The Wests Demographic Crisis | Stoic Markets

Italy exposes itself as another country facing population collapse...

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Over the entirety of 2023, only 300,000 births were recorded in Italy, a country of almost 60 million.

The country has been seeing huge levels of immigration over recent years, particularly from North Africa, but despite this influx, the countries total population has already already begun falling, down 2 million people already.

This is a story we hear plenty about, but most think this is merely a problem for the future, and won’t impact any of us for decades to come, but this is simply not true.

China’s population is falling my more than 2 million every year, Japan has been facing this same problem for many years and has already seen its population fall by more than 4 million over the last decade.

Most countries facing a crisis are either decidedly wealthy, like the US, Germany, Canada and Japan.

But middle income countries are facing a crisis as well, which most people don’t realise, with Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, China and Russia all in the same boat.

Clearly this isn’t only a problem for the west, but what does it actually mean for the worlds economy as it goes forward?

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In essence, fewer people make fewer things, but they also consume fewer things. The problem stems from the fall in productive capacity we’ll see, as it is focused in wealthy and middle income countries.

The African continent and the Indian subcontinent is where the vast majority of worldwide population growth is currently stemming from. But the vast majority of the goods and services which give us our high quality of lives do not come from these countries, and their industrial, technological and human capital is simply not able to pick up the slack.

Technological advancement is almost always driven by the wealthiest countries, but fewer people mean fewer researchers, and fewer new technologies as well.

There is also a deep concern regarding something called the “low fertility trap” which sees a vicious cycle where low fertility in one generation causes low fertility in the next, leading to a downward spiral in population.

The most pressing problem? How is an ever smaller working population going to fund and care for an ever growing aged population?

We are already witnessing this effect crippling countries like the United Kingdom, whereby the cost of national pensions and healthcare for the aged already amounts to almost 30% of the countries entire budget.

And with the levels of economic participation reducing every year, this problem seems set to only get even worse. The age of retirement is rising continuously, and I seriously doubt there will be a state pension at all when I’m of the expected age to receive one in 50 years time.

The World Economic Forum and countless other think-tanks keep alerting us to population collapse, but they always insist its a good thing, for the sake of “our planet”. That truth of the matter is that this crisis will impact the entire world, irrespective of political views, economic systems or geopolitical aims.

Stay stoic,

Max

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