As a one-time, somekinduva economist—
At some point, declining birthrates could
be problematic for an economy—given natural resources, technology, how closed the economy is, etc.—over the long run
. For example, a shrinking labor force, a declining consumer sector (with declining demand for goods and services, with a declining demand for investment capital&hellip
, and an aging demographic profile (with strains on social services, etc.). It really depends on how a whole host of factors balance out.
Two extreme examples: (1) Evidence shows that hunter-gatherer societies tend to have relatively low birthrates on the whole, supporting small bands; this makes sense, given reliance on nature for food and materials, and the systemic travel from locale to locale, etc. (2) Agricultural economies tend to have much higher birthrates and larger families; midwest American farmers, for example, used to talk about having a bunch of kids to help out on the farm (this is probably alleviated, all things considered) with advanced farm technology). One explanation for these differences is caloric: the higher consumed calories in the agricultural society simply, biologically leads to higher birthrates and, ceteris paribus
a burgeoning population; and vice versa. (Interestingly, agricultural societies can also be more subject to the devastation of famine, it seems.)
Telerion could address all this more accurately and with better detail; or Palynka perhaps…
1) I think we’re talking about long run, sustained decline here; a sharp change in birthrates can cause waves in the economy (e.g., the US’s present controversies over Social Security are related to the aging of the Post WWII “baby boom” generation).
2) Rising birthrates (within a given economy) can be problematic in the other direction.
3) Global population growth is probably one of the severest problems facing humanity, with a global strain on resources.
4) Does anyone really
want to talk about social engineering of birthrates
for the sake of balancing economic resources? Or as a strategy by one group or another to achieve some kind of economic (and political) hegemony? Can you say “brave (maybe) new world?”
I think the far-and-away greatest demographic problem facing the world today is overall population growth, period. So I generally think that purposefully promoting
higher birthrates among any
population group is irresponsible. [Note how carefully I’m trying to tread here…] Are there countervailing moral issues? I don’t know—but pursuing policies that increase the strain on available natural resources to sustain life, with the attendant conflicts, suffering and death, does not seem to be a morally positive tack.
Big caveat: Population and demographic issues are complex (and my specialties were labor market studies and retirement/pension issues: micro-economics).