Wealthy countries tend to have lower birth rates – but now that trend has also emerged in rural areas with low literacy rates and few economic opportunities for women, such as Africa and South Asia. Other countries that once discouraged large families as an effort to eliminate poverty have since reversed course. “After 200 years of exponential population growth, and just four decades after overpopulation doomsaying began filling the bestseller lists, the First World is suddenly gripped with underpopulation hysteria,” writes Kerry Howley for Reason magazine. Some countries, including Russia, Australia and Singapore, enact policies that pay women to produce more children. Fears about a demographic decline can be connected nationalism, Howley suggests, along with worries about immigration, economic growth, liberated women and family values. Ease of mobility means that countries cannot count on their populations staying put. Citizens should drive government policy on such personal matters and not the other way around. – YaleGlobal
The world is panicking over birthrates – again
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Kerry Howley is a senior editor at Reason.
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