POPULATION + DEMOGRAPHY

Population & Demographics – intro >updates


Annual world population since 10 thousand bce for owid

gm/caw 10-2021 CoP : elephants in the room of the growth debate – global population growth

To many, left right and middle of the political spectrum, population growth is the real issue. Most think of the hockeystick graph and are not aware of the decisive rate of growth graph which looks like a bitcoin peak crashing. Unlike bitcoin, global population is unlikely to shoot up again. To focus on Africa’s crises-born birth rates is to miss the downward trajectory of rate which means we are on course for “peak human” at around 10bn, give or take 2. Meaning in most places what’s happening is population decline.

Reading up on demographic research: It now looks as if it the human reproduction rate has much less to do with “primitive” moralities or any particular socio cultural “factors” except when they correlate with gender inequality: Women’s relative empowerment seems to reliably correlate with the reproduction rate. More fundamentally, though, humans as potential parents turn out to behave almost like homo economicus: Ceterus paribus, children are planned rather like investments. The more insecure and violent the societal context, the more rational to give birth to those extra children you must expect not to survive. Also the more precarious and poor you are, the more likely your kids represent a necessary source of income. The former context is that of violent insecurity, the latter of precarious poverty within Darwinist, “laissez faire” capitalism disrupting traditional arrangements.

These findings feed into the re-interpretation of the European hockey-stick. It wasn’t improvements in hygiene, medicine or living standards, all of which seem to have emerged too late to fit the curve. Nor does it look like a Malthusian response to societal surplus. More likely it was the ruptures of feudal dependencies turning poor but relatively secure peasants into just as poor but precariously insecure workers newly dependent on their children earning money-wages.

population work ...
Victorians investing in children

DeGrowth may not address Malthusian fears. But neither does the GdP-growth of The Status Quo. As you can see from the article collection, the main narrative now is all about the decline in most national populations. If anything, Status Quo ortho-economics considers migration to be the natural solution to birth rate discrepancies, let alone wage discrepancies: because of globalised competition, local wages must not rise but cheaper labour must be imported to suppress local wage rises.   (> H Flassbeck critique of contemporary German “mercantilism”, > B. Milanovic proposing migration as only solution to global inequality)

To think migration is the solution reads like the sort of reality-abstracting naivete you get from academic TINA: People=Labour. What’s the problem?

It’s not the miniscule DeGrowth movement that has fractured the progress of globalisation. Nor the ecological crises. The “Washington Consensus” has done all that by its own hubristic denial and mismanagement of social and ecological “externalities.”

nb historical necessities !?!  Historical determinism used to be the prerogative of deterministically Darwinian evolutionists and dialectically deterministic Marxists but anathema to Liberals. Unsurprisingly this conviction only lasted till one found it expedient to rationalise one’s political preferences as predestined  (>John Gray). As ever one can witness how the main function of a dominant narrative is to rationalise/legitimise status quo practices by reference to allegedly “natural” necessities of TINA requiring adaptation.

In the name of historical necessity globalisation became the Holy Script of The Market unfolding as per divine  predestination. Whilst this was happening in refreshingly rewarding ways at home, one had no time for party-poopers pointing to the likely socio-political consequences of relatively impoverishing one’s domestic population by exporting their means of reproduction. When the stagnating, squeezed western cohorts of relative losers began to voice their frustrations it was deemed a deplorable display of xenophobia. Particularly naive was the apparent assumption of the winning cohorts that no one would notice that only yesterday the elites were the leading racists and xenophobes, and possibly remain so privately. After all, one has never had problems with employing foreign labour as (waged or not) slaves. One is benefitting from any additional competition for employment, housing and provisions as that is where one obtains one’s margins and rents. The cynical hypocrisy of liberals benefitting from cheap immigrant service labour whilst denying the detrimental impacts on domestic cohorts was unlikely to escape even the “uneducated”. No calculations of aggregate gains for The Economy cut much ice if, caught between exported jobs and imported labour, I personally experience a relative downgrading. Being told it’s my fault for being dumb, lazy and multi-phobic is a bit rich, given being stupid, workshy and racist has never caused the rich to go poor.


