Myths About Population

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Global population is believed to top 7 billion. Is this a problem? Does 7 billion people constitute “overpopulation”? Nicholas Eberstadt doesn’t think so. In today’s Washington Post, Eberstadt punctures five “myths” about global population.

The myths:

  1. The world is overpopulated.
  2. Rapid population growth keeps poor countries poor.
  3. For all its ethical problems, China’s one-child policy boosts its economy.
  4. If your population declines, your economy does too.
  5. The world will have 10 billion people by 2100.
Eberstadt’s essay underscores the principle that institutions are more important than absolute numbers.  Whether a given region or society can accommodate a given number of people is a more function of the underlying economic institutions (and technological capabilities) than the total number of people or rate of population growth.  In addition, there is every reason to believe that global population growth will slow in the coming decades, and even turn negative, as birth rates tend to decline as wealth and education improves.

Originally posted at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Jonathan Adler is Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law & Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He is a prolific scholar, publishing on such topics as regulatory takings, water marketing, fisheries management, and the judicial limits of federal environmental regulation. He is the author,...
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