The UK population grew by 408,000 in 2008 - the biggest increase for almost 50 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.The total number of people passed 61m for the first time with changes in birth and death rates now a bigger cause of growth than immigration.
Felipe Fernández-Armesto, the author of Civilisations and Food: A History,writes in The Times: "Population anxiety is usually ill informed and often ill intentioned — targeted against the poor who “breed like rabbits” or immigrants who “swamp” natives... .. the latest figures are a source of hope — showing that relatively fertile immigrants can, at least for a while, replenish the new generation of young people the country needs. In these circumstances, population fear-mongering is a kind of terrorism and the “population bomb” is a hoax. The real danger is that as people multiply, we will value them less. We should prize human life and try to continue to count it as precious, no matter how much of it we have. " He also says "Population increase causes none of the problems commonly ascribed to it....We have selective food shortages — but because of unfair distribution and warped priorities..."
The “Too many old people” or the “People living too long” doom merchants are making the same mistake as Malthus made two hundred years ago with his completely wrong predictions about “overpopulation”. They are ignoring that productivity also increases over time, so that whereas there are indeed proportionately less workers engaged in production they are able to produce proportionately more wealth. It is the increasing productivity that will go on between now and when existing workers retire that will mean that society, even capitalist society, will be able to support the expected increased proportion of retired people in the population. There is in principle no problem here.
Malthus's contemporary William Godwin, was the first to point out that every extra mouth brought with it an extra pair of hands.
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