The Duggar Family & Thoughts on Population

August 5, 2008 • News

Thanks to Marianne Ward for this follow up commentary from Marni Fogelson-Teel on the Duggar family population explosion.

When People and several other popular media outlets heralded the news that the Duggar family in Arkansas welcomed their 17th child earlier this month, my reaction was not necessarily that of awe or amazement. It was anxiety. While the Duggar family is certainly an anomaly, it would become more than slightly problematic if everyone exercises their reproductive rights and simply has as many children as they physically can.

A recent study from the Optimum Population Trust pointed out that tactics for combating climate change “almost universally ignore population: it is seen as too sensitive and too controversial.” Personal birth rate and contraceptive choice are contentious subjects for many people because reproductive decisions often result from religious or cultural traditions. However, this decision has a huge impact on more than just one’s own family. In his hugely popular book The End Of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Jeffrey Sachs explains how the most poor countries, “are stuck with fertility rates of five or more. On average, a mother is raising at least two girls, and in some cases three girls or more. In those circumstances, national populations double each generation.”

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