Mar 092016
 
IMF managing director calls for new technology, shifting policy to meet population growth. Peter Dizikes | MIT New Office March 7, 2015 Original article, MIT Press The relentless rise in world population during the century ahead means we must develop new technologies and policies to spur economic growth, said Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while delivering MIT's Karl Taylor Compton Lecture on Friday. In a sweeping overview of global demographics and their effects on our civic structures, Lagarde highlighted the many challenges of living on an increasingly crowded planet, including fiscal and environmental stresses. But she emphasized that a growing population need not portend a kind of doomsday scenario, as some have envisioned. “We need to re-frame the debate about demographics,” Lagarde said. “I believe that this challenge can be met. But it requires the right policies, political resolve, and strong leadership. … The fiscal policy responses and technological innovation are especially important parts of the solution.” The world population is currently around 7.5 billion people and is projected to grow to 10 billion about 40 years from now. As Lagarde emphasized in her lecture, "Demographic Change and Economic Well-being: The Role of Fiscal Policy," population growth is bound up with some distinctly positive changes, such as greater life expectancy and a growth in per-capita income around the world. Globally, life expectancy has increased from 47 years to 71 years since 1950, and per-capita income has quadrupled since the end of World War II. Yet having more people on the planet may also be associated with a slowdown in economic growth, Lagarde noted, because an aging population is less able to work and may be fiscally burdensome for states, due to larger costs associated with health care and retirement security. Lagarde cited technology as a countervailing force to these trends, which spurs growth and lessens the costs embedded in our shifting demographics. She heralded MIT for its focus on “technological innovation,” saying it was “essential to raising living standards over the long term.” Lagarde also unequivocally emphasized the need for robust government investment in scientific research and development (R&D). New IMF economic research, Lagarde noted, indicates that if governments of the world’s advanced economies took steps that increased private-sector R&D by 40 percent, they would improve long-run GDP in those countries by 5 percent. Lagarde delivered her address before a capacity audience of around 1,200 (more…)
Oct 292014
 
Even a world war or pandemic would result in at least 5bn people by 2100 Steve Connor Monday, 27 October 2014 The global human population is “locked in” to an inexorable rise this century and will not be easily shifted, even by apocalyptic events such as a third world war or lethal pandemic, a study has found. There is no “quick fix” to the population time-bomb, because there are now so many people even unimaginable global disasters won’t stop growth, scientists have concluded. Although measures designed to reduce human fertility in the parts of the world where the population growth is fastest will eventually have a long-term impact on numbers, this has to go hand-in-hand with policies aimed at reducing the consumption of natural resources, they said. Two prominent ecologists, who normally study animal populations in the wild, have concluded that the number of people in the world today will present one of the most daunting problems for sustainable living on the planet in the coming century – even if every country adopts a draconian “one child” policy. “The inexorable demographic momentum of the global human population is rapidly eroding Earth’s life-support system,” say Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide and Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania in their study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Assuming a continuation of current trends in mortality reduction, even a rapid transition to a worldwide one-child policy leads to a population similar to today’s by 2100,” they say. “Even a catastrophic mass mortality event of 2bn deaths over a hypothetical window in the mid-21st century would still yield around 8.5bn people by 2100,” they add. There are currently about 7.1bn people on Earth, and demographers estimate that this number could rise to about 9bn by 2050 – and as many as 25bn by 2100, although this is based on current fertility rates, which are expected to fall over the coming decades. Professor Bradshaw told The Independent that the study was designed to look at human numbers with the insight of an ecologist studying natural impacts on animals to determine whether factors such pandemics and world wars could dramatically influence the population projections. “We basically found that the human population size is so large that it has its own momentum. It’s like a speeding car travelling at 150mph. You can slam on the brakes but (more…)