After an exciting Notre Dame football weekend, it was sometimes difficult early on Monday morning to get my students’ attention in economics class. In such a circumstance I would simply ask them the question: “What is the most effective birth control method in the world?” They could hardly believe that a professor at a Catholic school could ask such a question. While they were recovering from their shock, I would tell them the answer: “per capital income.”
Even China and Russia are in danger of losing population. The real economic crisis going forward is a severe shortage of people as the world becomes more affluent. The Japanese are trying to deal with this problem without large-scale immigration by introducing ever more sophisticated robots. Just getting a robot to walk turned out to be quite challenging. It seems unlikely that they will be able to replace highly-skilled people with robots any time soon. Generally, nations that find themselves losing population may want to reconsider their opposition in immigration if they want their economies to sustain basic services such as social security and medicare. People are needed to oversee the production of goods and services and contribute to the payroll tax. Developed nations must accept some significant amount of immigration to avoid sliding backward down the economic ladder.