Demographic Case Study: Argentina


“Argentina outshines its neighbours economically as a result of a larger European demographic…”

In a world of fake news, government manipulation of the media and liberal fifth columnists spreading misinformation, it is often extremely challenging to establish cause and effect between demographic change and national outcome. On some issues, this is fairly straightforward. Take violent crime, for instance; there is ample evidence to prove that increased levels of “diversity” in any given region directly fuels an increase in gun crime, knife crime, robberies, terrorism and so on. London is a perfect example of this. However, when it comes to things like broader economic trends, the data is difficult to translate into established causation. For instance, no social scientist who valued his or her career would dare publish a study that shows a correlation between increased diversity and low productivity, for this would imply that idleness has a racial connotation and said social scientist would be instantly dismissed from whatever comfortable university position they held and their life, ultimately, ruined.

Despite this unspoken censorship and effective ban on drawing such conclusions, it’s possible to compare and contrast certain nations and regions to analyse broad economic trends and relate this to that country’s demographics. South America provides ample opportunity for us to do just that, as it has a rich multitude of ethnic variants with almost every racial category accounted for in some form or another in at least one of the continent’s many countries. Of course, there are anomalies. Venezuela, for instance, is an economic basketcase by any objective standard, but this could be as a result of a number of factors; socialist policies, possibly; American destabilisation, probably; racial diversity, even? But once such cases are discounted, a fairly accurate picture can be assembled. In this instance, diversity advocates will undoubtedly point to Brazil as a fledgling example of racial diversity translating into economic prosperity – yes, Brazil has an extremely large GDP, but income inequality in the country is disgracefully large, with the vast majority of the population actually amongst the poorest in South America. So really, this is a poor example to use.

For those of us more aware of the problems that diversity brings, Argentina is a brilliant case study to demonstrate a nation avoiding these. As most people will be aware, Argentina’s population is majority European – to the tune of 97%, some estimates claim. What is a little less well known, however, is that Argentina also has the highest degree of “racial purity” in Latin America. That’s not meant in the KKK sense, but just a fact that Mestizos (mixed European and Amerindian ancestry), one of the largest racial groups on the continent, are practically non-existent in Argentina. Thus, those of European descent have very little native admixture, so the population of Argentina is more comparable to that of Spain or Italy, in racial terms.

Whilst it possesses great natural resources, Argentina is not blessed with the relative riches of nations such as Chile (copper) or Venezuela (oil). The bulk of its national income comes from agricultural exports. They don’t make in-demand, high-tech products such as computer processors or automobiles, nor do they specialise or dominate in any of the real wealth generating industries. Yet, Argentina is wealthier than the vast majority of Latin American states. Its GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) per capita of $20,677 is third, behind only (majority European) Uruguay and resource rich Chile, of all the South American nations. Granted, its unemployment is around 8% which is somewhat high for a developed nation, but this is still around average for South America and quite good considering the stringent employment laws that its local peers are severely lacking. This is also negated in terms of quality of life by the relatively generous unemployment benefit and other social security measures offered by the Argentinian state.

Home ownership, a good measure of economic prosperity, is high in Argentina. 68.9% of Argentinians live in a home they own, either with a mortgage or outright – this is more than developed Western European nations such as the United Kingdom (63.5%) and France (64.1%). Only Cuba (90%) has a higher home ownership rate in Latin America. The Economist’s Quality of Life Index (2013) also showed Argentina in a favourable light. Only Chile ranks higher on the quality of life score, with Argentina out-ranking many nations one would consider more developed and Westernised.

The political economy of Argentina does little to offer us an indication as to why its generally more prosperous than its South American neighbours. In terms of economic freedom, it’s ranked amongst the lowest (144 of 180), described by the Heritage ranking organisation as “mostly unfree”. Indeed, the political tradition of Peronism that has been popular in Argentina since the Second World War isn’t particularly fond of free-market capitalism; it is, for all intents and purposes, a socialist economic model. Coupled with this economic “repression” is the fact that Argentina isn’t a particularly solvent economy – it has a debt:GDP ratio of 56.02% (2016) which, whilst nowhere near as bad as even some Western European states, still doesn’t lend itself to strong economic performance.

The only real outstanding explanation for Argentina’s place at the top of the South American economic charts is the demographic case. After all, a national economy is the sum of its people who are the workers, the consumers and the business owners. This is also supported by the fact that Uruguay, a similarly European nation, also features strongly on the prosperity charts, outshining even Argentina in some areas. The countries with the worst quality of life, standard of living, home ownership and GDP(PPP) are also, coincidentally, the most “diverse”; Bolivia is an example of this, wherein the population is a mere 6% European, with Mestizos and blacks constituting the large majority of the remaining figures.

As a parting thought, it’s not only interesting to view South American success stories through the demographic lenses, but also the continent’s failures. Brazil, for instance, with its soaring murder rates, crumbling public services and vast income inequality, is an example of what will happen to Europe once the diversity levels have reached a similar status. With the insanity of our governments in recent years, throwing open the gates to the Third World, we could find ourselves in this situation much sooner than we think.

William is a writer based in England, Great Britain.