Tyler Cowen writes about “global depopulation” as the looming existential threat no one is talking about. I recommend you read it.
It seems to me that several of us have been talking about it. I proposed in our recent anniversary issue that we must Stand Athwart Japanification. But being on the right is sometimes like shouting into a void. Your voice doesn’t count until Nick Kristoff starts stealing your ideas.
Depopulation is a compounding phenomenon. Birthrates that go below replacement level tend to drop precipitously. An aging population will have fewer people who are fertile at all. And in those societies, more resources — money, time, and thought — of fertile-aged people is redirected to their aged parents rather than to the crib. There is also a thermostatic pressure. People who grow up in atomized arrangements are more likely to lack the confidence, skills, or even the desire to build substantial families of their own. Societies that enter this spiral often seem to be getting richer, because they are spending on their lifestyle today what they ought to be investing in the future. That applies to finances as much as to children. Capital that is dedicated to keeping people comfortable in retirement is not going to be funding risky growth ventures.
One of the best books for grappling with this is by Bulwark editor Jonathan V. Last, What To Expect When No One’s Expecting. It has hugely alarming details about how Venice is on track to be depopulated of native Venetians late in my expected lifetime. Or how unstable a society can become once it nears collapse. Once you see how punishing the numbers are, it’s hard to unsee them.
We are, for now, hurtling toward a lot of pain, loneliness, and misery. Up till now, it has mostly been conservative Catholics sounding the alarm. I’m glad that Cowen has invited brainy people beyond that fold to pay attention to it.