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Old 06-09-2011, 07:01 PM   #21
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You need X productive workers per non-productive worker to keep society working smoothly. What X is, is a matter of debate, but it's clear that as population growth slows, that means you have a bunch of older retired folks and not enough prime-working-age contributors to keep things running. It also obviously has major problems for any kind of old-age assistance programs like Social Security or Medicare, since those are funded by the taxes of the still-working younger generations. That's one big contributor to the financial problems with SS &etc -- declining numbers of workers paying $$ in, and increasing numbers of retirees pulling $$ out.
Without government intervention you would have a large group of the population competing for the services of the smaller younger group which would drive up wages. Unfortunately, the government gives the services to the older generation for x pennies on the dollar. ( feel free to plug in your own value) And then forces the younger generation to pay for it. Lame.
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Old 06-09-2011, 07:08 PM   #22
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Without government intervention you would have a large group of the population competing for the services of the smaller younger group which would drive up wages. Unfortunately, the government gives the services to the older generation for x pennies on the dollar. ( feel free to plug in your own value) And then forces the younger generation to pay for it. Lame.
I think you're saying that without the government transfer systems, the loss from declining production resulting from a declining population would fall entirely on the old people. Correct?
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Old 06-09-2011, 07:28 PM   #23
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I think you're saying that without the government transfer systems, the loss from declining production resulting from a declining population would fall entirely on the old people. Correct?
Pretty much. We might even find ourselves in a situation where we must seek educated and talented immigrants. Leading to increased growth. Or we can print money.
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Old 06-09-2011, 07:30 PM   #24
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Ha is correct. One book that goes into depth on the topic is "Death of the West." But it is happening in the East as well. Korea and Japan have shrinking populations, and I believe Taiwan does too.

In my opinion the simple fact is that people are greedy. For more and more people, having a career has become more important than a family. Big house and 0 or 1 kid is now preferred to small or medium house and bigger family. $.02
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Old 06-09-2011, 09:16 PM   #25
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there is another reason that people are having fewer children. it used to be that having lots of children was the retirement plan for the parents. parents needed alot of kids so there would be enough people to support them when they could no longer work. (they also needed alot of kids to have "free" labor to work the family farm which would then support them in their old age.) having lots of children was looked upon as having "true wealth" and for good reason. however, as work became more industrialized (and then intellectual) and safety nets (SS & medicare) & pensions became available there was less need, from a free labor, retirement and safety net perspective, for larger families. also, kids are expensive and require alot of work, added incentives to cut back once they werent needed for their labor and safety net purposes. they became more of a wealth drain than "true wealth".
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Old 06-10-2011, 05:51 AM   #26
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there is another reason that people are having fewer children. it used to be that having lots of children was the retirement plan for the parents. parents needed alot of kids so there would be enough people to support them when they could no longer work. (they also needed alot of kids to have "free" labor to work the family farm which would then support them in their old age.) having lots of children was looked upon as having "true wealth" and for good reason. however, as work became more industrialized (and then intellectual) and safety nets (SS & medicare) & pensions became available there was less need, from a free labor, retirement and safety net perspective, for larger families. also, kids are expensive and require alot of work, added incentives to cut back once they werent needed for their labor and safety net purposes. they became more of a wealth drain than "true wealth".
Interesting point. Having children in the hopes they will take care of you involves risk. You may not be able to have children or they may choose not to help you. So the government steps in to eliminate that risk by forming insurance pools and safety nets. So eventually, there is no incentive to take risk. I think you nailed it right on the head. I'd like to add that if the government couldn't print money at will, the insurance pools would begin to dry up, benefits would be reduced and there would be a return of risk taking.
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:00 AM   #27
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Pretty much. We might even find ourselves in a situation where we must seek educated and talented immigrants. Leading to increased growth. Or we can print money.
Note that the immigrant decision assumes there are educated and talented people who see bigger opportunities in the US than at home. If there are such people, then it becomes a political decision of how many and which talents. The workers would prefer fewer immigrants to keep workers' wages high, the retirees prefer more immigrants to drive wages down.

