Konec gospodarske rasti, če postane demografija negativna?

Jones (2020) je pripravil zanimiv teoretični članek, na katerega vas želim opozoriti, in sicer o tem, kaj se zgodi z gospodarskim napredkom našega planeta, če se demografija zaustavi oziroma postane negativna. Vsi nekako živimo v prepričanju, da se število prebivalstva nenadzorovano povečuje. Podatki pa kažejo, da je v mnogih razvitih državah neto prirast prebivalstva (brez upoštevanja migracij) že negativen, fertilnost pa upada tudi v največjih državah v razvoju.

Za lažje razumevanje naj v začetku omenim, da je gospodarska rast produkt produktivnosti in rasti prebivalstva (če zanemarimo stopnjo participacije delovne sile). To pomeni, da v primeru konstantne produktivnosti gospodarsko rast poganja rast prebivalstva. Problem nastopi seveda, če demografija postane negativna. Podatki za Japonsko kažejo, da naj bi bila prav slednja krivec za nizko rast BDP v zadnjih dveh destletjih, vendar Japonska še vzdržuje pozitivno rast BDP zaradi solidne produktivnosti. Hudič pa je, ker v razvitih državah v zadnjih desetletjih rast produktivosti trendno upada. Se pravi, da bo rast produktivnosti lahko vse manj kompenzirala za upadajočo demografijo. Začasna rešitev so migracije, vendar pa te, predvsem iz kulturno in versko zelo različnih regij glede na našo civilizacijo, dolgoročno niso politično vzdržne.

Ergo, treba bo začeti delati bodisi na rasti natalitete bodisi na rasti produktivnosti. Najbolje, da na obojem.

In a recent book entitled Empty Planet, Bricker and Ibbitson (2019) make the case based on a rich body of demographic research that global population growth in the future may not only fall to zero but may actually be negative. For example, the natural rate of population growth (i.e. births minus deaths, ignoring immigation) is already negative in Japan and in many European countries such as Germany, Italy, and Spain (United Nations, 2019).

Figure 1 shows historical data on the total fertility rate for various regions. This measure is the average number of live births a cohort of women would have over their reproductive life if they were subject to the fertility rates of a given five-year period. To sustain a constant population requires a total fertility rate slightly greater than 2 in order to compensate for mortality. The graph shows that high income countries as a whole, as well as the U.S. and China individually, have been substantially below 2 in recent years. According to the U.N.’s World Population Prospects 2019, the total fertility rate in the most recent data is 1.8 for the United States, 1.7 for China and for High Income Countries on average, 1.6 for Germany, 1.4 for Japan, and 1.3 for Italy and Spain. In other words, fertility rates in the rich countries of the world are already consistent with negative long-run population growth: women are having fewer than two children throughout much of the developed world.

Global ferility rates

A sharp downward trend in India and for the world as a whole is also evident in the figure. As countries get richer, fertility rates appear to decline to levels consistent, not with a constant population, but actually with a declining population.

Conventional wisdom holds that in the future, global population will stabilize at something like 8 or 10 billion people. But maybe that is not correct. We surely do not know for certain what will happen in the future. The fact that so many rich countries al- ready have fertility below replacement indicates that a future with negative population growth is a possibility that deserves further consideration.

The models of economic growth cited above assume a constant or growing popu- lation, and for understanding economic growth historically, that is clearly the relevant case. The demographic evidence, however, suggests that this may not be the case in the future. Hence the focus of this paper: what happens to economic growth if population growth is negative?

We show below — first in models with exogenous population growth and then later in a model with endogenous fertility — that negative population growth can be particularly harmful. When population growth is negative, both endogenous and semi- endogenous growth models produce what we call an Empty Planet result: knowledge and living standards stagnate for a population that gradually vanishes. In a model with endogenous fertility, a surprising result emerges: even the social planner can get stuck in this trap if society delays implementing the optimal allocation and suffers from inefficient negative population growth for a sufficiently long period.

In contrast, if the economy switches to the optimal allocation soon enough, it can converge to a balanced growth path with sustained exponential growth: an ever-increasing population benefits from ever-rising living standards. Policies related to fertility may therefore determine whether we converge to an “empty planet” or to an “expanding cosmos ”; they may be much more important than we have appreciated.

Vir: Charles I. Jones (2020), The End of Economic Growth? Unintended Consequences of a Declining Population

 

One response

  1. Kapitalizem brez rasti ne more preživeti. Rasti pa ni, na dolgi rok, brez rasti populacije. As simple as that.

    Problem, ki ga imamo ni ekonomski. Je globoko v sistemu vrednost družbe v kateri živimo. Odločitev za otroke je seveda individualna pravica vsakega posameznika in Bog ne daj, da bi se ji odrekli. Ampak ko le-ta preferenca postane statistično pomembna in vpliva na obstoj populacije, potem imamo resen problem. Imamo družbo, ki se ni sposobna obnavljati na dolgi rok. Imamo družbo katere sistem vrednot ne omogoča biološkega preživetja. Si taka družba sploh zasluži obstoj?

    “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”

    Arnold J. Toynbee, Historian

    Ker gre za problem, ki v osnovi ni ekonomski (ekonomske so posledice), je (bo) tako težko rešljiv. Ker bo treba spremeniti smisel življenja. Ničesar ni težje spreminjati kot samega sebe. Zgodovina uči, da za tako spremembo potrebuješ močan zunanji stimulus. Problem je, da ta stimulus običajno ni prijeten.

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