THE DEMOGRAPHIC BOMB

Lisa Dusseault lisa@xythos.com
Thu, 18 Oct 2001 13:06:14 -0700


> > She's right of course, the only way to win long term is to breed like
> > rabbits.
>
> Nope. The opposite. Its falling birthrates that correlate with rising
> per capita income. We win by lowering the birthrate elsewhere, which
> means raising the opportunity cost for having babies, which means
> educating women everywhere.

Do you have proof that the causation runs the way you imply?  It's
completely possible, and I think even probably, that it's rising per-capita
income, along with increased technology, lower infant death rates,
education, and entrance of women into the work force, that leads to falling
birthrates.

If you take a look at the long-term effects of a falling birthrate, it's
quite possible that a falling birthrate leads to economic problems.  After
all, a country's growth rate is what cushions it from hard decisions.  While
a country grows demographically:
 - demand tends to rises
 - tax revenues tend to rise
 - interest payments on debt tend to shrink as a percentage of GDP, as long
as debt stays constant

Without a positive population rate, how do you expect countries to maintain
over 2% growth?  (Recall that under that is considered a recession!)
Importing workers/consumers could replace the ones that aren't being  born,
but that only seems acceptable at a low rate of immigration.  Relying on
productivity growth means you're relying on improving technology AND
displacing workers and forcing them to learn new stuff.  Ouch.

> We, on the other hand, are set, because more Americans arrive every
> day.

You mean via immigration? Yes, but unfortunately, perhaps not enough.

Lisa