Human population control

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"Population control" redirects here. For other uses, see Animal population control.
A world map showing countries by fertility rate. Period 2013. (See List of countries and territories by fertility rate.)

Human population control is the practice of artificially altering the rate of growth of a human population. Historically, human population control has been implemented with the goal of increasing the rate of population growth. In the period from the 1950s to the 1980s, concerns about global population growth and its effects on poverty, environmental degradation and political stability led to efforts to reduce population growth rates. While population control can involve measures that improve people's lives by giving them greater control of their reproduction, a few programs, most notably the Chinese government's one-child per family policy, have resorted to coercive measures.

Methods[edit]

Population control may use one or more of the following practices although there are other methods as well:

The method(s) chosen can be strongly influenced by the religious and cultural beliefs of community members. The failure of other methods of population control can lead to the use of abortion or infanticide as solutions.[citation needed] While a specific population control practice may be legal/mandated in one country, it may be illegal or restricted in another, indicative of the controversy surrounding this topic.

Population control may also be a by-product of biological mechanisms that affect reproductive success and fertility. Furthermore, homosexuality could be considered a form of population control as research suggests that homosexual men on average have 80% fewer, if any children than their heterosexual counterparts. Considering that men can reproduce more frequently than females, the potential loss of reproductive success in men would be significant.

History[edit]

Ancient times through Middle Ages[edit]

A number of ancient writers have reflected on the issue of population. At about 300 BC in India, Kautilya, a political philosopher (c. 350-283 BC), considered population as a source of political, economic, and military strength. Though a given region can house too many or too few people, he considered the latter possibility to be the greater evil. Kautilya favored the remarriage of widows (which at the time was forbidden in India), opposed taxes that encourage emigration, and believed that asceticism should be restricted to the aged.[2]

In ancient Greece, Plato (427-347 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC) discussed the best population size for Greek city states such as Sparta, and concluded that cities should be small enough for efficient administration and direct citizen participation in public affairs, but at the same time needed to be large enough to defend themselves against hostile neighboring city states. In order to maintain a desired population size, the philosophers advised that procreation, and if necessary, immigration, should be encouraged if the population size was too small. Emigration to colonies would be encouraged should the population become too large.[3] Aristotle concluded that a large increase in population would bring, "certain poverty on the citizenry, and poverty is the cause of sedition and evil." To halt rapid population increase, Aristotle advocated the use of abortion and the exposure of newborns (that is, infanticide).[4]

Confucius (551-478 BC) and other Chinese writers cautioned that, "excessive growth may reduce output per worker, repress levels of living for the masses and engender strife." Confucius also observed that, "mortality increases when food supply is insufficient; that premature marriage makes for high infantile mortality rates, that war checks population growth."[3]

Ancient Rome, especially in the time of Augustus (63 BC- AD 14), needed manpower to acquire and administer the vast Roman Empire. A series of laws were instituted to encourage early marriage and frequent childbirth. Lex Julia (18 BC) and the Lex Papia Poppaea (AD 9) are two well known examples of such laws, which among others, provided tax breaks and preferential treatment when applying for public office for those that complied with the laws. Severe limitations were imposed on those who did not. For example, the surviving spouse of a childless couple could only inherit one-tenth of the deceased fortune, while the rest was taken by the state. These laws encountered resistance from the population which led to the disregard of their provisions and to their eventual abolition.[2]

Tertullian, an early Christian author (ca. AD 160-220), was one of the first to describe famine and war as factors that can prevent overpopulation.[2] He wrote: "The strongest witness is the vast population of the earth to which we are a burden and she scarcely can provide for our needs; as our demands grow greater, our complaints against Nature's inadequacy are heard by all. The scourges of pestilence, famine, wars and earthquakes have come to be regarded as a blessing to overcrowded nations, since they serve to prune away the luxuriant growth of the human race."[5]

Ibn Khaldoun, a famous North African Arab polymath (1332–1406), considered population changes to be connected to economic development, linking high birth rates and low death rates to times of economic upswing, and low birth rates and high death rates to economic downswing. Khaldoun concluded that high population density rather than high absolute population numbers were desirable to achieve more efficient division of labour and cheap administration.[5]

During the Middle Ages in Christian Europe, population issues were rarely discussed in isolation. Attitudes were generally pro-natalist in line with the Biblical command, "Be ye fruitful and multiply."[5]

16th and 17th centuries[edit]

European cities grew more rapidly than before, and throughout the 16th century and early 17th century discussions on the advantages and disadvantages of population growth were frequent.[6] Niccolò Machiavelli, an Italian Renaissance political philosopher, wrote, "When every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove themselves elsewhere... the world will purge itself in one or another of these three ways," listing floods, plague and famine.[7] Martin Luther, a German monk and theologian (1483–1546), concluded on the issue, "God makes children. He is also going to feed them."[7]