2019 revision – world population growth 1700 2100

newint.org/  2020  HITTING THE POPULATION BRAKES – Popular wisdom has it that everything is speeding up, including population growth. Danny Dorling shows just how wrong that is – and argues that we are actually in a time of slowdown. A tour of future population prospects for key hotspots



updates 8-2022

visualcapitalist.com 2022


theguardian.com 4-2015 Overshoot in pictures – Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) contains powerful and evocative images showing the ecological and social tragedies of humanity’s ballooning numbers and consumption populationspeakout.org/the-bookessays


asia.nikkei.com/ 11-3-2022 China’s aging population is key to its success plan -There is more to a country getting old than economic decline Lauren Johnston

“Will China’s aging population end its chance of global economic hegemony? According to the Japan Center for Economic Research, China’s one-child policy from 1980 to 2016 has induced such a scale and rate of aging that the country now faces premature economic stagnation. What, though, if China’s long-run plan was to treat aging, and imminent population decline, as a way of strengthening its economy? To understand how this might be possible, let’s compare China’s rapidly emerging winter sports industry with Japan. … If population aging and decline in rich countries hasten economic decline, in successfully emerging poor countries the same pattern of aging and decline may serve to speed intergenerational catch-up. And there may end up being more rapid convergence across countries than is expected by looking at China alone. Back in 1992, the year that Japan’s working-age population peaked almost unnoticed, Becker noted that “the economic and social world is mysterious, and it sometimes changes quickly and in surprising fashion. Every time we peel away some of the mystery, deeper challenges rise to the surface.” Contrary to relentless speculation and forecasting that China will stagnate economically in the middle-income per capita range thanks to its population aging, it may instead be expedient to adopt Becker’s more open-minded approach.”


China’s aging population leads to predictions of ’17-year supremacy’
Leaders need another $7.8tn to realize Xi’s ‘common prosperity’


businessinsider.com/  7/12/2021  Elon Musk says civilization will crumble if more people don’t have more children — and his comments shine light on a heated demographic debate – by Hillary Hoffower and Marguerite WardElon

  • Musk recently said the declining birth rate is one of the biggest risks to civilization.
  • Experts have worried that the pandemic “baby bust” could result in an ageing population without enough workers.
  • But with the right structural changes, less children and higher productivity could be a new chapter for the economy

ladbible.com  6/12/2021  The World’s Population Is Set To Decline For The First Time In Centuries  by Anish Vij

“For the first time in centuries the world’s population is set to decline in a few decades. There are currently around 7.8 billion of us in the world right now and that number is expected to peak in 2064, when I’ll be 69 years old…yikes. Based on a new study published in The Lancet, the peak will be at roughly 9.7 billion and then will drop to 8.8 billion by 2100, where I’ll either be reincarnated into a sheep or floating around in heaven, with the littest Instagram stories ever.


thelancet.com/fulltext  7/2020  Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: a forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study – by Prof Stein Emil Vollset, Emily Goren, Chun-Wei Yuan, Jackie Cao, Amanda E Smith, Thomas Hsiao, et al.

…”…Our findings suggest that continued trends in female educational attainment and access to contraception will hasten declines in fertility and slow population growth. A sustained TFR lower than the replacement level in many countries, including China and India, would have economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical consequences. Policy options to adapt to continued low fertility, while sustaining and enhancing female reproductive health, will be crucial in the years to come…”…


economist.com   2/12/2021  India’s population will start to shrink sooner than expected – For the first time, Indian fertility has fallen below replacement level

…”…This is big news not just for India but, seeing that its 1.4bn people are nearly a fifth of humanity, for the planet. The number of Indians will still grow, because many young women have yet to reach child-bearing age. But lower fertility means the population will peak sooner and at a lower figure: not in 40 years at more than 1.7bn, as was widely predicted, but probably a decade earlier, at perhaps 1.6bn…”…


thenewsminute.comI  4/10/2021  India witnesses decline in population growth rate and fertility across religious groups – The study from the Pew Research Centre, titled ‘Religious Composition of India’ confirms that India’s fertility is declining rapidly in recent decades, say Poonam Muttreja, Alok Vajpeyi


irishtimes.com   24/7/2021 The global population will soon fall, and this will change the world
Falling populations in Europe, America and Asia will make Africa an economic superpower David McWilliams


theguardian.com 7/2021 Why we should embrace population decline – Falling birth rates are no cause for alarm, writes Robin Maynard, while Diane Woodley is concerned about attitudes towards older people

Laura Spinney (Why declining birth rates are good news for life on Earth, 8 July) provides a much-needed deconstruction of the “birth dearth” alarmist angst predicting economic and societal collapse as people across the world choose smaller families – a choice still denied, incidentally, to the 270 million women globally with an unmet need for modern family planning.

The mainstream economists and business interests ringing that alarm are preoccupied by GDP figures and profit, not human wellbeing. They certainly have scant regard for the consequences to our planet. More babies just means more cheap labour and more consumers for their products.


washingtonpost.com/  5/2021 It’s wrong to blame ‘overpopulation’ for climate change By Sarah Kaplan

“Why is the impact of population growth infrequently mentioned? A couple producing more than two children will impact carbon emissions to a greater degree than any other activity. That impact cannot be offset by any practicable lifestyle change; switching to vegetarianism doesn’t come close to balance the scales.”  James, Lebanon, Pa.

When the Census Bureau released data recently showing that the United States population is growing at its slowest rate in almost a century, an old question reappeared in environmental reporters’ inboxes: Do we need a smaller population to save our warming planet?  The answer is: Not necessarily. Climate change isn’t caused by population growth. It’s caused by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. “But,” you might respond, “doesn’t having more people on the planet lead to more fossil fuel consumption, which leads to more emissions?”Again, not necessarily, says Princeton University environmental engineer Anu Ramaswami, an expert on sustainable cities and contributor to the United Nations’ Global Resources Outlook reports.

A small minority of wealthy people produce the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions — their consumption habits have a much greater impact than overall population numbers. It’s true that the planet can’t support unlimited population growth, Ramaswami said. But if people can figure out how to moderate our consumption and meet our needs without fossil fuels, experts say, it is possible for all of us to live sustainably and well —even if there are more of us.

To measure humanity’s collective mark on the planet, environmental scientists like Ramaswami use the “IPAT” equation: Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology. In this formula, affluence is defined as the gross domestic product per capita, and technology is a measure of the amount of resources required to produce a unit of GDP.

Since the start of the millennium, U.N. reports show, global resource use has been primarily driven by increases in affluence, not the population. This is especially true in high- to upper-middle-income nations, which account for 78 percent of material consumption, despite having slower population growth rates than the rest of the world. Meanwhile in low-income countries, whose share of the global population has almost doubled, demand for resources has stayed constant at just about 3 percent of the global total. 

The “technology” portion of the IPAT formula is also moving in the wrong direction, Ramaswami said. Since 2000, the world has used more resources to make less stuff, largely because globalization has moved production to places where energy systems and machinery are less efficient.

Another U.N. study has found that inequality within and between countries makes them less effective at tackling climate change. A lack of social cohesion and the concentration of power in the hands of wealthy people — who are more insulated from climate change’s worst impacts — makes nations less likely to take the kinds of collective actions needed, analysts found. In turn, the effects of warming disproportionately harm low-income communities, which makes inequality even worse.These data suggest that stabilizing the climate depends on addressing the affluence and technology aspects of the IPAT equation, Ramaswami said. “Fixating on population decrease doesn’t make much of a difference.”

Treating people as the problem isn’t just misguided — it’s dangerous. When concern about population becomes central to environmental policy, said researcher Betsy Hartman, “racism and xenophobia are always waiting in the wings.”

The former director of the population and development program at Hampshire College and author of “Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: the Global Politics of Population Control,” Hartman can cite countless examples of this link. Many founders of America’s conservation movement were fervent eugenicists. Native American tribes were forced from their lands so the United States government could establish national parks. More recently, the alleged perpetrators of mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand and a Walmart in El Paso cited “eco-fascist” concerns about overpopulation and environmental degradation.

“In this ideology of ‘too many people’ it’s always certain people who are ‘too many,’ ” Hartman said. “It just shifts the discourse away from the real problem of who has power and how the economy is organized.” 

James, who posed the question at the beginning of this piece, is correct when he wrote that lifestyle changes can’t mitigate a person’s entire environmental impact. We all need to eat. We all need homes that are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We all live in a world that generates most of its electricity, food and consumer goods with fossil fuels. There is no opting out of those systems. But systems can change.

“One of the biggest opportunities is what we call ‘decoupling,’ ” Ramaswami said. “You can still grow your population and GDP if you decouple your basic provisioning systems from resource use and greenhouse gas emissions.”

That task is difficult, but not impossible. According to the International Energy Administration, it is now cheaper to build new solar power facilities than coal or gas power plants. Ramaswami’s research on sustainable cities has found that urban areas could halve their resource and material use simply through better design — more density, fewer cars, accessible green space. Scientists are working on ways to reduce agriculture emissions and even turn farmland into a carbon sink. These technological changes can limit humanity’s impact without hurting the affluence or population parts of the equation.

People should also recognize that the IPAT equation is just one way of looking at the issue, said Indiana University’s Shahzeen Attari, an expert in resource use and environmental psychology. It doesn’t account for metrics like happiness, or public health or the strength of civil society — measures of well-being that can’t be quantified in terms of dollars spent or resources used.

To achieve a sustainable society, Attari said, we should also “decouple” consumption from our ideas about progress and growth. Instead of focusing solely on GDP, nations could seek to improve a metric known as the Human Development Index, which also considers things like life expectancy and access to schooling. They could even take it one step further and adopt the “planetary pressures-adjusted” HDI, which rewards countries that promote human development without increasing greenhouse gas emissions and resource use.

