The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Too Many People

Following on from my previous posts about the Optimum Population Trust. One area of policy where the Trust is weak is the economic argument for population control. Yes, there is an economic case to be made in terms of the environmental impact – but what are the other economic benefits?

Obviously the answer is a very big yes. Firstly, the idea that a population growth is conducive to economic growth doesn’t bear logical scrutiny. Think of it this way. In one year, the UK has 1 per cent economic growth. And its population also grows by 1 per cent. So the result, on average, is bugger all.

Whereas a 1 per economic growth without an increase in population would mean we would, on average, be slightly better off. In essence, any growth in the economy based on population growth is no growth at all; our economy is only growing in any real sense if economic growth exceeds population growth. One very easy of making sure of this is by reducing population growth.

Secondly, there are all the other financial benefits of lowering the population. Not just less pollution, but less traffic congestion, shorter hospital waiting lists, maybe even full employment. As it follows that increasing population density leads to greater pressures on society, greater lawlessness and a reduction in freedoms, so a population reduction is necessary to safeguard our personal liberties (see Asimov’s Bathroom). So much of our national resources are spent dealing with the consequences of a services being run on a crisis basis of ever-increasing demand exceeding capacity; those resources would be better spent improving the services. If you’re not spending all your money building new homes, you can improve the ones you’ve already got.

In short, a nation – or a world – with fewer people makes financial sense.

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