Jean Bodin, a French jurist and political philosopher (1530–1596), argued that a larger population would mean more production and in turn more export, which would increase the influx of silver and gold, and thus increase the riches of a country.[7] Giovanni Botero, an Italian priest and diplomat (1540–1617), emphasized that, "the greatness of a city rests on the multitude of its inhabitants and their power," but pointed out that a population cannot increase beyond its food supply. If this limit was approached, late marriage, emigration, and war would serve to restore the balance.[7]

Richard Hakluyt, an English writer (1527–1616), observed that, "Throughe our longe peace and seldome sickness... wee are growen more populous than ever heretofore;... many thousandes of idle persons are within this realme, which, havinge no way to be sett on worke, be either mutinous and seeke alteration in the state, or at leaste very burdensome to the commonwealthe." Hakluyt believed that this led to crime and full jails and in A Discourse on Western Planting (1584), Hakluyt advocated for the emigration of the surplus population.[6] With the onset of the Thirty Year War (1618–1648), characterized by widespread devastation and deaths brought on by hunger and disease in Europe, concerns about depopulation returned.[8]

The population control movement[edit]

In the 20th century, population control proponents have drawn from the insights of Thomas Malthus, a British clergyman and economist who published An Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798. Malthus argued that, "Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio." He also outlined the idea of "positive checks" and "preventative checks." "Positive checks," such as diseases, war, disaster and famine, are factors that Malthus considered to increase the death rate.[9] "Preventative checks" were factors that Malthus believed to affect the birth rate such as moral restraint, abstinence and birth control.[9] He predicted that "positive checks" on exponential population growth would ultimately save humanity from itself and that human misery was an "absolute necessary consequence."[10] Malthus went on to explain why he believed that this misery affected the poor in a disproportionate manner.

[There is a] constant effort towards an increase in population [which tends to] subject the lower classes of society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition…The way in which these effects are produced seems to be this. We will suppose the means of subsistence in any country just equal to the easy support of its inhabitants. The constant effort towards population …increases the number of people before the means of subsistence are increased. The food, therefore which before supplied seven millions must now be divided among seven millions and half or eight millions. The poor consequently must live much worse, and many of them be reduced to severe distress.[11]

Finally, Malthus advocated for the education of the lower class about the use of "moral restraint," or voluntary abstinence, which he believed would slow the growth rate.[12]

Paul R. Ehrlich, a US biologist and environmentalist, published The Population Bomb in 1968, advocating stringent population control policies.[13] His central argument on population is as follows:

A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. Treating only the symptoms of cancer may make the victim more comfortable at first, but eventually he dies - often horribly. A similar fate awaits a world with a population explosion if only the symptoms are treated. We must shift our efforts from treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparent brutal and heartless decisions. The pain may be intense. But the disease is so far advanced that only with radical surgery does the patient have a chance to survive.[14]

World population 1950–2010

In his concluding chapter, Ehrlich offered a partial solution to the "population problem," "[We need] compulsory birth regulation... [through] the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired family size".[14]

Ehrlich's views came to be accepted by many population control advocates in the United States and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s.[15] Since Ehrlich introduced his idea of the "population bomb," overpopulation has been blamed for a variety of issues, including increasing poverty, high unemployment rates, environmental degradation, famine and genocide.[10] In a 2004 interview, Ehrlich reviewed the predictions in his book, and found that while the specific dates within his predictions may have been wrong, his predictions about climate change and disease were valid. Ehrlich continued to advocate for population control and co-authored the book The Population Explosion, released in 1990 with his wife Anne Ehrlich.

Paige Whaley Eager argues that the shift in perception that occurred in the 1960s must be understood in the context of the demographic changes that took place at the time.[16] It was only in the first decade of the 19th century that the world's population reached one billion. The second billion was added in the 1930s, and the next billion in the 1960s. 90 percent of this net increase occurred in developing countries.[16] Eager also argues that, at the time, the United States recognised that these demographic changes could significantly affect global geopolitics. Large increases occurred in China, Mexico and Nigeria, and demographers warned of a "population explosion," particularly in developing countries from the mid-1950s onwards.[17]

In the 1980s, tension grew between population control advocates and women's health activists who advanced women's reproductive rights as part of a human rights-based approach.[18] Growing opposition to the narrow population control focus led to a significant change in population control policies in the early 1990s.[further explanation needed][19]

Population control and economics[edit]

Opinions vary among economists about the effects of population change on a nation's economic health. US scientific research in 2009 concluded that the raising of a child cost about $16,000 yearly ($291,570 total for raising the child to its 18th birthday).[20] In the USA, the multiplication of this number with the yearly population growth will yield the overall cost of the population growth. Costs for other developed countries are usually of similar order of magnitude.

Some economists, such as Thomas Sowell[21] and Walter E. Williams,[22] have argued that poverty and famine are caused by bad government and bad economic policies, not by overpopulation.

In his book, The Ultimate Resource, economist Julian Simon argued that higher population density leads to more specialization and technological innovation, which in turn leads to a higher standard of living. He claimed that human beings are the ultimate resource since we possess "productive and inventive minds that help find creative solutions to man’s problems, thus leaving us better off over the long run".[23] He also claimed that, "Our species is better off in just about every measurable material way."[24][context?]

Simon also claimed that, when considering a list of countries ranked in order by population density, there is no correlation between population density and poverty and starvation.[citation needed] Instead, if a list of countries is considered according to corruption within their respective governments, there is a significant correlation between government corruption, poverty and famine.[citation needed]

Views on population control[edit]

Support[edit]

As early as 1798, Thomas Malthus argued in his Essay on the Principle of Population for implementation of population control. Around the year 1900, Sir Francis Galton said in his publication called "Hereditary Improvement" that, "The unfit could become enemies to the State, if they continue to propagate." In 1968, Paul Ehrlich noted in The Population Bomb that, "We must cut the cancer of population growth," and that, "if this was not done, there would be only one other solution, namely the ‘death rate solution’ in which we raise the death rate through war-famine-pestilence etc.”

In the same year, another prominent modern advocate for mandatory population control was Garrett Hardin, who proposed in his landmark 1968 essay The Tragedy of the Commons that society must relinquish the "freedom to breed" through "mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon." Later on, in 1972, he reaffirmed his support in his new essay “Exploring New Ethics for Survival”, by stating that, “We are breeding ourselves into oblivion.” Many prominent personalities, such as Bertrand Russell, Margaret Sanger (1939), John D. Rockefeller, Frederick Osborn (1952), Isaac Asimov, Arne Næss[25] and Jacques Cousteau have also advocated for population control. Today, a number of influential people advocate population control, including:

The head of the UN Millennium Project Jeffrey Sachs is also a heavy proponent of decreasing the effects of overpopulation. In 2007, Jeffrey Sachs gave a number of lectures (2007 Reith Lectures) about population control and overpopulation. In his lectures, called "Bursting at the Seams", he featured an integrated approach that would deal with a number of problems associated with overpopulation and poverty reduction. For example, when criticized for advocating mosquito nets he argued that child survival was, "by far one of the most powerful ways," to achieve fertility reduction, as this would assure poor families that the smaller number of children they had would survive.[32]

Opposition[edit]

The Roman Catholic Church has opposed abortion, sterilization, and contraception as a general practice, but specifically in regard to population control policies.[citation needed] Pope Benedict XVI has stated that "The extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty, actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings."[33]

Present-day practice by countries[edit]

China[edit]

Main article: One-child policy

The most significant population control system is China's one-child policy, in which, with various exceptions, having more than one child is discouraged. Unauthorized births are punished by fines, although there have also been allegations of illegal forced abortions and forced sterilization.[34] As part of China's planned birth policy, (work) unit supervisors monitor the fertility of married women and may decide whose turn it is to have a baby.[35]

The Chinese government introduced the policy in 1978 to alleviate the social and environmental problems of China.[36] According to government officials, the policy has helped prevent 400 million births. The success of the policy has been questioned, and reduction in fertility has also been attributed to the modernization of China.[37] The policy is controversial both within and outside of China because of the issues it raises, the manner in which the policy has been implemented and because of concerns about negative economic and social consequences e.g. lower female births.

India[edit]

Only those with two or fewer children are eligible for election to a Gram panchayat, or local government.

We two, our two ("Hum do, hamare do" in Hindi) is a slogan meaning one family, two children and is intended to reinforce the message of family planning thereby aiding population control.

Facilities offered by government to its employees are limited to two children only. Government is offering incentives for families accepted for sterilization. Moreover India was the first country to take measures for family planning back in 1951.

