Monday, May 7, 2012

IPS - The Population Conundrum

Way before we get to any of these depressing future, analysts had better learn to think and present their findings differently.

Someone shared this on Facebook and I picked it up. On the surface, it would looked like a government supported think tank is trying at the cognitive level to persuade us to accept more immigration. To me, everyone is oversimplifying a highly complex problem.

All these are academic ans Malthusian because they only look inward. Experience shows us that we have always make the choices in response to external developments. In the coming years, the challenge of a shrinking population is a challenge face by many other societies too. What make them think that they would want to come to Singapore?

By 2050, China, most of Europe, Japan, Taiwan and many more advanced economies will face shrinking populations. America is expected to hold it ground, but most of  the young and energetic people will hail mainly from Africa, India, Indonesia, Philippines and perhaps South America. There is one big problem. It doesn't look like many of tomorrow youths would be adequately educated for the even more advanced economies with declining populations.

Does IPS think that this presentation will motivate us to have more kids? I think it can only make a grave situation worse. They have failed to show an important chart: the inverted three generation sandwich. It is not just how many working adults supporting an old person in future, but also how many kids they have to take care too. If the young working adults are having children now, they would be even more discouraged and depressed in future! TFR decline will not reverse but accelerate.

In the box, left brain thinking cannot throw up any viable solution. Only right brain and even serendipity can. We must have faith. I like it that the future is unknowable, unpredictable. We cannot ignore such findings but we mustn't fear them either. Far more than analysts, we need courageous leaders. Not the kind we are making in our talent factory.

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