The dystopian doomsday scenarios about overpopulation, from Malthus to Paul Ehrlich have not materialised. Many who remain committed to such a view tell us it is still just only a matter of time. They were purposefully resorted to exaggeration and even fabrication to bolster their arguments. Socialists have been rebutting the alarmists since the 19th Century. Those environmentalists who focus upon zero population growth will find instead of overpopulation, the world’s problem is underpopulation, first in the affluent West, and then most likely the rest of the developing world. One reason there has been a drop in fertility levels is that the death rate among infants and children went down, and therefore couples voluntarily stopped having large families. They’re still relatively poor, yet they began limiting the number of children. Reduce the mortality rate and population growth ceases. Only nations with high immigration or those which can make the switch from a youth economy to an old person’s economy will survive.
Many of these changes are positive success stories —longer lives, healthier life styles, less childhood deaths. But the question being asked is who will support the elderly? Over the next thirty years the ratio of workers to pensioners in industrialised nations will fall from the current 3 to 1 to 1.5 to 1. The average person under capitalism is sick or disabled for nearly 80 percent of the extra years they gain as life expectancy rises. The elderly, particularly those separated from family and removed from their community, are prone to more mental health issues. For a bright future not only must society’s economic and social structure change otherwise we will live in a future where the vulnerable and frail elderly will be ever more reliant upon charity.
When too few young people enter the workforce; as fewer young people get married, and have less children the population ages, which puts increasing demands on retirement and health-care . A growing population with lots of children has a bad worker-to-dependent ratio as well.” But children don’t require nearly as much health care as the elderly do, children don’t usually consume as many resources being largely provided for by their parents. But we are witnessing already how capitalist society is anxiously re-adjusting itself to the costs of old people by raising the retirement ages so that older people will work longer.
Birth rates in Spain and Italy are down to 1.1 children per couple so every young couple would have to have four children in order to stop the population decline that’s currently underway. No combination of government incentives to have larger families can turn this trajectory around. So they have no choice but to accept large numbers of immigrants, in the case of Italy many from Africa and in Spain many from South America.
Too often a nation's poverty is blamed upon too many people in it. “Our country is impoverished because there are too many people,” a dictator will say, “not because my bureaucracy is hopelessly inept, lazy, and corrupt.” A foreign corporation will hide its exploitation by saying there is not enough resources to provide for the population, at least not enough after they have exported it out of the country by looting and pillaging with the collaboration of the local despots. The theory of overpopulation gives them an excuse for the results of their own misrule.
We have lived in a world where the average population was young. This is about to reverse itself.
One solution is immigration but in-take will have to increase many times over. Native populations will have to change as well, becoming more multicultural. The USA will become the second largest Spanish speaking nation in 2020.
A second solution is increasing productivity, applying smart technology. The problem of fewer young people working will not be a problem since they will be able to produce more wealth.
Can capitalism deliver? No