Facebook Blogging

Edward Hugh has a lively and enjoyable Facebook community where he publishes frequent breaking news economics links and short updates. If you would like to receive these updates on a regular basis and join the debate please invite Edward as a friend by clicking the Facebook link at the top of the right sidebar.

Monday, August 15, 2005

While I'm Here

Posting over the coming days will continue to be sporadic. I'm not thinking of really starting up on Afoe till next month, since I've made myself a half-promise not to blog and to try and work up something more substantial in the background. Doing a lot of walking, eating, sleeping and thinking over the last couple of weeks - camping in the mountains is certainly conducive to getting an early night :) - I'm more convinced than ever that something as straightforward and simple as a median-age table tells us a hell of a lot about relative growth dynamics. More on this - much more - will follow.

For now I will just say I find some of the feedback I get rather curious.One Afoe commenter said he found the demography story 'just too pat', others say they doubt you can explain 'everything' using demography, or that you can't 'put it all down to demographics'. With respect - although of course we would need a closer inspection of the meaning of the terms <> and <>, I don't think I have ever suggested you could. Feeling bullish after the sun, green and fresh air, I will just stick my nexk out and say you can probably explain between 70 and 80% of the differential growth story (on a rule of thumb, back of the envelope sort of basis) using comparative demographics. That still leaves 20 to 30% to be explained by things like efficient financial systems, market mechanisms, structural elements, and prudent and sound administrative and institutional frameworks. Let me be clear, 20 to 30% of the explanation of total global growth is no small beer, and people shouldn't be belittling it.

Of course, looking at this the other way round, transitional demographic dynamics plus the law of large numbers do explain quite a big chunk of it, which again is no mean feat. As to the 'too pat' bit, whoever decided that things had to be incredibly complicated? I would have thought Occam's razor rather lead us in the other direction. Einstein suggested we make things simple, but cautioned against oversimplifying, so the trick is to get them just simple enough. Sometimes the beauty lies in the simplicity, and the hardest things to see are the simplest ones. Nature is resplendent in its variety, but Darwin's mechanism is - at the end of the day - off-puttingly simple.

No comments: