July 29, 2010
Amish Population Boom
The future belongs to those who make babies.
The number of Amish in North America has doubled since 1991 and their distinctive communities can now be found in Canada as well as 28 U.S. states, including unlikely ones like Texas and Maine.
That was a 19 year doubling. But their growth rate has increased and the next doubling will only take 14 years. If they keep that up they'll hit 1 million in 2038 and 2 million in 2052. By 2064 they could hit 4 million but still likely less than 1% of the US population at that time. It'll take them till 2078 before they are solidly over 1% of the American population at current rates.
My prediction: Groups that have high fertility will be selected for until the world human fertility decline reverses. Only a world dictatorship might prevent runaway population growth.
Naturally I flash on
Weird Al Yankovic singing Amish Paradise. He's partying like its 1699.
It seems to me the challenge for the Amish is what to do when there are no more plots of land which are suitable for farming using 19th century techniques. I understand that's why Amish have been moving to places like Maine -- Pennsylvania is pretty much saturated. Will the Amish stick to their culture? Or will they start assimilating in large numbers?
But anyway, I do feel that we are at the dawn of a new age of faith. There are subsets of the Christian and Jewish populations who are reproducing at phenomenal rates. I haven't been able to find any other subgroups like this elsewhere, although it seems possible they will develop over time.
The key is that the Amish are largely disconnected from the economy, so boom and bust don't affect them so much as the "English." Also, they have a closely connected and supportive community so that there is a considerable non-monetary system of exchange available to them. To some young Amish, it is too cloying and they leave the "tribe". But enough stay and enough return after spending time amount the English that their numbers grow. I would suspect that the elders have a carefully considered estimate for the portion of young people that will default.
In the Darwinistic sense, they are very successful.
Don't forget that in northern states like New York and upper New England, the land is much less farmed than in the past. There are many old fields growing up in trees. For modern farmers, fully integrated in the economy, it is hard to make it work. For the Amish, who have a different paradigm for success, it offers opportunity.
The situation is similar to another religious tribe, the Mormons.
This will be interesting as it could end the "too small to be statistically relevant" controversy - when comparing autism rates in America.
I personally am very concerned about this issue - although I am not personally affected by it at this time.
The Amish are buying land, lots of it, and starting new communities. It's an interesting phenomenon.
Presumably one subset of the Christians referred to is the evangelical homeschoolers. Many have large families, sacrificing the second income of the wife during the years the children are young, seeking instead to invest intensive parental time and resources (in a sense, comparable to the referenced different economic paradigm of the Amish) for a desired superior outcome in terms of the children's character and values as well as in academics. It is a costly choice in reduced family income and stressed moms, but the outcome is seen on the whole as very positive by a steadily increasing number of families. There are now a number of second-generation homeschooling families. That's also an interesting phenomenon.
A difference in the two groups is that the evangelical homeschoolers, like evangelicals generally, see themselves as called to be pretty much "in" the general society, just not "of" it.
The fundamentalist mormons, flds and similar groups, have an equally high fertility rate as the Amish. The Kingston group probably has the highest organic growth rate in the US. Combine this with conversion and you get down to maybe an 11 year doubling time. They are presently only about 30 000 fundamentalist mormons but that will certainly change. Couple this with polygamy, which these groups practice, where the most successful males get all the women. This will lead to some interesting capabilities of this group in the future. Already the flds children (in centennial park) are among the top students in spelling bees, math tests etc. It pleases me that there is at least one group where Darwinian selection is for IQ and not against as it is in the rest of the world.
FLDS kids are really smart? Centennial Park is where exactly?
Centennial Park is about one km south of Colorado City in Arizona, which in turn is bordering the Utah city of Hildale. Information is extremely hard to obtain about the place, so I have in fact had to visit the place and the time is ripe to do it again. My sources are mainly from the internet and the test results of the Masada Charter School, which is located in Centennial Park. I don't remember where I read about the high scoring students in the spelling bees and in the math and chemistry tests. Most of the kids play instruments as well which is a sign of high IQ (if they can play :-) ). The test results of the Masada Charter School are on the internet and they are much higher than the average.
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