Countries Will Not Just Accept Depopulation

The Lancet has a research paper that predicts the world population will peak in 2064 at 9.7 billion and then start a sharp decline. The researchers expect countries like China to see its population drop nearly in half to 732 million in 2100 from 1.4 billion today.

The researchers address the efforts to increase birthrates in Singapore as unsuccessful. They observe that a global population decline means that increasing immigration will be ineffective. However, they do not consider how extreme measures will become when countries and leaders are confronted with prolonged massive de-population.

The researchers did not look hard enough at the complete policy toolbox to increase birthrates.

Spain, Russia and Japan have been combating population declines and low birth rates for decades. The main tools have been increased immigration and subsidies for having children of up to $10,000 each. These have only had moderate success in temporarily increasing fertility rates by 20%.

The researchers noted the power of mass contraception adoption. They noted that if contraception was adopted on a mass scale in Africa the population in Africa would peak out at 3 billion instead of increasing to 5 billion by 2100. However, there are more extreme pro-birth policies that have been used in the past. In the 1950s and 1960s in Spain under Franco, there was a ban on contraception. Authoritarian control can ban the usage and availability of contraception.

The researchers do not consider that newer technology like invitro-fertilization could be massively increased and even forced onto the population.

Would Xi Jinping choose to have China with one-third of its current population by 2100 or would he choose at future times to a variety and mix of powerful policies?
* mandate a minimum family size of 2 or more
* ban contraception
* Recruit an army of twenty-million or more baby producers. Women who get embryo selected implantations. Embryos genetically screened for intelligence and other characteristics. Women who would have one child per year for twenty years until retirement. This would ensure 20 million new babies each year and they would be guaranteed to have superior genetics.

Or is the researcher’s scenario more likely? China has its population drop in half by 2100 and be on track for one quarter or less by 2200. China would accept having less economic size and power just because the overall population did not want children or only one child. Xi Jinping would accept a result he did not want because he would let the population choose options he did not agree with?

They are predicting China’s leadership accepting 100 million person declines in population every decade from 2030 to 2100 and not doing anything stronger than some baby bonus payments.

China had a historical population decline around 1840-1870. There can be decades of negative or low population growth and then things change in the country and it turns around.

SOURCES- Time, Lancet
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com (note: link fixed from two hours ago. Apologies for the cutoff article)

77 thoughts on “Countries Will Not Just Accept Depopulation”

  1. Yes it would be interesting to see the effects of rejuvenation on the mind of older people. But most of us older people, even when we are generally happy and fairly complacent aren’t really interested in living to a certain age. I would still like to see my grandson grow to young adulthood, and learn of new discoveries and interesting feats, but not at the cost of great physical and mental deterioration. If I wake up on the other side tomorrow morning, whatever that means, so what.

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  2. The State would also have to pay parental substitutes, food, clothing,
    housing, education, medical care. Same money spent on subsidies
    would probably obtain better results.

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  3. Army of voluntary baby producers (handsomely paid) + highest IQ embryo selection is good idea in my opinion, also for the West

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  4. “The modern world has undermined community,”

    You spelled ‘left wing policies’ wrong. It is policies pushed on the left resulting in this dilemma, and there are multiple facets of this push. From economics to civil rights, propagandists on the left push solutions to problems that invariably undermine the family, and when given alternative solutions, the left rejects them outright… “Dead on arrival,” as the democrats in the US are prone to say about any policy they don’t like.

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  5. That’s basically also been the Japanese approach, though they’ve been nicer about it. There’s a conspicuous difference between the Japanese GDP and GNR.

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  6. Interspecies hybrids from many species are quite fertile – see the ligar, for example.

    And intraspecies hybrids are generally more sickly than non-hybrids – with the exception of non-hybrid lines bred for one characteristic at the expense of everything else; the two haves of the hybrids’ heritage rarely mix optimally.

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  7. Wow! I read that wrong. “preferable child bearing male”…though it does solve that problem…pairing up the leftover males 😉

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  8. I always think that this issue might be somewhat resolved by older men having built up some financial (and emotional) stability and so having more success marrying younger women.

    Leaves younger males out of luck for a while, but gives them a path toward eventual relationship success.

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  9. At this point, yes. Most countries haven’t run out of workers yet, they are concerned about a future situation,.

    If the wages for young workers haven’t started to shoot up yet, then we still have time.

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  10. Why would there be nowhere for immigrants to come from?

    Just because the population of country A is decreasing, that is no reason than lots of their population can’t move to country B. Just look at Ireland in the 19th century.

