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The population explosion

The problem of the population explosion has lost much of its urgency. Since it came to the fore in the 1960's, population growth on the world level has consistently decreased. In the developed countries, population growth is practically zero, in the developing countries it is rapidly decreasing. According to the most likely projections, world population is expected to stabilize at less than the double of the present level by the year 2100. The increase in population density only causes major problems in very poor, agricultural countries, such as Rwanda or Bangla Desh, where more land would be needed to feed the population. In Rwanda, for instance, contrary to elsewhere, the Malthusian apocalyptic predictions have been verified by the 1994 genocide, which literally decimated the population. The introduction of vaccines and antibiotics broke the balance between maximal fertility and high mortality, leading to extreme overpopulation. In these circumstances, political conflict degenerated into wholesale massacre. In Bangla Desh, on the other hand, the education of women and spread of anticonception methods has produced a spectacular drop in fertility, making the problem much more manageable.

Countries such as the Netherlands, Singapore and Japan show how a high population density can very well go together with high economic and social development levels. Statistical studies of happiness or life-satisfaction show that happiness= is independent of either population density or population growth. Since productivity increases in general more quickly than population, population growth at the world level should not lead to the exhaustion of resources or farmland. However, it is clear that for the densely populated agricultural countries mentioned before, population control remains a high priority.

Copyright© 2000 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

F. Heylighen, & J. Bernheim

Sep 15, 2000


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