Turning inner space into outer space

January 20, 2011

We can get richer even if we aren't getting bigger

Implied in today’s article about lack of population growth in Kamloops is that this is somehow a bad thing for the city.

The assumption many people are going on is that if population growth is flat, then economic growth must also be flat — and that’s certainly not the kind of image a city likes to project.

For example, if the city’s economy were firing on all cylinders, then new businesses and industries would be opening up, and more people would be hired. Presumably, some of them would have to be brought in from outside the city, which would increase the population.

You can see this way of thinking played out in reaction from Randy Lambright, community development supervisor for the City. He insists that while population growth may not be what it used to be, it does still exist.

It’s possible, though, that the current population can create more wealth in ways that enrich individuals but don’t necessarily lead to population growth. For example, if someone were to start up a successful online business, it would bring more cash into Kamloops. This in turn would contribute to improvement of the general well-being of people who already live here.

In fact, it could be argued that the absence of population growth can be a good thing because it means there aren’t new people coming in to look for a share of the pie.

In the absence of any other data, it’s impossible to say definitively one way or the other whether flat population growth in Kamloops is good or bad. Just bear in mind that population — while an important factor — is not the only factor.