Global Population Issues

Intended for constructive conversations. Exhibits of polarizing tribalism will be deleted.
BRUTE
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by BRUTE »

Noided wrote:Thoughts?
brute agrees on all points. social systems are fucked. humans won't change anything until it's too late or they get lucky with the next (industrial|computer|?) revolution and the following boost in productivity.

DeanPeacock
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by DeanPeacock »

I am scared of forecasts that 4 out of 10 people in Europe will be older than 60 by 2030

Dragline
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Dragline »

Noided wrote:In some european countries (including Portugal, where I'm from), many people voice concerns that we have a demographic problem (of the decreasing and aging kind of problem, not overpopulation). And now it is politically popular to talk about incentives for people to have more kids.

The thing is, when asked about what the actual problem is, most people talk about social security (mainly pensions) and economic growth. My thoughts are:
Economic growth by population growth is futile
Social security system should be changed to depend less on demographics
Other countries who adopted pro-fertility measures all have fertility rates below the 2.1 sustainability level - if their objective is to achieve sustainability, they are futile. Also, I would prefer direct the costs of such measures to "fix" social security or pay additional debt (Portugal has a lot of it).

My idea is that if you create a prosperous and sustainable country, people will eventually have the number of kids they like. And in think that the new norm is below the 2.1 per woman, so there is no use trying to go back to the past and force prosperity by popping out more babies.

Thoughts?
Almost all the developed world is developing this "problem", but I'm not actually sure its necessarily a problem. It kind of depends on your society's goals.

If you consider growth in GDP or other such measures to be the ultimate goal of a country, then yes, a declining and aging population is going to put the kibosh on that. But if you are trying to maximize more fuzzy things like "human well-being" or happiness, most of these countries are doing just fine, regardless of declining GDP and other measures of "growth". See http://worldhappiness.report/

If you want to continue growth, the easiest solution is to just import people. But it will change the culture of your country and there may be "assimilation" pains.

If you want to fix old people welfare, the easiest solution is to raise the "retirement" age.

If you want more home-grown children, you probably need to effectively pay people to have them with favorable policies towards parenting and free education, etc. But even countries like France who have thrown a lot at this are sinking below replacement rate.

The strange thing about this is that declining/aging populations are very deflationary and thereby also allow their countries to sustain higher debt/GDP ratios. Its unclear where that ends, but the aging experiment in Japan continues and has defied anyone's ability to predict when and if there will be a currency crisis there.

But I think the fundamental problem is that we really don't have a consensus on what the goals actually are. Right now you can easily drum up narratives about how good or bad things are just by cherry-picking your favorite data. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . ."

jacob
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by jacob »

The "problem" is a matter of perspective and degree:

Not having enough people to support the pension plan pyramid is a financial problem and a political problem.
Not having enough teenagers to join the military is a national problem.
Not having enough workers to take care the old demographic is an economical problem.
Having too many people feed the current meat heavy diet is a cultural problem.
Having too many people to feed any diet is a security problem.
Having too many people to sustain the ecology is a survival problem.

The latter trumps the former. The fact that public discourse still focus on the top most is a sign that the latter problems aren't immediate yet.

BRUTE
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by BRUTE »

brute would suggest that "not enough young humans to take care of the old humans" is more than an economical problem - the old start dying. it's a bit like food, where an economical problem can quickly become a survival problem.

jacob
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by jacob »

Semantics ... any problem will turn into a more serious problem if you delay the solution. However, while an economical problem is not necessarily a survival problem (for example, people can reprioritize work priorities towards elder-care instead of building flatscreen TVs), a survival problem is also a economical problem.

cmonkey
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by cmonkey »

Subjectively, these might not even be problems. It seems the more removed you are from 'popular choice' the less likely these are to be problematic.

Folks that are ERE bent probably could get as far as not considering 'too many people' a problem in that they are able to provide most of their own basic necessities (food mainly) while having the resources to procure the rest, even at elevated prices. Or simply go without.

enigmaT120
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by enigmaT120 »

BRUTE wrote:brute would suggest that "not enough young humans to take care of the old humans" is more than an economical problem - the old start dying. it's a bit like food, where an economical problem can quickly become a survival problem.
Nah, that's why the Japanese are inventing so many of those cool robots.

GandK
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by GandK »

enigmaT120 wrote:Nah, that's why the Japanese are inventing so many of those cool robots.
I thought they were doing that for sex.

Dragline
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Dragline »

GandK wrote:
enigmaT120 wrote:Nah, that's why the Japanese are inventing so many of those cool robots.
I thought they were doing that for sex.
Have you ever experienced a high-tech Japanese toilet? Pretty soon they will be able to fulfill all of your sexual and eldercare needs.

But be careful if you push the wrong button . . . :lol:

Solvent
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Solvent »

jacob wrote:Not having enough people to support the pension plan pyramid is a financial problem and a political problem.
It may be just semantics, depending on your definition of finance, but 'not having enough people to support the pension plan pyramid' is not only a financial problem. It is also an economic problem. This is a common misunderstanding.

