Why Exactly Do We Need a Growing Labor Force?

31st August 2018 Off By binary
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It really is hard to follow economic policy debate these days. After all, we have robots taking all the jobs so no one will have any work, but then we keep getting reminded that the baby boomers are retiring, so we won’t have any workers.

We got a dosage of the latter concern in the middle of a very interesting Thomas Edsall piece that everyone should read, on the question of whites becoming a minority. The piece quotes Thomas Frey, a demographer, at Brookings:

“Given the slow and in fact, last year, negative growth of the white population along with its rapid aging — it is important for older whites to understand that the only way we will have a growing labor force will be to embrace the younger racial minority populations.”

The point about needing immigrants who are not generally viewed as white in order to have a growing labor force is true, but why exactly do we need a growing labor force? Japan and Germany both have shrinking labor forces and their populations are not suffering in any obvious way as a result. To be clear, I am not arguing that we should keep out immigrants, but if the argument rests on the assumption that we need a growing labor force, then we have a problem.

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