A bigger Australia won’t solve ageing bulge (2)

Having fewer babies would be the best gift Australians could give their children. Demographers Peter McDonald and Liz Allen are wrong to say that low fertility shrinks the workforce (“Fertility policy ‘to drive Big Australia’, 23/12). Countries with low fertility don’t have fewer workers, they merely have fewer people unemployed. Countries with rapidly growing working age populations — such as Australia — have greater income inequality, as workers compete for scarce jobs. Economic models assume that the extra labour force creates their own jobs. This is far from reality, where even the gig economy (a last resort for many) is collapsing under the weight of job-seekers. And nobody enjoys the traffic jams, unaffordable housing and environmental destruction that comes with “Big Australia”. They tolerate this only because of the scare campaign about an ageing population, which is divorced from real-world experience.

Jane 0'Sullivan The Australian 26 December 2020

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