Sometimes people don't adequately understand the source of the problem when talking about ageing populations and pension plans. The theory goes, if you have a state-funded pension plan, you continually need more people to pay into it to support the payouts to the old. This is fine, so far. But if you then go on to say: we should move to a 'self-funded' (or 'fully funded') system, where everyone needs to build up their own savings over their working life, and you say that this will solve the problem, then you are incorrect.

We must remember that money represents a claim on real resources. If you're not producing enough real goods to support your ageing population, it doesn't matter whether the money's coming out of the state coffers funded by taxes on the working age population, or if the money's coming out of the savings accounts marked with the name of retirees. It is all money that will be competing for the same pool of goods along with the rest of the population. So while the different systems will change who claims what, the point is that if there's not enough goods to go around (because there's too many retirees to workers), then you have a problem that is not just a financial problem.

Someone making an argument along these lines may simply mean that retirees should just be consuming less. If this is what is meant, I suppose it's not fallacious, but it also would also be a solution of equal effectiveness either under a pension model of old-age provision or a self-funded model.

I guess I'm trying to say two things - firstly that ageing populations are a problem as far as maintaining a constant standard of living is concerned, and secondly that, whether a state runs a pension model or a self-funding model, the choice of model doesn't remove this problem.

Noided

Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Noided »

Why do "ageing populations are a problem as far as maintaining a constant standard of living is concerned"?

And aren't you forgetting about productivity gains? I don't think we need a 1 to 1 ratio of workers to retirees for people to keep having food for example.

Solvent
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Solvent »

https://data.oecd.org/chart/4yDq

Productivity growth can help, sure. There might need to be more than what's been achieved in recent times.

The current standard of living is achieved with a given worker-retiree ratio. Ceteris paribus, if this ratio falls, the fact that fewer people are producing what's needed to maintain that standard of living means living standards decline. Older people tend to be net consumers. If their ranks grow relative to workers, there are more net consumers and fewer net producers.

BRUTE
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by BRUTE »

Solvent wrote:Older people tend to be net consumers.
takers

Dragline
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Dragline »

BRUTE wrote:
Solvent wrote:Older people tend to be net consumers.
takers
I'm not sure the first statement is true in the aggregate. I agree that older people are not earning money, so they are likely spending more than they earn as individuals.

But they are generally spending less than they did during their working years and are not creating additional demand by creating businesses, children brands and other things. This is why older societies tend towards deflation. The velocity of money in older societies tends to slow.

Takers/makers is kind of an attractive but meaningless meme derived from utopian fantasy, because it postulates that the same person occupies the same position throughout their life, which is easily falsified. Most people start as takers, become makers at some point and then become takers again when they age, depending upon how you define it. Its essentially a static model in a dynamic world. The utopian maker society would resemble something like the society in "Logan's Run". Sanctuary, anyone?

Lemon
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Lemon »

But it doesn't have to meet someone occupies the same position all life. Just how their life ends net overall giving or taking. Which if you are keeping old people alive as long as you can is going to mean more people ending up in net decificit. Most state pensions of whatever form people will get out far more out than paid in (or are projected too, reality may differ). Reducing benefits or delaying them can get round it though. Add in healthcare and some peoples costs get really crazy really quickly and the appropriateness of it is questionable at times and for little gain.

Obviously this is limiting a taker/giver definition to tax in/out which is without doubt a very coarse oversimplification an measuring such a thing would be fraught with difficulties.

Noided

Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Noided »

Solvent wrote:https://data.oecd.org/chart/4yDq

Productivity growth can help, sure. There might need to be more than what's been achieved in recent times.

The current standard of living is achieved with a given worker-retiree ratio. Ceteris paribus, if this ratio falls, the fact that fewer people are producing what's needed to maintain that standard of living means living standards decline. Older people tend to be net consumers. If their ranks grow relative to workers, there are more net consumers and fewer net producers.
So, how would you solve the "Pension problems"?

Dragline
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Dragline »

Easiest way is to increase the age at which pensions payments start, or go to fixed contribution plans instead of fixed benefit plans. Mathematically, its actually pretty easy to do with an actuarial curve -- you just look for the big drop-off where people start dying en masse and go from there.

Boomer politics makes this kind of unpalatable right now. But as soon as the majority of boomers are over 70, it may become extremely attractive -- to be applied to Generation X.

BRUTE
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by BRUTE »

brute thinks the pension problem can't be "solved", somebody will have to be defrauded. either the pensioners by increasing retirement age or decreasing benefits, or the tax payers by increasing taxes, or money users by devaluing the currency.

Solvent
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Re: Global Population Issues

Post by Solvent »

Well yeah, in terms of "keeping the promises made to everyone by politicians" I don't think the problem can be "solved," but that's not unusual because politicians overpromise all the time. My "solution" is probably one favored by many others on these boards. People ought to just consume less. I don't know what retirement living standards are like in Portugal, but I know the sort of retirement incomes people target in Australia and find it pretty baffling that people can spend that much money. Especially when they often have their own home paid off. I suppose when you're older your medical bills get pretty terrible.

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