Yes, Les, the NY Times report to which I referred is the "Pop, not Bang"
The Abernethy study seems to conflict with the conclusions noted in this
article. Does the Abernethy study consider the economic motivations of
poor people in agricultural areas to breed more children to get extra
help in the fields, not to mention the need these parents have for more
children to support them in their old age since they live in countries
too poor to have Social Security systems or where the parents are not
working in jobs which provide pensions? Also, poorer people tend to be
more susceptible to religious superstitions that tell them to "go forth
and multiply" and they also tend to be less knowledgeable about and have
less access to safe, easy contraception.
I really question the conclusion of the Abernethy study. Perhaps
affluence alone may not fully explain lower birth rates, but affluent
people tend to be more educated and to have better-educated children. So
a more complete explanation probably must include education as well as
affluence, not to mention the greater opportunities and career paths
women generally have in more affluent societies.
My personal experience, limited as it is, contradicts the Abernethy
study. My grandparents were mainly poorly-educated immigrants who were
born into poverty and who faced poverty when they first came to America.
Their families were mostly large. Their children, my parents and their
age cohorts, were more affluent, better educated and had much smaller
families. My own age group either hasn't reproduced, my case, or have
had only one or two children at most. (The only exception to this is a
woman I know who came from an impoverished ghetto background where she
was subject to child abuse but she only had three kids) Again, we are
more educated and affluent than our parents were. Also, the women of my
age group have many more career paths than being mothers and have very
different attitudes towards themselves and what they can do with their
lives than those of their parents. The trend seems to indicate that
affluence, education and freedom for women will result in lower birth
I agree that we, as conscious individuals, shouldn't just sit back and
let nature, or economics take its course, but do more to construct an
understanding of what to do with affluence that is not based on mindless
consumerism. Perhaps those of us who were born into relative affluence
will not be so consumed with the need to pile up more and more stuff for
ourselves since we never experienced the poverty that our ancestors had.
I have no need whatsoever to buy an SUV or spend everything I have to
get energy-burning things. Maybe the children of those in affluent areas
will thus be more open to living a materially simpler way of life since
they will not feel the need to compensate for an impoverished childhood.
From Hal who says there is still hope.
"Les U. Knight" wrote:
> Hal, I too haven't given up on humanity yet. I wouldn't be promoting
> anything voluntary if I had.
> >The statistics noted in the NY times report belie the contention that
> it's the smart and affluent people who breed the most.<
> I can't remember ever hearing that contention. I contend that,
> although people breed less in affluent regions, our environmental
> impact is so much greater that one of us is the equivalent of many
> more people in over-exploited regions.
> > The greatest rate
> of decline in population is occurring in the most affluent countries
> with the most educated populace. The poorer areas of the world,
> particularly India and China, still have high population growth. So
> link is: poverty equals population growth. <
> China's increase of 10 million per year is the result of momentum
> rather than high birth rates. They're breeding about the same as
> Italy: 1.3. Maybe we can't use China in this particular discussion,
> due to their more restrictive society.
> >Also note that the areas
> which have the highest number of educated and affluent women have the
> highest rate of population decline. If women have higher status and
> greater power and wealth, then, all other things being equal, there
> be a lower birth rate. <
> When women are allowed the freedom to pursue education, careers, and
> roles other than wife and mother, birth rates are greatly improved.
> This freedom, a result of higher status in that society, is the
> largest single factor in birth rates. I think education is one of the
> results of more opportunity rather than the cause. If all women were
> granted honorary doctorates, it wouldn't make any difference if they
> still couldn't pursue careers -- if they still only had the roles of
> wife and mother to play.
> >One can then draw the conclusion that, generally speaking, the more
> affluent and educated the population, the slower the population growth
> rate. <
> This is the Demographic Transition Theory. Virginia Abernethy's study
> of birth rates and economics within countries shows that as people's
> perception of their future economic well-being improves, the more
> offspring they produce. The converse is also true. In the US, the
> lowest birth rates were during the economic depression of the 1930s,
> a time when contraception was illegal in many states and difficult to
> find in others.
> Although we can look at the world and see that affluent regions have
> lower birth rates, it doesn't necessarily follow that affluence will
> cause lower birth rates. Abernethy analyzed trends within countries
> rather than comparing counties with each other.
> >From this, it seems clear that humanity's goals should be the
> alleviation of poverty, if for no other reason that to reduce the
> of people in the long run, and the elimination, to the maximum degree
> possible, of gender inequality.<
> I agree with these goals, though from a different line of logic.
> Opportunity for all to achieve a good life seems like a just goal to
> me. Reproductive freedom plays a critical role in equal opportunity.
> > These goals will be enormously difficult
> to achieve, but the fact that it has occurred in some parts of the
> world, shows that it can be done. This should be the focus, then, of
> environmentally conscious people. The quicker this is done, then the
> quicker we will reach the maximum number of people and the quicker
> the numbers of people decline to a sustainable level.<
> Social Justice and Environmental Justice advocates are joining with
> environmentalists to improve conditions for both people and the
> environment. Latin America is way ahead of the US in resisting
> privatization, which is usually devastating to both people and planet.
> >Rather than breed complacency, the NY Times report should give a
> impetus to work to solve the poverty and gender inequality problems.
> report gives one reason to hope, not despair. <
> I'm not sure which NYT report you're referring to. Is it the one that
> said the population bomb is only a pop?
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