Population decline - a self-correcting problem?

I think people are real worried about Japan but I believe theirs and other countries problems with population decline will self-correct.

Cuz’ what’ll happen is the unsustainable pension system will collapse and then it will make economic sense for children to start working again because they have run out of able workers to take care of the elderly. At this point children will transition back from being liabilities to being assets and so people will start making more of them.

“Seeking 6 year old who is comfortable manipulating pivot tables”


Or do what Canada has done and greatly increase immigration to replace the children that are not being born in Canada. Japan has historically resisted this approach to its aging population problem.

More like, I imagine a post-apocalyptic Japan where there are a bunch of collapsed buildings and people need kids to pick them apart for scraps. We could make an anime based on that and call it Mad Makkusu.


The problem with that is you put inmense pressure on housing so you end up with hard right conservative governments.

How can that be avoided given the NIMBYs block house-building in desirable locations?

The former is certainly happening in Canada but two positive things are happening on the housing front.

Firstly, the quantum of immigration is being reduced as all parties realize immigration increased too fast too quickly.

Secondly, the supply of housing is being ramped up through various programs including more liberal zoning. I think finding enough workers to build the housing will be a bigger obstacle than NIMBYism. The municipalities are on board. On my street, the replacement of old houses with large single family houses has quickly pivoted to quads and apartment buildings are replacing single family houses on the main arteries.

Ok, that was a real lol.


But, but, but, our CULTURE!!!

And language. You wouldn’t want languages that no one speaks coming into your country.


This is driven by a lot more fundamental aspects than left/right politics.

Mortality due to disease, injury. and war have dropped massively in the last 175 years. This has led to a staggering increase in the human population. Which accelerated over the last 80 years in particular. This has led to some resource scarcity around living space and water, in some places.

Couple those facts with the 1st world reality that it takes a lot of education/training to be a net producer in those societies. Children were always expensive for the 1st 10 years or so. The marginal expenses dropped and not all of them would live to adulthood so you had many children. Now they are expensive for 20-25 years, marginal expenses don’t drop much, and almost all survive to adulthood. Presto, lower birth rates in 1st world nations.

There are cultural drivers as well. Mostly centered around women’s changing role in society leading to older average age for having a 1st child. Another cultural shift is that children are no longer looked at a primary source of retirement security for their parents. It used to be almost universal that adult children would help take care of their parents in retirement, including primary care during any invalid stage. Now its not even close to a norm.

The problem may be self correcting, but it operates on a multi-generational scale.

I think this is a big factor so once social security or whatever countries’ equivalent of that collapses, society will make more babies out of necessity.

Or, be more modest with the numbers. Accept enough immigrants to maintain a level workforce.

In the US, this is a small enough number that we can be very selective about who we’d admit.

Immigration acceptance and fewer abortions would offset the decline.
Cultural and financial encouragement of larger families would fix it.
None of those seem likely soon.

Honestly not sure why this is even considered a problem. In the big picture a lot of our problems would be solved by reducing the planetary population to around 6 billion or so.

Reduced need for everything from food and water to energy and housing space. As long as technology could still lead to increased productivity and efficiency of operation and material usage, you’d have an improving quality of life. Take the pressure off and give the human race time to solve the problems involved in getting ourselves off this rock and later out of the neighborhood. That way we aren’t dependent on a single fusion reactor.


Society doesn’t do things out of its self interest or communism would have worked. People do things out of their own self interest and if Social Security and Medicare are there they don’t desperately need kids like they used to. Society’s going to have to do something like massively incentivize kids (even for middle class and upper class, not skewed to lower class like it is now with the huge Medicaid benefit).

Because there’s not enough people to take care of the retired population (both directly and indirectly with taxes).

Not really. It just takes a lot of education to have reliable shot at a middle class lifestyle or higher. You can be a net producer at plenty of low wage jobs (nurse, gardener, cleaner, teacher) just no one wants to.

It’s self correcting. Without social security you need your children to provide for you.

I don’t think anyone wants to wait for social security to collapse for the population to self correct.

I suppose global warming is self correcting in the end - all the pesky humans will die and the planet will no longer be subjected to as many carbon emissions.

COVID is probably self correcting too.

There’s no limit to the amount of things that are self correcting :wink: