Ross Douthat Thinks Sub-Saharan Africa Is the Richest Region on Earth

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Saturday, 01 December 2012 23:03

That is the implication of his column decrying the falling birthrate in the United States and other wealthy countries . Douthat seems to believe that we face some terrible fate if the population of the United States stagnates or even declines.

People who follow the news probably would see things differently. Given the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow global warming, the prospect of a smaller population should be seen as a huge bonanza. The story is quite simple, if we have 20 percent fewer people, we should expect our emissions of greenhouse gases to be roughly 20 percent less. Since the U.S. ranks near the top in terms of emissions per person, slower U.S. population growth is especially important to the world.

While some have made a big deal out of the projected decline in the ratio of workers to retiree, those familair with arithmetic know that the impact of even low rates of productivity growth swamps the impact of a lower ratio of workers to retirees. 

living-standards-2012-2035

Source: Author's calculations.

It is unfortunate if financial insecurity discourages people who want children from having them, but from the standpoint of economy and the country, a smaller population should be seen as good news.