Kids these days.

June 24, 2009

Up to my elbows again in a brambly subject, via the Daily Score, the blogging arm of my hometown enviro-thinktank, the Sightline Institute. The topic? Population overdrive, and, more specifically, reproduction control.

Daily Score blogger Lisa Stiffler takes a look at Robert Engelman’s fascinating article in Scientific American, which pitches broad-based education as a means to slow population growth:

Worldwide, according to a calculation provided for this article by demographers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, women with no schooling have an average of 4.5 children, whereas those with a few years of primary school have just three. Women who complete one or two years of secondary school have an average of 1.9 children apiece — a figure that over time leads to a decreasing population. With one or two years of college, the average childbearing rate falls even further, to 1.7. And when women enter the workforce, start businesses, inherit assets and otherwise interact with men on an equal footing, their desire for more than a couple of children fades even more dramatically.

It makes simple sense that, if we reduce population, we’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions (fewer people = less consumption), and thereby slow climate change. And, according to Engelman and his stats, “Women left to their own devices, contraceptive or otherwise, would collectively ‘control’ population while acting on their own intentions.”

High-five, Bob, for putting your faith in us girls. But is it reasonable? If we round up the ladies and send them through college, will baby booms be a thing of the past? Can education and family planning services trump religion, economics, ethnicity, tradition? How about instinct? What’s your take on this hot-potato topic?

Image via amy_b.


One Response to “Kids these days.”

  1. Liz said

    It would be far better than what we’re doing now, which is largely nothing. Providing good, safe birth control to the people who want it is the only compassionate response. That doesn’t mean we should delay addressing what people think they “want.” Wants are obviously subject to propaganda, advertising, and social norms of all sorts.
    Thanks for bringing up this incredibly important topic.

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