The effort to build a safe, healthy and equitable world can’t be boiled down to a numbers game. But if you do want to focus on a number, it shouldn’t be in the number of people on the planet. It should be 419 parts per million — the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. In the end, that’s the number that most needs to come down.


moneyweek.com   25/5/2021  Why an ageing population is not necessarily the disaster many people think it is  by  Merryn Somerset Webb

… “The problems, says the pessimists, are threefold: without more young people to support the old the dependency ratio will rise to unsustainable levels; without young people we will lose our creative mojo; and finally, without young people, demand will fall and we will end up in a spiral of long-term deflation. Older people are replacers of goods, not active buyers – the more of them we have, the more overall demand will fall. Sounds awful doesn’t it? …

So there you have it: we’ve got used to the idea that baby busts and the ageing populations they come with are a bad thing; they might not be. The obvious costs are high (health and social care) but the benefits are much overlooked. …”


theguardian.com   5/2021 Are there too many people? All bets are off  

For decades, scientists and economists have been making wagers about the outcome of human population growth. Now, more than ever, their speculations need to be taken seriously

“In 2011, when the global population hit 7 billion, economist David Lam and demographer Stan Becker made a bet. Lam predicted food would get cheaper over the next decade, despite continuing population growth. Becker predicted that food prices would go up, because of the damage humans were doing to the planet, which meant that population growth would outstrip food supply. Becker won and, following his wishes, Lam has just written out a cheque for $194 to the Vermont-based nonprofit Population Media Center, which promotes population stabilisation internationally.

$194, about £140, equates to the amount by which a basket containing five food types – oils and fats, cereals, dairy, meat and sugar – and worth on average $1,000 in the decade to 2010, increased in price over the following decade, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index (FFPI) and allowing for inflation.

The bet resembles another placed in 1980, between conservation biologist Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon. Again, the question was whether human population expansion was sustainable. Ehrlich, author with his wife, Anne, of The Population Bomb (1968), in which they predicted imminent mass starvation due to overpopulation, took the pessimistic view and Simon the optimistic one. The yardstick of natural resource scarcity they chose was the change in the price of five metals between 1980 and 1990. Simon won.

Such bets are widely acknowledged to simplify complex questions, meaning their outcomes can and have been hotly debated, but people who think about population matters still consider them useful. “Bets like this are important to bring attention to big-picture global issues,” said demographer John Bongaarts of the New York City-based Population Council, at the 9 April webinar where the Lam-Becker result was announced.

The new wager stems from an upbeat address that Lam, who works at the University of Michigan, gave to the Population Association of America as its president in 2011. The Ehrlichs’ dire predictions had not come true. Per capita food production had increased by 46% over the previous half-century, while the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day – the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty in low- and middle-income countries – had dropped by more than 30% since 1981.

Even if another 4 billion people were added to the planet, as was being predicted at the time, Lam felt confident they could be fed. At last month’s webinar, he pointed out that population growth had slowed since 2011, with the addition of about 850 million people since then, while poverty had continued to decline and per capita food production had continued to increase. This was true even in sub-Saharan Africa, where food production lagged behind population growth until the last decade.

Becker, of Johns Hopkins University, objected both in 2011 and a decade on, not that it was impossible to feed 11 billion people, but that this prospect ignored the collateral damage to other species and to the planet for which humans would eventually pay. He pointed to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics showing that nearly 70% of fisheries are already fully or over-exploited. Others mentioned the shrinking stock of fresh water and the erosion of biodiversity. “The whole biosphere is in trouble,” Becker said.

Debates about humanity’s sustainability have gone on at least since Thomas Malthus argued, more than 200 years ago, that population growth tends to outpace and stifle economic growth. The pessimism of the three decades from the 1950s, embodied by Ehrlich, gave way to a period of optimism around 1980, as fertility started to decline, the green revolution boosted food production and oil prices collapsed. But around 2000, the pessimism returned, mainly due to growing awareness of the climate crisis and the UN Population Division’s prediction that the global population would reach nearly 11 billion as soon as 2100, with most future growth expected in Africa.

Food prices, like metal prices, are volatile. Demand – the number of mouths to be fed – is the main factor driving them, but the FFPI is a trade-based index, which means it is also sensitive to supply-side factors such as export bans. The FFPI increased sharply over the decade to 2010, partly due to high demand for cereals to produce biofuels, combined with low reserves. It dropped over the following decade, but not enough to offset the earlier increase. Becker won fair and square, according to the terms of the bet, but Lam says he was right that there would be a correction. “In a sense,” he says, “we both won.”

