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Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion

July 12th, 2012 |

Press Release by Worldwatch Institute

Washington, D.C.-Although most analysts assume that the world’s population will rise from today’s 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, it is quite possible that humanity will never reach this population size, Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman argues in the book State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity.

In the chapter “Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion,” Engelman outlines a series of steps and initiatives that would all but guarantee declines in birthrates-based purely on the intention of women around the world to have small families or no children at all-that would end population growth before mid-century at fewer than 9 billion people. “Unsustainable population growth can only be effectively and ethically addressed by empowering women to become pregnant only when they themselves choose to do so,” Engelman writes.

Examples from around the world demonstrate effective policies that not only reduce birth rates, but also respect the reproductive aspirations of parents and support an educated and economically active society that promotes the health of women and girls. Most of these reproduction policies are relatively inexpensive to implement, yet in many places they are opposed on the basis of cultural resistance and political infeasibility.

Eschewing the language and approaches of “population control” or the idea that anyone should pressure women and their partner on reproduction, Engelman outlines nine strategies that could put human population on an environmentally sustainable path.

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One Response to “Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion”

  1. Peter Hall Says:

    Can I suggest one other strategy? Pay cash to women to have contraceptive implants such as Implanon or Nexplanon. These usually last three years and cost small amounts to implant (say $30).

    The key issue is Population x Consumption Function not population alone. A member of a wealthy society with an annual average GDP of say $50,000 x 80 years life expectancy will have an environmental impact of $4m over their lifetime (if we use GDP as a proxy for environmental impact).

    If we paid woman $20,000 a year to have the implant over 20 years it would cost $400,000 or 10% of the environmental impact each child that woman would bear would have. That is a 1000% return.

    The regretable but inescapeable logical conclusion of this reasonng is that women in poorer countries with lower life expectancies would be paid less money to have the implants. In Afghanistan for example life expectancy is (tragically) 44 years and GDP is c $1000 (PPP) for a total impact of $44,000 or about 1.1% of the environmental impact of the member of the wealthy society.

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