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.

See our latest news stories and blog posts about economics below.

Power station
10 October 2020

Can we shrink our energy footprint?

A new study suggests we can reduce global energy consumption by 75% and still lead comfortable lives. To achieve that, the authors say we need "radical action on all fronts", including addressing vast disparities in consumption across the world. Can we do it?

Read more

Contraceptive pills
26 September 2020

Reproductive Healthcare: The Missing Link

A new study released highlights the importance of ensuring universal access to modern reproductive healthcare to achieving the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. To mark World Contraception Day, Population Matters calls for increased funding to the UNFPA to fulfill unmet modern contraceptive needs. 

Read more

Crowd crossing road
20 July 2020

Two billion fewer people?

A new study published in The Lancet projects that the global population will peak at 9.7bn in 2064 and be 8.8bn by the end of the century. That's 2bn below the United Nations projection. Can it be true?

Read more

Hitting the Targets - Population and the SDGs

Briefings and submissions
Download

Population Matters' response to the Dasgupta Review

Briefings and submissions

Response note to The Dasgupta Review – Independent Review on the Economics of Biodiversity Interim Report as commissioned by the UK’s HM Treasury.

Download
28 April 2020

Planet of the Humans: Infinite growth is suicide

Our Director Robin Maynard reviews Planet of the Humans, the controversial new documentary produced by Michael Moore and directed by Jeff Gibbs, released on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Read more

27 March 2020

Study: preference for small families is 'contagious'

As highly social creatures, much of what we say and do is influenced by the people close to us. A new paper examines this effect on family size and consumption behaviour and concludes that smaller families and sustainable lifestyles could be achieved by facilitating the evolution of social norms.

Read more

Shipping
17 February 2020

The ‘blue acceleration’: ocean plunder in the Anthropocene

A new study highlights the rapidly increasing pressure on the world’s oceans as a result of human population growth and burgeoning demand for resources.

Read more

Contraceptives
4 February 2020

Which European countries spend the most on global family planning?

A new report shows that Europe spent a total of 845 million Euros on global sexual and reproductive health and family planning in 2018 – an overall increase of 5% compared to 2017. Most countries either increased or maintained their funding levels, yet major shortfalls and political barriers remain.

Read more

Old couple riding bikes
19 November 2019

70 is the new 65: a new way of looking at population ageing

A new analysis by the UK Office for National Statistics shows that estimating the number of life years remaining, rather than counting the years lived, could be a better way of measuring ageing and its implications for society.

Read more