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To the future. The economy, demographics and democracy

Roma, 03/10/2018, Roundtable for the Aspen Junior Fellows

The participants at this roundtable noted that the current state of political, economic, and anthropological flux demonstrates that democratic and civilization models are proving less and less effective guarantees of liberal democratic values, whilst the conflict between the growing difficulty of achieving a new world order and the emergence of new touchstones built around the notion of the nation-state would seem to be getting stronger.
The process of formulating solutions for the future, aimed at overcoming a vision of the economy that is based exclusively on the interests of shareholders as the sole yardstick of its meaning and purpose, recalled the participants’ attention to the principles expressed at the birth of capitalism. In particular, this included the idea that a company should exist for the benefit of the community for which it is established and developed, and be at the service of the interests of a range of stakeholders in addition to those held only by shareholders. In this regard, reference was made to the observation of classic economic theorists that "No one can be happy if they do not contribute to promoting the happiness of others", paying no less regard to moral sentiment than economic interest.
It was highlighted that generativity is a concept recently introduced in the economic sciences, which is accomplished by fostering (through one’s own behavior) a positive impact on the lives of others, privileging interpersonal dealings over those characteristic of homo oeconomicus.
Democracy and the market have – it was submitted – long been interdependent, since a market economy requires democratic principles in order to achieve its objectives. Recently, however, efficient market economies have prospered even in the absence of democracy. Indeed, in cases where a certain level of inequality and disparity have been overcome, democracy has gone into meltdown. Moreover, in the current climate, the trade-off between efficiency and freedom has eclipsed that between efficiency and fairness.
It was thus deemed surmisable that the economic value of generativity will equate to the quantity and quality of public goods that will become available to 700 million Europeans by 2050, taking into account that in that year Africa’s demographic share will jump from 16% to 25%, while Europe’s will fall from 10% to 7%. This fact highlights the problem of available resources across supply and demand, the importance of environmental footprints, and the challenge of regulating modern populations amid the differential between reproductivity and migration flows. Generativity – as a possible resource for dealing with global tensions between economics, democracy, and demographics – is a principle (common to different cultures) within which to foster an outlook of collaboration and shared endeavor (with due regard for specific variations), and of respect and dignity for every person.