Similar quibbles were raised over the Ehrlich-Simon bet, with some arguing that another time period or index would have favoured Ehrlich. Clearly, the facts you select to support your bet matter, but for Bongaarts there’s more to it than that: “We need to pay attention to how to value different outcomes.” Optimists tend to think it’s OK to convert natural capital into human capital, he told the webinar, whereas pessimists see declining natural capital as a problem for socioeconomic, health and ethical reasons. “It’s fair to say that many optimists don’t value nature as much as many pessimists do,” Bongaarts said.

Part of the reason human sustainability remains such a hot topic is that experts disagree about how the global population will grow. The UN thinks that growth will peak at the end of this century, but others think it will peak sooner. Researchers at the University of Washington predicted last year that it would hit a maximum of close to 10 billion around 2064, then slightly decrease to around 9 billion by 2100. The main reason they gave was better access to contraceptives and female education in Africa, which would lead to fertility rates declining there sooner than the UN predicted. The discrepancy between the two predictions, of a massive 2 billion people by century’s end, obviously affects calculations about humanity’s impact on the planet.

Another issue is equity: maybe we can just about feed everyone, but some will be far better fed than others. If many people are alive but hungry, can we still say population growth is sustainable? Bongaarts said this equity gap is already visible and widening…”…


nytimes.com   5 2021  Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications – by Damien Cave, Emma Bubola, Choe Sang-Hun

… “All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore. …    By the end of the century, Nigeria could surpass China in population; across sub-Saharan Africa, families are still having four or five children. But nearly everywhere else, the era of high fertility is ending. ….

And almost everywhere, older people are being asked to keep working. Germany, which previously raised its retirement age to 67, is now considering a bump to 69.  Going further than many other nations, Germany has also worked through a program of urban contraction: Demolitions have removed around 330,000 units from the housing stock since 2002.  And if the goal is revival, a few green shoots can be found. After expanding access to affordable child care and paid parental leave, Germany’s fertility rate recently increased to 1.54, up from 1.3 in 2006. Leipzig, which once was shrinking, is now growing again after reducing its housing stock and making itself more attractive with its smaller scale. …

“Growth is a challenge, as is decline,” said Swiaczny, who is now a senior research fellow at the Federal Institute for Population Research in Germany. …” …                                           read more here


wired.com  2019  The World Might Actually Run Out of People – The United Nations predicts that the global population will soon explode. In Empty Planet, John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker argue they’re dead wrong.

book jacket for Empty Planet
Buy EMPTY PLANET on Amazon

“YOU KNOW THE story. Despite technologies, regulations, and policies to make humanity less of a strain on the earth, people just won’t stop reproducing. By 2050 there will be 9 billion carbon-burningplastic-pollutingcalorie-consuming people on the planet. By 2100, that number will balloon to 11 billion, pushing society into a Soylent Green scenario. Such dire population predictions aren’t the stuff of sci-fi; those numbers come from one of the most trusted world authorities, the United Nations.  But what if they’re wrong? Not like, off by a rounding error, but like totally, completely goofed?

That’s the conclusion Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker come to in their newest book, Empty Planet, due out February 5th. After painstakingly breaking down the numbers for themselves, the pair arrived at a drastically different prediction for the future of the human species. “In roughly three decades, the global population will begin to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”  But Empty Planet is not a book about statistics so much as it is about what’s driving the choices people are making during the fastest period of change in human history. …”…


theatlantic.com  7/2019  What Happens When the World’s Population Stops Growing?

… “But soon—or at least, soon in the context of human history—the number of people on Earth will stop growing. Based on the latest figures from the United Nations, demographers’ best guess for when this will happen is about 2100. By then, the global population is projected to have risen to just shy of 11 billion.Africa will be the most populous continent. Islam will be the most popular religion. And there are going to be a lot more old people. … Even if future fertility rates stray a bit from expectations, Vogl said, it wouldn’t “change the fact that sometime in the next [100 years], the world’s population is going to peak.” …  When I asked him how concerned he is about the environmental toll of further growth, he said, “I’m pretty worried, mostly by the total inability of the global political apparatus to grapple with this issue and to try to find solutions.”

Unfortunately, the demographic changes of the 21st century will not do much to help matters. Eloundou-Enyegue points out that the problems that come up—whether they have to do with the environment, shifting family structures, or any number of other things—will hit different countries and regions at different times. “Just looking at the average global picture is a statistical simplification, because the world is really, really diverse in terms of the [fertility] rates that we have now,” he said. And because the leveling off of the population by about 2100 will arrive incrementally across countries, and not all at once, “that may make it difficult to have a uniform debate or consensus about what the situation is and what the remedies are.” Uniform consensus has never been humanity’s strong suit, but at least we have the rest of the century to prepare for what’s ahead.”


earth911.com

Chinese consumers use resources at less than half the rate of Americans (3.6 gha) and much of their resource extraction is used to make products for American consumption. But with a population of 1.4 billion, their total consumption is much greater overall.

