Time for a serious chat denizens. Seems to see that there are two existential crises that the world faces in the next decades - note I say decades, not years, both of these will be critical for the remaining years of those reading this.
- Climate - This has been thrashed around for years. We are slowly making progress but more needs to be done everywhere. Current state of affairs - https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/
- Demographic transition - I think this one may be as serious as climate change but is only emerging into prominence. Just a few examples of the impact.
- Aging populations needing support, healthcare and otherwise. In richer western countries this might mean delayed retirements (hello Macron), pension schemes at risk (US), strains on hospitals and other parts of the system. China has passed a law saying that children must look after their parents, and by extension, grandparents, i.e. give them somewhere to live and feed them. Social media is busy with discussion of a man who abandoned his children 20 years ago and is now demanding his son and DIL take him in. The court ruled in his favour btw. It is a particular problem since most of the children are of the age that they were born during the One Child Policy so the couple have four parents (and possibly grandparents, and no siblings to share the load.
- A shortage of the labour force as people age. China has raised retirement age (a lot) and France just did it. Other countries are considering similar actions.
- Some countries are attractive to immigrants who can fill in gaps in the workforce but in many countries this is seen as threat to existing cultural structures. As I mentioned in another thread I just came back from Iceland which is now accepting many immigrants as the fertility rate declines and thee economy is strong. Virtually all Icelanders speak English, as do the vast majority of immigrants. The result is that the economy mainly operates in English. Many fear that, given a generation or two, the Icelandic language and much of the traditional culture could disappear.
- The potential destruction of the real estate market. Most people have much, or all, of their wealth tied up in their homes. What happens if the country's population declines by 10%, by 50%? These are realistic scenarios for this century for countries like China and Japan whose populations have only started to decline. The rates of decline will only get worse as fewer and fewer women have fewer children (South Korea's TFR is less than 1.0 - that means every two people will produce (less than) one child to replace them. What happens when there is a large and growing housing glut?
- There are military implications, especially for countries that rely on boots on the ground rather than tech to fight their wars. Russia is experiencing this now. Ukraine has a lower TFR than Russia but is only able to make up for the shortage with more women in uniform, older folks fighting, some foreign fighters and just a higher motivation to fight.