jobs. That's allowing American companies, European companies, Japanese companies, Korean companies, to start looking for other places to manufacture that might have lower labor costs. So, for example, Mexico is relatively low labor costs. Could we see more manufacturing that's currently in China moving into Mexico? Yes, absolutely. Could we see some of the manufacturing that's done in China right now actually shifted places like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, India. Yeah, that's entirely possible as well. So demographics is a numbers game at the end of the day. What we don't know because we've never experienced a drop like this, and certainly at this pace, is how quickly these economies will destabilize, will really slow down, and how long it will take for the populations to really drop.
[00:47:23] A million people a year for Russia is really scary. For China, we're talking about, you know, a hundred to 200 million in the next 20 years that they're going to lose. That's a lot of people. That's more than half this country. It will have an impact on their ability to compete in the world. And I certainly don't think China has a chance of beating the United States in GDP anymore.
[00:47:43] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. We'll talk about that in a second. And by the way, I want to put a little asterisk and you tell me whether to remove it. Those figures are, if nothing else sort of catastrophic happens, right? There's no other sort of pandemic. The CCP doesn't lose its hold on power and then have crazy uncertainty like Russia had in the early '90s where people just stop having kids entirely. Stuff like that.
[00:48:03] Bradley Schurman: Yeah, those are kind of, those are really conservative numbers. When you do population projections, these are consistent across the board. You have kind of a high expectancy to low expectancy and kind of that middle trend line of somewhere in between. It's kind of like hearing a story from two different people. You know, that the truth is somewhere in between the extremes.
[00:48:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:21] Bradley Schurman: The same goes for this. So on the high end, you know, we could see a very rapid collapse. But still within that middle trend line, we're looking at a significant reduction in population. And when you look at China, China's been about extremes for the past 200 years. You know, in 1950, China's population was 500 million people. So they jumped to 1.45 in 70 years, essentially.
[00:48:44] Jordan Harbinger: Crazy.
[00:48:44] Bradley Schurman: And now, they're going through a reversal that I think on average conservatively, we're looking at the loss of 700 to 800 million people by the end of the century.
[00:48:52] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:48:53] Bradley Schurman: So like, talk about swinging from left to right and you saw how much that growth in population caused their economy to skyrocket, to dominate in many sectors, certainly in manufacturing, certainly in the parts sector, all those little things that are the components that make the things that we consume and buy. That went through the roof. We got really drunk on cheap labor, cheap goods during this period. That's coming to an end in China right now. It's been out of play in Russia for some time now. But what will this mean for the Chinese economy? China's overbuilt their housing sector by 65 million homes. Everyone in France could move there tomorrow and have a place to stay.
[00:49:32] Jordan Harbinger: Right. At least until the concrete gives out which, if you've seen some of those videos—
[00:49:36] Bradley Schurman: I have seen them.
[00:49:37] Jordan Harbinger: You wouldn't want to move to a lot of those buildings that are unfinished and have been left out in the weather for five years without electrical or pipes or whatever. Yeah, there's a lot going on there.
[00:49:47] Before we wrap up with Russia and transition here to China, there's something called power transition theory. I wanted to ask you about, which I guess considers population a key component of power and says when there's demographic changes, there's riskier behavior. Can you talk about that a little bit? Are you familiar with this?
[00:50:03] Bradley Schurman: A bit. You know, the problem with this, Jordan, is that we're heading into an unknown period of population collapse. Like I said, for most of our history, we've grown in size. The fact that we're contracting doesn't necessarily mean that the wheels come off the bus, but most of our systems are predicated on economic models of growth. So if those economic models start to falter, do the wheels come off the bus? If we don't have enough consumers to buy workers to work—
[00:50:30] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:50:30] Bradley Schurman: Do the wheels come off the bus faster and do they push people into a corner? Well, in the case of Russia, yeah, that is the case. You know, they have been pushed into the corner and they're lashing out. But, you know, a country like Japan has been in demographic decline now for over a decade. You know, they lost a population the size of Las Vegas for the past two years.
[00:50:49] Jordan Harbinger: Every year?
[00:50:50] Bradley Schurman: For the past two years, at least.
[00:50:52] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, two years. Oh, I see.
[00:50:53] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. But they've been losing for well over a decade now. It's speeding up, obviously, because their birth rates remain low. Their mortality rates remain high. They have zero people coming in. They've maintained their poll position in the global economy. They've taken a rational actor approach to demographic change. They're upping the labor force participation for older people. They're trying to up the labor force participation rate for women. They're acting kind of sensibly in all this. Western European allies are the same. Korea is the same. Russia is an outlier in all of this.
[00:51:26] Jordan Harbinger: I do worry that Russia might fall into the same trap because, and what I'm talking about with this PTT, power transition theory, is it says something along the lines of, "Hey, when countries get older, they become less aggressive." And I don't know if that necessarily holds up with the demographic stuff.
[00:51:43] Bradley Schurman: It is true. It's a hundred percent true. And that's the point is that when you have these countries, like in Western Europe, that are aging societies, Japan and the East Korea as well, they're actually quite soft. Like they're not saber-rattling in any way.
[00:51:57] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:51:57] Bradley Schurman: That's why Russia's such an outlier in all this. That's why this is all a bit of a surprise. And for those of us that are in the space, we're trying to make sense of it right now. What is the thing that defines this? What is the thing that really threw them off?
[00:52:08] Jordan Harbinger: Authoritarianism?
