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The British transition was during the imperial era. The island was thus with special foods-importing and population-exporting privileges. But even then agricultural enclosures and industrial conditions must have put pressure on plebs' social, economic, reproductive ambitions.

In chapter 6 of "The Rational Optimist" Matt Ridley asserts: pre-industrial good times used to lead everywhere to more people rather than more wealth; population stress, rising autacracy signaled decline of economic specialization; England was rather exceptional that the poor had lower birth rates and their numbers were "sustained" by downward mobility, leading to rather educated, non-violent poor. That, and the imperial reach, facilitated the Industrial revolution enormously.

So England had that downward dynamics and lower birth rates of the poor for centuries -- could be typical for islands. Now England has to resolve demographic pressures (if any, yeah) without the empire and without industrial wonders. Hence the rise of pre-industrial, "Malthusian" autocracy (Ridley's expression), apparently signaling tough times for the majority?

Thatcher came soon after the Club of Rome report (incidentally!?) and openly increased the economic pressure on the social-reproductive ambitions of the plebs. Blair must have generated some optimism until the 2008 crisis.

Ok, let's try to submit to some data:

The birth rate actually increased under Thatcher, and went down under Blair! Good times must be measured by rentiers and financial sharks, I guess. Rich, patriarchal families may still have as many children as ever, and we would not notice from general statistics.

Without EU membership of the UK, the decline in its birthrates (and the quantity of good food) through the 2010s is likely to be irreversible next decades. But if EU industries and food quality are going to decline as well, Brexit may make sense... as a plot to put definite "sustainability" pressure on British plebs?!

by das monde on Sun Dec 8th, 2019 at 08:52:38 PM EST
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