The same over-consuming pattern is evident in greenhouse gas emissions on a national basis — a few countries account for the overwhelming majority of annual CO2 emissions. These emissions contribute to climate change, which further degrades the Earth’s ability to support life.

Who emits the most CO2?

sciencedirect.com   2020   The social and environmental influences of population growth rate and demographic pressure deserve greater attention in ecological economics    Jane N O’Sullivan

… papers discussing the relevance of population growth and the prospects for minimising it are rare in the literature on ecological economics. Even these papers treat population almost exclusively as an issue relating to the scale of human activity. The many ways in which population growth rate and local demographic pressures drive negative social and environmental trends remain largely unarticulated. The mistaken belief that action to reduce population growth requires involuntary control of people’s reproduction has fostered a taboo on the topic and deterred analysis of demographic influences on issues such as inequality, unemployment, debt, social cohesion and conflict. This paper discusses how some of these influences relate to ecological economics discourses on natural resources, labour, capital and governance. It argues that population stabilisation is not only ultimately required for a steady state economy, but can be a powerful lever in a virtuous cycle of effects diminishing resource consumption and environmental impacts, reversing income inequality and undermining the leverage enjoyed by capital over labour. A richer, more integrated treatment of population dynamics would greatly enhance the ecological economics research agenda in the coming decades.


newgeography.com  16/03/2021   DECLINING FERTILITY RATES MAY DELIVER US TO OBLIVION   by Joel Kotkin

For much of the last half-century we have been living, even cowering, under the threat posed by what Paul Ehrlich in 1968 called the “population bomb.” In Ehrlich’s scenario, widely adopted by the environmental movement and its corporate supporters, ever-increasing numbers would overwhelm the resource base and the food supply and would cause dystopian mayhem across the planet.   Yet it turns out that the “explosion” is heading toward an implosion, as data reported by the World Bank indicates. Rather than being doomed by a surfeit of humans we may be experiencing, certainly in the West and in East Asia, dangerously low fertility rates that threaten to slow world economic growth and innovation. This also reflects a dangerous shift in civilizational values, with more focus on the self and abstractions and less on the basic relations upon which all civilizations have been built. Conversely when fertility rates drop—for example in imperial Rome, renaissance Venice and early modern Amsterdam—it’s a sure signal of societal decline.


read at source FT weekend


frankdiana.net     “Beginning in 1990, several forces converged to shape the global economy. Globalization, demographics, technology, deflation, debt, and interest rates have all played a role. Now, according to a recent book, at least two of those forces are reversing. In The Great Demographic Reversal, authors Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan describe these forces and their influence on the last thirty years of economic activity. With this convergence, the world experienced an extended deflationary period, which per the authors, was driven in part by a labor supply shock.

With this positive supply shock came a weakening of labor’s bargaining power and a downward pressure on wages. Now, the authors believe that both globalization and demographics will reverse. The massive pool of labor that came from China and Eastern Europe is succumbing to an aging society (Japan is the poster child). That same aging dynamic will reduce the working age population. As this reversal accelerates, deflationary forces that caused inflation to remain at or below Central Bank inflation targets reverse as well. The conclusion (a hotly debated one) per the authors is that the future is one of:

Inflation
A fall in working age population
An aging society that struggles with the ravages of dementia
Declining growth of real output
An increase in labor’s bargaining power
Possible interest rate increases
Increased health expenses
A reduction in inequality


ecowatch.com    9/2020   How Would Population Decline Impact the Environment?   By Ajit Niranjan

Shortly before he shot dead 22 mostly Hispanic people in El Paso, Texas, a little over a year ago, a white supremacist wrote in his online manifesto: “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable.” He was inspired by a terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand, who five months earlier had killed 51 Muslim worshippers in attacks on two mosques and identified as an “eco-fascist.”

Neither the fears nor the actions of the two men are grounded in science.

Fertility is falling, people are aging, and by the end of the century humans will be shrinking in number on almost every country on Earth, according to a recent study published in the journal Lancet. Far from an overpopulation crisis, demographers are asking where the next generations of young people will come from.

