Extreme Aging

Japan now has over 70,000 people who are more than 100 years old.

That stunning fact comes from Extreme Economies, an interesting new book by Richard Davies. Davies looks at extreme economies around the world such as extreme failure (Darien, Kinshasa, Glasgow), extreme resilience (Aceh, Angola Prison, LA), extreme inequality (Santiago) and in the case of Japan (Akita), extreme aging.

Japan’s aging is unprecedented and is having effects throughout the economy and society:

In 1975 social security and healthcare spending commanded 22 percent of the country’s tax revenues; by 2017 the figure, driven up by elderly care and pensions, had risen to 55 percent. By the early 2020s the figure is set to hit 60 percent. To look at it in another way, every other public service in Japan — education, transport, infrastructure, defense, the environment, the arts–could rely on almost 80 percent of tax revenue in 1975, but the increase in elderly-related spending means that only 40 percent is left for other national public expenditures. In budgetary terms, ageing is eating Japan.

As a country, Japan is aging not just because it’s people are getting older but because it’s birth rate is well below replacement. This year there will be fewer than 900,000 births in all of Japan–a number not seen since 1874 when Japan’s total population was much smaller. Overall, Japan’s population is declining.

Population decline may have some good effects but the combination of fewer young people and more elderly people is straining Japanese culture along with its finances. The young naturally resent the increasing burden put on them for supporting the elderly. As with all Ponzi schemes, pay-as-you-go social security schemes come under stress when the population is no longer growing.

…over the next 30 years or so, many countries’ pension systems will require young workers to fund a system that everyone knows will be far less generous by 2040. It is hardly a way to generate confidence in public policy.

And those 70,000 centenarians? Almost 90 percent are women so an aging society is a gender unbalanced society meaning old people lose caregivers or at least someone to share a household with.

Davies is interested in Japan as an example of where many countries are going,

Southern Europe, in particular, is following fast with Italy, Spain and Portugal already experiencing population decline. Germany will start to shrink in 2022, Korea in the early 2030s. Akita, Japan’s cutting edge of ageing economics,…offers a valuable window on the future.


Pay-as-you-go systems would be fine if the moronic politicians (and their moronic electorate) just take the logical step: Add a coefficient to the payouts according to how many children you have.

No children - receive 0.5 of the calculated total.
1 child - 0.75
2 children - 1.00
3 children - 1.2 or something

Accidentally, this will also have the beneficial effect of somehow raising the birth rates.
But, no, let's import the third-world instead.

I'm sure that will work out just fine. And it's also an extremely evolutionary adaptive strategy - tim wise told me so over dinner!

No, social security benefits should be based on how many taxes you put in. People with kids already get plenty of tax-subsidized benefits ranging from child tax credits to public schooling, which takes up the majority of local taxes in most cities. And many people can't have children for reasons outside their control, ranging from biological infertility to inability to find a suitable partner.

Social security will be easily sustainable regardless of population growth if it is switched to a system where each generation gets back what they put in instead of having future generations pay for them.

We're not discussing what your (morality-based) preference for the structure of the pension system is.
We are discussing what the logic of the current system is and how to make it sustainable.
Your contributions pay for your parents' generation. Your children's contributions pay for yours. Your input in the system vis-a-vis your payout is your descendants not your contributions.

"The one clueless enough to imagine that people here might react to someone posting about white supremacy."

This does not matter at all. The macro view is concerned with sustainability not with fairness (according to some subjective moral system that is not even universal across the population in question).

The quote I'm responding to is:
" And many people can't have children for reasons outside their control, ranging from biological infertility to inability to find a suitable partner."

Stupid clipboard.

Interesting to see what a charmed life John has here.

Prior’s having quite the Sunday evening.

That or Msgkings has taken a sharp conspiratorial turn.

If it’s the latter I’d be much more inclined to believe it.

There is a study that uncovered that most of the countries where inexplicably a lot of people are over 100 YO that these are the same countries that experienced war and records were lost or destroyed and that it is more likely that many of those 100 plus are lying.

Right. I thought Truman did them in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in months of (Boeing) B-29 fire bombings.

No, that was Hirohito's doing.

"The macro view is concerned with sustainability not with fairness." While both of your ideas have some logic to them, Zaua's proposal is by definition sustainable. In addition, his proposal doesn't carry implementation/fairness challenges yours does. +1 Zaua.

Sure. It also does not have any positive side effects on the fertility rates. Which mine does.

If you think giving people money for kids is a magic bullet (only upon retirement, no less), you should look at the size of the effects of the various European programs that provide bennies for having kids. You will be surprised!

I'm not saying it's a magic bullet, I'm saying it will have a (modest) effect - it will probably raise the actual TFR by 10-20%.

Also, people are loss averse so by definition taking something from them because of behavior A will have more of an effect than giving them the same something for shifting from A to B.

Not to mention the fact that this is roughly fiscally neutral if it works (if it doesn't, it's fiscally positive).
Unlike them programs.

I'm not surprised, as none of the Europoean programs you vaguely mention (as if an American reader of this blog is able to quickly validate vague mentions of multifacetted foreign welfare specifics) are as big a financial differentiator as would be Zaua's proposal.

E.g. in Germany you can choose between a tax-break (just make sense for top earners) or fixed monthly payout of 205-235€ per child (Which is usually much less than what the government's Kindergarten costs). Now compare that with the average pension-payout rate of 1.500€ and how Zaua's proposal could turn it into 750€ or 2.000€.

The big difference between the two proposals is that John's proposal could be implemented tomorrow looking forward (all you'd have to do is pick the age it applied to, which to be fair should be somewhere in the child-bearing age range...maybe 30 and under?) for $0, whereas Zaua's proposal would require unwinding the current pay as you go structure and thus require trillions upon trillions of dollars of capital. This difference was what sunk Social Security reform in the mid-2000s so decisively that it has completely dropped out of the political system.
+2 to John.

You could do the same thing for Zaua's proposal. Start it for the generation under 30 tomorrow, adjust tax and/or benefit rates as necessary. Zaua's approach doesn't require any more "capital" than we are already expected to need--we just stop that borrowing once the under 30s start to hit retirement.

I’m not seeing the math. This is my complaint with the smarter Jan liberals.

Let’s say there’s $20 trillion in social security liabilities for > 35 years old crowd.

What you’re saying is everyone under 35 will have to pay double to triple the tax just to finance the $20 trillion and make an actual pay in pay out system.

Right now every employee pays 12.4% of their income to social security.

Now everyone under 35 would pay 24.8-37.2% of their income to JUST TO finance the transition.

Madness. No, we will just eliminate benefits for millennials while still paying 1/5 of our income to pay for the Jan Boomers.

Thus, +3 Zaua

Rich people getting more SS benefits, while poor retirees continue to live in poverty because they didn't pay in as much, doesn't raise fairness issues?

Not true. SS is highly progressive and the benefits for the rich are taxed as well. The net is that the rich get back much less than the poor for the same contribution . Same is true for Medicare.

-1 to everyone

Neither proposal is even remotely politically plausible. Find me the constituency for “women now have to pump out kids (insert barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen commentary) to receive benefits.”

It’s probably hiding together with Zaua’s “let’s immediately bankrupt social security to make it dollar for dollar, instead of the obvious progressive redistribution scheme it actually is.”

No. The benefits will just slowly decrease, the age will increase, and it will be one more Boomer failure millennials will pay for.

We're not discussing what is politically possible or what will happen.
We're discussing what is the most logical way to make the system sustainable.

And, yes, since the system relies on having the population pyramid look like a pyramid or at least a cone, the most logical way to fix it is to introduce coefficients.

Of course it's not going to happen. Because we live in a democracy and the population is dumb.

"women now have to pump out kids"

Southern Europe has a native TFR of 1.2-1.3.
To make the pension system sustainable, it will require (roughly) every 2nd woman to have 1 child more.

Hardly a herculean effort.
Again, people will not do this because they are dumb and don't understand what's in their evolutionary interest.
But macro incentives can at least move them somewhat in that direction.

> It will require (roughly) every 2nd woman to have 1 child more. *Hardly a herculean effort*.

That could only be said by a person who hasn't had kids, or who wasn't much involved with raising them...

No, this could be said by a person who has had kids and who knows that his great-grandparents had twice the number of surviving kids than him without it being a big deal.

The last underfunded increase in Social Security benefits was in 1972. In 1983 changes were made to delay retirement age with full benefits and to tax benefits for wealthier retirees. Boomers may have failed to adequately fix the problem, but it was their parents who created it.

SS was designed to work with a growing population, not a stable or declining one. Blaming one generation or another for a system that works contingent on future generations' reproductive behavior is immature and only fans the flames of resentment. Cut it out.

Absolutely, a system that mostly loads costs on poor males (who tend to be the ones without kids) while non-working women receive many multiples of retirement income in excess of any need (essentially as a transfer from poor childless males) absolutely isn't going to be sustainable.

It's also a weird way to achieve the goal - if you want to enable individuals to be helped by having kids, provided those kids contribute to fiscal sustainability, why not just directly implement tax offsets from kids to parents, against high income taxes? If you're at high income, then you can make tax free gifts to mum and dad directly. That way those one parent families who raise well-off net contributers benefit while "big brood o' net recipients" types, who can hardly be said to contribute to fiscal sustainability, don't.

Or in short, helping divorced alcoholic dad with 4 kids by 4 different women, none of whom speak to him, whose upbringing he did not contribute to and who are probably a fiscal net cost themselves or even dead... seems like a low priority, and certainly not likely to improve fiscal sustainability.

Helping in her retirement good mom who raises a couple high income net contributors makes sense, but there are smarter ways to do it that tightly tie the benefit to child quality and nurturing relationship than John's simple multiple scheme.

In the USA you could divide the total take from FICA over and matching FICA by the number of recipients and send out the checks.

These Japanese legion of "centenaries" are just social security frauds.

They had the police go around and poke them with a stick. There's 70,000 now.

The non-reporting of death is not the only type of social security fraud. You'd be amazed. Jeanne Calment usurpated her mother's identity for example.

Jeanne Calment usurpated her mother's identity for example.

That’s a crazy Russian conspiracy theory.


Take a look at the Ten oldest people ever from Wikipedia. Numbers 3 through 10 all died within 264 days of one another, agewise. Pretty tightly clustered, like it's hitting an asymptote.

But then number 2 died 567 days older than number 3. And number 1 (Jeanne Calment) died 1162 days older than number 2.

Scientists analyzing a set of data points usually automatically reject outliers for good reason. In fact, if it's enough of an outlier then the burden of proof becomes reversed. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

PS, it's silly to dismiss an argument solely on the basis of the researcher's nationality. The FSB and GRU don't benefit from discrediting dubious longevity claims.

*269 days, whatever.

Look at the various sub-lists too: oldest men ever, oldest living people, etc. You never get a gap of 3+ years like with Jeanne Calment.

By this logic Usain Bolt is a fraud as well.

Usain Bolt's 100m record took place from start to finish in front of thousands of witnesses. The proof is not lacking.

For Jeanne Calment we are relying on 19th century record keeping and possible identity fraud that local authorities are hardly keen to investigate. Given that the porn star Traci Lords was able, as late as the 1980s, to obtain a birth certificate, a California driver's license, and even a U.S. passport with a fake name and identity, how certain can we be about ancient documents?