    Only if country A is completely empty can there be no more migrants from there. And that is still a long, long way away for any country.

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  11. Immigration will not work because, in this scenario, the whole world will be below replacement, so there will be nowhere for the immigrants to come from.

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  12. I think my investment portfolio for the next few years will consist of precious metals, buried in the back yard … metaphorically.

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  13. A lot of the ‘problems’ are for investors (who may see their wealth shrink as there are fewer in the high-consumption age brackets to keep companies growing fast) and those who live off of tax revenues (which may also shrink, e.g. social security payroll taxes).

    Increasing the number of old and retired people doeesn’t solve those ‘problems’, at least not until people are forced to work longer.

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  14. It doesn’t work that well for authoritarian states, because the smart ambitious immigrants don’t want to move there.
    Though if you are next door to an even worse state you could sustain it for a little while (China vs North Korea for eg.)

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  15. Surely you would short companies that have mostly smart customers?
    And you need a broker who will let you short over 30 years with no intervening margin calls.

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  16. Government programs to increase birth rates aren’t going to work well. Effective measures (e.g build lots of larger housing, subsidize single-earner families or childcare services) would be too expensive. That runs directly against the reason why people get crowded into cities in the first place – to reduce the cost of producing and providing goods and services.

    Of course, young people in diminished cohort sizes should find themselves getting better and better paid – fewer workers, but the older and larger cohorts of retirees still need goods and services. That will help some, eventually.

    And as population falls housing demand falls and housing prices should also fall, which could enable larger homes and so larger families again. One risk is that older housing would go vacant and fall apart, leaving less housing. Government policies could aim to insure that older and vacant housing gets renovated with larger units or converted into paired “mother daughter” apartments, so grandparents can move in and provide childcare.

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  17. It would temporary solve the problem, once everyone’s life has been expanded we’re back to the same death rate.

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  18. I would contend that it’s an antiquated idea that smaller populations are needed. Especially if you view science and technology innovation as a function of the population size.

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  19. This is a great post by Brian, albeit very dark. Important to remember that totalitarian countries like China have access to policy levers that liberal countries do not. China may solve the depopulation problem in the same way as “Blade Runner”–factory mass production of human laborers. What would a country filled with people born on an assembly line, deprived of family and human warmth be like?

    Of course, most Chinese people *want* to have children. The modern world has undermined community, faiths, and extended-family connections, and left people riddled with consumerist addictions. Under these conditions, people will not reproduce. Instead of factory production of human beings, the best solution is to fix underlying social problems. But doing this is hard, requires thoughtfulness and insight.

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  20. An obvious both hotfix and long term solution with few downsides, for one if people live longer they think more long term.
    Yes you get the issue with the previous generation being an blocker but don’t know how much this is true anymore as most has to learn new skills trough their life

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  21. Immigration work but it has some requirements, first you want workers with relevant skills.
    You also want to avoid importing lots of problems from identity politic to much worse stuff.
    Western Europe is pretty happy getting people from East Europe for one but East Europe also has population problems.

    This probably works best for authoritarian states as they can just suppress lots of the nonsense however they are both fragile and very racist.

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  22. Its an good reason for this, if you are an poor farmer, kids are cheap labor.
    Kids are also not an massive burden living in an slum.
    However becoming middle class with the expected standard of living they get very expensive.
    Making conscription illegal or other stupid stuff and you get lots of teenage moms and and other weak groups getting lots of kids with the middle class just buy contraband on the black marked.
    Not university quality kids but you could probably make decent soldiers if starting early.

    Interesting then you get serous rich kids become an minor budget cost again.
    But is not an short term solution 🙂

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  23. Why import people from Africa if you can just own their companies and profit from their output? That seems to be the path that China is taking – investing in Africa. At first to secure resources and infrastructure, but does anyone think they will stop there?

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  24. Africa is producing plenty of prime immigrants for China to exploit. The problem with migration is that it goes both ways. Where would most well off Chinese go if they had a choice?

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  25. So, if I wanted to apply this to the stock market I would short companies with a lot of smart people? What could possibly go wrong?

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  26. The only “good” thing required to dramatically reduce populations is Prosperity! Everywhere; where prosperity has increased – populations decrease. This is the best way and the only way to reduce populations that doesn’t require Tyranny – and is pleasing to God.

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  27. The Children of the Army would be smart and poor. Better to select them
    for sexual attractiveness also in order to give them at least the hope of
    a Love Story.

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  28. I’m seeing news headlines on anti-aging everyday, many on this very site.
    All you need is to extend lifespans by 15 years and BOOM reverse problem : overpopulation
    With 50 years of increasing technology, extending lifespan by 15 years of seems like a MINIMUM.

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  29. Are they even considering extended life? People living up to their 150s and before reaching there life extensions making people reach their 200s… 500s?

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  30. The solution to population decline is less global competition,,,, the low birth rate countries are Always on the brink of bankruptcy and over working because they can’t compete with lower labor costs in other countries… therefore no job security or benefits like health or retirement etc… home ownership always under attack because they can’t raise wages to keep up with increasing house prices due to global completion pulling down wages,,all things that reduce birth rate because of unstable family raising environment.,.. It used to be easy for American to afford a house Because global completion was low,,.and jobs were secure,,,

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  31. The US / UK / Germany / Italy are already headed to negative birth rates.

    The irony will be that these countries will NEED to keep immigration going to keep the pension system from imploding. See they don’t talk about why they need mass immigrants in the first place ever (boomer pensions). There will then be a boomer civil war between those on public pensions and private 401ks (the public assets will be allowed to go bust, but the 401k won’t.)

    This will trigger the largest generational warfare you’ve ever seen as the boomers fight with one another over the very last of the west’s resources leaving nothing for future generations.

    This will then cause young people to start fleeing these countries, the response from boomer governments will be prison / lockdown / apartheid tactics. This is ALREADY happening in most of the US and UK, boomers have no answers besides PRISONS.

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  32. This may be what the world needs to push through artificial wombs, cloning, gene editing. Once we have a need to mass produce humans (or a new sentient subspecies), we’ll want the best we can make for the job. No need to draft or even recruit soldiers, if the military can grow their own. We could have all the front line healthcare workers we need.

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  33. Yeah, I think the key here is that Brian is describing what he thinks will happen, not endorsing what he thinks should happen.

    And a government which is willing to forcibly remove fetuses from wombs is realistically capable of forcibly putting embryos into wombs, whether the rest of the world thinks it’s tyrannically gross or not.

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  34. I had to look it up, but I like how the movie reference suggested both the possibilities of expanding into space and also VR as options once the Earth is getting too full. Both are perfectly valid real estate options in the post 2100 time frame.

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  35. Antiquated idea that the world would *need* a large and growing human population for prosperity.
    While we will most likely be able to feed 10 – 12 billion people, or even more, the world does not *need* them:
    As has been shown overwhelmingly in modern history up to the present, human prosperity primarily depends on science and technology, and the right govt. policies to create a favorable environment for those.

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  36. I am not sure why you say that immigration will not work. Sounds to me as though countries will have more demand for immigration. This should lead to more choice and better offers for the immigrants, with countries competing to obtain them. It may not increase the population on the planet, but may make it a nicer place to live in for many especially high skilled people.
    Also, aren’t religious groups breeding more vs the rest of the populations they live within? I think I remember reading about that a while ago.

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  37. They observe that a global population decline means that increasing immigration will be ineffective.

    That doesn’t follow. Global decline means that immigration can’t work for every country. But it can certainly work for the rich and advanced countries where
    1.. the problem will first appear (has first appeared in some cases)
    2.. have the resources to adopt any of the other solutions. So all such solutions will be compared to immigration.
    3.. anyone cares

    The real issue with immigration, carefully avoided by the authors, is incompatibility. Japan will not import a million South Sudanese to prop up their work force, and if they tried they would find the new workers could not build a Lexus to spec.

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  38. Reality has tyranny. China right now has some tyranny. Xi Jinping is authoritarian which is a softer way of describing tyranny. BTW. the one child policy was tyranny

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  39. You are looking at a pre-selected sample, the rich entertainers. Drexler was describing a place where the normal jobs would be gone to automation, as elmaughan sez. The average entertainer makes less than most workers. There are different economies for things that can be easily reproduced, another signal reception by a TV, and actual product, such as a printing job. The entertainment economy allows great concentration into a few suppliers.

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  40. If that was true then the rich and famous leaders of our culture would be movie and pop music stars, and the president would be a reality TV show host.

    So Drexler predicted that things would remain exactly the same?

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  41. If I remember correctly, K. Erik Drexler predicted that inhabitants of O’Neill Settlements would be most rewarded for their ability to entertain.

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  42. Decades of the one child policy is now catching up plus the preferable child being male and now a huge imbalance of available mates to procreate and fill in the older population about to retire.

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  43. Epigenetics covers both developmental and environmental(nurture) gene expression control. The develpmental controls have been long assumed, but the related nurture controls have only been proven in the last few decades. Don’t rule anything out when these are better understood.