[00:52:09] Bradley Schurman: Well, that seems to be the single easiest answer here. They also happen to have, in Russia, a significant rural population in terms of aggregate size to other parts of the world. Obviously, kind of anchored in, quote-unquote, "traditional values," and they have a significantly high degree of religiosity.
[00:52:27] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[00:52:27] Bradley Schurman: Meaning that the populations are willing to follow a certain institution or organization, perhaps at a higher rate. Japan, which is the oldest country in the world in terms of population, has a really low degree of religiosity. It's a highly urbanized society. It also happens to be a liberal democracy. So you can't just say it's authoritarianism. At least, I don't just say it's authoritarianism.
[00:52:50] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:51] Bradley Schurman: I like to think that there are other mitigating factors that are contributing to this because at the end of the day, and I think you alluded to this before, people decide who their leaders are in the end.
[00:53:00] Jordan Harbinger: If they can. Yeah.
[00:53:01] Bradley Schurman: If they can. But people tend to decide who their leaders are, whether that's through free and fair elections or revolution. They decide who their leaders are. There seems to at least be tacit support for the current leadership in Russia.
[00:53:13] Jordan Harbinger: I don't think anybody argues that Putin has widespread support, whether that's holding up or not. And it's hard to measure those things in a dictatorship. I mean, Kim Jong-un also probably has widespread support, but he actually does, right? Because of propaganda and brainwashing and the fact that nobody's ever really been presented in another choice.
[00:53:31] Let's transition over, over to China here. You mentioned that China was aiming to unite the BRICS, so Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. So they want to devalue the US dollar. They want to, I guess, subject us to uncontrolled inflation as a result. That just might be a positive side effect of them being able to what sanctions bust and never have to worry about being under the thumb of the US financial system and under any sort of scrutiny, but to me, it looks like China's economy is also becoming unstable in part due to demographic change. So take it away. I don't even know where to start with this because it's such a huge topic.
[00:54:12] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. So China, I would say that it is destabilizing. I don't know if it's falling apart. I think that's probably the first way I would kind of level set. Their growth projections are off. They have incredibly high youth unemployment right now. One in five, men and women, ages 16 to 24 is out of work.
[00:54:30] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. 20 percent?
[00:54:32] Bradley Schurman: 20 percent.
[00:54:33] Jordan Harbinger: That's crazy.
[00:54:34] Bradley Schurman: Everyone is shocked by this figure.
[00:54:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:54:36] Bradley Schurman: And that's the figure that's been reported out. So if history tells you anything, it might be a lot higher than that, which is even scarier because we know that when large numbers of young people are out of work or underemployed, there is a greater probability of political instability everywhere in the world, consistently across the board. In fact, you know, that was part of the reason Tiananmen Square happened, was because there were too many people who were not part of that prosperity that China was experiencing at the time. China level set, made some adjustments. Prosperity was extended to a larger number of people. But I think that that's creeping back again.
[00:55:15] You have, in economic parlance, what we call the working-age population. And for those people who don't know what it is, it's people ages 16 to 64. 65 is a traditional cutoff when people retire. And I say traditional, meaning that it's been around since about, you know, the early 1900s, essentially since the advent of national pension schemes and social security in this country, 65 is the retirement age. So at 16 to 64 number is what people really zero in on. How many people are in that group, and how many of them are working? To have the 16 to 24 is at such a high unemployment rate is problematic. But overall, this group, this population of 16 to 64s in China is actually contracting. What's growing exponentially in China at this time is people over the age of 65, because like other developed nations, China's been really successful at extending life expectancy.
[00:56:08] So life expectancy in China is pushing 81 right now. Just to go back, life expectancy in the United States, today is about 76, so China is outperforming the United States on life expectancy now. That, to me, is kind of shocking, but—
[00:56:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:56:23] Bradley Schurman: —that's the world we're in. Well, get this, Jordan, like this is the part that blows my mind. You can really adjust your economy based on your population aging, your population growth, even your population contraction if you adjust your systems accordingly. In China today, a woman who works in the manufacturing sector is allowed to retire at the age of 50.
[00:56:46] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. That doesn't make any sense.
[00:56:49] Bradley Schurman: No, it is completely counterintuitive. It is completely counterintuitive, and until they ratchet that up, until they put, until they push or encourage or mandate that people work past 50, past 60, past 70, they're going to see this drag on the economy. The other challenge that China's facing right now is because these labor costs are going up across the board, they're starting to transition at the same time out of a manufacturing society, primarily manufacturing and into a service sector economy. Well, they have all these kits that were essentially educated for manufacturing that don't necessarily fit the service sector. So there's a mismatch in terms of skills that's happening too. Again, like Russia, there's a lot of competing things that are happening at once to China that are pushing it away from its stated goals. But when you have populations drop, in theory, your economy starts to falter, especially if you don't have a large presence in terms of your products and your services on the global stage.
[00:57:47] Name one Chinese product that you use on a regular basis.
[00:57:50] Jordan Harbinger: I do use a lot of stuff that is made in China. But it's components to stuff that I—
[00:57:56] Bradley Schurman: Correct.
[00:57:56] Jordan Harbinger: That I own.
[00:57:57] Bradley Schurman: And that's part of the challenge for China is that they don't necessarily have products that people want to purchase. The one, you know, machine that comes to mind for me is Lenovo computers. They're made in China.
[00:58:07] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:58:07] Bradley Schurman: That's a pretty dominant brand, but outside of that, there's no Gap. There's no Gucci. They're not making things that people are necessarily wanting to buy. They're making things that are white-labeled for other companies to buy that then sell to other people, but—
[00:58:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:58:21] Bradley Schurman: —that national identity isn't attached to a product, a car, for example. Every nation that's ever had really significant success has had a car that's made it out to the world and that people drove. Now, we're not necessarily an automobile-focused world anymore. We don't necessarily need to be. But that was a trajectory for most nations for at least the past a hundred years.
[00:58:44] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Bradley Schurman. We'll be right back.
[00:58:49] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help. Ever felt like you're the town's personal chef whipping up solutions for everybody else. Only to forget that even the best chefs need a moment to sit down and maybe enjoy a meal. Endless giving, if this sounds like you, can make us feel like a blender that's about to blow a fuse. Therapy provides you with a recipe to find balance in life so you can continue being everyone's support without turning into a burned-out piece of toast. Got stress piled up like dishes after a banquet. I get it. Therapy session, it's like a top-notch emotional dishwasher, helping you break down the stress, rinse off, anxiety, churn out a happier, healthier version of you. Thinking about therapy, give Better Help a try. All online, cooked up for your convenience. Just a brief questionnaire and you're set on your path to being paired with a licensed therapist. And if you feel the need for a change, switching therapists is as easy as swapping out ingredients. No additional charge.
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[01:01:34] Now for the rest of my conversation with Bradley Schurman.
[01:01:38] You will not find a Chinese car in another, in most other countries. I mean, maybe there's some in Africa or or something like that, but even most Chinese people that I know who live in China don't want to buy Chinese cars. Some of this is going to be sort of media propaganda-ish stuff, but I mean, there's a lot of videos of Chinese EVs catching on fire and there's a lot of people that I know who again live in China and their goal is to buy a foreign car because Chinese cars are seen as unreliable, even by the domestic population. So yeah, the idea that they could export that is unlikely. It's certainly not going to be a luxury export. It's going to be like people in Sierra Leone buy Chinese cars because otherwise, they can't get anything.
[01:02:19] Bradley Schurman: Right.
[01:02:19] Jordan Harbinger: It's going to be something like that.
[01:02:20] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. And I think that's probably where China has made a very smart geopolitical, geo-economic move, is that they've made significant in investments into Sub-Saharan Africa, essentially creating a market for Chinese goods in a place where there weren't good access to goods in the first place. Significant investments over time and we could obviously spend hours debating the virtues of those investments.
[01:02:43] Jordan Harbinger: The Belt and Road.
[01:02:44] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[01:02:44] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:02:44] Bradley Schurman: But Belton Road is a lot of money poured into a region that was off ignored. And I think it was particularly damning. I don't know how much you caught of the conversations that Vice President Harris had with African leaders on her last visit to the continent.
[01:02:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:03:00] Bradley Schurman: It was amazing how much they were talking friendly about China.
[01:03:03] Jordan Harbinger: I'm sure.
[01:03:03] Bradley Schurman: And that's a long-term investment that China's made in that region. It also happens to be, Jordan, the one region that has the high birth rates.
[01:03:11] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:03:11] Bradley Schurman: That has the significant growth in population. It will fuel global population growth. Sub-Saharan Africa, India rather, Afghanistan, Pakistan, that's the region, even Iran, that's the region where population growth will happen for the next 20 to 40 years.
[01:03:28] Jordan Harbinger: One of the problems that China seems to have, I should say, is they don't have massive amounts of immigration. Like, yeah, there you can find Africans working in China. You can find expats working in China. It's just not part of the culture to have people come in from another place and decide to be Chinese and work there and live there and have Chinese kids, that just doesn't happen.
[01:03:48] Bradley Schurman: It doesn't work there. It's a very monocultural society. They don't like others. Even though there's a large diversity of ethnic groups that live within China. The Han is the dominant ethnic group. They make it known that they are the primary in China. There isn't a large amount of immigration. The immigrants that do come in, I think you're alluding to this if you're not, please accept my apologies.
[01:04:12] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:04:12] Bradley Schurman: But the immigrants that are coming in are to marry the boys that can't find wives.
[01:04:16] Jordan Harbinger: I wasn't necessarily alluding to that, but you're right. There are a lot of like Vietnamese or North Korean women that are, I don't want to say, trafficked, but many of them are indeed trafficked over there. As brides, some, of course, go there because they are asked politely and actually do go there—
[01:04:31] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[01:04:31] Jordan Harbinger: —to marry rural farmers who would never find a wife otherwise, they'd come over from rural Thailand instead. I'm thinking there's not a ton of like super well-educated people from Germany that are like, "I'm moving to Shanghai. That's where the opportunity is."
[01:04:44] Bradley Schurman: No.
[01:04:44] Jordan Harbinger: They just don't have that.
[01:04:45] Bradley Schurman: There's still a fairly significant expat community, Commonwealth primarily, which is, of course, the former English colonies that reside in and headquarter in places like Hong Kong. I would even say Shanghai to some degree too. But as for the mainland, no. If they're there, they're typically there as expats. They're not immigrants. They're there to run factories or there to oversee foreign operations. They are not sticking around, they're not putting down roots, and they're not diversifying the nation in any way. It's a significantly different culture than ours. In fact, China probably is more reminiscent of Japan in terms of its attitude towards immigrants than anywhere else in the world.
[01:05:27] Jordan Harbinger: And that attitude is, you're never going to be Chinese, you're never going to be Japanese. You can come here and work, but you can't necessarily stay. And even if you marry somebody local, you're still white dude or a black dude.
[01:05:40] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[01:05:40] Jordan Harbinger: Or whatever.
[01:05:41] Bradley Schurman: It's blood law, plain and simple. Like if you have Japanese blood, you're Japanese. If you're mixed in any way, you're not. You know, this is the same type of attitude the Germans had during the Second World War, and we put that to bed for the most part, certainly across Europe. But these attitudes of being truly Chinese still exists today.
[01:05:59] Jordan Harbinger: Chinese have finally sort of admitted their population shrank for the first time in 2022, and that was the first time in 60 years losing three-quarters of a million plus people as deaths, outstripped births. Some of that's due to COVID, but also the same problems we're seeing even in the United States. Young people who do get married are doing so later. A lot of people don't want to get married or can't because there's nobody to marry. And the number of women of childbearing age, which is 15 to 49, which is a little creepy, but I guess technically true, is also falling because of, what, the one-child policy is. Is that why that's falling?
[01:06:34] Bradley Schurman: The one-child policy sped things up, it made things actually a lot worse for China. Chinese birth rates were already in decline, that one-child policy. And this is something that people always have to remember, public policy tends to lag behind what's happening in the private sector, what's happening in our everyday lives. So the birth rate was already starting to dip in China, and then the central government decided to speed it up and they put in place this one-child policy, which you know, at the time probably sounded like a great idea, but now seems like complete folly. Like, what the heck were you guys thinking? Because it turned off not one, but two generations to having kids.
[01:07:10] Jordan Harbinger: And it did it at the time where their economy was enjoying this massive boon, right? So at the time where people—
[01:07:16] Bradley Schurman: This amazing middle class.
[01:07:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like, "Oh, we could, we, we should have three kids because we finally got a job and we're manufacturing. And look, we're earning five times as much as we were, oh, but we can't because there's a law." And now my Chinese friends who again, people who live in China are like, "I'm not going to have kids." And many of my teachers, most of my teachers actually are women, they say things like, "There's no guys," and I'm thinking there's only guys.
[01:07:41] Bradley Schurman: There's a ton of guys.
[01:07:43] Jordan Harbinger: There's only guys. And they're like, "Well, I don't need to because I have a job and I can take care of myself."
[01:07:48] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[01:07:48] Jordan Harbinger: "The guys I know are gross." Or they're too traditional. They got the same problem, right? What these women, they have jobs and then they go, "Ugh, the guys around me are gross," which is something everybody says when they're dating.
[01:07:59] Bradley Schurman: Mm-hmm.
[01:07:59] Jordan Harbinger: And then they were also one child. So the idea that they're going to have like four kids now is just complete insanity. They're just not going to do it.
[01:08:07] Bradley Schurman: So you want to know something fun about demographics is we can often find correlation and causation to things that might not seem to be connected. And in China, like here in the United States, it's often around disposable income. So we can take a look at other things that they're buying and it can indicate perhaps how their birth rate is dropping. So pet ownership, for example, as pet ownership goes up, the birth rate drops. As people order out food more, the birth rate drops. As people buy luxury goods, the birth rate drops. It signals that people aren't necessarily spending time, energy, or money on having kids. They'd rather spend it on themselves or their partner.
[01:08:45] Jordan Harbinger: That actually makes sense, right? If you're a cat daddy, you don't necessarily need kids. Especially if you mentioned that youth unemployment at 20 percent. Housing in China also super expensive. I mean, and I'm not just talking about Shanghai where it's the same price as New York or California or whatever, but education is super expensive. And I'm don't know how many people know this. I'm sure you do, but when you're Chinese and your parents are old, their retirement plan is their living off of you/with you. So if you marry somebody, you've got four elderly parents living in your house at some point. The idea that you're then going to have one or two or three kids, who can afford that? Nobody.
[01:09:25] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. It's basically a law of filial piety where the adult children take care of mom and dad. Now, what's interesting about that is this is where China's kind of disconnected in their public policy versus what they actually did. So they have this rule that you are required as an adult child to take care of your parents. That is actually a law.
[01:09:43] Jordan Harbinger: I did not know it was a law.
[01:09:44] Bradley Schurman: The problem is they've actually moved people away from their parents. So you could be from a western province in China, living on the coast, in Shanghai, in Hong Kong, even in Beijing. You are still required to take care of your mom and dad. You're required to see them. You're required to visit them on a regular basis. Think of the burden that puts on an individual. I mean, I'm in DC, my parents are in Pittsburgh. I want to see them on a regular basis. It's hard just to get there. Now, imagine traveling across the country, this country because we're roughly about the same width. Imagine your parents are in San Francisco and you're in New York City and having to do that trip on a regular basis.
[01:10:23] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:10:23] Bradley Schurman: That would be hard, especially because things don't get easier as our parents age. They tend to get a much, much more, more difficult.
[01:10:30] Jordan Harbinger: And they have that same inverted pyramid, right, where there's a lot more older people than there are younger people. The life expectancy is rising. And the younger people have to sustain the older people, as you mentioned, by law. And then you've got the low retirement age that we mentioned earlier in the show, which is like 50 for women in manufacturing, 60 elsewhere, which is crazy for a country where people live to be 80-plus years old. And that is all falling on this younger generation. And then you're saying, by the way, we want you to have three kids and they're laughing in your face because they see their own ability to live their own life, go down the drain when they've got to support all these other people for like 30 years—
[01:11:06] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[01:11:06] Jordan Harbinger: —before they croak.
[01:11:07] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[01:11:07] Jordan Harbinger: Right? And leave them nothing.
[01:11:09] Bradley Schurman: In a very poorly developed pension system.
