More on pop growth

Don Bordeaux at Cafe Hayek has a post about population growth.

Economist.com reports favorably U.C.-Berkeley researcher Malcolm Potts’s claim “that slowing population growth is essential if poverty is to be eradicated.”

On what basis do the Economist.com reporter and Mr. Potts believe that a larger population is necessarily incompatible with the eradication of poverty?  The standards of living of at least 4 billion of the approximately 6.8 billion people alive today are incomparably higher than were the standards of living for nearly everyone who lived prior to the industrial age

He’s coming to almost the opposite conclusion of Robin Hanson, where population growth is necessary for economic growth, not its downfall.

I understand his point as well: people are productive so the more people there are, the more overall productivity their is. In addition, we need a young healthy population to take care of the elderly and maintain a high standard of living for all.

However, I don’t see net population growth as being essential to economic growth, at least not in a future economy. Fresh blood always is good for economic growth, but as long as we at least maintain our numbers, there should always be a new supply of talent and the old codgers can die off or retire.

I think the original article may be mistaken GDP, which will grow when population grows regardless, and GDP per capita. The per capita term is a far more important measurement of individual (and therefore national) wealth. Who cares if GDP growth is slow if our personal incomes are growing fast, but population is staying steady?

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