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Ten oz

Western fertility rates in decline

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Read an article this morning citing a CDC report stating that fertility rates in the U.S. currently are not high enough to sustain population levels without immigration. Nations throughout Europe are in a  similarly position, Link. I personally see this as a good thing. I think the the planet is over populated. However within our economic models a declining population would stifle growth. So there are economic concerns. In the long run I see a decline in industrial production as a  good thing because I think we over consume.  Of course not everyone sees this issue as I do. 

Is there an inherent good to reproducing at rates high enough to sustain population growth? What are the ramification either way?  

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If we look to Japan, we see the biggest challenge is supporting the elderly. The outlays to them need to be supported by revenues from the next upcoming generation. It’s a type of Ponzi scheme in a way, and lower birth rates can lead the pyramid to collapse. 

Much of this IMO could likely be mitigated by automation, specifically by distribution of profits made through automation. Today, those all tend to result in worker layoffs and focused wealth into the hands of the tiny few robot owners. If the tax code could be updated to share those profits more equitably among the populace, that could address the economic issues. 

Agree also that lower birth rates help with climate and resources, but my enthusiasm for that point is diminished when I recall population is still growing and it’s just the rate of growth that’s slowing. 

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I think in the long term societies need to come up with more equitiable ways of managing resources. A population in decline could be an impetus for change. Money is just a mechanisms, a structure, we use to control resources. Grain grows, water flows, wind blows, and the sun glows regardless of how we humans choose to control money. 

 

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41 minutes ago, iNow said:

If we look to Japan, we see the biggest challenge is supporting the elderly. The outlays to them need to be supported by revenues from the next upcoming generation. It’s a type of Ponzi scheme in a way, and lower birth rates can lead the pyramid to collapse. 

Much of this IMO could likely be mitigated by automation, specifically by distribution of profits made through automation. Today, those all tend to result in worker layoffs and focused wealth into the hands of the tiny few robot owners. If the tax code could be updated to share those profits more equitably among the populace, that could address the economic issues. 

Agree also that lower birth rates help with climate and resources, but my enthusiasm for that point is diminished when I recall population is still growing and it’s just the rate of growth that’s slowing. 

Yes, it seems Japan's situation is the most acute and the most in need of study.

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Steady growth of anything on the planet with limited size, limited area, limited resources, is not possible to sustain forever.

 

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3 hours ago, StringJunky said:

Yes, it seems Japan's situation is the most acute and the most in need of study.

One of the things Japan is attempting to do is provide varies social safety nets (social security, Healthcare, etc) to those who do choose to have children as a means of encouraging more people to do so. However with an aging population having enough people work full time to pay for such programs is difficult. Here in the U.S. such programs come with political road blocks. Many despise young mother who utilities social programs. I understand what Japan is attempting to do and agree that those with children should have access to programs however I do not agree it should be done to encourage population growth. 

Quote

 

Shimada said the government launched a new economic policy package in 2017 to address the dilemma. "The plan is designed to promote both supply system innovation," such as robots, "and human resources development revolution," a social security system for "not only the elderly and the youth, but also Japan's working-age generation so they are provided with support for child-rearing and nursing care."

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/21/679103541/japans-population-is-in-rapid-decline

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

One of the things Japan is attempting to do is provide varies social safety nets (social security, Healthcare, etc) to those who do choose to have children as a means of encouraging more people to do so. However with an aging population having enough people work full time to pay for such programs is difficult. Here in the U.S. such programs come with political road blocks. Many despise young mother who utilities social programs. I understand what Japan is attempting to do and agree that those with children should have access to programs however I do not agree it should be done to encourage population growth. 

 

I read the Japan Times everyday and it is an ongoing issue in it. I think they are currently in the process of admitting more foreigners to help offset the lack of workers as well as trying to increase the fertility rate. For many reasons, I think the Japanese will dwindle in number; it's too late for them. They are quite an inward-looking and historically xenophobic nation, and I think chasing this notion of 'pure' Japanese has caught up with them. Their only option is to embrace a mixed-culture population..

Edited by StringJunky

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21 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

I read the Japan Times everyday and it is an ongoing issue in it. I think they are currently in the process of admitting more foreigners to help offset the lack of workers as well as trying to increase the fertility rate. For many reasons, I think the Japanese will dwindle in number; it's too late for them. They are quite an inward-looking and historically xenophobic nation, and I think chasing this notion of 'pure' Japanese has caught up with them. Their only option is to embrace a mixed-culture population..

