The “fertility crisis” is only a crisis if it is the involuntary duty of the young to fund the benefits the old have granted themselves. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:
anuary’s report on fertility from the CDC set off a new wave of speculation in the media about the alleged “fertility crisis.”
We continue to see headlines like Fortune magazine’s article “Americans Aren’t Making Enough Babies, Says CDC ” and we hear from experts in this Marketplace interview that replacement-level fertility, “is needed to sustain high living standards and a high quality of life.”
This latter sentiment takes us to the heart of the matter: when we hear about the fertility crisis, it is usually packaged as an economic crisis. That is, we’re told that standards of living will collapse if people don’t start to have more babies.
This argument, of course, should be noted as being distinct from other arguments— namely sociological, cultural, political, and religious arguments — in favor of higher fertility. Some of those are compelling.
I remain unconvinced, however, that a stagnant or declining population necessarily presents an economicproblem or a threat to the standard of living. The problems we were likely to encounter result from government programs and government spending — not from demography or markets themselves.
You may be tired of SLL’s obsession with the debt and demographic tsunami, but like a real tsunami, this one is going to make landfall; in fact, it already has. This article is good for visual learners. From Christ Hamilton at economica.blogspot.com:
No difficult economic terms, no tough charts, just simple math.
1 – The worlds population of under 40 year olds (excluding Africa) has essentially peaked (chart below…bars represent 0-40yr/old population, dashed lines UN future estimates). What is interesting about the under 40 year old population is that they are responsible for about 97% of all pregnancies / births. It’s not impossible for 40+ year old women to have children, just statistically very rare (particularly outside the developed world).
Ok, we’ve established the global under 40 population (excluding Africa) has essentially peaked…now we lay out the chart below that a shrinking population (above) isn’t replacing themselves. Chart below shows world fertility rates, again breaking world fertility (ex-Africa) from the African fertility rate. The world (ex-Africa) has fallen below the 2.1 births per female replacement level…and even Africa is rapidly slowing.
A flat to shrinking child bearing population that is not reproducing at a rate to replace themselves and the fertility rates continue to fall. This all points to the potential the low UN 0-40yr/old population estimate could be fairly accurate (chart 1, lower bound). With either the medium or low estimate, the UN is telling us they expect a massive depopulation of under 40 year olds world-over. Somewhere between 1 billion to 2.5 billion fewer under 40yr/olds by the turn of the century & perhaps well in excess of a 50% decline (except for Africa?!?). I lay out why the Ex-Africa approach to viewing global economics makes sense, HERE.
To continue reading: Why The World Economy Is Likely To Collapse (In 1 Simple Chart)