The study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projects the number of people on the planet will peak just four decades from now, at 9.7 billion, before falling to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.


theconversation.com    2019  Climate explained: how growth in population and consumption drives planetary change    by Paul Keaveny

The growth of the human population over the last 70 years has exploded from 2 billion to nearly 8 billion, with a compounding net growth of over 30,000 per day. We all breathe out carbon dioxide with every breath. That equates to about 140 billion CO₂ breaths every minute. Isn’t it logical that atmospheric carbon will continue to increase with the birth rate regardless of what we do about fossil fuel reduction?


https://theconversation.com   2019  Stabilising the global population is not a solution to the climate emergency – but we should do it anyway    by Mark Maslin

A global coalition of 11,000 scientists has come up with a plan for dealing with the climate emergency. Most of these are things scientists have been saying for a while: decarbonise the economy, eliminate pollutants, restore ecosystems and reforest, and reduce meat consumption. However, the last action point is somewhat more controversial. It calls for stabilising the global population.


theatlantic.com   2019    What Happens When the World’s Population Stops Growing?         by JOE PINSKER
Africa will be the most populous continent. Islam will be the most popular religion. And there are going to be a lot more old people.

For most of the time that humans have existed, our ranks have grown really, really slowly. There were an estimated 4 million people on Earth in 10,000 b.c., and after the following 10 millennia, the planetwide population had only reached 190 million. Even in 1800, the total number of humans was still under 1 billion. The climb since then—made possible by advances in medicine, sanitation, and food production—has been astounding. By 1900, there were 1.65 billion people; by 2000, there were more than 6 billion. Just two decades later, the global population sits at 7.7 billion.  But soon—or at least, soon in the context of human history—the number of people on Earth will stop growing. Based on the latest figures from the United Nations, demographers’ best guess for when this will happen is about 2100. By then, the global population is projected to have risen to just shy of 11 billion.   …    Even if future fertility rates stray a bit from expectations, Vogl said, it wouldn’t “change the fact that sometime in the next [100 years], the world’s population is going to peak.” And his hunch is that the population is unlikely to go up from there, barring some major increase in fertility rates (perhaps as a result of a political movement that encourages people to have a lot of babies, which is what happened in China in the mid-20th century).


nautil.us/blog    2020  How Rising Education for Women Is Shaping the Global Population  By Kiki Sanford


scmp.com/  2021  chinas-population-crisis-country-might-grow-old-it-grows-rich  by Mengni Chen and Paul Yip


scmp.com   3/2021  Population decline could end China’s civilisation as we know it. When will Beijing wake up to the crisis?  by Andy Xie
“The seeds of the crisis were sown by a development strategy that relied on cheap, plentiful migrant workers to power manufacturing and construction. Now, their children don’t want to be like them – they would rather surf the internet than have children. The property bubble is only making things worse…”…


cnn.com/  9/2021  Number of newborns registered in China drops 15% amid population decline fears – by James Griffiths

The number of newborns registered with the government in China dropped almost 15% last year, amid widespread concern over falling birthrates in the world’s most populous country.  According to figures published by the Ministry of Public Security this week, there were 10.03 million new babies registered in 2020, compared to 11.79 million the year before — a decrease of 14.9%. The news comes as last year, China recorded the lowest birthrate since the People’s Republic was founded in 1949.  China’s demographic issues could pose serious issues for the world’s second-largest economy when the current working-age population reaches retirement. Experts worry if the trend continues, or the population begins shrinking, China may get old before it gets rich.


theguardian.com 1/2021 as-birth-rates-fall-animals-prowl-in-our-abandoned-ghost-villages

For many years it seemed that overpopulation was the looming crisis of our age. Back in 1968, the Stanford biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich infamously predicted that millions would soon starve to death in their bestselling, doom-saying book The Population Bomb; since then, neo-Malthusian rumblings of imminent disaster have been a continual refrain in certain sections of the environmental movement – fears that were recently given voice on David Attenborough’s documentary Life on our Planet. At the time the Ehrlichs were publishing their dark prophecies, the world was at its peak of population growth, which at that point was increasing at a rate of 2.1% a year. Since then, the global population has ballooned from 3.5 billion to 7.67 billion.


cdn.odi.org. pdf  1994  More People, Less Erosion  Mary Tiffen, Michael Mortimore, Francis Gichuki

“More People, Less Erosion, is a groundbreaking book, first published in 1994, and is based on a series of studies by ODI and the University of Nairobi on land management in eastern Kenya. The challenges facing sustainable development in Africa are usually framed around the triad of rapid population growth, the intensification of agricultural production, and the maintenance of the natural resource base, including soil, water and forests.  This book, however, demonstraties just how dynamic agricultural change can be in Africa, and draws a very positive picture of the ways in which smallholder farmers adapt to changes in land availability, agricultural output and labour markets, technological options and institutional innovations, and their ability to invest in the agricultural resource base.  pdf here


gm caw 2021  population, demography

CoP 2021 : elephants in the room of the growth debate – global population growth

To many, left right and middle of the political spectrum, population growth is the real issue. Most think of the hockeystick graph and are not aware of the decisive rate of growth graph which looks like a bitcoin peak crashing. Unlike bitcoin, global population is unlikely to shoot up again. To focus on Africa’s crises born birth rates is to miss the downward trajectory of rate which means we are on course for “peak human” at around 10bn, give or take 2. Meaning in most places what’s happening is populatuion decline. Apparently just as big a problem for the Status Quo. A one pony act. All it it can is make money.
ations.

