Book

On the Cusp

Charles S. Pearson

Published in print August 2015 | ISBN: 9780190223915
Published online August 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190223946 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190223915.001.0001
On the Cusp

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This book traces world population growth and (prospective) decline using the lens of economic demography. The starting point is the flawed theory of Malthus in 1798; the end point is unknown, but most probably features global aging and depopulation. While the Malthusian overpopulation threat of the post World War II decades has been thwarted, its obverse, fertility rates plunging below replacement level, creates new challenges. From too many to too few? The upside of depopulation is less stress on environmental resources; the downside may be a loss of economic vitality. Moreover, population decline threatens the “generational bargain” in which working generations support both youth and the elderly through health and retirement schemes. Developing countries are not off the hook as they also are rapidly aging and some will lose population before they are “rich.” The analysis pays special attention to the concepts of optimal population and demographic transition, and suggests a new metric for identifying who is elderly. It concludes with a balanced assessment of coping strategies—pro-natal policies, migration, labor–market participation, human capital, and a deliberate de-growth strategy.

Keywords: Malthus; depopulation; overpopulation; aging; economic demography; generational bargain; demographic transition; optimal population; fertility; de-growth

Book.  256 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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Table of Contents

Introduction in On the Cusp

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Malthus Redux in On the Cusp

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Optimal Population in On the Cusp

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Demographic Transitions in On the Cusp

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Downsizing in On the Cusp

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Aging in On the Cusp

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Coping Strategies in On the Cusp

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