We do NOT know if the climate models are correct. There are predictions that worsening storms and drought will have economic losses that are 20-50 times worse than today by 2050. The older predictions of flooding or winters without snow have not happened. However, we know for certain that lowering birth rates will result in 20-30% lower working age populations by 2050 in Japan, China, Korea and Europe. Only massive immigration is temporarily avoiding this lower number of working age population outcome in the US, Canada and Australia. The total fertility rates have gotten worse from just under 2.1 replacement to 1.5 to 1.8 for many developed countries and is now dropping to the 0.78 to 1.1 range from many countries. The worst case economic loss from bad storms from climate change is 2-3% global GDP loss but the economic damage from lost population will be 20-30% GDP loss. $5.6 trillion would only be about 2% loss of a 2050 economy that is $250 trillion. If the climate models have massively overestimated the loss and climate damage is two to five times worse than today then it would be 0.1% loss of GDP. 20-30% loss of a 2050 economy that is $250 trillion would be $50-75 trillion.
In 2021, the World Economic forum called Climate change ‘most impactful risk facing the planet. The largest predicted economic losses of climate change are from models that predict a lot more storm damage. This is mainly worsening droughts, storms and torrential rain in some of the world’s largest economies could cause $5.6 trillion in losses to the global economy by 2050. This has not happened yet as the world has been experiencing $100-250 billion per year in such storm damage. The agricultural losses from climate change might be $330 billion in 2050 and this does not calculate the improved agricultural yields from warming conditions for Canada and other northern farmland.
Population loss does directly cause economic losses. Population loss from now to 2050 will cause about 20-30% in economic damage or about a $60 trillion in economic loss. The GDP of a country is the amount of working people times the average economic contribution from each person. If your economy has 30% fewer people and all the people had on average the same productivity then you would lose 30% of your economy.
China will be losing 10 million people per year from its working age population from 2027-2050. Japan will be losing 1 million people per year from its working age population from 2023-2050. The working age populations for China, Japan, Italy and Spain will be about 20-30% smaller in 2050 than today.
Japan is going from 122 million people today to about 100 million people in 2050-2056. By 2050, its population could fall below 100 million, of whom 38.8% will be 65 or older. IF there was magic policy to double Japan’s birthrates then instead of a working age population of about 58 million in 2050, Japan could have 72 million working age people and a population of about 120 million.
China currently has a total fertility rate of 1.18. However, a survey of Chinese women indicates similarities to South Korean women for family size. South Korea has a total fertility of 0.78. IF China will struggle to stabilize its fertility rate at 0.8, then its population will fall to less than 1.02 billion by 2050 and 310 million in 2100. If China succeeds in holding its fertility rate to 1.1 and prevents it from declining, its population will likely fall to 1.08 billion by 2050 and 440 million by 2100. This would be 232 million fewer people in China in 2050 than the UN projections. The UN was assuming that China would have a total fertility rate of 1.5. This would be about a 18% drop in total population but a 30-40% drop in the working age population by 2050.
All of the developed countries except Israel have a total fertility rate below the replacement level of 2.1. Dropping total fertility from 1.5 to 1.8 down to 1.1 drops the working age population by 20-30%. Dropping total fertility from 1.1 down to 0.8 drops the working age population by another 10%.
China currently has about 960 million working age people versus the US at about 208 working age people. The US has about 168 million people working vs China at about 800 million people.
If China drops to 1.02-1.08 billion people in 2050 then the working age population would be about 600-680 million people. If the US had 400 million people (via high immigration) then it would have about 250-270 million people of working age. China would go from 4.5 times the US level of working age people today to 2.5 times the working age people of the US in 2050. China would have to reach about Japan levels of per capita income in 2050 to have an economy the size of the US.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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