175 Essays on Infinite Lifespans   Max More 10.9 billion. [2;7] The medium projection also points to global population peaking around 2040 and then starting to fall. I wrote the first version of this paper in 1996. In revising it, I found it interesting that, less than a decade ago, the higher projection allowed for 12 billion or more. Demographers had continued their long tradition of over-estimating population growth. This effect seems to have been reduced, but take all projections (especially those longer than a generation) with a healthy dose of skepticism. FORCES OF POPULATION DECELERATION Why, though, should we expect people in less developed countries, even given contraceptives, to continue choosing to have smaller families? This expectation is not merely specu- lation  based  on  recent  trends.  Sound  economic  reasoning explains the continuing trend, and makes sense of why the poorer nations are only just beginning to make the transition to fewer births. Decelerating population growth appears to be an inevitable result of growing wealth. Early on in a country’s developmen- tal curve, children can be regarded as ‘producer goods’ (as economists would say). Parents put their children to work on the farm to generate food and revenue. Very little effort is put into caring for the child: no expensive health plans, special classes, trips to Disneyland, X-Men action figures, or mount- ing phone bills. As we become wealthier, children become ‘consumer goods’. That is, we look on them more and more as little people to be enjoyed and pampered and educated, not beasts of burden to help keep the family alive. We spend thou- sands of dollars on children to keep them healthy, entertain them, and educate them. We come to prefer fewer children to a vast mob of little ones. This preference seems to be rein-