[01:11:11] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:11:12] Bradley Schurman: You're doubly burdened there. And because they favored men, men as babies, baby boys over girls, guess who don't really take care of their parents even when required to.
[01:11:22] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:11:22] Bradley Schurman: Baby boys.
[01:11:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:11:23] Bradley Schurman: Men do not take care of their parents at the same rate that women do. They kind of shot themselves in the foot on that one—
[01:11:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:11:28] Bradley Schurman: Uh, many households, it's a challenging situation, especially looking from the outside, having even spent time in China to understand how these are all kind of coming together. But there is one number that we look at, those of us who do economic work called the dependency ratio. And the dependency ratio is people out of work versus people in work. And when that gets too far out of whack, the economy really starts to grind to a halt. And too many young people then are paying for either too many older people or too many other people that are out of work, social welfare, et cetera. This can really grind the gears of an economy. And when the dependency ratio is too high and the economy starts to slow down, it threatens things like the credit rating of a nation. And the credit rating of a nation, how could that be connected to demographics? Well, it's simple. If you can't pay your bills because you don't have enough people earning for you, you lose that number and you can't borrow, and you can't borrow at the same rate. You can't build bridges, you can't build hospitals. You can't build schools for the kids that are still being born. You can't build the ports to take your goods out to sea and to foreign markets. It all starts to really slip. That's where the challenges for China right now is because this is all happening at a very, very fast rate. All the headwinds are coming for them at the same time.
[01:12:51] Jordan Harbinger: I don't think we touched on this, but China also has the outward migration problem, and I think since the UN has been compiling statistics, which I think is sometime in the 1950s, China has had a net negative number of migrants, meaning more people leave the country than arriving, and you only need to look around your, whatever city you live in, to probably verify that. And those people, despite what Chinese news sources might want to say, they're not interested in moving back from Vancouver to the suburbs of Beijing. They're not interested in leaving San Francisco because their grandparents were born in San Francisco. If you ask them if they're Chinese, they're going to say, well, I mean, I technically, yes, but not really. They've been American longer than my family has. The majority of them have. So the idea that they're just suddenly going to move back to China and then start speaking Mandarin, which they've never, their great grandparents spoke maybe, or actually didn't, probably came from Hong Kong and spoke Cantonese anyways, they're not, it's not going to happen. It's just not going to happen. They're not going to have what Russia has, which is what a hundred thousand people moving back from Kazakhstan to Russia because they speak Russian and they feel Russian and they came back after the Soviet Union. And China likes to sort of claim that those people are all Chinese and are eventually going to move back or just be Chinese. And it's like you ask my neighbors across the street, if they're Chinese and they say, "Well, we're Asian, but like, you know, we're not Chinese." You know, it depends on what you're asking. They own a Chinese restaurant, but they're more again, but they're more American than my family. But at least in terms of the time they've been here.
[01:14:23] Bradley Schurman: The Chinese are, in many ways, the modern Irish.
[01:14:26] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:14:27] Bradley Schurman: You know, the Irish were exporting more people than they were bringing in, certainly during the troubles in the potato famine. We have this massive Irish population that exists here today. There's a massive Irish population that exists in the diaspora around the world, similar to China's today. Obviously, the numbers are different, but if the ratios are similar, you know, you don't hear Irish people saying, ah, I'm going back to Dublin.
[01:14:46] Jordan Harbinger: No, maybe for a vacation.
[01:14:48] Bradley Schurman: Maybe for a vacation. Maybe a vacation property or a rental property. You know, they might pop back, but for the most part, they've chosen another homeland and they take on the identity of that homeland. That's part of the deal for immigrants. So getting those folks to move back is silly.
[01:15:03] Jordan Harbinger: So looking at these factors that we just applied to Russia and Russia having invaded Ukraine, do we think that China's going to get to the point where they start, they turn saber-rattling into action and invade Taiwan?
[01:15:16] Bradley Schurman: Yeah, I mean, there's nothing like a war to distract people from the actual problems.
[01:15:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:15:21] Bradley Schurman: And China wants to reunify its empire that predates the communist party, extends back to the Ching Dynasty. There are significant swaths of land that they want. They want to take land from India. They want to take the land that we call Taiwan, and they want to take land that is Outer Manchuria, what they consider to be Outer Manchuria, that's homed of Vladivostok. They believe this is all part of reunifying, quote-unquote, "Greater China and the Empire of China the way it should be." That saber-rattling's already started, it's been going on for years. In fact, it was, what, 74, when Nixon opened up China to the West, that one-China policy was grounded in those conversations because they wanted the world to know that when they take back Taiwan, it's deservedly so. And that's why Taiwan, I think Taiwan is down to three countries that it has diplomatic relations with today.
[01:16:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:16:15] Bradley Schurman: That actually recognized it as a nation.
[01:16:17] Jordan Harbinger: It's like Lithuania, United States, and I don't even know.
[01:16:20] Bradley Schurman: Maybe Ecuador, it's one of the Latin American countries, but I think they may have just given that up. Regardless, our relationship with Taiwan has been really unique in the sense that we supply them with military goods. And if you've ever been there, they're highly acculturated in American life.
[01:16:36] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:16:36] Bradley Schurman: Very friendly to America. It's actually one of the coolest places to be if you ever get to go to Taiwan because they have elements of Chinese culture, Japanese culture, and American culture, all in one place. But we've committed to defend them, essentially, if anything happens. Now, will we actually, at the end of the day? Hard to say, but Taiwan sits, you know, about a hundred miles off the coast of China. It's the equivalent of Cuba sitting off the coast of Florida and similar in size. So are we going to see China go after it? Maybe. Will it be a distraction from other bigger problems there? Yes. There's no reason for them to go after it other than political.
[01:17:11] Jordan Harbinger: The thing that scares me is that Xi holds absolute power, which is what Putin has. And a lot of people in China who might say things to keep him in check are decamping or have left, have left for the US, the Philippines, Singapore or Canada, Europe, wherever. And he's done all these purges, well, they don't call them purges, but corruption investigation against 600 people who are kind of part of other factions of the CCP. But what's interesting, you mentioned that Ukraine was just like Russia in terms of demographics and decline. Taiwan is, I think, also even worse than any of them, right? It's the fastest staging country in the world.
[01:17:50] Bradley Schurman: Yeah.
[01:17:50] Jordan Harbinger: It's the lowest birth rate as it's extreme outward migration. It's the exact same kind of deal.
[01:17:56] Bradley Schurman: Exactly. You know, the only country that has a lower birth rate than Taiwan is Korea, but Taiwan's birth rate is actually below one now.
[01:18:03] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[01:18:04] Bradley Schurman: So, on average, every woman there is having like three-quarters of a child.
[01:18:07] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[01:18:08] Bradley Schurman: Do the math and that sounds kind of crazy when you say it.
[01:18:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:18:11] Bradley Schurman: But that's reality. They've got incredible outward migration. Very few people coming in. Yet, they've somehow been able to maintain a relatively healthy economy because they are doing good manufacturing and they do have good trade relationships. But from a population standpoint, going after Taiwan isn't going to buy China anything in terms of population growth? The specialty scientists, engineers, manufacturers that exist there will likely decamp should an invasion happen.
[01:18:40] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:18:41] Bradley Schurman: The plant that's being built in Arizona right now to make semiconductors and microchips, you know, that's owned in part by that Taiwanese company that makes—
[01:18:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:18:49] Bradley Schurman: —the chips. So there are contingency plans in place, economic contingency plans in place should that invasion occur.
[01:18:56] Jordan Harbinger: I'm not a conspiracy theorist, of course, but I'm, I told Peter Zeihan on the show that there's probably, you know, 4,000 visas in a box somewhere for every Taiwan semiconductor manufacturing company employee who works in that factory and their families. And there's probably housing built near this factory. And there's probably Chinese signs on the walls of that plant in Arizona. And if anything happens, there's going to be a few Airbus loads of people that just up and leave and end up spinning up production in the next 90 days.
[01:19:28] Bradley Schurman: You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that you have to be a historian.
[01:19:32] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[01:19:32] Bradley Schurman: And you know, take a look at our last major global conflicts, the Second World War. We pulled out every scientist, every thinker, every academic, every artist. And we brought them over here. That's what we did. That was part of the plan. That will likely be the plan for a place like Taiwan as well.
[01:19:51] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:19:52] Bradley Schurman: We're not going to leave those types of people behind. Even in the fall of Kabul, we pulled out those people that were of highest value to us, those people that were the most loyal. At the end of the day, you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to think it, it's a historical trend at this point. So maybe it's conspiracy to say there's a plan in place, but there hasn't been a conspiracy to do this in the past. We've done it and we've done it without any hesitation or reservation.
[01:20:16] Jordan Harbinger: India just passed China in population, was it this month or last month or something like that?
[01:20:22] Bradley Schurman: It depends who you talked to like all things. April is the month that most had estimated the UN revised its numbers. You know when you get to talking about three billion people, being off by one or two months, I don't think, is that much of a surprise. And we're also, you know, splicing hairs now, but April was the date that most people had pegged when India would overtake China. And we're at that point right now. In fact, most of the major news outlets reported on it just a few weeks ago. UN is saying, I think, in maybe a few months, regardless, it's happened.
[01:20:52] Jordan Harbinger: Is this important? You know, I know, yeah, okay, they've sort of done the flipping, but does it matter? I'm assuming this is because the birth rate is crazy high in India.
[01:21:01] Bradley Schurman: So it is high, but it's not as high as you'd think. It actually fell below placement rate last year.
[01:21:06] Jordan Harbinger: That surprises me because when I think of a place that has a ton of kids, India's like right at the top of my stereotype list.
[01:21:11] Bradley Schurman: It surprises everyone. But they fell below replacement rate in December of last year. And the whole world, at least, the whole world that does demographics, looks at economics and populations had this collective gasp. I mean, we knew it was happening. It's the pace in which it's happened is shocking. Just 10 years ago, India had birth rates that looked a lot like mid-century America, 3.5 children per woman, and now they're down to just under two. Couple of things are going to happen to see the population continue growing. Most of that is going to be extending lifespan for individuals.
[01:21:45] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:21:46] Bradley Schurman: That's what's going to keep the numbers going up because India doesn't really have high immigration either. India is India, albeit a very diverse place. India is an Indian place. What makes India unique and I think different than China, is that it has been part of the Commonwealth. So regardless of what your position is on British occupation or British colonial rule in India, they do have an English tradition there. They have a tradition of English business and they have a tradition of liberal democracy. Despite its messiness. It is there and it does work. And they have been an ally, although not a consistent one of the western countries, of the liberal democracies around the world. So the number of people does influence things because it will influence the cost of certain products and services, in particular, services because India is largely a service economy.
[01:22:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:22:36] Bradley Schurman: Just think about the last time you picked up the phone and an airline representative. And they're definitely not from here, they're from India.
