The ideal family for a stable sustainable population size would be two children per couple, with fair conditions to rear them. Actual family sizes however depend upon the psychology of population and the luck of the game, sometimes claimed to be the Will of God.
Who think they gain from population growth?
1. In developed countries, Governments and commercial interests in developed countries seek continual growth of mass markets, increasing consumption, a prosperous building industry, rising prices for real estate, and docile labor pools. They fear supporting ageing populations (See Fact Sheet 8). However, Government funding of babies is most likely to encourage fertility at the welfare-receiving end of the socio-economic scale, where larger families may not receive a fair chance in life.
Western nations’ pronatalist policies for their own countries is scandalous in face of overseas soaring distress of overpopulation beyond resources. National pronatalism is economically wrong because even with the most open of doors, the West could not contain the rising tides of economic refugees from the South. Imagine Australia taking in the overflow of millions, not dozens or hundreds, from Indonesia, PNG, East Timor, the Solomon Islands and other brimming islands of the Pacific. There are even more millions in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the smaller nations of the Indian subcontinent.
Vested interests may promote complacency about economic refugees because they can become low-paid labor in developed countries, including as seasonal workers, laid off when not wanted.
National pronatalism is also politically wrong because the West cannot promote family planning for the poor countries without being seen as horribly hypocritical and arousing cries of ‘genocide’.
2. In the worst hotspots of the world, populations are soaring, because of as well as in spite of failed statehood, social and economic chaos, wars, massacres, AIDS and famines.
Throughout history and folklore, the poor are burdened with more children than they can raise, as well as with the distress of no children.
Where there is no social security and child deathrates have traditionally been high, it makes sense to have many children, in the hope that some at least will survive to help support their parents. Increasingly states as well as families are depending on remittances from their children working abroad (as with Tonga and the Philippines). And children can be the greatest joy in life – and they may be the only joy the poor can have. Where women have access to education and family planning, they show their desire for smaller families, that they can cope with.
3. Religious and political outbreeding rivalries. Religious dogmatism overlooks that the first supposed commandment of God, to increase and multiply, is now the only divine commandment that has been fully obeyed, and now it is time to obey the other commands, about loving neighbours and so on. Religions and politics that foster outbreeding their rivals increase the hate and fear in the world as well as the scandal of using ,more children as ‘our weapons’. Influential American fundamentalism cares more for the unborn embryo than for the living child, and cares not for earthly future.
4. Providing food aid and policing for poor nations may even serve particular interests among the donor nations and aid organizations. This too is a problem that must be faced. But it is becoming increasingly clear, especially in Africa and among Australia’s neighbours that however generous the aid and the policing, they will be unable to solve population growth, or even keep up with its increasing needs.
It would seem that one of the two sanest things that humans could do to try to save the planet would be to redirect most financing of armaments to the education of women, supplying access to family planning, and helping states to become economically secure. (The other sane thing is reducing the footprint on the earth that currently accompanies rises in standard of living.) What are the forces that not only prevent this, but actively prevent such campaigning?
Capitalism has raised living standards through the whole world, and the poorest now wear T-shirts, not rags, but it must find a way to operate without requiring continual growth and consumption, seeking growing mass-markets and cheap labor.