Change can occur in a single generation. During a debate in 1858 Abraham Lincoln said it would take 100yrs to end slavery in the U.S. Link. Five years later he signed the emancipation proclamation. In 2008 both Obama and Clinton campaigned as pro civil-union station g they felt marriage was a religious thing for a man and a woman. Today both, along with the whole Democratic party, are loudy pro marriage equality. Sometimes the dam just bursts and things which seem a long ways away shift overnight. Japan is no less capable of change than other nations. 

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2 hours ago, Ten oz said:

Change can occur in a single generation. During a debate in 1858 Abraham Lincoln said it would take 100yrs to end slavery in the U.S. Link. Five years later he signed the emancipation proclamation. In 2008 both Obama and Clinton campaigned as pro civil-union station g they felt marriage was a religious thing for a man and a woman. Today both, along with the whole Democratic party, are loudy pro marriage equality. Sometimes the dam just bursts and things which seem a long ways away shift overnight. Japan is no less capable of change than other nations. 

The Japanese government seems to have the will, but do the people? This is where the resistance to change seems to be coming from. Unlike in the US, where the population was ready for change and pushed for it, it seems to be the other way around in Japan.

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18 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

The Japanese government seems to have the will, but do the people? This is where the resistance to change seems to be coming from. Unlike in the US, where the population was ready for change and pushed for it, it seems to be the other way around in Japan.

I do not think that this is an accurate representation. For one, the US seems to be in the midst of an immigration showdown. While there are many who are content with continued immigration, there is still a strong opposition (focused predominantly at non-white immigration, for what it is worth). If we compare it with Europe the public opinion is even more strongly opposed to immigration.

As for background, immigration into Japan has been rising steadily, though still at a relatively moderate rate. Otoh in Europe the recent refugee crisis has colored public opinion. That being said, from a recent Pew poll only 13% of Japanese are for no or less immigration, 58% are content with teh current rate and 23% are for more. The values for other countries are:

- UK (37/43/16)

-Germany (58/30/10)

-Poland (49/36/9)

-USA (29/44/24)

-Canada (27/52/19)

-Spain (30/39/28)

As such, the Japanese population actually has one of the highest (aside from USA and Spain) percentages of folks being in favour of more immigration.

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Not sure what comment is supposed to mean but if you are wondering about the high number against immigration, it is partly due to the high influx of asylum seekers in the last few years (now declining) and a resulting right-shift of the political discussion (concurrent with the rise of a new and rather xenophobic right-wing party).

Greece has an even more extreme position (82% opposed) to a large part because they were one of the primary landing spots of asylum seekers. In addition they were in pretty bad economic shape do begin with.

However, regarding OP, Japan seems to be one of the countries least in favour of reducing immigration. Most likely the need for immigration has caught up with public opinion. However, similar to Germany acknowledging that on a broader scale is probably going to be  glacial process, up until it is not anymore.

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Italy is another country worth discussion regarding this topic. Their population is in decline and various small rural towns have seen a revival from Syria refugees.  Small town Mayor's  in place like like Sutera, Riace, and Satriano are crediting refugees for boosting their town which had previously been in population decline for decades. Of course the larger political environment in Italy is more complicated. In a town like Sutera where the population dwindled from 5,000 in the 70's to just 1,500 a couple hundred migrants have an obvious appreciable impact locals can see. Across the whole country of 60 million the benefit isn't so obvious. 

Does redistributing solve the problem though? U.S. is a nation of immigrants and still our numbers are in decline. Loosing up Immigration is a stop gap which I think all nations with declining populations will be forced to do. Xenophobic hold outs are merely kicking the can against the inevitable. Aging populations in decline need working age people. At least they do within our current economic structures. 

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Italy has traditionally also not been very welcoming to immigrants, and the attempts of asylum seekers to cross from the Mediterranean and ending up in Italy has only worsened their opinion. That being said, smaller communities which had a more direct influence on welcoming and integrating asylum seekers seem to have a much better opinion (of which I assume the noted communities are part of).

To the broader issue of population sustainability, there is a need for a broader rethinking about how our society should be in the future. While a certain slow decline is probably fine, it has to stabilize at some point to allow for sustainability. While most agree that automation will be a big part, I am not sure whether our economic models are ready to adapt to that. 

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4 hours ago, CharonY said:

Not sure what comment is supposed to mean but if you are wondering about the high number against immigration, it is partly due to the high influx of asylum seekers in the last few years (now declining) and a resulting right-shift of the political discussion (concurrent with the rise of a new and rather xenophobic right-wing party).

The last time a xenophobic right-wing party rose up in Germany, it didn't go well. Hence the "oh brother".

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

While most agree that automation will be a big part, I am not sure whether our economic models are ready to adapt to that. 

In what way specifically do you think they're not ready to adapt?

What serious changes do you see us having to make in order to be able to adapt to an automation centric world?

 

The idea of a slowly declining population kind of depresses me. I've always liked the idea of a rise population, spreading out between different worlds, etc. Except the reality is that as population decreases, we'll eventually use automation to do the jobs that were previously done by people, and a smaller population will be the ones spreading and exploring the solar system.

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43 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

What serious changes do you see us having to make in order to be able to adapt to an automation centric world?

Automation displaces workers and focuses wealth into fewer hands. A way is needed to avoid mass poverty, starvation, and a basic collapse of the economy itself.

When consumers lack money for purchases, vendors and service people who normally receive that money also then stop getting paid and stop making purchases... then other vendors and service people,stop getting paid... amd a self-reinforcing downward spiral ensues. 

That said, declining population isn’t the driver of automation. The significantly lower operating costs, productivity, and ability to drive far higher margins are (see also: self checkouts at the grocery store and kiosks at Panera, McDs, airports, etc.).

We may well benefit more from automation if population declines, but automation (and AI) will continue expanding whether or not more or fewer humans are being born each year.

Edited by iNow

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1 minute ago, iNow said:

Automation displaces workers and focuses wealth into fewer hands. A way is needed to avoid mass poverty, starvation, and a basic collapse of the economy itself. When consumers lack money for purchasers, vendors and service people stop getting paid and a self-reinforcing spiral ensues. 

The current system(in the United States at least) allows people to live without having to work at all, so the social safety nets are already in place.

It seems to me like the biggest change that would need to happen is increasing taxes on corporations that are relying on automation more.

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Just now, Raider5678 said:

so the social safety nets are already in place.

What pays for them if millions workers lose jobs from automation and can no longer pay income tax (or even sales tax)? 

2 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

the biggest change that would need to happen is increasing taxes on corporations that are relying on automation more.

Exactly. Those automating need to step up to cover the losses they’ve created. 

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4 minutes ago, iNow said:

What pays for them if millions workers lose jobs from automation and can no longer pay income tax (or even sales tax)? 

See line two of the post. ;)

6 minutes ago, Raider5678 said:

It seems to me like the biggest change that would need to happen is increasing taxes on corporations that are relying on automation more.

 

While that's obviously not the only change, and it's definitely an extremely simplistic view of the situation, that's the gist of it, is it not?

 

Edit: Posted it at about the same time. My bad.

5 minutes ago, iNow said:

Exactly. Those automating need to step up to cover the losses they’ve created. 

Agreed. However, the losses they're creating will be offset somewhat if the population is decreasing.

Except for the problem that a population is dynamic, and the number of people in it matters less than the abilities of that population(I.E. mostly older vs mostly younger).

 

We've set ourselves up for a bad case of systems collapse.

Edited by Raider5678

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16 hours ago, CharonY said:

Italy has traditionally also not been very welcoming to immigrants, and the attempts of asylum seekers to cross from the Mediterranean and ending up in Italy has only worsened their opinion. That being said, smaller communities which had a more direct influence on welcoming and integrating asylum seekers seem to have a much better opinion (of which I assume the noted communities are part of).

To the broader issue of population sustainability, there is a need for a broader rethinking about how our society should be in the future. While a certain slow decline is probably fine, it has to stabilize at some point to allow for sustainability. While most agree that automation will be a big part, I am not sure whether our economic models are ready to adapt to that. 

I agree. I think localization of food and energy production will be critical. I think importing such basic necessities pits populations against each others and plays a role in scenarios where people cannot afford the very products they help produce. 

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14 hours ago, Raider5678 said:

The last time a xenophobic right-wing party rose up in Germany, it didn't go well. Hence the "oh brother".

It has been more than once that such parties have made gains in Germany post-war (I remember distinctly the years during the Yugoslav wars and the refugee situation back then). Though this time they made gains by not exclusively engaging the extremists and took on the umbrella of concerned citizens. Citizens that incidentally  utilize language associated with the Third Reich rather uncritically. So you do have a point there...

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