The Russian researcher Zak mentions that when the archives of the city of Arles requested that she send them her old photos and documents, she chose to have them destroyed instead. Her defenders rationalize this as "not so unusual".

Russian conspiration for what purpose? Destabilizing the Guinness Book of Records? Eliminating the former local mayor of Arles who made a fuss about the old lady to promote tourism?

Glasgow is a bit of a stand-out, no? Poor health outcomes, but not unusually poor compared to some similarly-sized areas of London, and the population and economy are growing. Ah - I see Davies has "been Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers at HM Treasury, an economist and speechwriter at the Bank of England, and economics editor of The Economist." The English have a bit of a 'hing about the Scots, you see, especially the Oxbridge English.

There is one small area of Glasgow that consistently got less than 60 years LE, which data point was often extrapolated to mean the whole of Glasgow and used in various political discussions. Turns out that area has only an alcoholics hostel in it. But people always remember that factoid about Glasgow.

It is more than possible view supporting the elderly as more than a Ponzi scheme.

Unless one wishes to be consistent, and pointing out that pay as you go systems to raise children are the same sort of Ponzi scheme.

What is true is that the systems were designed in a period where average life spans were considerably lower than today (though the U.S. seems to decreasing its life expectancy recently), without the system being adjusted. Lowered benefits or higher retirement age being two apparently politically impossible responses to keep the books more balanced.

"Supporting the elderly" is not a 'scheme' of any kind, much less a Ponzi, as I'm sure you are well aware. The concrete implementation of promising specific benefits at a specific time without actually having the money to pay up, relying on future entrants to foot the bill, is what's a Ponzi scheme.

Not sure how to put this you, but pretty much everything is a Ponzi scheme if 'future entrants' are the ones paying the bills. Unless your infant child is paying taxes and supporting themselves independently, they are actually going to be footing the bill for something like road or school bonds that have a maturity of 20 years.

And if you really wish to carry this argument to its logical end, like Lysander Spooner, nobody born since 1788 is an American citizen either. https://wiki.mises.org/wiki/No_Treason

Everything is a Ponzi scheme if you sneak in a bunch of other premises, yes. Infants are not responsible for anything, and grown children aren't slaves to their parents. I don't wish to carry this argument to it's radical end either.

If you're elimination the premise that the system will persist into the working lifetimes of people who are currently infants, your argument has bigger problems to address.

”If you're eliminating..."

Stupid predictive text.


Yeah that’s completely nonsensical. Building infrastructure is not a Ponzi scheme just because it entails a 30 year municipal bond. Good lord this is clockworkprior-esque level autism.

Now, it would be a Ponzi scheme if a country took out loans to finance cash payments to the oldest members of said country, while putting the tax burden on the newest entrants to the tax polity. Continue this cycle and eventually 100% of the taxes go strictly to cash payments to the oldest members of the polity.

That’s a Ponzi scheme, a la Madoff, and is inherently unsustainable without exponential productivity growth in the absence of population growth.

Living in Germany, the only amusing thing is how you got your facts wrong.

The Generationenvertrag (pay-as-you-go) started in 1957. Thus, it didn't exist in the communist half of Germany and certainly is not 50 years older than the American pension scheme, but rather 20 years younger.

Even in the early 20th century life expectancy was skewed downward by higher levels of childhood mortality. The relevant comparison is life expectancy at retirement, which has increased, but no where near as much as life expectancy at birth.

Since all modern economies rely on continuous population growth, are they also Ponzi schemes?

Basically, yeah.

Modern central banking system and ancient central banking systems always had the monetary reset option to reprice and renegotiate the general risk. These systems always executed the partial default option. The effect of which is to correct the ponzi.

The system is not ponzi but we call it ponzi as part of our denial that the regularly scheduled correction is due. Works much better than our fears suggest.

