Some Big Facts

by Don Boudreaux on September 22, 2009

in Complexity & Emergence, Cooperation, History, Myths and Fallacies, Population reports favorably U.C.-Berkeley researcher Malcolm Potts’s claim “that slowing population growth is essential if poverty is to be eradicated.”

On what basis do the reporter and Mr. Potts believe that a larger population is necessarily incompatible with the eradication of poverty?  The standards of living of at least 4 billion of the approximately 6.8 billion people alive today are incomparably higher than were the standards of living for nearly everyone who lived prior to the industrial age – and the living standards of today’s other 2.8 billion are not obviously worse than were those of the great majority of our pre-industrial ancestors.  Yet world population until the industrial age was no higher than one billion.

Empirically, it appears as if poverty eradication is quite compatible with population growth, and perhaps even a result of this growth as much as it is a cause of growth.


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