The costs of a declining population

In 1937, John Maynard Keynes gave a lecture on "Some economic consequences of a declining population". Many at the time felt the world was overpopulated and fewer people could only be a good thing, a view that Keynes himself shared. But the purpose of his lecture was to issue a warning: declining populations come with nasty economic side effects.

Keynes, it turned out, was worrying a couple of generations too soon. Births jumped in the post-war baby boom.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2020, with the headline 'The costs of a declining population'. Subscribe