The Population Problem | Vital Football

The Population Problem

BodyButter

Vital Football Legend
#1
As of 2018, the UK fertility rate was 1.8 births per woman. Japan set the record with 1.44 BPW. Even developing countries like Malaysia are seeing falling birth rates. Malaysia now has a birth rate of 1.8, the 4th lowest in South-East Asia. The birth rate to sustain a population is 2.1. The vast majority of countries around the world are facing declining populations and aren't prepared to deal with the consequences.

China famously had the one child policy which they abandoned for the two child policy in 2015 and are now talking about abandoning that.

Is population decline a good thing? Fewer people, less traffic, more for me? Well, maybe not. There are two issues, GDP and pensions. Gross Domestic Product is one of the key measures of an economy. It's the total of all of the goods and services produced by an economy. It has a big effect on government debt and interest rates. National debt is always compared to GDP to assess the health of a government's borrowing. Increasing debt to GDP means higher interest rates. An easy way to boost GDP is to have more people producing stuff in an economy (probably through immigration). The reverse is also true. A falling population would result in less stuff being produced overall and falling GDP. If government debt is static but GDP is falling, interest rates will go up and your mortgage will cost more.

The other big, big factor is pensions. Under the UK system, workers pay in to support the retired population. That works brilliantly if the working population is growing and growing and the elderly don't live that long after retirement age. With advances in medicine, the elderly are living longer and longer and with a shrinking population, there will be ever fewer people supporting a growing population on retirement benefits. Obviously, this situation is unsustainable meaning vastly reduced pension benefits or massive tax increases on the 'squeezed middle' to prop up the system.

The easy solution is to import workers to maintain a balance but that is going to prove much harder to do as other countries face their own population shortages. China's birth rate is 1.63, Brazil's is 1.73, both well below the 2.1 require to sustain a population. The only region of the world with high birth rates is Sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria's 5.5 may be the envy of many countries but it too is falling. Ethiopia's 4.2 is down from 7.2 in 1986. All of the graphs are curving downwards.

So should a falling global population be celebrated? Possibly, it will have a dramatic effect on climate change. It will also effect property prices, demand for land, food and consumer goods. Still, the pension and GDP problems are serious ones which should be prepared for. Is a mature debate about serious issues possible in the current climate?
 
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BodyButter

Vital Football Legend
#3
No, and that's the biggest problem.
My fear is that the politicians are so scared of older voters that they will bury these problems until it's too late.

We've seen the results of the cack-handed immigration policy already. They have been allowing hundreds of thousands of non-nationals into the EU but dare not say why. At best it's justified as some kind of charity. We need the politicians to stand up and say that we need immigrants or else your mortgage will go up, house price drop and taxes rise.
 

Stephen Jay Hawkings

Vital Champions League
#4
My fear is that the politicians are so scared of older voters that they will bury these problems until it's too late.

We've seen the results of the cack-handed immigration policy already. They have been allowing hundreds of thousands of non-nationals into the EU but dare not say why. At best it's justified as some kind of charity. We need the politicians to stand up and say that we need immigrants or else your mortgage will go up, house price drop and taxes rise.
Yeah, that and some kind of long term plan for such strategies. There's a lot of grown up talk to be had about a lot of things, but the current climate is too reactionary and childish.
 

The Fear

A Wise Man (once sat next to him)
#7
If we are honest, we are a horrible plague on this planet, as a species, so personally I'd see it as a good thing if we slow down the rate that we suck the life out of Earth.

Half the world population would probably make this planet a far better place for all species to live.
 

BodyButter

Vital Football Legend
#8
I see Romania, Greece and a lot of Eastern Europe are suffering from population decline already. The birth rate in Greece is 1.35, lower than Japan or China. Romania is expanding its work permit programme to bring in more workers from India, Vietnam and Nepal to fill the hole.

In Greece, a lot of schools have been closed in the last decade not because of austerity but there are so few children to teach. The children that are in school often have a large proportion of Syrian refugees.
 

BodyButter

Vital Football Legend
#10
The silicon valley AI guys have been going after driverless vehicles pretty hard over the past few years. Volvo and Tesla have some very impressive self-driving features. Still, they are very far from completely self-driving vehicles.

The noise about the arrival of self-driving technology has been about how many jobs will be lost and how to deal with all of the unemployment created. That doesn't appear to be the case now give the declining population. The question is whether self-driving technology will arrive in time to free up those workers for other sectors of the economy.

Unless AI and technological developments can come on board fast enough to compensate of the declining population, we are likely to see rising wages.

We are also going to see public campaigns to promote having more children which will be ineffective.

It's also going to concentrate populations into urban areas and see smaller cities and towns become abandoned. It may also see less arable farm land rewilded as it becomes economically unviable. If you are looking for a bargain rural retreat, 2050 could be your year.
 

BodyButter

Vital Football Legend
#11
Maybe GDP per Capita is a better measure? Or even something less tangible like happiness?
GDP is kind of a bullshit measure anyway. We all know that counting the value of everything produced in a country is impossible and adding in things like house price rises just pads the figures. The issue around GDP is the national debt and the reduced ability to service it under a declining population.
 
#13
GDP is kind of a bullshit measure anyway. We all know that counting the value of everything produced in a country is impossible and adding in things like house price rises just pads the figures. The issue around GDP is the national debt and the reduced ability to service it under a declining population.
This debt problem is ridiculous. Which generation is going to have to try and fix it? How much hardship is that going to create?

I'm no Socialist, but the current system has too many flaws.
 

BodyButter

Vital Football Legend
#17
You should probably consider selling your investments in Brazilian beef production. Apparently, they have the highest production costs in the world and New Zealand has the lowest. Thankfully, all that jungle that they have been burning will be reclaimed by the jungle soon enough.
 

BodyButter

Vital Football Legend
#19
Honestly, it's the only solution I can think of!!!!! How does that end?
I don't know what leverage banks have over countries. Argentina seems to be able to default without any consequences.

If a country defaulted on all of its debts and then ran a small budget surplus every year (didn't ever go back to the markets looking for money), I can't see any consequences.
 

Cheshire Villan

Vital 1st Team Regular
#20
We need a global stop! Politics and business models are generally no longer fit for purpose. GDP growth year on year is not sustainable for the planet. In fact we’ve probably gone past that point. Easy to say, less easy to fix.