Why Global Population Decline Could Be Bad for Humankind
A shrinking global population may hurt us in ways that we typically pay little attention to.
By Dr. Amitrajeet A. Batabyal
Arthur J Gosnell Professor in Economics
Rochester Institute of Technology
There is a well-established tradition in the social sciences and, more generally, in the popular media to worry about the harmful impacts of excessive population growth.
In the post-World War II era, this tradition was perhaps best exemplified by the work of the biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. He erroneously argued that in the 1970s “hundreds of millions of people” would starve to death despite “any crash programs embarked upon” at the time.
The fact that Professor Ehrlich was wrong in his apparent eschatological zeal did not bother many observers who went on to worry about the demands that excessive population growth would place on our seemingly finite natural resources.
There is no doubt that a growing population comes with environmental challenges. However, a critical issue that the world appears to be confronting today is the opposite of what concerned Professor Ehrlich and many other doomsayers: a declining global population.
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