Since the invention of birth control and antibiotics, country after country has gone through a fairly standard shift. First, the mortality rate drops, especially among the young and the aging, and that quickly translates into a bigger workforce. Then, birthrates drop, as families realize that they no longer need to birth a basketball team to ensure that a couple members will survive to adulthood. A falling birthrate means that parents can invest more in each child; with fewer mouths to feed, more and better food can nourish each of them, and children can spend more years in school, causing worker productivity to rise from one generation to the next. As the burden of bearing and rearing children lightens, mothers can do more work outside the home, boosting both household resources and the national economy.Yes, economic growth would help right now, and yes they (and we) may have set up programs that were destined to lead to the collapse by assuring a shrinking population, but the answer isn't tweaking society to implement more Keynesian multiplication. We simply can't keep growing at the rates we've been growing at. Those rates are artificial. It will collapse. All bubbles pop. Remember the logistic growth curve of bacteria, weeds, and government regulations:
But the dividend does not last forever. Eventually, the baby bulge reaches retirement age, the labor force stops growing, and older workers start spending their savings, depleting the nation’s supply of capital. The virtuous cycle turns vicious. This is what is happening right now in much of southern Europe.
As one of the commenters said,
"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." - Dr. Alan Bartlett
Observant readers may note that I've added two new pages to my list of permanent pages in the right column. First, a permalink to my article where I demonstrate by using the global warming advocates' own data that you could shutter the US, drive us back to the stone age, and not affect the temperature in any measurable way. I had this discussion with an Obamanoid this week and it occurred to me it was worth the permalink. Second, I've added a repository for the "The Least You Should Know" series, which I'm planning to get back to. Real. Soon. Now.