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MORE BABIES!

To follow up on my recent post going over the argument for more population, not less, the US Government is looking at quite a pickle.

The problem is birth rates decline during a recession. You would think the opposite wouldn’t you? Alas, it seems that people are not so dependent on birth control as some would have us beleive for “family planning” purposes. (I always thought that was a stupid name. Isn’t it really “family avoidance”?) Of course it may be that people make better use of birth control measures during hard times, but it really doesn’t matter.

We can look back 60 years to the baby boom for evidence. Times were good and millions of men were coming home from overseas and we had a massive spike in births. We run into a problem when those babies, now grown up and retiring, look to social programs that are funded by current workers (all of them by the way), not by contributions paid over an individuals lifetime as is often alleged to be the case. We can expect in 18 years or so, to see a drop in the number of new workers “coming of age” and paying taxes, among other issues caused by declining population growth or simple replacement birth rates.

I’m not going to beat a dead horse but once again, contrary to what many would have us beleive, there is almost no upside to declines in population. Inversely there are almost no downsides to population increase, whether in the third world, or in the “first/second” world. My only point here is to kind of put the idea out there that people are capable of making decisions about when to have babies without regard to the availability of birth control. We see throughout history, prior to birth control even really becoming available, that humans will tailor their population growth to the times. Birth control makes it easier, but economic health seems to be a bigger determining factor than anything else, including education. Whether in Africa or in New York, in Medieval times or tomorrow.

Note: If you look at the rough figures below, you should see that population increase, decrease and stability tracks roughly with economic health and less with plagues and such. The steep declines are where plagues happen, and if illness were only to blame, and not the destruction of economic productivity, we should see rising population after steep declines, not stability.  All periods are year AD:

  • 150–400: population decline
  • 400–1000: stable at a low level.
  • 1000–1250: population boom and expansion.
  • 1250–1350: stable at a high level (with the exception of the Great Famine)
  • 1350–1420: steep decline
  • 1420–1470: stable at a low level.
  • 1470–onward: slow expansion, gaining momentum in the early 16th century.
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