Home Degrowth: The major challenges of the global demographic winter

GEAB 176

The monthly bulletin of LEAP (European Laboratory of Political Anticipation) - 15 Jun 2023

Degrowth: The major challenges of the global demographic winter

Our work in anticipation and the reflection on time that it encourages, have made us particularly sensitive to the fact that we do not all live in the same temporalities. One person’s future is another’s present or past, both in terms of our objective reality (e.g. technological) and our understanding of that reality (accurate but anachronistic analyses). And these differences give rise to countless narrative conflicts (everyone is right, but no one is talking about the same period), which can go as far as war (especially civil war).

What is certain, however, is that global dynamics are reducing the amplitude of these differences. In the 1950s, the time difference between Americans and Aboriginal Australians was abysmal. In the age of the internet, the whole of humanity is gradually learning to live at the same time. But differences remain. In this article, we want to draw attention to a major issue in the current global systemic transition that is being distorted by a misalignment of time: a demographic slowdown is underway, which is THE reason we need to change our economic paradigm. The politisation of the degrowth debate is preventing us from addressing this issue constructively, and is instead exacerbating its damaging effects. Demography is the mother of change.[1] If it increases, we need to innovate to feed more and more people, but demographic growth has created a system of economic growth that has made it possible to fund research and innovation. If it slows down, economic growth slows down, but there is less need to fund innovation to adapt. If it starts to decline, we will be entering a completely new historical territory. This is the moment we need to anticipate, rather than calling for an economic decline that is already here.


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