A Demographic Cap and Trade

Some time ago I mentioned the concept of tradeable birth licences proposed by Kenneth Boulding in the 60’s. One must recognize that population growth, especially in the developing world, is a serious problem. We are facing a kind of a Malthusian situation – there are ever more people in the world without us having the possibility to extend agricultural production meaningfully. Furthermore, this time (unlike in the beginning of the 19th century, when Thomas Malthus lived), agriculture is not the only limiting factor. The stresses we impose over the Earth’s ecosystems generally become ever larger und more severe. And this despite the fact that there are millions of people living in such poverty that their influence on the environment is almost negligible! So maybe the time is ripe to think about population control. Continue reading

Sustainability and Population Control

For the time being, the world population is approaching the level of 7 billion people (it probably will reach it this year). According to UN estimates, by the middle of the century there will be 9 billion people out there. Since we are already heavily pressing against the Earth’s carrying capacity limits, it is obvious that 2 billion more of us won’t alleviate the pressure – quite the opposite is to be expected. Thus it seems clear that a sustainable world economy require a constraint of the population growth (and, indeed, its reversal). Thus a group of scientists calling for a sustainable (or steady-state) economy – notably the economist Herman Daly – is calling for a form of population control to achieve this. Continue reading

On What Depends Happiness?

It isn’t straightforward for an economic research institute to evaluate a study on happiness. But, on the other hand, as you can read in my last post, it is a failure of modern economics to concentrate only on market efficiency and similar measures. Fortunately, there are economists who care about a broader spectrum of themes: for example the DIW (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung). In its new publication it evaluates a German long term study (25 years) on happiness. And they found out for which factors seem to positively affect the way we value our lives. Continue reading