The “Population Bomb” Fizzles, but Now There is a Birth Dearth with Grave Consequences in Many Countries
By Nancy Valko
Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich was an entomologist (a scientist who specializes in the study of insects) at Stanford University when he published his bestseller “The Population Bomb” in 1968. Although initially ignored, it incited a worldwide fear of overpopulation and ultimately became one of the most influential books of the 20th century.
In his book, Ehrlich predicted that unless population decreased, “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” in the 1970s.
That did not happen but 50 years later in a 2018 interview with Smithsonian magazine writer Charles C. Mann, Paul Ehrlich claimed that the book’s main contribution was to make population control “acceptable” as “a topic to debate.”
However, as Mr. Mann wrote:
”But the book did far more than that. It gave a huge jolt to the nascent environmental movement and fueled an anti-population-growth crusade that led to human rights abuses around the world.” (Emphasis added)
But even 50 years later and with the population declining in many countries, Paul Ehrlich continued to insist that:
“Population will fall, either when people choose to dramatically reduce birthrates or when there is a massive die-off because ecosystems can no longer support us. (Emphasis added)
THE HARSH REALITY TODAY
In 1980, China began a strict one child per married couple policy that even included forced abortions for women who did not comply.
In 2015, China raised the limit to two children, citing a “rapidly aging society and a shrinking working-age population”.
China has now increased the number of children to 3 children but as a June 3, 2021 Wall Street Journal article states “China Delivers Three Child Policy, but It’s Too Late for Many“.
Even with years of declining birthrates, there are fewer young people willing to buck the trend of postponing or forgoing marriage and children.
The result is an aging population with a shortage of children. In one Chinese province almost 40% of the province’s population of 880,000 is 60 or older and there is a surging demand for nursing homes. The local government is looking for private investors to help some 7,000 elderly residents who cannot take care of themselves.
Even beyond China, a May 22, 2021 New York Times article titled “Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications“ recognized that:
“All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore.” (Emphasis added)
HUNGARY FIGHTS BACK
A replacement rate of about 2.1 is necessary to sustain a population but the population in Hungary had been declining since 1981. It reached an all-time low of 1.23 in 2011.
Katalin Novák, the Minister for Family Affairs in Hungary, has facilitated a family-friendly approach that has seen birth rates start to rise. The birth rate is now up to 1.56, still low but improving.
As Minister Novak states:
“The government’s measures of the past ten years have evidently moved demographics in the right direction. The number of childbirths, abortions, the infant mortality rate, marriages, and divorces have all moved in a favorable direction. This also proves that we have made the right decision when we made family-centered governance a priority and are now on the right path. Families are enjoying government support, and we are helping our youth by giving them the opportunity to start a family whenever they want.” (Emphasis added)
THE SITUATION IN THE UNITED STATES
As of 2019 (the latest year for which data is available), the U.S has the lowest fertility rate on record and the lowest number of births in 35 years.
As the New York Times noted in its article about population decline:
“The change may take decades, but once it starts, decline (just like growth) spirals exponentially. With fewer births, fewer girls grow up to have children, and if they have smaller families than their parents did — which is happening in dozens of countries — the drop starts to look like a rock thrown off a cliff. (Emphasis added)
The “population bomb” theory has had unintended and disastrous consequences, even in the U.S. and despite immigration.
In 2018, a US Census Bureau article predicted “The Greying of America: More Older Adults than Kids by 2035” for the first time in US history-joining other countries with large aging populations.
As the US Census Bureau states:
“With this swelling number of older adults, the country could see greater demands for healthcare, in-home caregiving and assisted living facilities. It could also affect Social Security. We project three-and-a-half working-age adults for every older person eligible for Social Security in 2020. By 2060, that number is expected to fall to two-and-a-half working-age adults for every older person.” (Emphasis added)
A country with more older people than children can unbalance a society socially, culturally and economically.
Even worse, legalizing abortion and assisted suicide/euthanasia will only make the situation more dire the US.
Since the US Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 with the Roe v. Wade decision, more than 62,000,000 abortions have been performed and now the new Biden administration wants to roll back restrictions on abortion and make abortions taxpayer-funded.
And as efforts by groups like Compassion and Choices to legalize assisted suicide throughout the US has now spread to 9 states and the District of Columbia despite pro-life and disability rights opposition, we should not be surprised if there is another US Supreme court case in the future like the 1997 Vacco v Quill Supreme Court case that attempted to establish physician-assisted suicide as a fundamental right for the terminally ill like the Roe v. Wade abortion decision legalizing abortion for (initially) just women in the first three months of pregnancy.
Instead of threats to human beings at the beginning and end of life, we should be welcoming new lives and families as well as caring for the elderly, disabled and poor to improve and stabilize ourselves and our country.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Nancy’s blog and is reposted with permission.