Half the babies; same productivity

I hope no one is seriously making the argument disfigured/retarded babies are better than no fewer babies, and if birthrates are slightly low abortion is therefore harmful. Half the babies doesn’t mean half the productivity as I’ll explain later.

Low birth rates aren’t a major issue yet when you look at how low the population of the Earth was historically. That and we can either take the smartest from 3rd world via the brain drain, or provide better benefits like long maternity leave and taxes to encourage mothers. We could literally make a government campaign with propaganda to have more kids if we believed in racial purity; the propaganda works well for wars.

As for the inverted population pyramid problem, manage the economics of a slight decline in the growth rate and well-fare benefits that were not sufficiently saved for, or just bring in immigrants. You can hire more nurses and caretakers on visas and accept that machinery and education is now more important than labor for your economy.

If I recall there is an economic principle that says that in every generation the standard of living doubles. I.e. In around 20-35 years your kids will be able to afford twice as much as you can today, and your grandchildren will have four times the standard of living you have today. (If anyone remembers the name of this concept enlighten me.)

This is largely due to the accumulation of capital (including financial.)
A lot of the factories built 20 years ago will still be there, but we will even more new ones.
But another part is you have better technology that improves the standard of living tremendously – you don’t need to hire people like your grandparents to do the same trivial manufacturing machines do today.

Where am I going with this? Even if the birthrate to death-rate ratio falls to about 1:2 (with migration not a factor), if productivity doubles over the same period it is not a real concern since the standard of living remains the same. The only reason it is a concern is people are stuck in these nationalistic mindsets; the us vs them competitive mentality drives us because we think our productivity and gdp growth must not lag behind the rival team or evil empire lest we feel inferior, because we are somehow “losing the game.”

Need I add that regardless of stagnant productivity, you will continue to accumulate non-tangibles in art, science, history; there will be new schools to replace the decrepit ones, less crowded parks – all while the deforested forests recover and turn into old-growth groves? Plus this is an extreme, and it is more likely that the population will eventually rebound, or that the birthrate will not fall enough to prevent a modest increase in gdp growth. The third link you provided matches my sentiments nicely here.


China’s high birthrate did not do much for them under Mao Zedong because they did not have the entrepreneurship, tech, or capital to to use labor efficiently. In the oldest economic models high population growth historically diluted wealth, because where a productive field could feed one man, now it had to feed 4 less nourished sons. Resources were believed to be finite when the modern pace of technological development and industrialization weren’t seriously considered as factors.

Your unsustainable high standard is currently supported by the inert equivalent of mechanical slavery, provided by burning a finite supply of fossil fuels.If we can not develop enough sustainable energy, it might be useful to restrict our development before the fossil fuels bubble pops, until we have better technology and mindfulness to more efficiently exploit its consumption. Think of slower growth as conservation of Earth’s finite resources.

I do have a problem with the rational of some arguments in the third article though. A higher birth rate does not mean Japanese kids are magically going to return to the countryside and reverse the urbanization/centralization trend in Japan. Kids are leaving because farming is boring, old hick neighbors are boring, and the city is more fun and exciting. More kids just means more kids going to the cities and making the overcrowding worse. (The solution for that is probably for the government to encourage decentralization, partly by making cities other than the Tokyo metropolitan area seem like respectable world-class places to live.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s