Iran[edit]

Iran has succeeded in sharply reducing its birth rate from the late 1980s to 2010. Mandatory contraceptive courses are required for both males and females before a marriage license can be obtained, and the government emphasized the benefits of smaller families and the use of contraception.[38] This changed in 2012, when a major policy shift towards increasing birth rates and against population control was announced. In 2014, permanent contraception and advertising of birth control are to be outlawed. [39]

Singapore[edit]

Singapore has undergone two major phases in its population control: first to slow and reverse the baby boom in the Post-World War II era; then from the 1980s onwards to encourage couples to have more children as the birth rate had fallen below the replacement-level fertility. In addition, during the interim period, the eugenics policies were adopted.[40]

The anti-natalist policies flourished in the 1960s and 1970s: intitiatives advocating small families were launched and developed into the Stop at Two programme, pushing for two-children families and promoting sterilisation.[41] In 1984, the government announced the Graduate Mothers' Scheme, which favoured children of more well-educated mothers;[42] the policy was however soon abandoned due to the outcry in the general election of the same year.[43] Eventually, the government became pro-natalist in the late 1980s, marked by its Have Three or More plan in 1987.[44]

United States[edit]

Enacted in 1970, Title X of the Public Health Service Act provides access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to those in need. Priority for services is given to people with low-incomes. The Title X Family Planning program is administered through the Office of Population Affairs under the Office of Public Health and Science. It is directed by the Office of Family Planning.[45] In 2007, Congress appropriated roughly $283 million for family planning under Title X, at least 90 percent of which was used for services in family planning clinics.[45] Title X is a vital source of funding for family planning clinics throughout the nation,[46] which provide reproductive health care.

The education and services supplied by the Title X-funded clinics support young individuals and low-income families. The goals of developing healthy families are accomplished by helping individuals and couples decide whether to have children and when the appropriate time to do so would be.[46]

Title X has made the prevention of unintended pregnancies possible.[46] It has allowed millions of American women to receive necessary reproductive health care, plan their pregnancies and prevent abortions. Title X is dedicated exclusively to funding family planning and reproductive health care services.[45]

Title X as a percentage of total public funding to family planning client services has steadily declined from 44% of total expenditures in 1980 to 12% in 2006. Medicaid has increased from 20% to 71% in the same time. In 2006, Medicaid contributed $1.3 billion to public family planning.[47]

Uzbekistan[edit]

It is reported that Uzbekistan has been pursuing a policy of forced sterilizations, hysterectomies and IUD insertions since the late 1990s in order to impose population control.[48][49][50][51][52]

See also[edit]

