Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

An Economist’s Biggest Nightmare

Never before, has the world had more people walking on it. In the last two hundred years, the global population has grown seven times as large. Going from one billion to almost 7.7 billion humans.

Which is great for the economy.

After all, economic growth is simply the result of more people getting better at doing stuff.

But population growth is also scary. It could potentially lead to mass migrations, wars over finite resources, or overcrowded slums in mega cities that span entire continents.

At least, those are the horror stories your mind makes up when you’re told the population is exploding. And make no mistake, the population is steadily increasing.

But it’s not the apocalyptic level threat our mind makes it out to be, for the simple reason that the word population is projected to nearly stop growing by the 2100s.

Why would growth screech to a halt if the number of people on earth has gone up for since the 1300s?

Wealth.

In the old world, lots of people were born, but many died just as fast thanks to poor sanitation, poor diet, and poor medicine. Then came the industrial revolution which significantly raised the standards of living.

In the new world, the same amount of people were born, but now much more stayed alive. Populations blew up to twice the size of its pre-industrial counterpart in a matter of decades.

Realizing we didn’t have to churn out kids to keep one around, parents threw away their Barry White albums and population growth slowed down. Until nations finally reached a balance between life and death.

So why is the population still growing?

Because the nations of the world are at different stages of development. It’s only the countries that are lagging behind financially who have disproportionately high birth rates—the top 35 countries with the highest fertility rate are all in Africa.

Since we’re slowly eradicating poverty, people will have fewer babies, and population growth will come to an end.

Which means our economy will shrink. Unless we pick up the slack and get better at our jobs.

Although the day of the biggest economic recession is roughly a century away, we may as well prepare for it now. Let’s get better at stuff.

P.S. Don’t worry. By the 22nd century we’ll likely have technology to pick up the slack for us. Although that’s no excuse to get lazy.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach