Pulling Up

Entering the Post-Growth Era

We must redefine our visions of the future in a baby-bust economy

The world’s population boom is coming to an end. Birth rates are falling globally, even in places like China and Africa, which are historically known for high growth. Japan just hit a record low, with the government calling it a “critical state.” While the reasons (like antinatalism) are interesting, the impact is even more significant.

This decline isn’t just about closing maternity wards and shrinking schools. Greying economies also struggle to innovate. Young minds are the engine of disruption, and with fewer youngsters around, economies might sputter. Even the US is seeing states with low birth rates facing financial strain.

So, what can be done? Policies to boost birth rates have a spotty track record. Sweden and France have some success stories, but forcing personal choices often backfires. While scientists can now grow a whole model of a human embryo without sperm or egg, these artificial advancements may face human resistance.

In turn, baby-bust economies will adapt by investing heavily in education (think human capital for a smaller workforce). AI will help fill labor gaps. Immigration policies will evolve. Wellbeing and sustainability will be prioritized.

The bottom line:
Growth has always been our society’s focus, but the fuel for that growth – more people, disruptive innovation, new businesses – is slowing down. This post-growth era calls for a rethink. Our future is less about “bigger is better” and more about innovation and efficiency. We must rethink how we define success, progress, and prosperity—all without needing relentless expansion.

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Brent is a member of the executive team for Opus Agency, partner to world-shaping brands.
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