How much of our prosperity is driven by innovation, hard work, productivity, yada, yada, yada, and how much is simple demographics?

The Long Now is an organization that encourages long-term thinking. The have free seminars about long-term perspectives. I just finished listening to The Depopulation Problem. The author talks through many economic and social issues, all related to fertility rates and the aging population.

The speaker makes some fairly eye-opening observations. For example, demographically, religious fundamentalists tend to have larger families. Does that mean the population of 2050 will be more fundamentalist than we are now? He extrapolates to some pretty outrageous scenarios, but the basic issue is worth a listen. As fertility rates drop and lifespans lengthen, there are more and more old people for every productive young person. So at the end of the day (or the lifetime), the working population has to work longer and harder just to support the old people, leaving a lower standard of living for the middle classes.

Give a listen. It’s an important issue and, by definition, it will become an issue during our lifetimes.

Long-term Thinking: The Depopulation Problem

read time: 1 min