Jerry Okwuosa argues that it is not the number of persons but the quality that is the problem
This refers to your editorial of Jan. 13, 2021 titled Bane Of Uncontrolled Population. We have noticed that similar opinions are cropping up at regular intervals so it will be heartwarming if contrary views can be accommodated by your esteemed daily in spite of the prevailing cancel culture. Permit us to address specific quotes from the editorial in question to clarify issues.
The editorial claims that “Going by the United Nations projection, the overall population of Nigeria is also expected to hit the 400 million mark by 2050 … and 700 million by 2100…These are danger signals that should worry critical stakeholders especially the government”. It is amidst this gloom and doom about overpopulation that in July 2020 a team of researchers at the University of Washington’s (UW) Institute for Health Metrics and evaluation actually took a hard look at the numbers and have published what they saw in The Lancet. First, the UW researchers noted that family sizes have been dropping for decades. Whereas in 1950 women worldwide had an average of 4.7 children over their reproductive lifetimes, by 2017 that number had been cut in half, to 2.4 children. They predicted that the number of children per woman will continue to decline, falling to well below 2.1 children per woman by the year 2100.
A fertility rate of 2.1 children constitutes “replacement rate fertility.” It’s called this because at that level of fertility the father and the mother have merely “replaced” themselves, neither adding to, nor subtracting from, the population. Any fertility rate above 2.1 means the population will keep growing. Any fertility rate below that level means that the population will be shrinking over time.
This is already the case in dozens of countries around the world, where for a generation or more couples have been averaging fewer than two children. Italian women, for instance, are averaging only 1.33 children. This means that – barring a huge uptick in Italian fertility – the Italians won’t be around for much longer, at least in any numbers.
But when will the entire world fall below replacement rate fertility? How far below replacement will it fall? And what does this mean in terms of total numbers?
Just like the editorial has done, for
decades the doomsayers at the U.N. Population Division (UNPD), UNFPA, WHO and elsewhere have insisted that the population of the world will continue growing throughout the present century. The U.N. Population Division’s latest forecast predicts that the population will reach almost 11 billion by 2100 (10,880,000,000) and will still be growing.
The UW researchers predict that global population will peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling to only 8.8 billion by the end of the century. This is two billion fewer than the U.N. projects. Surprisingly, Nigeria is currently at 2.7 children per woman so it is impossible, at this TFR, to hit 400 million in 2050 as the editorial predicted.
Europe, sad to say, is in its demographic winter and the European Union is fervently appealing for improvement in its TFR, otherwise immigrants will take over Europe with dire consequences, etc. Governments in different parts of the world have experimented with policies to try to get their people to have more not less children, but there isn’t yet any example which demonstrates real success. Can you imagine that in Russia, which was the first country in the world to legalize abortion as a population control measure in 1920, President Putin pays $9,000 to any Russian woman for a second child? Even the Singapore government offers $20,000 per new baby and a South Korean County offers $100,000 to any family of three children.
The editorial stated further that “…They could also point to China and India as countries with huge populations harvesting their ‘demographic dividends’… Yet, the fact being ignored is that China, for decades, managed its population with its one-child per couple policy while the Indian state encourages some form of family planning.” China’s one-child policy started in 1979 and was discontinued after 336 million baby girls were killed by abortion. India is going through a similar experience – over there girls pay dowries to get married to boys, and so poor families who cannot afford dowries routinely aborted girl babies. The population control policies of these two most populous countries at a point resulted in a shortfall between them of 70 million marriage-age women and consequently women were being kidnapped and taken to faraway regions of their countries for marriage. In most climes, boys are preferred to girls to maintain the family name, but once you interfere with the natural ratio of boys to girls (105 to 100) at birth, the undesirable consequences are automatic.
Concluding, the editorial stated that “…Nigeria’s young population could be a demographic advantage but only if policymakers can design appropriate policies that will improve the productive capacities of our people and put our people to work…. The high rate of out-of-school children and poor output in the education sector also contribute negatively to deepening this problem as the nation churns out a crop of uncompetitive youth in a new world driven by technology, skills and knowledge.” This really is the crux of this matter of Nigeria’s seeming overpopulation. So, it is not the numbers but the quality of the persons. And to address this let’s listen to Pope John Paul II 1991 Encyclical: Centesiumus Annus “Man …. is God’s gift to man”: “Indeed, besides the earth, man’s principal resource is man himself. His intelligence enables him to discover the earth’s productive potential and the many different ways in which human needs can be satisfied. And so, the world’s potentialities along with human ingenuity are more than sufficient to satisfy present and future needs.” We must accept that the human intellect is the world’s ultimate resource.
We agree entirely with Brian Clowes because it stands to reason that “Only a simple-minded, one-level thinker would ever believe that having too many babies causes poverty. It is war, corruption in governance and greedy rich people who do this in poor nations.”
Even the UW study exaggerated future fertility, primarily by assuming widespread lack of access to “modern methods of contraception.” It is sad to note that African, Asian, and Latin American countries are flooded with contraceptives, available free to virtually anyone who wants them and so the claim that there are vast numbers of Third World women with an unmet need for contraception is not grounded in reality. This is sad indeed because African women want babies.
The UW’s lowest projection, which assumes that contraceptives are available to everyone who wants them on an accelerated schedule, forecasts that global population will peak in 2046 at 8.5 billion, declining by 2100 to 6.289 billion.
The closing words of the study are however sobering: “Global population is likely to peak well before the end of the century. Given that we forecasted that societies tend towards a TFR lower than 1.5, once global population decline begins, it will probably continue inexorably.” This is in line with Steven W. Mosher’s – the President of the Population Research Institute – comments in the Wall Street Journal in 1997: “Humanity’s long-term problem is not going to be too many children, but too few: too few children to fill the schools and universities, too few young people entering the work force, too few couples buying homes and second cars. In short, too few consumers and producers to drive the economy forward. The imploding markets of Europe and the economic sluggishness of Japan will spread soon enough to the U.S. and the rest of the world. Why spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on contraception and sterilization that will only bring that day closer?”
As for the assumption that contraceptives will be available to everyone who wants them let us highlight the imminent dangers contraception poses to all women. The manufacturer- approved conclusion is that “No contraceptive can guarantee 100% effectiveness”. And contraceptive failure leads to abortions which kill babies and causes myriads of problems for their mothers, fathers, siblings, etc. As for hormonal contraceptives, we would like to recall that the WHO in a Sept. 2005 report, classified hormonal contraceptives (synthetic hormones) as class 1 carcinogens in the same category as arsenic, asbestos, tobacco, formaldehyde, etc. In approving the use of these pills, is the WHO not concerned that women are putting these cancer-causing chemicals in their bodies daily? Contraceptive pills do not protect against HIV/AIDS or other STD and some (Depo-Provera etc.) are known to increase the risk of HIV transmission in women. One Pill manufacturer listed 37 possible side effects of the contraceptive pill (disorders, blood clots, cancers and death). Besides, contraception promotes promiscuity and contracepting parents beget fornicating children.
Even none chemical forms of birth control have negative consequences. For example, women who use barrier methods of contraception such as the condom, are deprived of the beneficial effects of over two dozen biological ingredients in semen, which have been shown to elevate a woman’s mood and decrease the likelihood that she will experience pre-eclampsia during childbirth because her immune system is more able to recognize her husband’s sperm and his offspring.
Dr Okwuosa is DG Project for Human Development