Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Government and Fertility.
One does not need to be a Neo Malthusian to recognize that there comes a point when human population growth becomes highly undesirable to say the lease. If the projected 10 billion humans by 2050 are not enough then what is? Is it another doubling to 20 billion or maybe a further doubling still to 40 billion?
Most, and possibly all, of those that have looked into this issue and investigated the potential limits seriously have concluded that we are already beyond any metric of sustainability. This only means that we have overshoot the carrying capacity of the ecosystem and as a result we have to take measures that will reverse our current course.
But what is it that needs to be done if we are to reduce fertility substantially? Surely we cannot stand by as idle spectators and hope that the humans will decide to change their behaviour drastically just because that is good for the ecosystem? Had this been the case then they would have done so a long time ago. So what we are left with is the absolute certainty that human population must stop growing and preferably even start to decline.
If it is deemed to be too risky to count on a voluntary change in behaviour then the only other alternative to reduce the rate of fertility would be a direct and sustained government policy aimed at achieving lower fertility rates. There are a number of actions that the government can adopt that will act to internalize the negative externality of high fertility such as taxes, social expenditures and even outright strict limits on the number of successful pregnancies per female.
What do you think does the government have the right to interfere or should it just stand by and watch?