Rather than repeat his work, I’ve chosen to look at where things are going well. Put another way, “What language should you learn to speak aside from English?” I took the 25 largest countries in terms of their economies and then removed ones where the people are very poor, and then removed the ones where the birth rate is so low that the population is aging rapidly. I then ranked them according to per capita income, which gives you a rough idea of how well off the citizens of that country are. In addition to the top 25, I threw in Ireland because it’s supposed to have one of the freest economies in the world and Ireland is cool. Also, I’m part Irish and so they’re doubly cool for me.
I got the data from the CIA World Factbook on the web. Insert your CIA jokes here.
Here we go.
The 25 largest economies, plus Ireland, in order of their Gross Domestic Product:
14. South Korea
22. South Africa
If the people of the country made less than $8,000 per year, that country gets thrown off the list. It’s an arbitrary number, but it reflects the fact that below a certain level you worry more about starving and freezing to death than you do studying geometry and starting a multinational corporation. Say goodbye to China, India, Indonesia, Turkey and the Philippines.
12. South Korea
18. South Africa
Countries where few children are being born are in for real trouble. You know those taxes you pay for Social Security and the retirement funds that come out of your paycheck? Up, up, up they go! I set the birthrate threshold at 1.7 births per woman. Anything below about 2.05 indicates a falling population, but I gave partial credit for countries that seem to be at least trying.
Japan, Germany, UK, Italy, Russia, Canada, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Netherlands and Poland, out, out, out you go!
8. South Africa
So here we have a list of the most powerful economies in the world that would be good places to live (because the people are doing OK) and will be in good shape 10 years from now (because they are still having kids). Let’s sort them by per capita income.
1. USA - $41,800
2. Ireland* - $34,100
3. Australia - $32,000
4. France - $29,900
5. Argentina - $13,600
6. South Africa - $11,900
7. Mexico - $10,000
8. Brazil - $8,500
9. Iran - $8,100
Of the top 8 plus Ireland, English-speaking countries take the top 3 slots. Thank you, Queen Victoria. If you don’t speak English now, you should. If you do speak English now, what’s your second language going to be? I count 3 Latin American countries in the mix and three unrelated countries. And yes, I know, some Latin countries speak Spanish and some speak Portugese.
Mark Steyn makes a good case against France. Riots and all that, you know.
South Africa has severe AIDS problems. No thank you.
Iran is not the best place to hold Easter services. Is it too late to change my flight to Tehran to a flight to Rio?
So what language should we learn? Let’s all say it together, class. “Buenos dias, amigo!”
Nice job thinking of the issue from the other perspective. Wish I'd thought of it.
Guess my high school French was a bad choice for me (especially as a Texan) to make.
I look forward to reading more.
k t cat,
Keep in mind that six of the top nine nations in the survey you cite have heavily religious-influenced cultures, which is what my post (and Steyn's work) is getting at. The USA is denominationally diverse but still strongly Christian. Ireland and the Latin American countries are almost entirely Catholic. And as we know all too well, Iran is predominantly Shi'a Muslim. Even Australia and South Africa aren't quite spiritual wastelands just yet. France, the heart of the hyper-secular EU, is the only true anomaly in this regard. Also, Latin America has its own set of anti-American issues at the moment (see Chavez, Morales, Lula et al), so I'm not exactly relieved that they are demographically ascendant.
BTW I also added this comment as a response to yours at my blog. You have the honor of being the first commentator at Storming Jericho! 8-)
Thanks for the comment ... I read your post and it is very good. Alot of thought when into it. I put a link in my blog in an update.
I think *any* second language is worth learning (or third, or fourth), as it will help your proficiency in English as well. I've studied many other languages, although I'm only truly proficient in English and French, but the most useful language I ever studied was Latin. It helps teach the roots of a number of other languages, and also helps you make "educated guesses" when you come across words you might not recognize. I realize the issue you're tackling here is sort of a, "what language is going to dominate the world" thing, but really, I think kids should be taught Latin more often. It's not just for doctors and pharmacists.
8. South Africa
You forgot to include some BIGGIES in your calculations.
Factor in CRIME RATES, and Argentina is off the list.
Ands that's not even mentioning the obscene levels of automobile-related deaths, police corruption and poor utilities infrastructure & support.
All of which would easily put Argentina back into its rightful place again as MUNBER &( of your 'list'.
Another factor is the "Gini Coefficient" (check out the Wikipedia entry to know more). Brazil has a bad Gini score.
"Factor in CRIME RATES, and Argentina is off the list."
then brazil, mexico and south africa, that have by far worse security issues, must go off the list as well.
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