Alex is mostly touting the 'This Time is Different' scam. The idea the the current generation has figured out how money works, finally. From the ancient kings to Marx and Keynes, until today, the scam always was,'We figured it out! this is our last default!'. I figured it out, we default on schedule, it is no big deal and generally everyone is better off for it. The clue is quit faking it.

"Hot potato," "musical chairs" and "greater-fool" all work, if you find "Ponzi" too offensive.

Australia has the highest population growth in OECD and, as far as I know, has best funded pension/self retirement system. I'm not saying other nations should do what we did, as unforced losses from our forced savings systems are likely to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars, but perhaps they could do something less crappy. The point is, it can be done. But maybe it's easier to do it when it's less of a problem in the first place.

Shouldn't this make the Malthusians happy?

How is Glasgow an “extreme failure”? I have been to Glasgow and it seemed fine.

It is fine. But the English, especially the Oxbridge English in positions of power, have a bit of a 'hing about putting down the Scots, especially since Scotland began to vote for sovereigntists in 2007.

Japan has long been leading the way into the future that western developed economies will soon have to reckon with, and its terrifying. To say that the young resent their situation is to drastically understate the case: young people in Japan suffer from depression and suicide at terrifying rates. They don’t have sex or get married or have children because they don’t see a future for their children and they’re too depressed and over worked to have much of a libido. They either kill themselves or resign themselves to being sexless, lifeless drones working tirelessly their entire lives to support the legions of geriatrics. Their free time is spent consuming corporate entertainment in their tiny coffin apartments. It’s fucking grim.

The only viable solution would be to adopt the North American approach of allowing significant immigration and naturalization of workers from Korea, China, Brazil, the Philippines, etc. But frankly Japanese society is still to racist to accept any of those gaijin as Japanese citizens, so temporary workers linger, sometimes for generations, without any stake in Japanese society before returning home.

Instead of facing the hard reality that they need immigration, the Japanese have placed their faith in the idiotic pipe dream of robotics to solve their elder care problem. There’s something unbelievably poignant about the image of a 100-year-old Japanese woman crying out for human compassion and companionship and, instead of accepting the ministrations of a brown-skinned Brazilian nurse, being presented with fucking Johnny Five repeating inanities out of its speaker system.

"young people in Japan suffer from depression and suicide at terrifying rates."

The youth suicide rate is higher in the U.S. than Japan (2.8 per 100,000).

Japan's fertility rate is 1.4; America's fertility rate is 1.6. (Asian-American 1.5)

2.5% of births in Japan are out of wedlock. 40% of births in the U.S. are out of wedlock.

Japan's marriage rate is 5 per 1,000; the U.S. marriage rate is 7 per 1,000 so saying Japanese "don’t have sex or get married" isn't quite right, right?

"There’s something unbelievably poignant about the image of a 100-year-old Japanese woman crying out for human compassion and companionship and, instead of accepting the ministrations of a brown-skinned Brazilian nurse, being presented with fucking Johnny Five repeating inanities out of its speaker system."

O.K., boomer.

Japan's native fertility is 10% higher than southern europe's and on par with Germany and Poland.
The incel problem is real but only affects ~20-25% of the population.
If solved, the TFR can easily jump to 1.6 or even higher.



Yes, the US is now experiencing some of the same trends as Japan. As I said above.

As for the racial purity comments above... lol. I’ll be a “boomer” (born in the late 70s) over a fucking redneck race science freak any day.

None of this has any relevance to your idiotic and illogical suggestion of "The only viable solution would be to adopt the North American approach of allowing significant immigration and naturalization of workers"

The aging of the population has absolutely no bearing of both those pathologies nor can it fix it in any way at all.

So, yeah, you are destined to remain a clueless, intellectually impotent (slightly post-)boomer.

This is an anonymous-level idiocy thread.

There’s no difference between Japanese and Japanese-American level fertility. So literally everything you’ve said about Japanese society is 100% wrong.

Same race, two countries with different cultures, exact same fertility decline.


