Population and Economics

Modern economies promote continuous growth – a concept that is coming under increasing criticism from the environmental movement. The idea that we can have endless growth ignores the fact that our planet and its natural resources are finite.

To fuel constant economic growth, we need ever more consumers. Therefore, many governments employ ‘pro-natalist’ policies which aim to boost birth rates.

Developed countries that have achieved low fertility rates undergo population ageing, which is when the proportion of older people increases due to decreasing births and increasing longevity. Many economists and politicians fear population ageing because of its potential dampening effect on economic growth. However, these fears are often overblown and ignore the tremendous benefits of reduced population growth.

Learn more about population ageing here.

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Sustainable economics

Sustainability Insights

Introduction

It is clear that the present rate of consumption of natural resources is unsustainable.

Even so-called ‘renewable resources’ are only renewable at the rate at which they are naturally replenished and there is an overwhelming amount of scientific data to show that the present level of human activity is having a massively deleterious effect on the environment. In particular, greenhouse gas emissions will lead to potentially catastrophic levels of climate change unless urgent action is taken.

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Cost of living in the UK

Briefings and submissions
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2016 Overshoot Index

Table indicating degree of ecological overshoot of nations, based on Global Footprint Network data

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