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4:32AM

From Too Many to Too Few, Demographic Fears Exaggerated

As a kid, I was constantly subjected to fear-mongering on population growth, which was not only out of control, but certain to lead to widespread conflict, political repression, and freakish efforts at human survival. ("Soylent Green," anyone?) Now, in my middle years, I find myself increasingly assaulted with the opposite "dangers": too few babies, and a rapidly and unevenly aging world. Somehow the dire predictions of what the consequences will be have remained the same.

Continue Reading this week's New Rules column at WPR.

Reader Comments (5)

It seems so obvious to me that the solution to both overpopulation and underpopulation is simply to aim for a stable population. Yes, unrelenting population growth is bad. It is little more than a pyramid scheme benefiting those at the top who make themselves rich on the back of hungry masses who have no choice but to buy the increasingly rare and expensive goods owned by those above them. Eventually, the pyramid collapses.

Depopulation is a lesser evil, often necessary where resources are insufficient, only problematic where resources are plentiful in the sense that they cannot be exhausted fast enough to please those who own them.

Either way, a stable population helps. Renewable resources remain sufficient. Non-renewable resources don't disappear as fast. Housing problems can be resolved. Traffic congestion stops worsening. In general, planning for many problems are eased greatly if you can just resolve a single variable: population.

July 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJARL
Okay no Malthus yet but does look like about 9 Billion by end of the century so no lack of kids.
July 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam R. Cumming
It's all about ratios of workers to retirees, not how many kids exist.

And we will top out at about 9.3-9.4 around mid-century, not end.

Most predictions say global population stabilizes or drops after mid-century, but since global population decline (voluntarily) is unprecedented, all bets are off on how we interpret that historical moment.

Me? I expect a religious frenzy.

Can't wait!
July 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Barnett
We could get a game-changing life enhancing/extending Pharma-product within that time frame.Most retirees would continue to work in some capacity if they could.
July 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJavaid Akhtar
"We could get a game-changing life enhancing/extending Pharma-product within that time frame."

Any time mankind has faced some seemingly intracable problem like this, this time population shortage, some solution comes out of left field. Even 3rd world countries like China, Iran and Mexico are running out of babies, so this is serious. The solutions could come from a pharma product. Ray Kurzweil thinks nanobots will be repairing our cells and greatly extending lives. Biotech could point the way out.
July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Dunn

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