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.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May
1 March 2019

Crisis? What crisis? Government complacency on environment

The UK and Scottish Governments have responded to a letter from Population Matters with platitudes and complacency. In the case of the Scottish Government, their reply was sent eight months after we first contacted them.

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28 March 2017

One step forward, two steps back in African economic development?

Despite significant progress in recent years, Malawi’s government is concerned that young Malawis will inherit only poverty as economic gains are neutralised by population growth. 

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18 October 2018

Report: Ageing populations are good

A new opinion paper published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution argues that societies should embrace ageing populations instead of fearing them.

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Poverty

Sustainability Insights

Data from 2015 showed that, although extreme poverty had declined significantly over the past two decades, 14 per cent of the population of the developing world was still subsisting on less than $1.25 per day, defined by the UN as an international indicator of poverty. 

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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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