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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Steve Rattner Wants People In China to be Poor

Steve Rattner Wants People In China to be Poor

Sunday, 20 January 2013 06:31

What is wrong with people who write opinion pieces for the NYT, they seem to think it is a good thing that people in China are poor. Today Steve Rattner has a column that compares India and China that comments about, "India’s better demographics." What does this mean, that India maintains rapid population growth, while China has been able to reduce its population growth to a trickle? (A blogpost yesterday had the same complaint about China's slower population growth.)

Partly as a result of China's slower population growth there has been a marked tightening of labor markets throughout much of the country. This is allowing hundreds of millions of Chinese workers to have rapidly rising wages which mean rapidly rising living standards. Seeing hundreds of millions of people in a situation to substantially improve their quality of life is a great thing. These people will be protected against hunger and starvation, have decent housing, and be able to provide their kids with education. This is not happening in India to anywhere near the same extent and more rapid population growth is at least part of the story.

In addition to the impact on living standards there is also the impact on the environment. Other things equal, more people means more pollution and more greenhouse gas emissions. Who could want this?

There are plenty of grounds for criticizing China, including some of the mechanisms used to slow population growth, but the slowdown in China's population growth was an enormous service to humanity.

Comments (5)Add Comment
written by Steve Winter, January 20, 2013 7:00
To be fair, this is a minor and largely irrelevant point in what is an overall positive piece about China. The only real discussion of "demographics" in the article is negative about India.
written by watermelonpunch, January 20, 2013 1:02
@ Steve Winter: I think that was the point of this. Pointing out (at least one) slant the author pushes into.

I also didn't find it to be overall positive piece about either nation. Come on, gang rapes & summary executions? Corruption?

I think "little" things in commentaries like this can really influence what one takes away from it. (Depending on how you go in, of course.)

I personally found this to be a confusing statement
Many Westerners fervently hoped that a democratic country would triumph economically over an autocratic regime.
Now the contest is emphatically over. China has lunged into the 21st century, while India is still lurching toward it.

It's right at the beginning of the commentary. Like where a premise would be found??

If the author's slant is to paint an overall favourable view of China comparatively... what exactly is the point he's making about democratic vs. autocratic regime?
written by Nick Batzdorf, January 20, 2013 2:57
But the way they achieved the population slowdown is pretty brutal, no?
written by watermelonpunch, January 20, 2013 10:43
@ Nick Batzdorf
There are plenty of grounds for criticizing China, including some of the mechanisms used to slow population growth

Pretty clear to me that this didn't ignore that...

There are many ways to slow population growth (it's happened in other countries without China's laws). The fact that China has chosen to do it brutally is right in line with the fact they've chosen the brutal option for a lot of things.
Pick in search of a nit.
written by Marc Brazeau, January 21, 2013 11:25
I usually I agree with Dean Baker, but this just seems like irritation itching for a fight.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.