Opinion: Go forth and multiply a lot less

MP-KNN teamNews ArchivesLeave a Comment

by Patricia Vega

If statistical forecasts are to be believed, global fertility rates are consistently declining and halfway to the next century will reach the “replacement level of fertility”, with couples having only enough children to replace themselves. This will cause a country’s population to slow down and eventually stabilize. Fertility rates are dropping at a much faster level in the past two decades, particularly in less affluent countries, and is comparable to the fertility drop that occurred in Europe during the industrializing years of the early 19th and early 20th century. The decline in fertility rate is directly related to social change – in particular, the shift from agrarian to industrial societies, and the consequent increase in living standards, and the proliferation of women’s education.

Since wage-earners no longer have to physically produce the food they need for sustenance, it is no longer in the family’s best interest to produce more offspring. Moreover, securing a higher paying job entails other costs like higher education, which families must now take into consideration. And with education, women are now able to enter the workforce, and are more inclined to demand contraception and want smaller families.

Studies show the economic benefits of cutting fertility rates from six children to two: it increases the size of the workforce relative to children and the elderly, and makes for a more productive society. Enabling women to work also makes possible a more rapid accumulation of capital per household.

However, the fact that fertility rates are declining does not equate to decreasing population. Populations are still on the rise, but future generations will probably be more inclined to have lesser children. It also does not justify the continued misuse of natural resources. Large populations that boost economic growth also contribute to the deterioration of the environment; what remains to be done is to find a way to make population growth less resource-intensive. Read the news article on The Economist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *