Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Shrinking Population

Last week, Slate published an article about how the world population's increase may be slowing down. (If you know me on Facebook or Twitter, you've already seen this.)

So, this week it's not so much a "what if?". Imagine a world in which the population is shrinking, not by any nefarious plot or natural disaster but by ordinary human forces. What would that look like?

What would happen to our schools? Our institutions? Might this be a good thing? What unforeseen problems might occur? (Although, "unforeseen" means connotes things that we wouldn't expect.)


  1. To answer this with tactless humor, Daniel Tosh joked in his stand up comedy routine with a what if question (what if no one had any kids--then we could party and use all the natural resources).

    But to answer it seriously, a negative population growth can be very problematic indeed. It would impact the economy as a large glut of older folks would be unsustainable by a small group of working young. I'm sure that would cascade into all kinds of other situations that are unpleasant to contemplate.

  2. Hmm, interesting. There are some places (in Europe, I think) where there is negative population growth, a mix of emigration and couples having only one child. Like Michael says, the younger generations don't have enough people to support the older ones. In a world like that, you'd think there would be more resources for people, but there's less because so many places have a service based economy and there's less people to do said services.


I appreciate your comments.

I respond to comments via email, unless your profile email is not enabled. Then, I'll reply in the comment thread. Eventually. Probably.