Due to concern over global warming, some have argued that the world needs to reduce its population, and have even encouraged people to stop having children. In the Jewish state, a small country whose population this year surpassed 9.3 million, the argument becomes a more specific claim that “Israel is full.” Sam Lehman-Wilzig thinks such predictions of doom are all wrong:
First of all, from a global standpoint, Israel’s population is a drop in the bucket. Moreover, around 2050 or 2060 the world’s overall population numbers will start to decline! Some countries have already started on this downward slide: Russia, Japan, Portugal, [for instance]—and many others (China, most of Europe) are not far behind. Second, the naysaying Cassandras (of every generation) tend to disregard completely original solutions that human ingenuity—driven by economic necessity—comes up with to resolve “existential” problems.
After offering some concrete suggestions for how the Israeli government could handle growing demand for housing, Lehman-Wilzig admits that such technical solutions miss the bigger picture, which is that there is no population crisis:
In my opinion, the biggest benefit of increasing population numbers lies elsewhere: social psychology. [Those] countries whose population is growing are upbeat about the future; countries with stagnant or declining population represent (and are felt by the populace to be) stagnant societies. It is no coincidence—although it is impossible to “prove” any direct causation—that Israel is one of the few Western countries with a rising population, and simultaneously has one of the most vibrant economies, with close to the strongest currency in the world today. When people subconsciously feel that they are living in the midst of a vibrant society, they will be happier (Israel is near the top of international “happiness” surveys) and more productive.
Twenty million Israelis living in the country by 2050? Bring it on. Yes, it will offer challenges, but it also means doubling the country’s brainpower to meet those challenges.