Thursday, December 2, 2010

Essay on Malthusian Theory of Population

Zero population growth is the concept in which the overall birth rates of the world equal the overall death rates and thus provide no growth in the size of the population.

The Zero Population Growth movement, henceforth referred to as the ZPG, is targeted primarily to certain core countries, on the basis of their environmental impact, and certain periphery countries, toward their female population. It is suggested that through governmental programs, based on environmental standards, core countries lower their birth rates to the level in which ZPG can be attained. In periphery countries, to decrease the birth rate would require massive education for women as well as complete equality to achieve ZPG. The ZPG movement encompasses a view first formulated by Thomas Malthus, a famous, and perhaps infamous, English economist and demographer.

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Malthus developed a theory around 1798 which described the world’s resources, namely food, as increasing arithmetically while the world’s population grows geometrically. Eventually, when the two graphical representations of the models converge, at a point he dubbed “K,” or carrying capacity, there would have to be massive “checks” to bring the population to a lower, sustainable level. These “checks” include destructive ones (i.e. war, poverty, pestilence, and famine) and private ones (i.e. moral restraints, celibacy, and chastity).

The neo-Malthusian, analogously apocalyptic, beliefs of today extend the very “checks” Malthus spoke of to incorporate governmental checks. The current ZPG movement can be considered a neo-Malthusian movement in the form of its execution.

This movement describes a need to reduce birth rates so drastically that the world will have no population increase to compensate for the linear nature of resource growth in the world. Also through governmental programs, such as those which range from educating women and striving for gender equality to those which simply limit the amount of children born to each household, neo-Malthusian ideals are evident and pronounced. The ZPG movement appeals more to affluent residents of wealthy nations than to impecunious citizens of poor countries because, frankly, they have more money.

Consequently, sufficient funding can abet and ensure the success of any program. Adequate funds can decrease the amount of resources used, and seemingly abused, and the significant ecological impact that is associated with prosperous nations. Albeit periphery countries are burdened with a lack of funding and resources essential to the success of their governmental plans. Those plans includes, but is not limited to, the education of a certain country’s citizens on reproduction and a feminist movement for gender equality.

There is an abundance of critiques on any given movement, whether it be social, economic, or political. The ZPG movement is no exception. The optimistic opponent of a Malthusian, or neo-Malthusian for that matter, is a Cornucopian. Because the ideology of neo-Malthusianism is so intertwined with the meaning of the ZPG movement, the principal opponent to the ZPG movement is also Cornucopianism. The Cornucopian viewpoint does not solely define the carrying capacity as where population is equivalent to resources but through technology that carrying capacity can be raised and overcome the limitation. Traditionally, the Malthusian model resembles a J-curve. Whereas, the Cornucopian model elongates this representation to what is popularly known as an S-curve. The areas of the S-curve where population equals carrying capacity are known as homeostatic plateaus, or states of equilibrium. Though the argument that technology prolongs the distance of the plateaus, inevitably the world’s population will exceed carrying capacity and population “checks” will occur. In spite of the fact that technology inhibits are eventual demise, one can not simply disregard the long term goals of the ZPG movement--to provide a sustainable lifestyle for generations to come.

The ZPG movement, as the beliefs of the Cornucopians, are too extreme to be implemented on the global level. There must be a balance between the aid of technology as well as the progression of the decline of birth rates. Core and periphery countries can not unexpectedly create mass governmental programs to try and attain the benevolent ideals of the ZPG movement, yet they can work toward the goal gradually and meticulously.

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