A critical essay on population
Let’s talk frankly about population. People don’t usually give their real opinions on this subject, I believe. It’s sensitive and my views may offend some.
First, I am not the first to observe that we humans are overpopulating our planet. In 1798, Thomas Malthus observed that a population size is limited by its food supply. In the year 1800, world population was estimated at one billion; today it is about seven. There was a United Nations study published in 2004, it can be read here. It projects estimates of world population growth to the year 2100. Depending on the assumptions, they estimate it could rise to sixteen billion or fall to six billion.
Postulate: For any country at a particular time, at a particular level of economic activity (E), and technological advancement (T), there is an ideal population size (S).
- In the ideal society S described above, unemployment is zero;
- Everyone who wants a job can find one;
- Employers can find workers to fill their vacancies;
- Non-workers (N) are only children, retired elderly, and truly disabled. There are none who are capable of working but refuse to do so. There are no incarcerated prisoners.
In the above: Spouses who are home makers but do not work are considered as productive workers; unemployed persons are counted as non-workers.
Starting at the ideal population size S, an increase in non-workers N will dilute the amount of goods, services, and wealth available (G) to the average individual. This assumes that the non-workers are given a share of the goods, services, and wealth, (rather than starving them.)
A very rough equation expressing the relationship might be S = P – N, or ideal population size is the actual population less the non-workers.
However, there is no simplicity here. For example, increasing the population size while keeping technology at the same level might just open up more jobs and not affect the number of non-workers. However, in general increasing population size tends to dilute the average amount of goods, services, and wealth, at least until the economy catches up.
Holding the population size P steady while increasing the level of technology T might increase the level of unemployed N and thus dilute average level of goods, services, and wealth. But there is also the possibility that more jobs are needed for the change in technology.
Now, let’s discuss what the above implies. Take any society, at a given state of economy E and technology T. Increasing population size without raising E or T means that adding to population will tend to decrease G. Salaries will tend to fall, prices for goods will rise. Taxes may rise, as new people must be provided for in food stamps, unemployment, etc. The higher prices will give incentive for the economy to speed up, because more food and other goods G must be produced. There will be an increase in certain types of jobs, but it may not be enough to totally employ the newcomers.
What I would do: I believe any population increase at all is bad for the current U.S. economy, which is considerably above the ideal size. I would stop immigration altogether. I would work to eliminate the illegal immigrants already in the country, particularly those unemployed.
I would stop paying single women to have babies supported by ADC. I would try to improve the economy to increase G. I would attempt to evaluate and control innovations that might increase T, since changes in technology can have devastating effects on employment or economic activity.
I am for controlling the birth rate. China, for example, encourages a woman to have only two children, which if strictly followed would result in a slowly declining population. (I believe the break-even point is 2.14 per woman). I would encourage the same in the U.S., further, I would require any single woman who has a baby to have her tubes tied voluntarily in order to receive any public support for the child.
I would sterilize each prisoner sentenced for a felony in either state or federal prison. By committing a felony, the person has shown he/she is unworthy to have children and care for them.
I would allow abortions during the first four months of pregnancy, although I would not want any level of government to pay for them.
Some world trends:
According to the CIA World Factbook, the annual population growth rate for the entire world is 1.064%, compounded.
The United States, Canada, and most European countries have relatively low annual population growth rates: U.S., .77%; Canada, .76%, the U.K., .54%; France .45%, Italy .3%. Some countries have negative annual population growth rates; Russia, -.03%; Poland, -.11%; Latvia, -.62%; Lithuania, -.29%; Estonia -.68%.
The Baltic countries vary: Norway, 1.19%; Denmark, .22%; Sweden, .79%; Finland. .05%.
The two most populated countries in the world are increasing in population. China is at .44% and India is over the world average at 1.29%.
Many African and Middle East countries have very high annual growth: Egypt, 1.84%; Bahrain 2.49%; Ivory Coast, 1.94%; Burundi, 3.28%; Yemen, 2.72%. These countries are poor, and high birth rates compound the poverty.
Effects of overpopulation:
If there is a human-caused effect on world climate, the primary factor is without doubt the huge and growing population. Every human on the planet requires a home, and most homes have electricity. Many use energy for heating and cooling. More and more people operate automobiles, airplanes, trains, and ships. Many millions of automobile engines are running at any moment somewhere in the world.
More and more humans require more and more land to live on and grow crops. Forests are being cut away and burned. Less vegetation means less natural scrubbing of carbon dioxide from the air.
The United States:
In the United States of 2015, the population size and mix is far from ideal. The CIA World Factbook estimated population at 319 million persons as of July, 2014. In January, 2015, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 18 million persons were unemployed. Estimating the number of parasites (to use an unfriendly but accurate term), is difficult, but take away the unemployed, those on ADC support, those who have stopped looking for work, persons in the prison systems, and those who have falsely claimed disability, and I believe the ideal population size would come in at about 240 million, but whatever the number, it is considerably less than 319 million.
At a lower population level, one with fewer parasites, less spending on entitlement programs could result in lower taxes, thus a better total standard of living for all.
I believe limiting the growth of population is one of the most important but most ignored issues for mankind.