09 September 2009

Forgetting to Procreate

Throughout history low fertility and socioeconomic decline have been inextricably linked, creating a vicious cycle that affected once-vibrant civilizations such as as ancient Rome and 17th-century Venice.

Persistently low birthrates and sagging population growth inevitably undermine the growth capacity of an economy. Children provide a large consumer market and push their parents to work harder. By having children, parents also make a commitment to the future for themselves, their communities and their country. _NewGeography
Japan's extended no-growth economy has a lot to do with its low fertility rate. Russia, Italy, and Spain are all sliding down the same slippery slope to demographic oblivion. A number of other European countries are close behind.
...a largely childless society produces other attitudes. It tends to place greater emphasis on leisure activities over work. It also shifts political pressure away from future growth and toward paying pensions for the aging. An aging society is likely to resist risky innovation or infrastructure investments meant to serve future generations. _ NG
The US has a number of demographic dynamics which gives it higher fertility than Europe and Japan.
in the next decade the U.S. will benefit from a millennial baby boomlet, as the children of the original boomers start having offspring. This next surge in population may be delayed if tough economic times continue, but over time it will translate into a growing workforce, sustained consumer spending and will likely spur a rash of new creative inputs.

On the surface, these trends should help America to maintain a growing economy while its main competitors fade. By 2050 Europe's economy could be half that of the U.S. _NG
As the proportion of citizens who are too old to have children grows larger and larger, the abililty of a society to reverse its self-extinction slips away. At that point, only an enormous investment in advanced fertility technologies might save these anti-natalist nations.

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Blogger neil craig said...

Population growth, or even stability in most western countries is because we live longer, roughly twice what we did a century ago.

However I would not bet against the development of a relatively inexpensive method of stopping aging, in which case all bets are off & we are going to face some fairly intractible opportunities.

Thursday, 10 September, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Again, I do admire your optimism, Neil.

It is true that an effective anti-aging treatment that also reversed brain degeneration, would be an amazing boon to the developed world.

As it stands, populations in the developed world are shrinking (except for immigration from the third world). Third world populations are still exploding, and look to overwhelm the shrinking populations of the developed world within decades.

You are correct that one cannot extrapolate from current trends indefinitely. But sometimes it is wise to bring current trends to the attention of the public, to assist in the creation of alternate, hopefully more favourable trends.

Thursday, 10 September, 2009  

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