The following LTE was printed in the NY Times on Dec. 25th, 2012:
I have never been able to understand the depth of concern about declining population. I suspect that it is an ancient tribal fear of extinction. The unstated assumption seems to be that a period of population decline cannot be reversed and inevitably leads to no population. It seems more likely that any country (and particularly Japan, with limited arable land and no oil) would have better long-term survival prospects with a stable, lower population.
There would be nothing horrible about a Japan of 50 or 60 million people instead of the 127 million now there. In fact, there would be twice as much space and twice as many resources for each. The issue is how to manage the transition, which would probably involve improving the efficiency of care for older citizens. (Yes, this might involve more of them moving to cities.) Any country that manages to reduce its population without coercion is to be admired.
Seattle, Dec. 17, 2012
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