Why does population decline considered as a bad thing?


Why does population decline considered as a bad thing?

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It doesn’t mean so much as far as the actual number of people is concerned, but the proportions of age groups. The oldest people generally do not work and need care from younger people. With too many care-receivers and too few caregivers, a lot of those old people are going to suffer.

But aside from individual experiences, the economy will also suffer if there are fewer workers. For a simple example, imagine going to the grocery store and it’s disheveled and poorly stocked because too few are available to work there. Severe population decline would see results like that across many industries.

That’s not to say it can’t be dealt with (automation is probably our best bet) but it is likely to suck in the short term.

Because as the population declines, it gets older. When the population stops having babies, the next generation grows up to retire with no one to take care of them. Countries like China and Japan even call this the 4-2-1 problem, where 1 working age person has look after their 2 elderly parents and 4 even more elderly grandparents.

Like, to give it a small scale example, imagine two villages. One has 2 working age people who have to maintain the village and provide for their 8 elders, and the other has 8 working age people and only 2 elders who need to be supported.

Which village do you think is gonna have the higher standard of living, for both the elders and the workers?

Our entire economy is built on the idea of constant growth.

So when you have a declining population you have too many old people and not enough working age people paying into the system.

Since the elderly need more resources in terms of medical care, support, pensions, etc it puts a strain on the entire economy.

Automation would resolve some of this, as does social programs, and easy immigration policies.

There are many factors involved.

There are examples like Japan, that has seen a rather rapid population decline now for more than a decade. Germany is probably in a similar situation. The advantage Japan has is that it was a well developed wealthy nation prior to the decline. The population is declining in what is hoped to be a relatively controlled fashion with sufficient national productivity and wealth to sustain it.

Then there are countries like the US. Although fertility is dropping, it is somewhat supplemented by immigration. So this appears to be eminently sustainable as they can maintain a reasonable balance of younger productive people as well as a larger older population. And the decline is expected to be very slow.

Then there are somewhat basket cases like Russia and very soon China. Neither are particularly wealthy per capita (large economies but also large population). The problem especially is the RATE of decline. And it appears to be far too quick meaning a very large older population supported by very few young people. This is uncharted territory – how can an economy support itself when there are so few productive adults supporting ever more retired people over the next 30-40 years.

Then there are the “in between” nations like a lot of Western Europe. Reasonably wealthy and declining but not super quickly. Smaller countries can offset aging by immigration but larger countries like Russia and China (and Japan) simply cannot do so either culturally or simply because the decline is too fast (China, for example, would have to get tens of millions of immigrants EVERY YEAR)