The demographic challenge – not of rising but of falling population

May 3, 2021 by

by Neil O’Brien, Conservative Home:

[…] And the total growth is only part of the story. Broadly speaking, when the share of the population of working age is increasing, countries get an economic tailwind, which turns into a headwind and slows them down when the share of working age starts falling. On average, and unsurprisingly, countries where the working age share is growing see GDP per head growing faster.

That’s something that we don’t take into account enough when we try and work out which economic policies work.

[…]  After a bump up in the late noughties, the U.K. birth rate here has fallen back over the last couple of years to near record lows – so perhaps some of the same debates will come here as we try to cope with our ageing society. In England, about 29 per cent of births are to mothers born overseas, and higher fertility rates among those born abroad have propped up the birth rate till now – but in recent years the gap has been shrinking.

British people are currently having fewer kids than they say they would like to, and policy can make a difference to how many children people have.  And for many decades policies in the UK have not been particularly child-friendly.  We used to recognise children in the tax system until the 70s.  Perhaps by the time my son has grown up we’ll have gone back to the future.

Some say the ageing of the global population will lead to a “geriatric peace” with less conflict. Others worry about global population decline in the longer term. Though we can’t be sure what impacts all these demographic trends will have, we can see in them a bit of what tomorrow’s world will look like.

Read here

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