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Demography is Destiny

The consequences of a plummeting birth rate

The consequences of a plummeting birth rate

by Shannon Roberts | April 02, 2019

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Today I recommend to you some interesting demographic insights from Lyman Stone, speaking on The Federalist Radio Hour.   You can listen here.  Some of the points I found interesting are:

* Are demographers considering what individual people actually want for their lives?  Lyman Stone argues that this is the meaningful question demographers should ask, particularly in relation to developing countries, and it is often a blind spot.

* The United States is at the lowest fertility rate in its history, as are many other countries around the world, so we are in an anomalous period in the world's history.

* People often think the fewer people there are in the world, the more of the ‘pie’ will be left for them.  This is wrong because, in fact, the 'pie' gets a lot smaller when there are fewer people, and there is less for everyone.  The economy will get smaller, and who will be left to buy your assets such as your house and stocks?  How will businesses you invest in stay afloat with no new innovative people?

So, while it might make financial sense at an individual level to have fewer children and have more money left for you, at a societal level there will be less for everyone when you do this.The perspective of individuals does not match what society as a whole needs in this case.  

* Climate change is a challenge of creativity and reducing emissions intensity.  The good news is we’re good at this.  In fact, the only meaningful thing we can do about emissions based on the current generally agreed scientific projections (if you take these as fact), is to come up with new innovations and technology at this point – which helps every country in the world lower their emissions too. Reducing population is too delayed based on the arguments and projections driving climate change.

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