October 31, 2011

JOEL KOTKIN: Overpopulation Isn’t The Problem: It’s Too Few Babies. “For the next generation of Chinese leaders, Deng Xiaoping’s rightful concern about overpopulation at the end of the Mao era will shift into a future of eldercare costs, shrinking domestic markets and labor shortages. This scenario is already a reality in Japan and much of the European continent, including Greece, Spain, Portugal, much of Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Germany. Adults over the age of 65 make up more than 20% of these countries’ populations — compared with 15% in the U.S. — and their numbers could double by 2030, according to researchers Emma Chen and Wendell Cox. In many of these countries, rising debt burdens and shrinking labor markets have already slowed economic growth and suppressed any hope for a major long-term turnaround. The same will happen to even the best-run European economies, just as it has in Japan, whose decades-long growth spurt ended as its workforce began to shrink.”