True, randomly inserting "fucking" as an intensifier of descriptions of "injustice" that are supposedly hilarious and what I presume is meant to inspire "righteous anger", really isn't Boomer, or Zoomer (though it may be Millennial, just about). Much more a signifier of a greying 2010s SJW, a sociolect that really can't die quick enough. Dated reference and vapid and stereotyped factual knowledge checks that out too.

You should be skeptical of those figures.

Supercentenarians and the oldest-old are concentrated into regions with no birth certificates and short lifespans


Hey, maybe besides the No-Birth-Certificate Diet, never having to interact with bureaucrats mysteriously confers health benefits.

Anyway, this problem if real is not what you'd call open-ended. If that's a selectively horrible thought, it might tell you something useful about the pro-population-growth-at-any-cost folks who are so fond of bringing it to your attention: what they do and don't worry about, where life is concerned.

A recently released research report


That every person living today

Is Older than Yesterday.

As with all Ponzi schemes, pay-as-you-go social security schemes come under stress when the population is no longer growing.

Can you name a domestic funding mechanism that wouldn’t be strained by a birth rate of 1.2?

Sure. User fees.

AI type economic growth would solve any ageing cost issue surely? Actually it is funny that there is quite an overlap between the robots taking all our jobs people and the ageing population is going to bankrupt us all.

Young people rightfully resent the unequal burden of supporting old folks. But robots much smarter than us will be happy slaves. OK then. Cross your fingers.

Ok Boomer. Boomers have been (a) paying the social security benefits for the greatest generation and (b) prepaying for their own social security benefits. Of course, (b) is false: Boomers have been subsidizing the income tax cuts for wealthy Americans who don't rely on social security, don't care about social security, and would repeat the same scheme of raising regressive payroll taxes while cutting income taxes and pretending that the scheme is a responsible thing to do. There is no social security trust fund. It's a fraud. Why Cowen refers to a pay as you go social security system as a "scheme" but ignores the real scheme that has been foisted on working Americans is a mystery to me.

Cowen? This is a Tabarrok post. Pay attention, Ray

And the protests have gone worldwide about the problem. I think the world is readying for a monetary reset on the issue, happens every generation. This is a repeatable event, a normal human function is to exercise the right to coin and void past debt that no one voted for.

In the USA our pattern is monetary reset first, then renegotiation of entitlements second. In France, it is revolution first, monetary reset second, causing unnecessary violence.

But I notice in France that macron seems fairly idiotic and attempted to reform the system by keeping boomer promises and raising taxes on the new generation. The taxes to pay for past entitlement promises was a gas tax, and everyone caught the Macron fraud right away.

We are doing the same, raising energy taxes, using that to fund pensions and calling it Green New Deal, when in fact it is pure fraud by the boomers.

Pensions can continue to grow even if populations in your country shrink and there is little economic growth if the pensions are invested overseas in countries that continue to grow. Most pensions however are forced into being invested and sourced from domestic sources.

extreme resilience (...New Orleans)

How much federal tax money poured into NO? Billions and tens of billions and billions more. Extreme is right. But totally unreplicatable without the money appropriated from 49 other states (well really like 20 other states).

I’m writing this comment from Glasgow, which suffered in the decline of heavy industry in the 70s and 80s (like much of northern Britain), but which has rebounded well.

Plenty of affluence here, as well as pockets of poverty entirely typical of provincial UK cities.

Its population and location in the central belt of Scotland (where the majority of the Scottish population live in the 50 mile corridor between Edinburgh and Glasgow) mean it was always going to recover and find a role in the modern UK economy. Like many British cities it’s picked up large numbers of back office and technology jobs from companies headquartered elsewhere.

Glasgow’s doing just fine!

By the way, it wasn't the author who interjected the word Ponzi into the post; it was Alex, which tells you something.

We could call the recent corporate tax cuts a Ponzi scheme because they were touted as paying for themselves.

