(Roughly) Daily

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist”*…

… something that nature seems to know. The population of the world, now roughly 8.1 billion, seems poised to shrink. To some, this is good news; to others, a cause for alarm. Phoebe Arslanagić-Wakefield and Anvar Sarygulov, co-founders of Boom, fall into that latter camp. But their provocative analysis of the dynamics of the Baby Boom is relevant to anyone concerned with the future of population on earth…

… In the countries that it touched, the Baby Boom created generations massive in size. In the US alone, 76 million babies were born in its peak 18 years, 30 million more than were born in the previous 18, a demographic difference bigger than the 1960 population of Egypt, the Philippines, or Ethiopia. By 1965, people born during the Baby Boom made up 40 percent of America’s population.

Today, a fifth of both the UK’s and the USA’s population are baby boomers and we live in the world they created. Despite that, as mentioned above, the most widely known piece of information about the Boom is its most pervasive myth, that it was caused by the end of World War Two.

The Baby Boom was not the result of people making up for lost time during the war: it saw total lifetime fertility rates rise, meaning that people did not simply shift when they had their children but had more of them overall. And in many countries, including the US, UK, Sweden and France, the rise in birth rates began years before the war had even started, while neutral Ireland and Switzerland experienced Booms that began during the war, in 1940.

Instead, to explain the Baby Boom, we must consider why it was that the iron law of fertility – that as incomes go up, births must come down – was suspended for this extraordinary period of time…

Fascinating and important: “Understanding the Baby Boom,” from @PMArslanagic and @ASarygulov.

By way of further background on our current situation: “Population bomb, bust – or boon? New UNFPA report debunks 8 myths about a world of 8 billion.

[image above: source]

Kenneth E. Boulding


As we grapple with growth, we might send hygienic birthday greetings to Melville Bissell; he was born on this date in 1843. An inventor and entrepreneur, he created and marketed the first modern carpet sweeper… which, as explained in the article featured above, was a seminal contribution to the advances in household technology that helped fuel the Baby Boom.


%d bloggers like this: