Sunday, January 08, 2006

Incredible shrinking countries

The Economist has some amazing figures on demographic decline: in the next 50 years, Russia's population is estimated to fall by 22%, and Ukraine's by 43%. Even China's population will start to shrink by 2030. But this is generally a good thing for individuals:

People love to worry—maybe it's a symptom of ageing populations—but the gloom surrounding population declines misses the main point. The new demographics that are causing populations to age and to shrink are something to celebrate. Humanity was once caught in the trap of high fertility and high mortality. Now it has escaped into the freedom of low fertility and low mortality. Women's control over the number of children they have is an unqualified good—as is the average person's enjoyment, in rich countries, of ten more years of life than they had in 1960. Politicians may fear the decline of their nations' economic prowess, but people should celebrate the new demographics as heralding a golden age.

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