Elon Musk Sounds an Alarm on Italy, Hong Kong, South Korea
Elon Musk can’t get a particular problem out of his head. He runs several companies — two of which, Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc Report and SpaceX, are leaders in their respective fields of electric vehicles and space tech. Musk is further occupied with his hectic $44 billion acquisition of microblogging site Twitter (TWTR) – Get Twitter, Inc. And he (and investors) are contending with the more than 40% drop in Tesla’s shares since January. Still and all, the man finds time to worry about other issues. For a few weeks now the tech tycoon has been sounding the alarm about the continued decline of populations in wealthy countries due to collapsing birth rates. “At risk of stating the obvious, unless something changes to cause the birth rate to exceed the death rate, Japan will eventually cease to exist,” Musk posted on Twitter on May 7 TheStreet reported at the time. Since then, Musk hasn’t stopped posting messages that raise alarms about declining population and that celebrate children.
Italy’s population is aging, according to official data, and Musk fears that the country could die out. “Italy will have no people if these trends continue,” the mogul responded. The number of births in Italy fell in 2020 to its lowest level since the country’s unification in 1861, according to Istat, the Italian National Institute of Statistics. The decline continued in 2021, according to available data from January to September, with 12,500 fewer births over the period than in the first nine months of 2020. Besides Italy, Musk estimates that the populations of South Korea and Hong Kong are declining at worrying rates. “South Korea and Hong Kong are experiencing the fastest population collapse,” the Tesla CEO wrote. He added that with World Bank data showing the countries with the lowest birth rates, “2. The billionaire seems determined to use his platform — he’s currently the most influential CEO in the world, has nearly 95 million Twitter followers and is wooed by politicians — to shine the spotlight on this issue and push for a broader world reaction.
In addition to sounding the alarm, Musk also seems to want to buck the conventional wisdom that it’s the cost of living that discourages some people from having children. “Contrary to what many think, the richer someone is, the fewer kids they have,” the serial entrepreneur argued. When Billy Markus, the co-founder of the meme coin dogecoin, observed that “honestly the major reason for that is people can’t afford to have kids 🤷♂️,” Musk objected. “Then why is it that the richer someone is, the fewer kids they have?” he responded. Musk also seems unconvinced by the effectiveness of the various policies put in place to try to halt population decline. “okay so whyd you come out against Build Back Better which had universal pre-k, childcare investments, child tax credit, paid family leave, etc?” a Twitter user asked the tech tycoon. “None of those programs prove to raise fertility levels,” another user answered. For him, to solve the collapse of the population, which he describes as “the biggest threat to civilization,” we must start by celebrating children.
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