the issue with the projected population declines.


The argument I hear is that there will be less people to take care of the population. Wouldn’t the problem take care of itself once the older population dies off?

In: 0

Depends how fast the population declines. If it goes down too fast it might happen that one worker ends up having to feed two pensioners plus himself. If that happens that person won’t be able to afford kids and make population decline even faster. A feedback loop leading directly into economic downfall

The answer is “it depends”. A gradual decline and slow change to the age profile of a country is likely to be manageable even for medium income economies. It doesn’t strain social welfare systems as much and it gives society and the government time to adjust policies, improve immigration, increase fertility rates etc.

Now for a much wealthier and more productive economy, broadly speaking, society produces enough so that the government (through taxation for example) can build up programs to support more elderly. In that case, even a fairly steep decline in population might be manageable.

The problem with rapid population decline in normal times (no super pandemic or war etc) is that the decline is primarily caused by reduced total fertility. This means fewer and fewer young people entering productive society after a few decades.

The problem will take care of itself by killing the elderly, which is the issue. It’s a humanitarian crisis waiting to happen.

One of the things that makes us human is compassion. If a computer was looking at the previous couple of years…

> Wouldn’t the problem take care of itself once the older population dies off?

Yes. The problem with that is, people rather like to live, and doing nothing about the problem will make old people die sooner.

We could handle a shrinking population without condemning old people to death, but it would require us to rearrange our society in a sensible way. We’d need to prioritize people’s survival and wellbeing over luxuries, reduce unnecessary expenses, maybe even take wealth from billionaires until they are mere multi-millionaires. We’d need to increase the number of people going into essential fields and cut back on other things, ideally the things that make the world a worse place.

This would mean that rich people don’t get rich as quickly at a minimum, maybe that they become somewhat less rich. So it’s clearly impossible.