What’s the Latest Development?
Doomsday predictions about a world with too many mouths to feed, once predicted to reach 11 billion by 2050, are being drastically reevaluated. The shift comes in light of the over 80 countries that have fewer births than required to replace the number of individuals who die each year, including every country in Western Europe, China, Japan, Russia, Poland, and Canada. “Populations forecasts now assume much lower future fertility levels, but even the present consensus that world population will be about 9.5 billion by mid-century may be too high as fertility continues to fall rapidly in poorer countries.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Any claims about the disadvantages of an “overpopulated” world must be weighed against the advantages of large populations, according to Nobel Laureate and University of Chicago professor Gary Becker. “These benefits include a larger number of young persons who, as mentioned earlier, are more likely to innovate, such as coming up with more efficient ways to grow food, and pay for the benefits to retired men and women. A bigger population also increases the demand for new drugs, software, social networking, and other innovations that have increasing returns to the scale of demand.”
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