This week’s covers | Edition 3 June 2023
Whe had two covers this week. Our British edition looks at the future of Scotland. Everywhere else we focus on the deep economic consequences of the global decline in fertility.
In 2000 the world fertility rate was 2.7 births per woman, well above the “new rate” of 2.1, which has a stable population. Today it is 2.3 and falling. The 15 largest countries according to GDP all have a fertility rate below the new rate. That includes America and much of the rich world, but also China and India. The result is that by the end of this century the number of people on the planet could decline for the first time since the Black Death.
For most of history, age distributions have been shaped like a pyramid, with many children at the bottom supporting a small number of elderly people at the top. Today, the world has a bad case of middle age spread, with few children, few old people and a big bulge in between.
Fingers are said to symbolize babies as they migrate, leaving Europe each summer and returning nine months later – carrying a baby in white cloth. Today babies are scarce, so we created an image of a cork that has put its beak under its wing and is taking a nap. But we wanted to overcome not only the widespread fall in fertility, but also its consequences.
One of these is that innovation is likely to be rarer in aging societies – an idea we demonstrated with an old boffin in a desert laboratory. Younger people have more of what psychologists call “fluid intelligence”, the ability to solve problems in entirely new ways by thinking creatively. The energy of youth adds to the accumulated experience of older workers. Patents filed by younger inventors are much more likely to cover breakthrough inventions. Older countries – and, presumably, the youth – are less enterprising and less comfortable taking risks. All of this is likely to be a huge missed opportunity.
Aging societies face the risk of higher taxes, later retirement, lower real returns for savers and, possibly, a government budget crisis. That’s because retirees draw on the output of working-age people, either through the state (which taxes workers to pay public pensions), or by getting money in to buy goods and services, or because relatives provide unpaid care. Although the rich world currently has around three people aged between 20 and 64 for every one over 65, by 2050 it will have fewer than two.
We chose a cover based on this idea. In one sketch a slide becomes a downward sloping graph of the global fertility rate. Another option was to simply slide off the ground – a symbol of childless societies. The dangerous fall indicates the dangers ahead.
CEO: Global fertility has fallen, with profound economic consequences
Summary: It’s not just a fiscal fiasco: gray economies also innovate less
For many years the Scottish Nationalists have been the most successful political party in Britain. Scotland was the first country in Great Britain to win public referendums. The party SNP has won in election after election. He has made the cause of independence a major dividing line among Scottish voters. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the party until she resigned in February, managed to take the Liberals away too, by being not just a republican but a progressive.
Ms Sturgeon’s sudden departure amid a police investigation into her party’s finances has damaged it SNPfaith. The inability of the Scottish government to unilaterally call another referendum means that the path to independence is blocked. Under Humza Yousaf, the new leader of the party, the SNP He is expected to lose heavily to Labor in the next Westminster election. The SNPThere is serious doubt about his hold on Taigh an Róid, where he has been in power continuously since 2007.
The investigation into Ms Sturgeon involves buying a campervan– so we have it teetering on the edge of the session, “The Italian Job” style and head on, with the wheels falling off.
We liked that image but our cover in Britain last week, on the National Health Service, showed an ambulance on life support. We don’t want to The Economist be like a relapse of the exalted month Classic van & pick-up which were sadly folded during covid.
Another option featuring the Loch Ness Monster, titled “Loch Mess”, was better. The SNPTravails is a parable with lessons that both inspire and depress: that a populist movement can appear suddenly and the damage it causes can still last. . The party has become incapable of thinking beyond the next strategic gambit of divorce. Elementary tasks – getting ferries, conducting a census – are troubling an administration that once said it could build an independent state in just 18 months.
We showed that combination with the group as Nessie, sinking under the cold waters of the famous lake – – but without disappearing.
Not even a plesiosaur can compete with a ball of ginger fluff. Reinforced with a single horn and a rainbow, the Highland cow shows how it is easier to live the alcoholic dream of independence in elections and more immediately profitable than the long period of ‘ solve real problems. Scotland’s political class has been on a long holiday from reality. Their country cannot afford another ten years.
CEO: Scotland has been on holiday ten years since reality
Britain: After ten years of SNP leadership, Scottish politics is suddenly on the move