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The One Chart That Explains Our Grim Economic Future

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Well, there it is in the title. Right off the bat. Money is good and not having it is “grim”. If the current economy doesn’t keep up momentum then we should all be worried about the future. And what better way to ensure we have continued economic growth than to encourage people to have more babies. Mark Gongloff starts off this article for the Huffington Post with, “If you’re looking for somebody to blame for rising inequality, blame babies. Or, rather, the fact that there soon won’t be enough of them.”

I certainly agree that rising inequality is a HUGE global issue that needs to be addressed but I certainly don’t think that more people is the answer. Maybe in the short term there is some truth to this but it is not a long-term fix. We are destroying entire ecosystems to fuel this ideology and we have got to realize that can’t last forever. “A drop-off in population growth is a big reason why global economic growth is going to slow down in the decades ahead…” Yes, there would be some initial backlash if this were truly the case. But a) while the rate of population growth may be declining, the population is still in fact growing and b) at what cost is this the priority? Every natural resource and ecosystem on the planet?

But then the article starts to sounds a little bi-polar. “The Industrial Revolution, improvements, in health care and a bunch of other stuff contributed to this growth. But it can’t go on forever.” He even then admits that a “slowdown in population growth is also great news if you’re worried about climate change and resource scarcity, as you definitely should be.” So what gives? He’s still hung up on the fact that this could mean a slower economy. But isn’t a way of life that’s dependent on growth the bigger story here? Gongloff seems to admit the fault in this paradigm but still wants to cater to it.

And really, I’m not even sure what the story is here. Please read it and let me know.

Photo Source | Capital in the 21st Century

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  • Dave Gardner
    Dave Gardner Thursday, 01 May 2014

    My take on this is that Gongloff is just trying to report the news, as delivered in the book he discusses. He's not taking a position. However, showing a chart like this, of the growth RATE, almost guarantees misinterpretation by skimmers and shallow thinkers. They will walk away thinking population is declining, which Lynsey properly points out is not the case.

    I think the biggest shortcoming of the piece is the failure to grasp and to point out that an economy only needs to be big enough to meet the needs of the population. A bigger population needs a bigger economy. A population growing slowly does not require a rapidly growing economy. The exception to this is an insane population hopelessly addicted to growth. Might as well face it!

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