The Economics of a Declining Population

The Economics of a Declining Population

The Economics of a Declining Population

The Economics of a Declining Population


Reddaway examines the economic consequences of demographic changes in Great Britain. First published in 1939, his conclusions in this study continue to be relevant.


This book has been out of print since 1941, when the remaining stock was destroyed by enemy action. In view of the current interest in population questions the publishers have allotted a part of their paper ration to the production of a new edition.

Several factors have combined to make this new edition simply a reproduction of the old. Firstly, as a member of the Economics Committee of the Royal Commission on Population I feel it would be inappropriate for me to publish anything fresh on the subject until the Commission has presented its report. Secondly, there is in fact nothing which I want to alter in the fundamental analysis, whilst any attempt to bring the illustrative statistics up-to-date would be of little value until the war is over. Finally, the war-time shortage of printing facilities encouraged the use of a photographic method to give, literally, a reproduction of the first edition. As a consequence, of course, all statements which appear in the present tense must be read as referring to 1939.

One point does, however, seem to deserve even more emphasis than it receives in the text, because the war has made it more important. On pages 218-19 the point is made that if our population were still increasing at the old rate, then we should be perpetually having to find more outlets for our exports in order to pay for our increased import requirements. The difficulty of doing this on satisfactory terms seemed great enough even before the war to make the absence of population increase a real relief. We are now officially told that such factors as the sale of our international assets and the piling-up of international debts call for a 50% increase in our pre-war exports even with our present population. We can indeed be thankful that this formidable task is not rendered ever more difficult by the necessity for a further increase to cover the needs of a rapidly rising population.


February, 1945.

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