Elon Musk says civilization will collapse if more people don’t have more children – and his comments highlight heated demographic debate

  • Elon Musk recently said that the decline birth-rate is one of the greatest risks to civilization.
  • Experts fear that the “baby bust” pandemic could lead to an aging population without enough workers.

In the eyes of the richest man in the world, one of the greatest threats to civilization is that people are not having enough babies.

You’re here CEO Elon musk told the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council that there weren’t enough people. “I think one of the greatest risks to civilization is the weak birth the birth rate and the rapidly declining birth rate, ”he said.

He continued, “And yet so many people, including smart people, think there are too many people in the world and think the population is getting out of hand. It’s the complete opposite. Please look at the numbers – if people don’t have any more children, civilization will collapse, mark my words. “

Musk refers to the “baby bust” pandemic. A CDC report released earlier this year found that the birth rate in the United States fell 4% from 2019 to 2020, the steepest annual decline in nearly 50 years and the lowest number of births since 1979.

Falling birth rates during economic downturns are typical, as people tend to delay having children during times of political and social unrest. But last year’s recession has been accompanied by a global health crisis, leaving demographers to question whether the current drop will turn out to be a temporary or permanent phenomenon: will women end up having babies by a date. future or will they have fewer babies overall?

Some, like Musk, have no hope. One demographer called the trend a “crisis” in an interview with CBS, while another demographer told CNN that the baby-bust could have a big impact on economic activity going forward.

But a drop in the birth rate doesn’t have to be a doomsday scenario, and governments and business leaders can adjust to a world without so many people.

A new economic chapter

Experts fear that today’s baby fall could lead to a economy plagued by an aging population that is not being replaced by enough young workers – a troubling thought when America is already in the midst of what is shaping up to be a permanent labor shortage. This could lead to higher government costs and a reduced workforce that would have to meet the costs of care for aging populations, creating a shortage of pension and social security funds.

This is why Musk fears the falling birth rate may signal the end of civilization. But with the right measures, civilization may not be as threatened as Musk thinks it is.

U.S. birth rates have been falling for six years as millennial women wait to have babies later. In this way, the United States is catching up with the rest of the world by falling back into the peloton.

This is part of a larger shift among most high-income countries and some middle-income countries in which women report having children at an older age. The fact that the United States is one of those countries is a sign of economic progress, Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University previously told Insider. New avenues of fulfillment for women have emerged, such as building a professional life or traveling.

“It is about women having access to education and employment opportunities,” said Percheski. “It is about the rise of individualism. It is about the rise of women’s autonomy and a change in values.”

Of course, underlying macroeconomic factors are also at play. Millennials have long faced a crisis of affordability, grappling with the lingering effects of the Great Recession and the soaring cost of living. pushed to push back the stages of life.

Percheski said the country will likely need to make structural adjustments, such as creating new policies to accommodate changes in the size of the population. America can also change now to avoid having to do it later, such as government leaders making child care more affordable and CEOs providing more flexibility in the workplace.

“CEOs might start by realizing that job flexibility is a major benefit for employees with young children. Even if a good daycare is available, parents need flexibility to deal with sick children, doctor’s appointments, school events etc. Matthias Doepke, a highly cited Northwestern economist who published an analysis of the gender effects of the coronavirus pandemic, told Insider.

Maria Floro, professor emeritus of economics at American University, agrees.

“Companies have to share the cost of increasing the future workforce in one way or another,” she told Insider. “This means helping pay the cost of affordable care and implementing labor policies that promote pay equity and promote a healthy work-life balance for women and men. ”