I’ve often found myself in conversations with people who insist that we have an overpopulation crisis and would do well to avoid contributing to it (eg. having kids). There are concerns about the environment and that having too many humans on this planet are simply unsustainable. Of course 100% of those holding those opinions have already been born.
“I’ve often found myself in conversations with people who insist that we have an overpopulation crisis and would do well to avoid contributing to it (eg. having kids). There are concerns about the environment and that having too many humans on this planet are simply unsustainable.”
-> Maybe there are indeed a lot of antagonistic people, with low competitiveness and high consumption of resources, — if we consider the distribution of a person’s general intelligence over a population (Bell Curve).
“Nonetheless, if there’s indeed an overpopulation problem, we would be wise to form policies in line with such findings.”
-> Aren’t such policies already there? For instance, there’s the infamous China’s “one child policy”, parenting policies in developed countries, etc. But also social factors with side effects, such as the focus on a professional career, and economic factors that include housing and living costs. Or are they consequence of overpopulation, rather than the expectations surrounding the idea of overpopulation from ideologies? (You comment some of these observations later in the text. And I would say that the “dating behavior” — which you mention as dating culture — is an important social factor in the investigation of the demographic question. You also answer this questions, but I’m gonna leave them here for further discussions).
“There are indeed parts of the world where population growth is an issue. And there are others where these numbers have fallen to potentially problematic levels.”
-> Yes! Well said. Our perception of the issue changes, if we adjust for scale and dimension.
“There’s also been a shift in values, he says, with fewer people wanting children—with some of that owed to concern over climate change and a more pessimistic outlook in regards to children’s future.”
-> It really seems like that. Some say that children are the future. So, shouldn’t it be true to say that without children there is no future?
“There’s some data to indicate that such economic aspects are not insignificant. More family-forward policies by countries by countries like Romania, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, and Czech Republic have led to birth rates going up in recent years, says Dr. Coleman. Not to replacement levels, but a notable improvement.”
-> So, in your view, would it be safe to assume that, if government agencies aren’t willing to present solutions to the problem of low birth rates, then they do not share the vision that this is a real problem? In other words, we would assume the position of one side of the discourse based on what it lacks in terms of reaction on a topic.
“The “meet cute” days of yesteryear are behind us now, it seems. Both men and women have increased anxiety about approaching strangers that have caught their eye in public.”
-> Do you think that this anxiety was deepened by laws regarding social safety? “Don’t touch me; don’t look at me; don’t talk to me”.
“As our world drifts further into remote work environments, the odds of meeting new people in person have also decreased. You’re not likely to go out for after-work drinks with colleagues these days and have their cute friend drop by. Our circles have gotten more narrow.”
_> Unfortunately yes. It’s a shame that we can’t travel around the world with such freedom and pristine interest in people and things outside our little yards (that lie in our pockets today), as did many adventurers some decades ago — many of whom became migrants and entrepreneurs.
“Today, we want to give children their own rooms, the latest toys, extracurricular activities, an iPhone, and an education. Maybe even a family trip every so often. Our standards are higher.”
-> I'm thinking about this and I see that, as we raise our standards of living, we have to acquire many more resources to support offspring than we used to. And this is so systematically embedded that just trying to live with few demands already requires a high investment for our financial freedom.
“Global demographics continue to be dynamic and shaped by a multitude of factors, and therefore our response must be equally multifaceted. According to many, the fate of humanity depends on it.”
-> Very well finished! Here are some questions that may be interesting:
1. would the replacement of part of the base population in Western countries by migrants, especially from Africa and Asia, call for pressure from the ruling class to form a culture of neutrality around assimilation?
2. Will the trend in developed countries point towards imposed birth control?
3. Could technological advances organize societies through biological and environmental efficiency with the use of artificial intelligence and biological engineering?
4. Or would such advances open a window for societies to reduce their economic pressure on people through the implementation of humanoids in various economic sectors and universal basic income?
A very well written and enjoyable post.
You covered many, if not all the issues plaguing our social/interpersonal existences today. Is prosperity the cause for our eventual extinction...I would say yes, in the same way that progress will be - and could likely be the cause for the debasement and perversion of our collective societies.
When discussing the chaos and derangement that abounds in the world today, I often say "people have too much time on their hands...they no longer have to labor to survive". Both those observations point to: An abundance of Prosperity - in developed societies we have more than enough to eat, have more than adequate shelter and levels of leisure, comfort and distraction (especially in the adolescent ranks) than ever before. Progress - We no longer have to labor as hard or at all, to have abundant prosperity.
You rarely hear of any "Western issues" in third world countries, where they are literally laboring to survive. Children who are old enough, work along side parents, from sun up to sundown, in order to contribute to the family's survival and welfare.
There is little time to get lost in fb, X, or Instagram on your Iphone or lock yourself away, in your own room.
The old adage that each generation steals from it's offspring, that which made previous generations great, holds true. When times become easy, people become soft, wallowing in the comfort of the "now" and worrying little about the future. After all, dinner is just a door dash delivery away.
The leap I make is, there is no baser need, in these developed countries (especially ones who have vilified the nuclear family and the burden of children), to make population maintenance a priority or worry. The pursuit of a family or children, has been replaced by the pursuit of careers, cars, status, followers, social media likes and distraction. The family and children - in general - are afterthought, to be fit in, if convenient.
Another thought, why is this decline in some places, necessarily a bad thing - in a larger/big picture sense? While no one wants to see their society or culture go extinct, it has happened many times, in the past. For whatever reason (be it cyclic occurrences, natural limitation on peoples in mass groupings, or Devine planning) why would this not be a natural progression, as prosperity and progress reach peak levels - akin to many other extinct civilizations, that came before us?
When we study them, it's a given that they perished and subsequent civilizations/cultures rose to take their place. While we may wonder about the how, for the most part, we we accept it as part of history's march forward. It's only when we put ourselves in the middle of it, that it becomes a problem.
I often ask friends and co-workers, when new stories about natural "disasters" break..."if there were no people around, would they be "disasters"? My point to them is, these events have been occurring for millennia, naturally and it's only because humans placed themselves in the middle of them, that they became disasters.
Is extinction a product of poor population management; poor dating environments/mechanisms/practices; poor ethical and moral values or apathy where children and families are concerned; an over abundance of prosperity and progress or is it natural cycles of civilizations, that have peaked and are on their way to decline and extinction - so that others can rise, in their place? Unknown, but it will happen, sooner or later, for whatever reason - as history has repeatedly proven.
Thanks for the excellent article.
I found this claim by the demography expert to be surprising as perhaps you did.
"What’s interesting is that according to his findings, in the U.S., for example, amongst those having children, rates haven’t actually fallen that much. He claims that those wanting two kids, will likely have two. Those desiring 3-4 will also have that number."
That seems like a very hard thing to prove. And counter to my intuition and to the rest of your excellent post. If women are having children later, then you'd think that smaller families would naturally be the result as the fertility window would be smaller.
There is very little need for "mere survival work" today. Machinery replaced slavery long ago. Producing and delivering crops involve much fewer people.
I'm becoming more of an opinion that Universe is self-correcting
It could be as simple as natural moderation. We are not a threatened species. Perhaps the sexual imperative reduces in a species which has established a high level of comfort.
In third world nations, where survival is more precarious, birth rates are higher. Unfortunately, so is infant mortality.
This leads me to believe that establishing stable market economies in the third world would lead to a more stable global population and better standards of living for all.
I like Elon Musk but I disagree that we need a larger human population.