Procreation does not result in wealth creation

August 30, 2008 • News

Thanks to John Tanton for this article by Victor Mallet, the Asian Editor for the Financial Times out of Hong Kong.

This time last year I wrote a column to celebrate the decline of the Japanese population. I wanted to debunk the idea that countries with falling numbers of inhabitants were heading inexorably towards social and fiscal disaster or even extinction.

A year on, there are encouraging signs of a change in attitudes. In particular, economists are increasingly challenging the myth that population growth is essential for economic growth. There have, of course, been setbacks on the road to common sense. Jim Rogers, who founded the Quantum fund with George Soros, continues to question the wisdom of long-term investment in Japan because ‘there will be no Japanese’ if the current low birth-rate is maintained – a very big ‘if’. International Monetary Fund economists and Indian government ministers persist in using the awful phrase ‘demographic dividend’ to describe the alleged economic benefits of hundreds of millions of young people entering the workforce, even though these people are just as likely to be a social and fiscal burden in increasingly capital-intensive economies such as India.

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