[01:22:42] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[01:22:43] Bradley Schurman: You don't pick up the phone and get an airline representative from China. The cost of the service sector will actually decrease in the coming years, and I think you'll see a rush of business and investment into that area because of it. Just like you saw a similar rush of investment into places like the Philippines that have a long tradition of working In speaking in the English world.
[01:23:04] Jordan Harbinger: We mentioned that with Russia's population decline, we might see Russia fracture into these different republics or whatever you want to call it, each with nukes, not great. What do we think might happen with China since that population is declining? It could also happen where they fracture into little republics, right? There's different ethnic groups in there, but it doesn't seem as clean, if you can say that, as the Russian split might be.
[01:23:26] Bradley Schurman: It would be different. It'd be so different and you'd have to dig, it'd be hard to see the same thing happening or anywhere close to the same thing happening in China. In large part because the vast majority of people live on the coast.
[01:23:37] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:23:38] Bradley Schurman: Not in the interior. You know, a lot of the land just isn't really occupied in China. What does worry me, though is when you have two powers, India and China that are both nuclear powers, and they do have a landmass that is in dispute. One is in population ascent, one is in population decline, and they have saber-rattled over this area for some period of time. This is an area that actually sits in the Himalayas, and what's odd about this area is because in part of climate change and even, you know, shifting rivers and water, bodies of water, the lines move a little bit. They're a little fungible. They're not as clear as they perhaps used to be. There have been a number of skirmishes in that area for the past few years now. In fact, there was a pretty significant one in 2020 or 21. It doesn't take that much to set off a global conflict. It certainly doesn't take that much at all to set off a regional conflict. And one would hope the cooler heads would prevail in a region like that. They haven't been so cool yet.
[01:24:37] Jordan Harbinger: Those are those videos I've been seeing on Reddit where they're bashing each other with blunt weapons, right, because I guess the rule is don't shoot because that'll escalate really fast. So they're basically bludgeoning each other to death with like sticks.
[01:24:48] Bradley Schurman: Yeah, I think it's different when you're a power that's on the ascend versus a power that's established or a power that's in decline. I think your worldview is very different. So for us, what's our primary goal here? It isn't necessarily to grow as much as we, we already are. Obviously, we're interested in growing the economy, but we want to maintain the world order essentially here. China wants to disrupt the world order. Russia wants to disrupt the world order because a new world order works better for them. India's a bit of an outlier in this. They're sitting on both sides of the fence right now, at least from my vantage point. They're on population ascent. They've got a long tradition with the West, certainly being a, being a British colony. China doesn't have that necessarily, but India's sitting on the fence. So they're saying, yeah, China, we're with you on the economic stuff, but for the West, we're with you on the political stuff. That's really pulled the center of power in the world further away from Europe, much like the conflict in Ukraine has. So it kind of sits in the middle now of the world versus being, you know, in a place like London, Berlin, Paris, where it had been for most of our lives, and even New York for a short period of time.
[01:25:54] Jordan Harbinger: It sounds a little disheartening, right? We're going to see Russia slowly commit suicide with the war in Ukraine, and then have population decline possibly fractured. We're going to see the China invade Taiwan, we're going to see India and China possibly get into a conflict that could get really bad. Is there an upside to what we're seeing? I mean, yeah, cool. Geopolitical rivals off the map, but doesn't really matter if we're all dead.
[01:26:14] Bradley Schurman: Yeah, there's always an upside, always, always an upside. The question is, how do we lean into the change that's happening? Because change is the only constant, right? So within any period of change, there are going to be winners and losers. We have an opportunity right now to build a world that, that's better than the one that we live in today. But in order to do that, we have to invest in democratic institutions first and foremost. We have to invest in a free and open economy. And I beat this with a dead horse. You know, we have to ensure that people are working for longer periods of time.
[01:26:48] This idea that we retire people at 65 is insane. In China, it's absolutely berserk that they're retiring people at 50. When we have these dependency ratios that are off, when we have people, too many people out of work, too few people in work, that creates unnecessary conflict and we can abate that. But the economy has to work for a greater number of people at the end of the day. It can't just work for the few. So in thinking about what the future looks like, there's a lot of things that we can do to make it better. Right now though, we're not doing the right things. So that's why I think that we, it's easy to lean into, oh, woe is me. The world is falling apart. The world isn't falling apart necessarily. We have made such incredible strides as a people over the past century.
[01:27:35] I mean, it just blows your mind. I mean, we basically, in a hundred years or so, doubled human life expectancy more in some cases. That's unheard of. The fact that a majority of children, a vast majority of children now survive into adulthood is nothing short of remarkable. The reality that you can go to your water faucets today and get a cup of water and drink it and be perfectly safe and free of any disease, that's revolutionary. So there's a lot of good stuff that's happened including, you know, since the Second World War, essentially, the free movement of people, the ability to go from place to place with relative ease.
[01:28:12] All of this stuff is great, but we have to continue to invest in it. The second we pull back from those investments. That second we pull back from those investments is when the wheels start to come off the bus. So if you're comfortable in a world where you know, your kid may have a one in one and two chance of surviving to adulthood, we can reverse to that pretty easily. If we want to go back to a world where populations don't grow at all, we can do that quite easily too. I have a lot of hope for the future, but it does require us, you know, to put on our big boy pants and make some investments where they need to be.
[01:28:45] Jordan Harbinger: Bradley Schurman, thank you so much. Really, really interesting stuff. The demographics are something I've wanted to dive into for a long time and it's fascinating just how bad we've sort of screwed this up as a species, but it does sound like maybe, maybe, especially if you live in the United States, things are going to be not just okay, but even better than they've ever been.