Paying attention to historical evidence has never been the forte of Malthusians typically happy to cherrypick their samples like anecdotal evidence. Today: Global extrapolation from the exceptional African countries where the birth rate hasn’t yet decreased. Headlines such as “Nigerian population to double by 2050” are misread as representative of the “third world”, and, perhaps more to the point, of the white western imagination, conjuring nightmares of being “swamped by floods of negroes”. But migration doesn’t particularly correlate with birt rates. It correlates with shocks, disasters and wars, and with socio-economic factors reflecting the relative (lack of) opportunities in the relevant countries.

Reading up on demographic research: It now looks as if it the human reproduction rate has much less to do with “primitive” moralities or any particular socio cultural “factors” except when they correlate with gender inequality: Women’s relative empowerment seems to reliably correlate with the reproduction rate. More fundamentally, though, humans as potential parents turn out for once to behave rather like homo economicus. Ceterus paribus, children are planned rather like investments. The more insecure and violent the societal context, the more rational to give birth to those extra children you must expect not to survive. Also the more precarious and poor you are, the more likely your kids represent a necessary source of income. The former context is that of violent insecurity, the latter of precarious poverty within Darwinist, “laissez faire” capitalism disrupting traditional arrangements.

These findings feed into the re-interpretation of the European hockey-stick. It wasn’t improvements in hygiene, medicine or living standards, all of which seem to have emerged too late to fit the curve. Nor does it look like a Malthusian response to societal surplus. More likely it was the ruptures of feudal dependencies turning poor but relatively secure peasants into just as poor but precariously insecure workers newly dependent on their children earning money-wages.

population work ...
Victorians investing in children

DeGrowth may not address Malthusian fears. But neither does the GdP-growth of The Status Quo. As you can see from the article collection, the main narrative now is all about the decline in most national populations. If anything, Status Quo ortho-economics considers migration to be the natural solution to birth rate discrepancies, let alone wage discrepancies: because of globalised competition, local wages must not rise but cheaper labour must be imported to suppress local wage rises.   (> H Flassbeck critique of contemporary German “mercantilism”, > B. Milanovic proposing migration as only solution to global inequality)

To think migration is the solution reads like the sort of reality-abstracting naivete you get from academic TINA: People=Labour. What’s the problem?

It’s not the miniscule DeGrowth movement that has fractured the progress of globalisation. Nor the ecological crises. The “Washington Consensus” has done all that by its own hubristic denial and mismanagement of social and ecological “externalities.”

nb historical necessities !?!  Historical determinism used to be the prerogative of deterministically Darwinian evolutionists and dialectically deterministic Marxists but anathema to Liberals. until they found it convenient to rationalise their political preferences as predestined  (>John Gray). As ever one can witness how the main function of a dominant narrative is to rationalise/legitimise status quo practices by reference to allegedly “natural” necessities requiring adaptation.

In the name of historical necessity globalisation became the Holy Script of The Market unfolding as per divine  predestination. Whilst this was happening in refreshingly rewarding ways at home, one had no time for party-poopers pointing to the likely socio-political consequences of relatively impoverishing one’s domestic population by exporting their means of reproduction. When the stagnating, squeezed western cohorts of relative losers began to voice their frustrations it was deemed a deplorable display of xenophobia. Particularly naive was the apparent assumption of the winning cohorts that no one would notice that only yesterday the elites were the leading racists and xenophobes, and possibly remain so privately. After all, one has never had problems with employing foreign labour as (waged or not) slaves. One is benefitting from any additional competition for employment, housing and provisions as that is where one obtains one’s margins and rents. The cynical hypocrisy of liberals benefitting from cheap immigrant service labour whilst denying the detrimental impacts on domestic cohorts was unlikely to escape even the “uneducated”. No calculations of aggregate gains for The Economy cut much ice if, caught between exported jobs and imported labour, I personally experience a relative downgrading. Being told it’s my fault for being dumb, lazy and multi-phobic is a bit rich, given being stupid, workshy and racist has never caused the rich to go poor.