POPULATION GROWTH OR SLOWDOWN?
February 11th, 2019
After spending a good portion of your week in traffic or a crowded subway car, you would be forgiven for thinking, “There are too many people.”
And There’s Going to Be a Lot More
—The UN forecasts that global population will climb from 7.5 billion people today to 9 billion by 2050. It will then soar to 11 billion by 2100. The enormous population spike spells challenges for how to house, feed and employ all these additional people, as climate pressures demand we reduce emissions and automation threatens to put more people out of work.
—But is continued population growth inevitable? In the new book Empty Planet, journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker predict that in about three decades the global population will start to decline. Their argument, grounded in the same social and cultural factors slowing down birth rates in developed countries, is that greater education for women across the globe will empower more to work, and lead them to have children later in life and fewer of them.
The Must-Have Conversation
With the demands humans already place on the planet, the population growth slowdown could constitute a welcome reprieve. But it will also have enormous cultural and economic ramifications. By 2050, the number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double to 2.1 billion. If birth rates do slow down, as Ibbitson and Bricker forecast, who will come along to take the seniors’ jobs as they retire? Who will fund the healthcare and social services that will need to be funded through their taxes? And who will care for our growing elderly?
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