People and Ideas: Populations as Infrastructure


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Up to now, we’ve explored physical infrastructure: supply chains, housing, transportation, and more. But the ultimate resource for any country is its people.

For most of human history, populations were fairly stable. Then, in the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution precipitated an exponential increase in population, which reached a peak in the mid-20th century. Today, however, the demographic outlook in many developed countries is the opposite: birth rates around the world have fallen below the replacement rate.

In this episode, we explore the effects of declining birth rates and what, if anything, could be done to reverse them. Along the way, we’ll dig into one of the thorniest questions about population growth: what happens when governments try to influence it through policy?

Special thanks to Clara Piano, Shruti Rajagopalan, Matt Yglesias, Vimala Alexander, and Titus Alexander.

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