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Jonathan J Ha

While fertility is an important part of keeping a powerful, mobile and advancing workforce part of the economy, there simply may not be enough room for that model anymore.

Malthus wrote his classic in the 19th century; well before modern innovations dashed his predictions for a crushing carrying capacity on earth: we haven't begun making Soylent Green either. Although technological innovation may push the carrying capacity of earth some more, its clear that current rates of population growth may be unsustainable within two or three generations.

The idea espoused rings true to me; among the millions born every year, surely one Feynman, one Einstein, one George Bernard Shaw must be born among them. But the more frightening prospect isn't that great people will no longer be born, but that they are already born and are starving away. In finance jargon, instead of capital widening, perhaps we too should deepen our capital.

Thomas Andres

I can't believe there are those who still think this way and are blinded to the fact the world is already over populated and getting worse in spite of all the amazing new technology. Only an economist using past models can support this blog. Anyone who steps out in the real world can see what unsustainable destruction we are causing to the environment and massive extinctions, not to mention the spread of a lower standard of living among the vast majority of humans. More humans on the planet will only make matters worse. Why is that so difficult to see?

Chris Bates

I think Thomas Ardres, you are mistaking human "greed" and the belief we are free of the taint of corrupt politicians, criminal organizations, robber barons in one industry or another providing not only our conflict diamonds, but many minerals. Your cellphone needs Colan (80% from the Congo) which has not only caused decades of sustained warfare, but illegal mining is destroying the habitat of the Congo gorilla, primitive mining of gold requires the use of lead placing these illicit miners (often children) at risk, entire tributaries of the Amazon are poisoned. Yet these poor workers and the sex trade that follows, consume none of that - we do, the haves in a mostly have not world. Think of this as you use your cell phone, iPad, your hardwood furniture, do you know where it came from? Was it harvested, or raped from mother Earth for your benefit? Read: http://people.howstuffworks.com/conflict-minerals-congo-act.htm

Gertrud Fremling

How about reforming social security to make part of your pension tied to the incomes of all your CHILDREN? People without children generally have an easy time to save up enough for retirement anyway, so such a change should not cause too much distress or inequality. And it would encourage parents not just to have more children but also raise them in such a manner as to become productive, tax-paying citizens.

Chris Bates

You may have a point, but those that can not bear children are penalized through no fault of their own. Add a work related total disability and you have a statistical corundum, and having child for a meal ticket and there will be adult children spending their money on psychotherapy.

FYI: Social Security is not a pension, I think of it as a form of savings like whole life insurance, one which requires 10 years to get vested.

Gertrud Fremling

There is a fundamental problem with externalities here. A potential additional child is extremely likely to (in retrospect) value life. Unless there is expected to be severe crowding or food shortages, there will not much of negative consequences to other future individuals. The producers of children however cannot fully capture the positive externalities - the "utility" that future generations will enjoy. Economic theory clearly tells us that we should get underproduction. To take a concrete example, a family might well have one or two children simply because of the joy of children. But going beyond that may be viewed as too costly. Nevertheless, potential child #3 and child #4, if born, would be willing and able to pay the parents for the privilege of being born. As it is now, future children end up financing the retirement of all old people, with the parents themselves not receiving any additional share.

Terry Bennett

I like Gertrud's idea to put the incentive where it belongs.

If Social Security is life insurance, it is not being sold by an honest broker. As longevity increases and retirements get longer, I am skeptical that 7% of your income will really finance a third or more of your adult life. However, I do like the mental image of a statistical corundum.


There is sooo much land on earth. Its resources and our technologies will always be enough to live well. If every day people are born, many others die too. Then there are these natural disasters that play their part and make a balance again. But isnt technology more to blame than humans for over exploitation of resources. Im not for over population, but if I want to be against over population then these are the points that come to my mind.Thankx.

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