The Overpopulation that Won’t Be.

A friendly acquaintance – who keeps the best Facebook I know – recently called me a “soothsayer.” That hurt! Her intention was to scum me out for throwing the cold cloth of skepticism over her apparent concern for overpopulation. I had opined that the world population will begin to decline around 2050.

It wasn’t difficult to opine. I am not a demographer by training but gross demographic projections are not difficult to understand. Again, it’s not mysterious. Here is my try at explaining world population growth until only about 2050.

The number of births in the next thirty years or so is completely constrained by the number of women of child-bearing age now. We have a very good idea of what that number is already. In most alternative scenarios but one (see below) there will be even fewer women of child-bearing age than expected. And, yes, you got it, the number of men does not matter much. That’s because even a very few courageous, determined males can accomplish prodigious wonders in the area of procreation. The more women in that age range, the more births.

How many children any woman will have in her lifetime depends mostly on two things plus one. First, the higher the age at marriage, the fewer children. Second the more educated the woman the fewer the children. Lower the age at marriage and take girls out of school, and you will see more births. Make marriage later and keep girls in school and you will have fewer births per woman on average. For the past fifty years, world trends have been later age at marriage and more education for girls. (But see below.)

Finally (“plus one”), everywhere in the world, a high degree of urbanization reduces the number of births per women. Women in the cities have fewer children than their own cousins in rural areas.

These three factors together are enough to predict very well, to forecast, future population growth. They have been use successfully to forecast slower population growth in such diverse countries as Egypt and Mexico. Of course, practically all the European countries’ and Japan’s populations are decreasing, have been for a long time. The major exception is France where a large immigration from poorer countries is combined with a lavish welfare expenditures to support child rearing. The combination sustains the French birth rate above replacement rate. This means that left to their own devices and to men of their own origin, French women whose grandparents were all born in France don’t contribute enough children to replace themselves and their male breeders.

Using this simple, understandable model based on things that are easy to measure, demographers have been predicting a reversal of global population numbers sometimes around 2050.

Of course,there are many other factors that influence population growth. Almost all of them reduce it. Together, they would have the effect of lowering world population before 2050.

There are presently no forces – except one – that would reverse the trend toward a smaller global population. The one exception is Islamism whose program involves lowering the age of marriage for women and limiting girls’ education. (See above.)

When specialists agree without any acrimony on a model that is easy to understand, based on a small number of variables and these variables are straightforwardly constructed from readily available, good-quality data, you have an issue not much worth worrying about. You can worry instead about the horrible forthcoming destruction caused by global warming about which 97% (or is it 98%?) of scientists agree although none is able to explain it with any clarity. (See my postings.)

Of course, you are also free to consider the world unbearably overpopulated today, already, because of a formidable drop in infant mortality, because of slowly but steadily growing longevity, in spite of the fact that the world produces enough food for everybody on it. You might even decide that population density is too high for simple comfort. That would be in spite of the fact that you could easily house the whole world population within the state of California at a normal America suburban density. (Don’t take my word for it, do the long division yourself.)

I am not a soothsayer, Carol. I try to stay informed. I read good stuff. ( Personal note: That includes Skeptic magazine, thanks to you!) I am extremely skeptical of all apocalyptic predictions. In my lifetime, I have witnessed almost only improvements. You should read my book . (I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography, available on Amazon and from me at iusedtobefrench@gmail.com)

Oops, the ingrate! Of course, Carol, you are already reading it! Thank you very much.

About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English, some in French. There are other people with the same first name and same last name on the Internet. I am the one who put up on Amazon in 2014: "I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography" and also: "Les pumas de grande-banlieue." To my knowledge, I am the only Jacques Delacroix with American and English scholarly publications. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!) I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California.
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2 Responses to The Overpopulation that Won’t Be.

  1. Bruce says:

    I’m not sure how reliable the population data is, given all the
    immigrants who are living in the shadows. Are they in the shadows
    out there in California? Not so here in Florida. They’re 10 deep at the
    check out at the convenience store where I buy fried chicken and beer.
    What is alarming to me is the fact that the majority of the breeding in America
    is being done by those least able to afford to do so. Replace the Scans in
    Minnesota with Somali refugees. Obama dumping Central Americans
    throughout the US- especially Red states. They will have big families because
    there is no downside to do so. Uneducated and unskilled, we will pay for
    them from cradle to grave. The real story is that the white race and western
    Civilization is in peril. The most common name in London is Muhammad.
    Paris is not far behind. We have a transformation president in the White House who
    would have no problem reducing us to a Third World country. There is still
    great golf and Martha’s Vineyards in those places. Sorry, but
    I’m growing weary of our welfare state with open borders. Can we take in hundreds
    of millions of people who have no interest in assimilating? Sure, but things
    will be worse for the working stiffs and their children who will be forced fed
    Multiculturalism through a fire hose.

  2. Bruce: The soup you serve is too rich for a comment. Legal immigrants are counted. If the highest estimate of illegals all fail to be counted, it means that the US population may be 218 million rather than 206 million. I don’t lose sleep over it. Previous immigrants were even more destitute than the current ones. Mexican immigrants have the immense merit of understanding the US before they come. That’s more than could be said of your Slovak or Sicilian grandmother. Many of the adults who will support your children’s Social Security in the future are brown-skinned children. Are you going to turn them down? Welfare with open borders is a potential problem, we agree on this. There are no hundreds of millions as you assert. There is about one million a year legal. If there are as many illegals (which I don’t believe), that 2 for 300, total; the ratio was much higher in 1900. There is no open border. It’s largely an illusion. I know of no immigrant minority refusing to assimilate, none at all. This impression comes from US-born Americans’ extraordinary ignorance regarding the acquisition of foreign languages. (I have a good posting on this; I will dig it out if anyone is interested.) You don’t have to support the silly charade of “multiculturalism” in our schools to support regulated immigration. All that’s needed in knowing the economic evidence: More immigrants=more growth. Take this immigrant, for example….

    To be continued, I suspect.

    Read my book : I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography. I need the money.

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