|Basel Amendment to End E-Waste|
Rural families tend to be large. My late buddy Yadji had a brother in Yenwa who had 12 kids and 4 wives, and said his goal was to have 25 kids. I met other men in Cameroun who boasted of 30 children. It has been well studied that this is a rural phenomena that tends to decluster within a couple of generations of living in a city. Quarters are more cramped, school is expensive, and multilingualism is mandatory. Girls get to school more often, and educated women have fewer kids.
But life is tough in the slums for the first generation. As Adam Minter told me, the young Cantonese may take the super-long workshift at Foxconn for a year or two, but they burn out and adapt more reasonable habits. It's a difficult way out of rural poverty. But the rural immigrants don't remain "suckers" for long...
It’s estimated there were 1.2-billion people in extreme poverty in 2010. That’s a decline of 700-million since 1990. - Chronic Poverty ReportThere are about six billion people in the "non-OECD", but "non-OECD" doesn't mean poverty or hunger for most. The young kids from rural villages have it the worst, and they are the fodder for sex traders, child soldier warlords, pirates, drug runners, etc. The worst jobs Africa has tend to fall disproportionately on the families with the most children.
Youths have a reputation in every country for thinking they are ten foot tall and bullet-proof. If you want a challenging environment for OSHA rules, hire a bunch of recently graduated blue collar high schoolers. The race of the kids doesn't matter, the geography doesn't matter, kids are willing to exploit themselves and to be explioted, especially if they are hungry.
But the flame of experience burns quickly. You can fool them once. You cannot exploit them permanently, you either have to hire more rural immigrants, or move to a place where they are more abundant. And in the meantime, you have grown an urban middle class which will stick around another 40-50 years. Visit the demographics in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Incheon.
[China's] costs have grown while surplus labour has shrunk, as three decades of the one-child policy means China’s working age population will likely fall by 20% in the next 40 years, and by a further 20% from 2050 to 2100.Tweets responding to Fareed Zakaria's links (to Jack Goldstone in TheCoversation.com) always yield interesting links. Jonathan Berman's Havard Business Review (10/13) article "Seven Reasons Why Africa's Time is Now" points out, among other things, that Africa will have more working population than China by 2050, and that investments in "assessembly" jobs are already coming strong. Today only 24% of Africa's $2 Trillion economy come from natural resource extraction. The "resource curse" in Africa is beginning to look a lot like Indonesia and Malaysia, which (as I've frequently written) are seesawing away from resource economies into "tinkerer blessing" repair-and-assembly economies... the same path as Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and originally Japan followed. The less rural land a country has drawn ("lines on maps") around it, the faster it makes this motion. Singapore was originally part of Malaysia, and it's stunning growth is as attributable to its cessation from rural geography as it is the country's difference from Penang, KL or Jahor Bahru. The growth of Taiwan correlates to its ability to concentrate on the "first mile of track".
Cities shrink families. Smaller families have more disposable income. That's the parentage of e-waste at African dumps, smaller families from a generation passed own TVs, and the TVs are scrapped by kids from rural families, more recently immigrated. It's ripe for improvement and reform, either through StEP or Fair Trade Recycling or by Indian and Taiwanese entrepreneurs. It has nothing to do with ratification of the "Basel Convention".