Curious about … Birth rates, and the demographic-economic paradox

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/YsaL

In the last few weeks I’ve heard two very contrasting interpretations of forecast birth rates. Both are largely based on the same facts, however with somewhat contrasting perspectives.

  1. The first interpretation, concerns itself with declining birth rates in the major, ‘developed’ economies, asking the question, if populations aren’t growing sufficiently (and in some cases, like Germany, aren’t even replacing themselves), how will future economic growth expectations be met?
  2. The second interpretation concerns itself with massive recent (ie, over the last 100 years) global population growth, and the potential consequences for earth’s finite resources (water, food, fuel, metals, etc.).

I’ve read around these concepts on the internet and set out, in the remainder of this blog post, some thoughts on what I’ve found, including the demographic-economic paradox,  the demographic transition, sub-replacement fertility rates, and suggestions of the ‘tabu’ of discussing population growth.

ps. The title of this post is made in hommage to The Curiosity Chronicles, a Tumblr blog by Paul Bennett, Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer of IDEO. I encourage you to take a look at his posts, if you’ve not seen them yet.

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