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Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Defusable Demographic Bomb

The Economist writes that rich countries' populations are beginning to shrink and that may not be necessarily bad news. Excerpts with edits and comments:
Decades back dangers of population explosion were compared to with the danger of nuclear war. Now the onset of demographic decline is worrying rich nations. Russia's population is expected to fall by 22% between 2005 and 2050, Ukraine's by a staggering 43%. Now the phenomenon is creeping into the rich world: Japan has started to shrink and others, such as Italy and Germany, will soon follow. Even China's population will be declining by the early 2030s.The UN projects that by 2050 populations will be lower than they are today in 50 countries. When all this happens, India would be the only country with positive demographic trends. Demographic decline worries people because it is believed to go hand in hand with economic decline. Demographic decline is the consequence of the low fertility that generally goes with growing prosperity. While governments and business may be worries about demographic decline , productivity growth may keep up growth in GDP per person: as labour becomes scarcer, and pressure to introduce new technologies to boost workers' efficiency increases, so the productivity of labour may rise faster. Look at how japan is adjusting. Retirement ages can be lifted to increase the supply of labour even when the population is declining. The new demographics that are causing populations to age and to shrink are something to celebrate. Read the full article here

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