The American Enterprise Institute lists 5 big myths about overpopulation.
- The world is overpopulated.
- Rapid population growth keeps poor countries poor.
- For all its ethical problems, China’s one-child policy boosts its economy.
- If your population declines, your economy does, too.
- The world will have 10 billion people by 2100.
Number 2 is the one I liked best:
In 1960, South Korea and Taiwan were poor countries with fast-growing populations. Over the two decades that followed, South Korea’s population surged by about 50 percent, and Taiwan’s by about 65 percent. Yet, income increased in both places, too: Between 1960 and 1980, per capita economic growth averaged 6.2 percent in South Korea and 7 percent in Taiwan.
Clearly, rapid population growth did not preclude an economic boom in those two Asian “tigers” — and their experience underscores that of the world as a whole. Between 1900 and 2000, as the planet’s population was exploding, per capita income grew faster than ever before, rising nearly fivefold, by the reckoning of economic historian Angus Maddison . And for much of the last century, the countries with faster economic growth tended to be the ones where population was growing most rapidly, too.
Today, the fastest population growth is found in so-called failed states, where poverty is worst. But it’s not clear that population growth is their central problem: With physical security, better policies and greater investments in health and education, there is no reason that fragile states could not enjoy sustained improvements in income.
This is a good post to read and store away, because what I’ve found is that fears of overpopulation is underneath many of policies pushed by the left, from abortion, to government regulation of production, to government regulation of consumption. I’m not entirely sure why this fear exists, but I know it’s there for many secular leftists. It’s not rational, it’s not supported by evidence, but it’s there and it animates much of their political agenda.