Wednesday, January 17, 2018

World populations

I can't remember what triggered the question in my head, but I started to wonder about racial make up of the population of the whole world.

I was wondering what the world looked like back in the 1400s. Were there major migrations going on? That was on the eve of the migration of Europeans all over the world, and their forcible displacement of Africans via slavery to the Americas. Was there migration as big as the Turks to Anatolia in the 6th through 11th century?

It's incredible to think of Europeans swamping North America and Australia and New Zealand, and making a pretty big dent in South America too. Sad to think about the loss of native American cultures.

So what is the balance in the world now? It was somewhat hard to find. For one thing, racial classification is very much out of favor. However, I did find this:


I liked that the world wasn't divided into white, black, American Indian, and Asian. It makes sense to have more divisions in Asia. Does the entry for South/Central American make sense? Maybe it does. Perhaps there are has been more mixing there of European, American, and African stocks.

I then thought of a Cambodian babysitter my kids had 20 years ago. She had lighter skin and finer features than the Cambodians at the bus stop near me. She explained that she was half Chinese, which was one reason her family fled Cambodia. The Chinese diaspora has been extensive, like the European diaspora. Then I found this graph of the Indian diaspora, which is also fascinating.


Then there was this list of ethnic groups. My group is there, and so is my spouse's. But no Vikings? That's sad.

As a thought experiment, what groups will be on a pie chart in 200 years or 500 years? It almost makes me hope that I'll have an afterlife and can peek in on Earth to watch.

Ssdly, I didn't save a link to a genetic study showing that if there were racial categories, there should be only three of them: pygmies, Bushmen, and everyone else. I have no trouble believing that.

Update 4/5/18. Japanese population has already peaked (in 2008) and is declining. China, even with their one-child policy, still hasn't peaked (source). By the way, I'm in favor of a stabilization and decline in world population.

1 comment:

Dangerous said...

First, as an Eagles fan, I'm glad there's no 'Viking' entry, at least this week.

The genetic diversity commonly recognized as racial differences among the single human species has been falling steadily sense the 15th century, when it arguably reached its zenith. Another million years of general population separation might have produced subspecies, but that didn't happen and might not ever have happened with how much people move around. The last clash of human subspecies occurred when homo sapiens met Neanderthals in what is now Europe, likely interbred, and subsumed the less evolved and technologically advanced Neanderthals.

But the whole notion of "race" in the world will probably die except among a handful of hold outs in another century or so, barring a worldwide calamity that results in the retribalization of the species. I suspect the spearhead of that movement will be a general call for everyone to indicate "mixed" on any question related to race, which is closer to the truth now than any other answer. The now archaic notion of race is little more helpful in establishing anything real than asking people's blood type, and there are eight and only eight clearly defined categories of that. Besides, blood type is far more crucial to an individual's place in the world, as some can take certain other people's blood in a transfusion and not others. Hence, from a sociological and anthropological viewpoint, as well as personal interest, knowing that a person is B+ blood type like me is more critical than knowing their ethnicity. But in my everyday life, it doesn't matter than my wife is A+ and my son is AB+, so he can take either my blood or my wife's (or, in fact, anyone's blood), but my wife and I can't take his or each other's.

I think it would be an interesting sociological experiment to have people show their blood types on the outside and see if that changes how that might change peoples prejudices about race. It's an interesting case of muddying the waters to clarify how muddy they already were. People who look like each other would have incompatible blood types or just different, and people who don't look at all alike would have the exact same. Makes you think.