The populations of many countries are declining in a time of peace and prosperity. That unprecedented and basic change in society must indicate something, but what? The experience of Japan, where the trend is most advanced, provides some hints.
A child is born. For almost every parent, everywhere and always, the entry of a new person into the world is a welcome wonder. But economists generally have a different outlook on births. They prefer hard numbers to hope. And this week they have a big demographic number to discuss: the world’s population has just reached 7 billion.