Generations of people have been taught that population growth makes resources scarcer. In 2021, for example, one widely publicised report argued, “The world’s rapidly growing population is consuming the planet’s natural resources at an alarming rate.… The world currently needs 1.6 Earths to satisfy the demand for natural resources … [a figure that] could rise to 2 planets by 2030.”
But is that true? After analysing the prices of hundreds of commodities, goods, and services spanning two centuries, Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley found that resources became more abundant as the population grew.
That was especially true when they looked at “time prices,” which represent the length of time that people must work to buy something. The authors also found that resource abundance increased faster than the population―a relationship that they call “superabundance.”
They conclude that, on average, every additional human being creates more value than he or she consumes.