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February 2, 2013

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Trudy Mercadal

This is a fascinating article. Good points and a lot of food for thought. If I have one quibble, however, it is that the author states that "[l]ow-fertility societies don't innovate because their incentives for consumption tilt overwhelmingly toward health care." That would go contrary to the Scandinavian nations, low on population growth, high on innovation. For a long time they have been at the forefront of nations developing cutting-age technology, for example, and not necessarily healthcare-related, whereas Israel, with a higher fertility rate, is at the forefront of medical innovation, probably because it has been at war off-and-on through the decades. And European countries are "outsourcing" their fertility to new immigrants as well. That is just a worldwide phenomenon. In short, it is difficult to have a model that will work for all societies, as national cultures and other issues will also play a role. That doesn't mean that the author doesn't have some very good arguments. As for me, I hope that the recent and not-so-recent population in the nation expands enough so that when I retire, the numbers of people paying taxes into Social Security, etc., have expanded, not decreased. But that is a selfish reason, I admit. We'd probably be better off with less of a population burden, but that isn't happening anytime soon.

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