We’re Shrinking!

The world is having fewer babies. Consequently, populations are starting to contract.

It appears two of the main reasons people are having fewer kids are:

  1. The high cost of rearing them, including exorbitant college costs (made worse, in part, by public policies that prioritize old people over children); and
  2. The adverse impact childbirth can have on a mother’s career and career prospects.

Are all the major countries on the way to becoming Japan, where more adult diapers are sold than baby diapers?

If so, what are the implications for our economies and societies?

3 thoughts on “We’re Shrinking!

  1. It’s difficult to see how western democracies can sustain their social welfare programs as the Boomers pull down benefits over the next 30 years with a shrinking population, esp. the prime working age cohort, unless those who embrace MMT (modern monetary theory) are right. I suspect we’ll find out, that is, whether the theory is valid or, conversely, whether our currency is destined to debase and our costs destined to inflate dramatically. In any case, I don’t worry about population because it’s out of my control. It will be what it will be. We will find a way to deal with the labor demands we have. There remains, even with today’s technology, ample opportunity to shift tasks to machines if need be. That said, I do think it’s in the US’s interest to maintain a vibrant immigration policy, both to attract entrepreneurs and innovators but also people with spunk and drive even if they don’t fit in the former category. All economies require the full breadth of talents, skills and ambitions to thrive.


  2. About Japan without comment:
    The Guardian Article of 2018, cit.: “Japan’s new government is barely a month old, and already one of its most senior members has insulted tens of millions of voters by suggesting that the elderly are an unnecessary drain on the country’s finances.

    Taro Aso, the finance minister, said on Monday that the elderly should be allowed to “hurry up and die” to relieve pressure on the state to pay for their medical care.”


  3. From the German point of view, the so called “generation pact” cannot be implemented without enough tax payers in work to finance the pension of the elderly (whose life expectation is increasing continuously). There are studies – e.g. from the IMF – that came to the conclusion that the migrants are not able to solve this problem because the majority is unemployed for a couple of years due to a lack of qualification. They are often low income tax payers for generations and their working life span is much too short in order to compensate the investment in them made by the local tax payers (housing, benefits payments, healthcare, education etc.).

    On the other, we are expecting mass unemployment as a result of the digitalisation and further automation. This developmetn will have a high impact on less qualified people.
    In fact, our society don`t need any further “regular” people – just very few specialized, highly skilled experts and innovators are required.
    Headcount only doesn`t ensure future wealth. A shrinking society might be beneficial in future….


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