I assumed the "Or we can print money" was sarcastic, but then I saw this:

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Interesting point. Having children in the hopes they will take care of you involves risk. You may not be able to have children or they may choose not to help you. So the government steps in to eliminate that risk by forming insurance pools and safety nets. So eventually, there is no incentive to take risk. I think you nailed it right on the head. I'd like to add that if the government couldn't print money at will, the insurance pools would begin to dry up, benefits would be reduced and there would be a return of risk taking.
I'll add that without modern medicine people also had the big risk that children would not live long enough to help their parents.

I agree that SS is a type of insurance pool that deals with the risks in the old system that you won't be able to have children, they won't live, they won't be productive, or they will desert you. I believe the older system was based on small, inter-related communities where your nephews and neighbors partially covered these risks.

I think that in a modern capitalist society, if there is no public retirement system, people will simply buy stocks and bonds to save for retirement. They won't have children just to have someone to take care of them. Of course, if everybody does that the system collapses, but that fact doesn't impact behavior.

I still don't get the "print money" reference.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:00 PM   #28
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There is a very strong economic disincentive to have children. I think this is unfortunate and will ultimately impact demographics quite strongly.
Sounds like the beginning of the movie Idiocracy....
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:01 PM   #29
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Interesting point. Having children in the hopes they will take care of you involves risk. You may not be able to have children or they may choose not to help you. So the government steps in to eliminate that risk by forming insurance pools and safety nets. So eventually, there is no incentive to take risk. I think you nailed it right on the head. I'd like to add that if the government couldn't print money at will, the insurance pools would begin to dry up, benefits would be reduced and there would be a return of risk taking.
This whole discussion about having children makes me think of the movie Idiocracy. Take a look at the 3 minutes of the opening if you have never seen it. It describes where we are headed (or are we already there??).

YouTube - ‪Idiocracy Intro (HR titlovi)‬‏
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:15 PM   #30
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This whole discussion about having children makes me think of the movie Idiocracy. Take a look at the 3 minutes of the opening if you have never seen it. It describes where we are headed (or are we already there??).

YouTube - ‪Idiocracy Intro (HR titlovi)‬‏
This is hardly a new idea. 100+ years ago it was "Social Darwinism". Here's a quote from the Wikipedia article
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Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, in 1865 and 1869 ... argued that just as physical traits were clearly inherited among generations of people, so could be said for mental qualities (genius and talent). Galton argued that social morals needed to change so that heredity was a conscious decision, in order to avoid over-breeding by less fit members of society and the under-breeding of the more fit ones.

In Galton's view, social institutions such as welfare and insane asylums were allowing inferior humans to survive and reproduce at levels faster than the more "superior" humans in respectable society, and if corrections were not soon taken, society would be awash with "inferiors." Darwin read his cousin's work with interest, and devoted sections of Descent of Man to discussion of Galton's theories. Neither Galton nor Darwin, though, advocated any eugenic policies such as those that would be undertaken in the early 20th century, as government coercion of any form was very much against their political opinions.
Somehow, it didn't happen. I recall that average IQ scores in the US increased during the 20th century. My guess is that good nutrition, medical care, and time available for children, have allowed us to get closer to our genetic potential.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:24 PM   #31
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Somehow, it didn't happen. I recall that average IQ scores in the US increased during the 20th century. My guess is that good nutrition, medical care, and time available for children, have allowed us to get closer to our genetic potential.
Really I was just joking. Saw it as an opportunity to link to a movie I think is funny. I don't take it seriously. And would never advocate eugenics or any other social elitist ideas to be put in place by an all knowing government agency for our own good of course.
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:55 PM   #32
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Note that the immigrant decision assumes there are educated and talented people who see bigger opportunities in the US than at home. If there are such people, then it becomes a political decision of how many and which talents. The workers would prefer fewer immigrants to keep workers' wages high, the retirees prefer more immigrants to drive wages down.

I assumed the "Or we can print money" was sarcastic, but then I saw this:

I'll add that without modern medicine people also had the big risk that children would not live long enough to help their parents.

