Consumption and Population: Keep an Eye on Both

The average US resident consumes roughy 100 times the energy of the average resident of India. Imagine the US with 1.339 billion people (the US population is currently around 330 million). Would we have the same standard of living? Would we have the same acreage of forest? Would we have the same levels of resource depletion and environmental degradation? Of course not.

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The world has too many people

Fortunately, at 1.73 per person (total fertility rate), fertility in the US is considerably less than it is in India, at 2.4 per person. (The Indian rate is a lot less today than it was in 1960, at 6 per person, so progress there.) To the extent that we can consume less and maintain a high standard of living, we should look into consuming less. But we should not be looking to impoverish ourselves. We need to keep an eye on population. We need to work on raising the standards of every person whose conditions are below the average.

Studies show that family planning plays a key role in human development, population growth, and poverty reduction. Failing to introduce or sustain family planning programs leads to increased poverty and poorer health outcomes. Family planning is associated with an array of benefits for human beings, including maternal and infant survival, disease reduction, higher levels of educational attainment, better nutrition, increased status for women, and protection of ecosystems. Family planning is also a huge boost in freedom, empowering women to control their reproductive capacity and their lives.

This has been a message brought to you by family planning, birth control, and abortion. Let’s keep it free and legal.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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