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  44. It is a stretch to call *racial* interbreeding hybridization, as we are too closely related for that definition as usually applied. But still an advantage, esp w/ the pockets of rare genes buried in deepest Africa. Diversity is success!

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  45. I am not convinced that the traditional motivations for family size will affect the G20 countries at 2050: – access to birth control, – mother working/ not working, – poverty, – cultural/ religious pressures, government programs/ penalties, etc. The people will make choices based on how easy it is to raise the ‘ideal family’ – so 1 – 3 kids in a house with nearby services – which will be easier as small towns/ suburbs/ exurbs all provide better opportunity without extreme commutes; the age of child-rearing being always expanding with fertility improving, so higher success at 35 – 45++, so generations wider; — so children at faster than traditional replacement rate – 2.5. At the middle and far end, Better healthcare, access to longevity treatments, healthy/ active life interest will mean 5- 10 -15+ years increase in health-span/ life-span, so 4.7B now increases by 1.5%+/yr to 7.5B at 2050; but longevity afterward increasing 20 – 30+yrs in 10-20% of pop (wealthies) mean 2%-/yr to 2100, so that 12+B then. Below the G20, populations will still soar then crash until 2050 when ‘smart families’ follow G20 values prior to 2050. So, world 2050 populations of 10 – 13B? What can the world support by 2100 – 25% urbanization of useable land at 25% of 30M sq.m = 8M sq.miles at moderate densities of 1000 – 5000 per sq.mi, is way over 20++B people, so we’re good for 20B at 2100. Past that? Movie: Cargo (2009)?

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  46. Is this a problem? We’re at the beginning of the age where the labors of the poorly educated masses will become increasingly unnecessary and even their presence unwelcome. Intelligent people simply do not breed at the same rate as their poorly educated counterparts, it’s a lifestyle choice where children are no longer an economic device.

    The researchers do not consider that newer technology like invitro-fertilization could be massively increased and even forced onto the population

    I don’t want to appear paranoid, but that comes across a little like tyranny.

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  47. That’s due to prudence. Don’t count your chicks before they hatch,as the saying goes.

    It is far from certain that we will see significant increases in average lifespan.

    So far we are adding a few years per decade, due to improvements in medicine reducing the deaths by old age diseases. But we are not getting any younger, just better healthcare.

    Following that trend, we will reach a point where we will cease seeing any further gains, because we simply would be hitting the hard human life span limits. If that limit is above or close to 100 years is pending to be seen.

    What would be interesting to watch, are treatments that do rejuvenate the body, in whatever indicator of old age we measure. But if these rejuvenation treatments will have any significant impact on not on average lifespan, is as I said, pending to be seen.

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  48. Yes, but nobody ever told them, that must be why they seem to be doing OK all over the world and multiplying happily.

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  49. Sorry had a broken link that was cutting off most of the article. I could not fix it until I came back from a meeting

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  50. Brian, you really should expand your thought process in this article. The final paragraph is a link to a Time article which you imply contains a policy tool which has not been tried, so I held my breath and went there to read it. Predictably, it had the usual “white man bad” and “only Nazis are worried about depopulation”, while noting that subsidising babies has not worked in the past and might have a very slight chance of arresting the worsening in a specific case in Hungary, where the minister in charge is called a “racist” by an UN commissioner.

    What exactly are those tools that have not been used and that could be used in a democratic country? Of course some governments could mandatorily fertilise civilian women and force them to raise children in order to improve birth rates, but it would take a special kind of autocratic Orwellian hellhole to actually implement this kind of policy. So what is the policy we are missing?

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  51. Depopulation will not hurt nations in the future. Human capitol will be replaced by automation. Most people will become “non essential”.

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  52. Interspecies hybrids are sterile (sort of by definition), but intraspecies (say, hybrid-breed dogs or cats) are generally healthier than those with pedigreed lines, which is what Dan is referring to.

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  53. But in your 2012 yearly prediction you have announced that by then we will live to be 150 y.o, so we are not worried. At worst we can resort to a Chinese style solution of IFV procuction line. Women will be paid to bring unhealthy and handicapped IFV babies to the world to be raised mostly by robots at giant factor;oires. The have already perfected the industry of Organ harvesting. The are the best at industrializing all aspects of humanity, they are not going to disappoint, they will work out the solution to save the human race.

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  54. The Time article brings in racial *numbers competition* added to normal considerations. The health of a species can be judged by its diversity, primarily. Humans are quite inbred, despite our large numbers, and we have no close species to hybridize with. So, don’t fight other races, have children with them. All will benefit, esp the offspring, who will have “hybrid vigor”.

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