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Warnings about Declining Birth Rates

The magic number needed to keep the population from starting to shrink is 2.1. And yet this "replacement fertility rate" was only 1.55 live births per woman in the EU in 2013. Since the early 2000s France has topped European rankings. This is in contrast with Germany which has replaced Japan as the country with the world's lower birth rate. However, this did not prevent Germany to have reached much better economic performances than France. Therefore, it cannot be argued that demography would be the only key element in guaranteeing the economic development of a nation. An aging population is also considered as a cause for the decline in major economies. The number of people over 65 is set to double within 25 years (UN projections). And the "old age dependency ratio" shows a particularly disturbing trend in rich countries: Germany will have 66 old people for every 100 of working age up from 38 in 2010. Even emerging market economies will be affected by the aging of their populations. There is a widespread idea that a larger proportion of older people would lead to a slower economic growth. But, considering that many countries will have to cut excessive budget deficits, in particular by raising the effective retirement age, people will have to work longer and will thus produce more wealth. Finally, we should remember that rising productivity is perhaps the most determinant factor in favor of the economic growth. But it will depend more on new technologies than on human beings.

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