[01:29:07] Bradley Schurman: Yeah. We've gone through the most disruptive demographic period in the history of the world. And now while some countries are experiencing the change at a faster rate, at a more disruptive pace than others, for the most part, to me, this feels like we're leveling out. This feels like we're leveling out. And once we get to that period where we can regain some sanity, I think we're going to have a very bright future.
[01:29:30] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you.
[01:29:30] Bradley Schurman: Thanks.
[01:29:33] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's what you should check out next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:29:40] Erik Aude: Pakistan was just one of the many bad things that have happened to me in my life. I've had so many things happen and I just learned to get over it. You know, you get knocked down six times, you get up seven, and that's the only way I've ever known how to live.
[01:29:52] When I got out of the cab with the suitcases to leave Pakistan, the guy who was there was like, "Next time you come back, we'll show you around. We will hook you up with some girls. You'll have a great time." And I'm humoring this guy. I'm like, "Yeah, sure, next time I come back." I know for a fact I'm never coming back to Pakistan. Country sucks. That f*cking country sucks and I'm good at finding like good things that are everywhere.
[01:30:11] So it's early in the morning and I go into international departures and there's long line curving around the corner. I'm waiting in line and the line goes all the way up this wall to where there's customs tables. And when the customs officer sees me and flags me because I'm about six inches taller than everyone, and I get brought to another room. Finally, the guy who asked me if there was narcotics, and my suitcase comes in and he's holding these two sandwich-sealed things. And his exact words to me is, "What is this?" And I said, "I don't f*cking know that."
[01:30:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, sure.
[01:30:40] Erik Aude: He says, "This is opium." I said, "Why are you showing me this?" "Because it came out of your suitcase." So I'd such a f*cking idiot.
[01:30:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:30:51] Erik Aude: Because I thought that the DEA was going to hook me up because they were going to see that I'm innocent. I truly thought those guys were going to be there to help me now because I wasn't guilty. So this sh*t doesn't happen to innocent people. Three years of my life for a crime I didn't know I was being used to commit.
[01:31:07] Jordan Harbinger: To hear the rest of one of the most harrowing stories I've ever heard in my time doing this podcast, check out episode 147 with Erik Aude here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:31:20] Some of this stuff is crazy. Bradley's got a lot of fascinating information. Demographic collapse is something that, it's very interesting because it's hard to see how we get out of this problem. I mean, it's very difficult. The United States, we increase immigration. That's not going to be a problem, at least as far as solving this problem. It causes other potential problems. And I really want to see China succeed. I don't want this communist party to be at the helm of things, but I want to see the country and people of China succeed. It's an amazing country. It's got great people, a rich history that the Chinese Communist Party is largely destroyed. But like Russia, it's an awesome place with an insane amount of potential, both tapped and untapped.
[01:31:58] And speaking of Russia, here's some depressing-ish for you. The average rate of Russian soldiers killed per month is at least 25 times the number killed per month in Chechnya, and 35 times the number killed in Afghanistan. That's per month. That's a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, so it's not some sort of fly-by-night Twitter guy. And since the start of the war, 500,000 to one million Russians, mostly young and educated, have fled the country. In Moscow, there's a visible shortage of men. Now, a lot of those people are probably going to go back after the war, but a lot of them are not. They're going to start their life over somewhere. If you're Russian and you moved to your cousin's house in Canada, are you going back? After you get a job, you meet someone, you start a family. I mean, the longer this takes, the less likely people are to go back. And Russian propaganda, not particularly successful in promoting higher birth rates.
[01:32:52] Mikhail Vasiliev, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, this talk about out of touch, he urged Russian women to have more children, so it would be, quote, "Easier for them to send their sons to war." Read the room, dude. This priest, of course, can't read the room actually, because he was actually killed in the area of the special military operation in Ukraine while carrying out pastoral duties. And that's a direct quote from, the Russian Ministry of Defense. This stuff writes itself. Geez.
[01:33:22] All things Bradley Schurman will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com or ask the AI chatbot. Transcripts in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Again, please consider supporting those who support the show. And our newsletter, all these insights from past episodes going all the way back. jordanharbinger.com/news is where you can find it. You can reply to the newsletter and you will reach me. So send me those snarky comments and feedback. I really love to hear from you guys most of the time, jordanharbinger.com/news. Don't forget about Six-Minute Networking at jordanharbinger.com/course. Basically, the website has a ton of stuff you can go check out and all of it's worthwhile, at least I'd like to think it is. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn.
[01:34:05] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. The greatest compliment you could ever give us is to share the show with those you care about. So if you know somebody who's interested in population decline, Russia, India, China, definitely share this episode with them. In the meantime, I hope you apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you learn, and we'll see you next time.
[01:34:37] Paula Barros: Hi, Cold Case Files fans, we have some exciting news for you. Brand new episodes of Cold Case Files are dropping in your feed. And I'm your new host, Paula Barros. I'm a Cold Case Files super fan, true crime aficionado, and I love telling stories with unbelievable twists and turns. And this season of Cold Case Files has all of that and more.
[01:34:58] Her cause of death was strangulation.
[01:35:01] Male 1: Lying face down on the bed.
[01:35:02] Male 2: She was in a pretty advanced state of decomposition.
[01:35:05] Male 3: He panicked and decided he was getting rid of the body.
[01:35:07] Female: I saw danger in everything.
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