Fiction:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lifeblood: How to Change the World One Dead Mosquito at a Time, Alex Perry p9
  2. ^ a b c Neurath, Paul (1994). From Malthus to the Club of Rome and Back. M.E. Sharpe. p. 7. ISBN 9781563244070. 
  3. ^ a b Neurath, Paul (1994). From Malthus to the Club of Rome and Back. M.E. Sharpe. p. 6. ISBN 9781563244070. 
  4. ^ Neurath, Paul (1994). From Malthus to the Club of Rome and Back. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 6–7. ISBN 9781563244070. 
  5. ^ a b c Neurath, Paul (1994). From Malthus to the Club of Rome and Back. M.E. Sharpe. p. 8. ISBN 9781563244070. 
  6. ^ a b Neurath, Paul (1994). From Malthus to the Club of Rome and Back. M.E. Sharpe. p. 10. ISBN 9781563244070. 
  7. ^ a b c d Neurath, Paul (1994). From Malthus to the Club of Rome and Back. M.E. Sharpe. p. 9. ISBN 9781563244070. 
  8. ^ Neurath, Paul (1994). From Malthus to the Club of Rome and Back. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 10–11. ISBN 9781563244070. 
  9. ^ a b Rosenberg, M. (2007, September 09). Thomas Malthus on Population. Retrieved June 20, 2009, from About.com "Geography Web site"
  10. ^ a b Knudsen, Lara (2006). Reproductive Rights in a Global Context. Vanderbilt University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 9780826515285. 
  11. ^ Bleier, R. The Home Page of the International Society of Malthus. Retrieved June 20, 2009, from The International Society of Malthus Web site: http://desip.igc.org/malthus/principles.html
  12. ^ Thomas Robert Malthus, 1766-1834. Retrieved June 20, 2009, from The History of Economic Thought Website Web site: http://homepage.newschool.edu/het/profiles/malthus.htm
  13. ^ Knudsen, Lara (2006). Reproductive Rights in a Global Context. Vanderbilt University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780826515285. 
  14. ^ a b Knudsen, Lara (2006). Reproductive Rights in a Global Context. Vanderbilt University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780826515285. 
  15. ^ Knudsen, Lara (2006). Reproductive Rights in a Global Context. Vanderbilt University Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN 9780826515285. 
  16. ^ a b Whaley Eager, Paige (2004). Global Population Policy. Ashgate Publishing. p. 36. ISBN 9780754641629. 
  17. ^ Whaley Eager, Paige (2004). Global Population Policy. Ashgate Publishing. p. 37. ISBN 9780754641629. 
  18. ^ Knudsen, Lara (2006). Reproductive Rights in a Global Context. Vanderbilt University Press. p. 2. ISBN 9780826515285. 
  19. ^ Knudsen, Lara (2006). Reproductive Rights in a Global Context. Vanderbilt University Press. pp. 4–5. ISBN 9780826515285. 
  20. ^ Abbott, Charles (August 4, 2009). "Pricetag to raise a child -- $291,570, says U.S". Reuters. 
  21. ^ Thomas Sowell Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war Thomas Sowell, February 12, 1998
  22. ^ Population control nonsense Walter Williams, February 24, 1999
  23. ^ Moore, S. (1998, March/April). Julian Simon Remembered: it's a Wonderful Life. Retrieved June 25, 2009, from CATO Institute Web site
  24. ^ Regis, E. (1997, February). The Doomslayer. Retrieved June 20, 2009, from Wired.com site
  25. ^ Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1998). Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism. NY: New York University Press, ISBN 0-8147-3110-4
  26. ^ Leake, Jonathan (August 3, 2003). "Attenborough cut population by half". The Times (London). 
  27. ^ Corrupt.org, Interview with Michael E. Arth
  28. ^ Schwarz, Walter (September 1, 2004). "Crowd control". The Guardian (London). 
  29. ^ Local to Global: Kingston University
  30. ^ The green diplomat: Sir Crispin Tickell
  31. ^ Lloyd, Robin (30 June 2011) Laureate urges next generation to address population control as central issue Scientific Americain, Retrieved 9 April 2012
  32. ^ BBC.co.uk Bursting at the Seams
  33. ^ Vatican.va
  34. ^ Arthur E. Dewey, Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Testimony before the House International Relations Committee Washington, DC December 14, 2004 http://statelists.state.gov/scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind0412c&L=dossdo&P=401
  35. ^ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+cn0081)
  36. ^ Pascal Rocha da Silva, "La politique de l'enfant unique en République Populaire de Chine", 2006, Université de Genève, p. 22-28., cf. Sinoptic.ch
  37. ^ "Has China's one-child policy worked?". BBC News. September 20, 2007. 
  38. ^ Iran's Birth Rate Plummeting at Record Pace
  39. ^ Iran to ban permanent contraception after Islamic cleric's edict to increase population
  40. ^ Theresa Wong and Brenda S.A. Yeoh (June 2003), Fertility and the Family: An Overview of Pro-natalist Population Policies inSingapore, Asian MetaCentre Research Paper Series (12) 
  41. ^ Population control in Singapore (this version)
  42. ^ Pekka Louhiala (2004). Preventing intellectual disability: ethical and clinical issues. Cambridge University Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-521-53371-3. 
  43. ^ Quah, Jon (1985). "Singapore in 1984: Leadership Transition in an Election Year". Asian Survey: 225. JSTOR 2644306. 
  44. ^ "Singapore: Population Control Policies". Library of Congress Country Studies (1989). Library of Congress. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  45. ^ a b c Office of Population Affairs
  46. ^ a b c Planned Parenthood, Title X
  47. ^ Sonfield A, Alrich C and Gold RB, Public funding for family planning, sterilization and abortion services, FY 1980–2006, Occasional Report, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2008, No. 38.
  48. ^ Birth Control by Decree in Uzbekistan IWPR Institute for War & Peace Reporting, published 2005-11-18, accessed 2012-04-12
  49. ^ BBC News: Uzbekistan's policy of secretly sterilising women BBC, published 2012-04-12, accessed 2012-04-12
  50. ^ Crossing Continents: Forced Sterilisation in Uzbekistan BBC, published 2012-04-12, accessed 2012-04-12
  51. ^ Uzbeks Face Forced Sterilization The Moscow Times published 2010-03-10, accessed 2012-04-12
  52. ^ Shadow Report: UN Committee Against Torture United Nations, authors Rapid Response Group and OMCT, published November 2007, accessed 2012-04-12


Further reading[edit]

  • Mandani, Mahmood (1972). The Myth of Population Control: Family, Caste, and Class in an Indian Village, in series, Modern Reader. First Modern Reader Pbk. ed. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973, cop. 1972. 173 p. SBN 85345-284-9
  • Warren C. Robinson; John A. Ross (2007). The global family planning revolution: three decades of population policies and programs. World Bank Publications. ISBN 978-0-8213-6951-7. 
  • Thomlinson, R. 1975. Demographic Problems: Controversy over Population Control. 2nd ed. Encino, CA: Dickenson.

External links[edit]