|Maybe Wanting the Global Population to Fall Wasn’t Such a Good Idea After All|
|Topic||Environment and the Economy; Government and the Economy|
|Key Words||Population, fertility rate, growth rate, natural resources|
|News Story||Demographers used to think that the global fertility rate – the average number of children a woman will have in her lifetime – would fall below the population replacement rate by 2025. That’s already happened to about 45% of the global population. As a result, population growth will begin to shrink, but in some places of the world, population will actually decline. That may not be a great outcome.
We used to be concerned about a Malthusian relationship between population and natural resource consumption, in which population growth would tax natural resources to the breaking point. As population growth falls, though, natural resource usage will decrease as well. This is a good thing.
This could be a problem with our workforce, though. If population is falling, then there are fewer people who can replace us in the workforce. There will be fewer workers, fewer farmers, and fewer soldiers. All of this changes the economic dynamic globally, as we must move toward greater automation to counteract the reduction in labor.
In the labor market, governments may do well to think about replacing seniority as a driving factor in salaries, instead using productivity. In addition, firms should eliminate mandatory retirement age policies. Engaging in programs like these will result in a more productive workforce, as the less productive go on to better opportunities (possibly including retirement), and those who are able to work, can continue to do so, and with higher incomes. Better child care policies and parental leave would also go far to helping people confront the battle between home and work.
|Source||“How to Deal With a Falling Population.” The Economist, July 26th, 2007.|
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