Re: Human Overpopulation: Still an Issue of Concern?
- Sep 9, 2013 Expand MessagesView Source"This whole idea that population growth or birthrates are going to start declining in a few decades appears to be nothing more than magical thinking. No one has ever given me any reason why they should just suddenly start declining, except for some magical god called "tech"." (beth)
The decline in birthrates is real. The Canadian Province of Quebec went from the highest birthrates to the lowest.
From the 1930's to the 1960's Quebec's Provincial government was a nationalistic (as in the nation of Francophone Quebecois - not the nation of Canada) supported by and supporting the Roman Catholic Church. Both preached fertility and and traditional roles for women. The Provincial Government sent monthly children's allowance checks for all kids. A typical Quebecois family had 10 children, families of upwards of 20 kids was fairly common. When Quebec was taken over by the British in 1763, they pretty much left it up to the French colonists of Quebec to manage their own affairs with little British interference or common law, Quebec's internal affairs were managed by their elites, who were educated through the RC church, who looked after all local education including University. So the RC church views on birth control, and the primary role of women to have lots of little RC babies prevailed.
A secular revolution occurred in the 1960's. Quebecers turned away from the church and the traditional elites who had governed them for 200 years. Women started using birth control to have the numbers of babies they wanted as opposed to the babies they were supposed to have as dictated by the church and government. Canadian governments no longer subsidized children through a family allowance program.
Women in the countries that have accepted modern views on the equality of women are encouraged to have careers as opposed to low level jobs, and many have chosen to do so. To have a career means making a choice between having children and pursuing advancement, no matter what every one would like to believe, or believes a thing should be, this is a real choice, and every woman who chooses a career makes that choice. A compromise is to have career first and take time off, or vice versa, either way, it means potentially fewer children than if the woman is expected to stay home full time.
Rural societies traditionally have many children. Children can be put to work at a very early age. Putting children to work on farms that are not mechanized is an excellent source of cheap labour, more children contribute to greater wealth. Children can also contribute to family wealth in the early stages of industrialization, until child labour laws are enacted, or as in some of today's cases, their employers are shamed into firing the kids and hiring adults.
For highly developed urban societies, the opposite is true. Children may not become employable and productive until they are 30 years old. They have to be supported by their parents at great cost. Parents are expected to contribute to their children's specialized education and training, from which the parents will receive little or no payback. Having more children will limit the children's individual potential if the parents have limited resources for educating their kids.
So what does this mean for the future? Some people believe that Western style highly developed post industrial society is fundamentally decadent, and that it will implode, resulting in the Barbarians taking over, turning the clock back to a more primitive economy. If this happens, population rates will certainly increase, and pretty soon collapse as Malthus' prophecies finally become true.
Current trends, however, suggest that the opposite will occur. China and India, the two most populous countries in the world are rapidly moving from rural economies to early industrialization to the later stages of a service dominated post industrial economy.
In China for certain, and to a lesser extent in India, women have, or are successfully seeking equal rights and the right to have a career should they want one. Given that, even if only some women choose a career, there will be a reduction in birthrates. Add in the expense of having children in a modern society as opposed to having children to create wealth in older societies, there will be a further reduction of birthrates.
If you are still with me, think about the effects of a government program that pays or issues money to a parent or parents on a per kid basis, and what the consequences of that might be? You probably don't have to look very far for a real example to study.