DRAFT: Declaration on Population and Economics
We are young people of diverse ethnic, religious, cultural, and economic backgrounds from every region of the world. Many of us are from the developing world, which has large, young populations capable of innovation and creativity, especially in the workforce. Some of us are from the developed world, which currently has lower fertility rates, ageing populations and in some cases stalled economic growth. As young people, we are concerned about the relationship between population and economic prosperity. A proper understanding of this relationship is necessary in order to propose policies that will lead to both human and economic flourishing.
The economy is the system of production and management of material wealth in a given society. A thriving economy is normally the result, not the driver, of proper social and cultural development. When societies thrive due to strong families and respect for human rights, economic growth follows, demonstrating that cultural and human capital are the primary resources that drive overall human development in a society.
Intangible or human capital is the driver of development and that makes the relationship between population and economics complex. An educated and physically healthy society, existing in a climate of freedom and respect for the human person, can lead to economic growth. An educated citizen will not only be able to enter the formal workforce, but can use his or her education to raise healthy families. An educated citizen can access healthcare, and healthy citizens can work harder and longer, thus contributing to the economy. The potential of the human person to generate wealth using knowledge, skills and creativity is unique and reflects an aspect of human dignity.
Population management programs rely on the assumption that resources are fixed, and equitable distribution requires fewer individuals. This assumption not only violates the dignity of the person by treating individuals as means and not ends, but also ignores the real causes of economic decline. Economic growth is directly related to low levels of government corruption, and high levels of investment in education and infrastructure, which is ultimately investment in human and cultural capital. Historically, regimes that have relied on coercion and violations of human rights to achieve their goals collapsed, while those that have invested in the human person thrived.
People are the drivers of development, and government must support – and not hinder – the development of policies and environments that nurture and encourage creativity, enterprise, and participation in the common good. Stable families, the most important contributor to the common good, drive economic growth and human development by combining incomes and skills, raising future generations, ensuring education for children, and producing wealth. Families form the place in which children first understand their dignity and potential to develop themselves and their societies. When governments support and strengthen families, they support and strengthen their people.
We call on governments to invest in the human person by ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to education, infrastructure development and support for the family as the fundamental unit of society. Such programs will lead to increased human capital, which is driven by the creativity of the human person, and to the development of economic and social goods.