FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Population Sink

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, "population explosion" was a key buzzphrase. The fear was that the world's population would continue to grow exponentially, increasing competition for natural resources and stress on the environment.

More recent data, however, shows that the rate of population growth has fallen dramatically in the last few decades, and that the world's population will actually begin to shrink. One study has found that the world's population will likely peak at around 9 billion by 2070, and then contract. The UN Population Division forecasts global birthrates falling below replacement levels as early as 2045. Developed countries are leading this trend through secularization and more women working outside the home.

Demographers and futurists see many ramifications in this overarching trend, including:

  • Stress and even collapse of pension and social security systems, as well as the overall tax structure

  • Changes in migration patterns as underpopulated countries work to recruit immigrants to replenish their labor supply; such migration will lead to inevitable cultural shifts and cross-pollination

  • Unrest and militancy among youth populations, especially in poor regions where the population continues to grow

  • A growing reliance on robotics to provide labor

  • New government policies that encourage couples to have children

  • Wage inflation as labor becomes an increasingly scarce commodity

  • Economic shifts as demand decreases for some products and services

  • A global backlash against birth control

RELATED: In a move to encourage more births, France is offering subsidies and tax credits to families with three or more children.

Source: Emerging Issues in Philanthropy