[Book Review] Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline

by Max Kummerow

In Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline (Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2019) Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson argue that population decline will bring many social and economic changes—some good, some bad. They assert that “In three decades, give or take…global population starts to decline.”

Note that their title is a bit misleading. World population will probably rise to over 10 billion before the slow decline would begin.

The Connection Between Population, Income, and Health

By Max Kummerow

For hundreds of years, economists have debated whether population growth is good or bad. Malthus said exponential population growth increases labor supply, so wages fall until starvation, war, or plague stops growth in numbers. Marx said capitalism causes poverty and hunger, so population growth is good, because “every stomach is born with a pair of hands”, bringing revolution and justice closer.

Nearly 200 years later, Garrett Hardin and Julian Simon were still debating the same question.

The World Fertility Transition: Moving Toward a Steady-State Population

“There’s just too many of us and no one is talking about it.”
—Biologist Patrick Benson in Meera Subramanian’s, A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis


By Max Kummerow

It is hard to imagine a growing population supporting a steady state economy. “Jobs” and higher incomes for growing numbers of people anchor the platforms of political candidates and economists worldwide.

But what about a different approach?