Where working-age populations are shrinking


For all of modern history, economic and population growth have gone hand in hand.

 That's now changing, as Charles Kenny and George Yang write in a new paper from t hand in hand.

Why it matters: That's now  he Center for Global Development.

  • Countries like Japan, Germany, Spain — and now China, too — have continued to register economic growth even as their working-age population has been shrinking.

 More than a quarter of the world's population now lives in a country where the working-age population is shrinking rather than growing.

  • China reached that point in 2016; India will get there in 2049.
  •  When a country's labor force stops growing, its economic growth slows, and its government expenditures rise.
  • Labor-intensive industries, especially, will suffer when there isn't enough labor to fill existing jobs.

 If a country's labor force is shrinking, that can change the national rhetoric around immigration.

  • "That shift helps explain a U-shaped relationship between aging populations and attitudes towards migrants in Europe," writes Kenny. "First, aging is associated with a rise in anti-migrant sentiment but then, as concerns over who is going to look after all the old people begin to rise, that trend reverses."

 Don't hold your breath waiting for pro-immigration sentiment to rise in the U.S. We aren't going to reach the point of negative working population growth until 2054.

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