But, don't expect anyone here to call the tax cuts Ponzi schemes.

Nothing is ponzi in government pension accounts.

The parents eventually start dying off and children have more votes. One of the great discoveries of our favorite economists, people die. I credit Roger Farmer with the discovery, he should get the Nobel for being the first economists to discover death.

Tax cuts do not need to be "paid" for since it's not the government's money in the first place. What needs to be paid for are ridiculous "entitlement" programs that promise lavish benefits. Starve the beast.

At your request, your Social Security retirement benefits, disability insurance, Medicaid options, have been removed from the system so that you may starve, as in Beast. Also, your grandparents will not be receiving SS checks either. They may be asking you for money and a room in the basement. Merry Christmas.

Alex: "... but the combination of fewer young people and more elderly people is straining Japanese culture along with its finances. The young naturally resent the increasing burden put on them for supporting the elderly."

It isn't at all obvious either are happening in Japan. Is there polling data to show that the attitudes of the young toward the elderly have been noticeably shifting from 1990 or 2000 to today?

I meant: "Is there survey data to show..."

"it’s people are getting older but because it’s" yuck.

Productivity growth needs to be included in this type of story. From Davies-"In 1975 social security and healthcare spending commanded 22 percent of the country’s tax revenues; by 2017 the figure, driven up by elderly care and pensions, had risen to 55 percent. " Even if so, that doesn't mean the average Japanese citizen has a lower standard of living in 2017 than in 1975. Dean Baker has written many posts about this subject. Here is a fairly short one about why falling worker ratios do not necessarily doom societies.

So old people will expropriate an increasing share of the productivity gains of the young, whose real incomes will grow much more slowly as a result. And good riddance to Gov. Moonbeam.

That's not how I would frame it but it isn't inaccurate. Point is that it might be a political problem, but it isn't necessarily an economic catastrophe. BTW- I am not the former governor.

I have seen evidence that in Japan they don't keep good death records, so many of those over 100 are not really living. The families keep getting benefits too, with no fraud penalty when caught.

Working the system... Who knew?

As I mentioned earlier, they now poke them with a stick to check. There's a lot less, "Ee's just pining for the Fijords," going on.

This is a challenge to economists and accountants who can only imagine a society with a rising population rather than one with a falling or stable one. We'll either have 30 billion people in 100 years or new mechanisms for accounting and theories of accounting.

What? Do you think double entry book keeping no longer works if the population goes into decline? I'm surprised nobody noticed this during the world wars. Can you tell me one thing Japanese accountants have to do differently now the population is in decline? Apart from maybe retire at 70 instead of 65?

That fish diet works....

"Population decline may have some good effects": Depends on whether your the decliner or the declinee! :-)

The early 20th century was an inflection point in human history. Demographic control shifted from mortality to fertility control. Populations increased so the societies figured they could enslave the children to the old, just a little bit, since the young to old ratio was large. The "smart" people missed that so many young were surviving that soon people would choose to avoid poverty by having fewer children but investing more in those children, i.e., more education. This spread wider after WWII and is now in almost all populations.

Downside is, the social welfare state is based on an ever increasing young worker population to support the others. The inflection caused fewer young workers through fewer births, longer education period, and less trend toward family formation.

We will flounder on these issues until economists, politicians and others accept and incorporate this inflection in human history their research and policy recommendations.

This is not a stable equilibrium.
All human populations that have a TFR below 2.1 for long enough will disappear.

Luckily, natural selection will work its magic and in several generations, the people who are genetically wired to want to reproduce more will vastly outnumber the others.

"Trees do not grow up to the sky"
Any prediction based on some trend continuing indefinitely without change is going to be a failed prediction.

An intriguing summary. Can't wait to read it.

Politics is the art of the possible, it has been said. There are a lot of good ideas that aren't possible to implement in the world we actually inhabit. A less perfect idea that can be implemented is better than a perfect idea that can't.

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