I like to think of myself as not too stupid. When I don’t understand something, I like to dive into that.
- Sometimes I learn new facts that help me make sense of what seemed like disparate and nonsensical data points.
- Sometimes I learn what I thought were facts were not.
- Sometimes I learn new theories of the world.
- Sometimes I decide those theories are nonsense and the reason I didn’t understand the thing in the first place is that it makes no sense.
Searching out areas where I feel confused or uncertain is a useful way to figure out how to move forward. I try to shield from public view when these areas of uncertainty are to do with economics. But no more.
I believe we need high growth to keep unemployment stable. But I’ve never really understood why.
My economics education was a good one. But I never did honours – let alone a PhD – and it was a long time ago. They didn’t teach us everything, and I’ve forgotten plenty.
This is my way of saying I don’t know everything about economics. (Despite how obvious it is this is weirdly hard for me to type.)
What I’m doing here then, is going on a learning expedition. Trekking deep into territory that has been explored, but not by me. Maybe along the way I’ll learn something. Maybe even have some insights that are new to me. Maybe even have some insights that are new!? Most likely I will discover everyone else already knew something I didn’t.
This is part 1. I’m expecting to be able to put together a few more parts over coming days as I learn a bit on this topic. But for now, I’m going to write about a few of the preconceptions I have that give me the idea this is an important question to pursue.
- My sense is if the Australian economy saw population growth and productivity growth drop to zero it would have growing unemployment. But basic economic equilibrium theories would suggest that doesn’t happen. Why wouldn’t all the firms just produce the same again next year, using the same workers?
My guess is that growth has in the past come largely from population growth. Which is weird. It suggests adding new people to the population / labour force creates so much new demand that it props up not only their own job but other people’s jobs too.
- The global population is growing fast. But it may stop doing so within our lifetimes. At that point, population growth will stop contributing to economic growth. If population growth causes econ growth causes employment, the end of pop growth could be the end of employment. That’s a nasty scenario. We may have to choose between the limits of the planet or the employment of its workforce.
At the least this will be a quick two part series where I explain the answer in part 2 and am forced to revise the first thing I said in this post. ;)
Please leave any helpful comments or suggested reading for me in the section below. I’ll write more soon.