In the years ahead, population growth will turn negative in many countries with dramatic consequences to follow, according to economist Niels C. Jensen. The leading indicator in this respect is the fertility rate, which is now well below the replacement rate in many countries, Africa being the main exception.
With negative population growth in virtually every corner of the world, it will be exceedingly difficult to generate respectable economic growth over the long term, and long term in this respect means at least until the mid-2020s (United States) and much longer in some parts of the world, in particular in Europe.
Shrinking populations are only half the story, though.
The mix between working people and old-age pensioners is the other half. Once you retire, you don’t produce anymore; instead you become a liability on economic growth. Germany and Latin Europe (ex. France) are often accused of having the worst ratio between working-aged and old-aged people, but according to the OECD Eastern Europe and parts of Asia are even worse off.
Britain’s economy is losing momentum, knocked by weaker household spending and worries about the global outlook, according to the latest in a string of downbeat business surveys. Business activity grew at the slowest pace for more than two years in Britain’s dominant services sector last month, according to the closely watched Markit CIPS PMI report. The authors said it looked as if GDP growth had slowed in recent months and was entering the final quarter of the year at a pace of just 0.3% – less than half the 0.7% seen in the second quarter, according to the most recent official data.