7 Billion People: Reason to Panic?

Posted By on November 3, 2011

There have been a number of articles over the past few weeks surrounding the birth of the seven billionth person on the planet (which happened at some point on Monday the 31st). Here at LAF, we have posted many articles about demography and how the real worry is not overpopulation but falling birth rates and too few young people to care for the elderly (think Greece, Italy, and Portugal for starters). Here are some of the better commentaries from recent days:

  • Media Elites Beside Themselves Over Baby Number 7 Billion – On Monday the global population will cross the 7 billion threshold, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). According to articles published over the last few days by many media outlets, this occasion is cause for grave concern and highlights the necessity of increased “family planning” services to curb population growth. Others, however, counter that this population-control alarmism is unfounded. Citing the below-replacement fertility levels that prevail in an increasing number of countries, they insist the looming demographic problem isn’t overpopulation. Instead, if current trends continue, the global community will suffer from societies blighted by rapidly shrinking populations and the presence of far too few young people.
  • The oldest society the world has ever known ~ The recent print edition of The Economist included an interesting summary of the world’s demographic issues.  It points out that much of the effect of population growth depends on where that growth occurs and on various other factors such as the number of working age people in a particular country…. Often the population growth debate and hype seems to have little regard for such details and the man on the street is left with the general impression that a huge crisis looms ahead for us all and the environment is slowly melting away.  However, it is now common knowledge that Earth’s population is aging, with 40% of countries having fertility rates below replacement level, including Brazil, Thailand, Tunisia and much of Europe and East Asia.  Incredibly, by 2050 Japan will be the oldest society the world has ever known.  This blog regularly recounts the effect of low fertility on various countries, and this article gives a good summary.
  • Why America might pull through the demographic collapse ~ Rational self-interest would dictate raising enough girls to keep the population going, but clearly that didn’t prevail. Indeed, it is generally believed that the Christian prohibition of abortion and infanticide was a key factor in how Christians ended up in charge of the Roman Empire 300 years after Christ’s birth. The prohibition worked, one might argue, for rational self-interest, but it was actually motivated by fear of God. And without fear of God? If the present low fertility rate continues, three-quarters of all Japanese and half of all Europeans will be elderly dependants. That’s where the collapse comes in.

If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to get a copy of Demographic Winter (also listed in the right sidebar). Sobering and thought-provoking.

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About The Author

Jennie is the wife of Matthew and mother of ten children, all of whom keep the household bubbling with life, learning, and levity. Jennie co-founded LAF in 2002 with Lydia Sherman and has been delighted to hear from women all over the world who enjoy their femininity and love to cultivate womanly virtues.

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