The coming end of the population explosion

Long ago some of us worried about the population explosion.  Now many countries are experiencing a population implosion.  A falling birth rate means, among other things, fewer working-age people and military-age people compared retirement-age people.

Two of my fellow bloggers, who use the names Nikolai Vladivostok and Fred (Au Natural), have written good posts about this topic.  Nikolai writes about the consequences of the aging of the population of Japan and Fred about things he’s learned by using a tool called

Demographers say this is inevitable or almost inevitable when three conditions apply:

  • A nation achieves a certain minimum level of material prosperity, so that couples don’t have to depend on having large numbers of children to assure survival in old age.
  • Women are emancipated and can play a role in society that doesn’t involve child-bearing.
  • Birth control becomes widely available.

I can’t say that any of these things is wrong or even problematic.  Can you?

Providing for children is expensive and raising them properly is hard work.  It’s no wonder that some people aren’t up for it.  For what it’s worth, I myself am a childless divorced bachelor, age 86, and I’m financially better off than I would have been if I had had two or three children to raise and put through college.

I think it’s a good thing that the world’s population growth is on track to start leveling off.  Otherwise, at some point, the number of human beings will exceed the carrying capacity of the planet.

But it’s not happening in all nations at the same rate, and that’s a problem.  Bertrand Russell once wrote that if there is to be world peace, nations would have to make treaties to limit population growth as well as armaments.

Another is that nations with shrinking work forces will need to increase productivity, embrace frugality or both.  It is no coincidence that Japan is the world’s leading manufacturer of robots.


For the world as a whole, the demographic transition may have started.   But it is still far from Zero Population Growth.

Annual population growth in the United States has slowed to a fraction of a percentage point, and population would be falling if not for immigration.

China’s population pyramid reflects its history – widespread starvation 60 years ago, and, later, its “one-child” population limitation policy.  China’s demographic problem has not been solved by abandonment of that policy.   The last report of China’s population showed an actual reduction in total numbers.

India’s demographic transition has started, although its growing population will soon overtake China’s.

Russia’s population pyramid shows it did not fare well after the breakup of the Soviet Union.  While Russia now has a healthy proportion of working-age people, this is changing, and there is nothing that can be done about it.

Ukraine is in the same demographic situation as Russia, only more so.


Germany also is well into its demographic transition.

Of course there are many countries, mainly in Africa, where the population pyramid is still a pyramid.


Grey Tyranny by ‘Nikolai Vladivostok’ for Soviet Men: the People’s Blog.

Population and the Future by Fred (Au Natural) for This is my place.

World population growth is expected to nearly stop by 2100 by Anthony Cilluffo and Neil G. Ruiz for Pew Research Center.  

Tags: ,

4 Responses to “The coming end of the population explosion”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    People point out how the increasing share of older population relative to younger population creates economic problems. I am more concerned about the cultural implication. Older people are conservative. They are driven by security interests. Young people tend to be idealistic.

    As the population changes, the ratio between conservatism and idealism inevitably shifts. Social changes start with the young. The loss of young people bothers me. Social progress could grind to a halt.

    China? Look at that 0-4 age cohort. Fewer than 65-59. There is no social or economic model for this. Is life in China so horrid that suddenly nobody wants children?

    If the next cohort is as small, that gives a hard limit on the future reproductive population. Barring a state mandate of 3 children per woman, there’s no recovering. There are also reports – from China – that the census overestimates the birth rate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fred (Au Natural) Says:

      Japan has it even worse. At least Japan is a high technology country. In theory that can substitute tech for entry level workers. China has 2-300 million people in a high technology western style economy while most of the population is in 2nd world conditions or worse. That will be a Herculean challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Word from the Dark Side – something to remind me, a presidential wee, helicopter mums fight Bs and should Dread Pirate Roberts be free? | SovietMen Says:

    […] more about the various population pyramids of different […]


  3. The coming end of the population explosion — Phil Ebersole’s Blog | Vermont Folk Troth Says:

    […] The coming end of the population explosion — Phil Ebersole’s Blog […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: