The bright side of population declines

I like to look at the bright side of population declines. There are far too many people for Earth’s sustainable carrying capacity. Gradual population decline will benefit all eventually, although the next few decades of declining youth and increasing elders will be difficult.

The Alternative, Optimistic Story of Population Decline, The New York Times, Jan. 30, 2023

There is no doubt that a shrinking global population — a trend expected to set in by the end of this century — poses unprecedented challenges for humanity. China is only the latest and largest major country to join a club that already includes Japan, South Korea, Russia, Italy and others. Germany would most likely be in decline too if not for immigration, and many others could begin shrinking in the years ahead. (The United States is expected to grow moderately in coming decades, largely because of immigration.) Median U.N. projections point to global population peaking in the mid-2080s at more than 10 billion, but if fertility rates continue to drop, the decline could begin decades earlier…

The population declines seen today in some countries have come about largely as a happy story of greater longevity and freedom. Fertility rates worldwide dropped from more than five births per woman in the early 1960s to 2.3 in 2020. Credit greater investment in child and maternal health everywhere: A mother who successfully brings her child to term and an infant who survives to childhood lower birthrates because parents often don’t feel the need to try again. Greater availability of free or affordable contraception has also reduced unwanted births…

Global population will inevitably decline. Rather than trying to reverse that, we need to embrace it and adapt. [end quote]

The investment story of continuous exponential growth indefinitely will eventually reverse.



It is one of the few responsible things China has been doing over the decades.

The rest of us are failing.

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With falling demand side humans and growing supply side robots humanity should become very wealthy provided they figure out what to do with their increasing idle time.

The Captain

The immigration frequencies taken into account confuse me. If a certain percentage of the global population moves from one place to another due to poor living conditions, than that shouldn’t count as a “growth” for their new home country’s overall fertility rate. On a global level, immigration can’t affect fertility rates - or am I missing something here?

Also, unforeseen developments like the Russia-Ukraine conflict may appear at any point in the future, bringing new death tolls and forcing immigration waves. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s very hard to predict these things, but in general, I think the global population will keep on rising though not at the same pace as in the last 50-60 years…

Alas, I’m no expert…

You missed a key point. People have large families in order to have enough children survive to support the parents AND their farm(s). My great-grandparents (say 1865-19xx) had 14 children. Six died as infants and one died as a teenager (no idea why). The last two children were born in the US in the early 1900s. The entire family migrated to the US (1900-ish) and grew up in the US. Much smaller families (2-4 children) due to better health care and so on.


LOL. Over the last 3 1/2 decades, China has grown its population by ONE FULL USA population!!!

Would have been worse and much harder to put into reverse.

Not sure what your point is.

China is a third world nation so population control takes much more of an effort. Children are a retirement plan in the third world.

Now in the first world we are in real terms seeing children as an economic plan as well.

Hmmm. Sort of.



As Picasso said of his portrait of Gertrude Stein that is how she will look when told she does not look that way.

China was a third world country and in the country side still is a third world country and now will return to being a third world country. Thank the management. Less than two years ago the raw power was envied. You still envying China’s authority? This is the muddy peak of her powers.

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Ummm, I’m thinking reliable birth control, or lack thereof, might have been a small factor, too.

You can take the man out of Planned Parenthood but you can’t take the Planned Parenthood out of the man.

Do you know what Planned Parenthood CFOs use for birth control?

Their personality.


Not really. Agriculture-based societies (and counties and states) tend to be poor because they have no way to accrue significant amounts of assets in order to become wealthy. Especially true when the leadership steals large amounts of money and other assets for their personal use (i.e. when they get forced out of power).

Given an ag-based economy, the only way the small farm owners can protect their future is by having lots of children. Poor country = lack of mass healthcare, education, and more. This is common knowledge and has been seen worldwide.


Yep. On the farm you need free labor. In the city it is another mouth to feed and house.

Get rid of all those “big gummit” mandatory school and child labor laws, and urban kids become a revenue source for their parents.

Steve…wonders how close to reality Walt’s reminiscing about his childhood in “Saving Mr Banks” was

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Humanity isn’t very good at that.