I agree that SS is a type of insurance pool that deals with the risks in the old system that you won't be able to have children, they won't live, they won't be productive, or they will desert you. I believe the older system was based on small, inter-related communities where your nephews and neighbors partially covered these risks.

I think that in a modern capitalist society, if there is no public retirement system, people will simply buy stocks and bonds to save for retirement. They won't have children just to have someone to take care of them. Of course, if everybody does that the system collapses, but that fact doesn't impact behavior.

I still don't get the "print money" reference.
The print money reference wasn't meant to be sarcastic. I just went off tangent which I tend to do now and then. My bad. I feel that old age SS is a workable program . You have to admit that it should be flush after so many boomers paying in for so long. However, the fund was borrowed from and here we are with projected shortages. We can reduce spending, raise taxes, or print (borrow). So far, it only seems we know how to borrow.
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Old 06-10-2011, 03:08 PM   #33
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In Galton's view, social institutions such as welfare and insane asylums were allowing inferior humans to survive and reproduce at levels faster than the more "superior" humans in respectable society, and if corrections were not soon taken, society would be awash with "inferiors."
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Somehow, it didn't happen. I recall that average IQ scores in the US increased during the 20th century. My guess is that good nutrition, medical care, and time available for children, have allowed us to get closer to our genetic potential.
au contraire...

Looking around, I think that Galton was right. We are indeed surrounded by inferiors.

Perhaps he should have pushed harder.
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Old 06-10-2011, 03:12 PM   #34
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We are indeed surrounded by inferiors.
I'm glad none of them are on this forum ...
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Old 06-11-2011, 01:25 PM   #35
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I recall that average IQ scores in the US increased during the 20th century. My guess is that good nutrition, medical care, and time available for children, have allowed us to get closer to our genetic potential.
I'm pettttty sure that average IQ scores stated exactly the same - 100.
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Old 06-11-2011, 01:44 PM   #36
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I'm pettttty sure that average IQ scores stated exactly the same - 100.
Okay, to be more correct I should have said somebody periodically re-norms the scores.

Flynn effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:10 PM   #37
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The issue isn't just SS and Medicare. IF slower population growth means slower economic growth, then private investment returns shrink. (I'd be skeptical of buying stock in a company with declining sales.) In the end, somebody has to produce all the stuff that retirees consume.
It's true that demographics aren't destiny. We could have slow population growth with high productivity growth. But, unless you believe that slow population growth causes higher productivity growth, that would be just a happy coincidence.
I'm not sure how a slower population growth leads to slower economic growth. I think the significant factor in economic growth is continuing to make things that people want to buy.

I don't believe that slow population growth and high productivity growth are related. I think that productivity growth comes from other factors, and I think people are still motivated by applying those factors to enrich themselves, so I suspect that productivity growth will rise independent of the population growth rate (or lack thereof).

I guess you could call that a "coincidence", but I wouldn't imply causation to that correlation.
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Old 06-11-2011, 06:27 PM   #38
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That's really interesting.

I can't wait to tell my dad that when he says "people aren't getting any smarter", that he is wrong

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Okay, to be more correct I should have said somebody periodically re-norms the scores.

Flynn effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 06-11-2011, 06:39 PM   #39
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That's really interesting.

I can't wait to tell my dad that when he says "people aren't getting any smarter", that he is wrong
Yeah I thought that was common knowledge, but when I read the quote above about IQ scores growing (which is obviously not what the poster meant, but just how it came out) and expected her to laugh, she didn't get it, and I had to explain that they're pegged at 100, so that's always the average. She didn't realize either.
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:40 PM   #40
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Yeah I thought that was common knowledge, but when I read the quote above about IQ scores growing (which is obviously not what the poster meant, but just how it came out) and expected her to laugh, she didn't get it, and I had to explain that they're pegged at 100, so that's always the average. She didn't realize either.
It's like the boss discovering that 40% of employee absenteeism happens on a Monday or a Friday...
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