This is a sequel to Rats in a cage. How can we avoid overpopulation? There are certainly many theories, and my favourites are democracy and prosperity. When I researched for this entry I found support for this assumption.
Many have referred to China when they claim that democracy is not necessary for financial success. We may protest a little now and again, and talk about how the Dalai Lama, which by the way is not only in conflict with China but also with other directions within Tibetan Buddhism, is being persecuted by the Chinese government, but this doesn’t mean anything if we still do business with China.
A doctoral thesis by political scientist Carl Henrik Knutsen shows that democracies often do better with the economy than dictatorships. It is therefore important that we promote democracy in developing countries, because a legislative and democratic executive power is necessary for the people to have a good life. There will, however, be a price to pay for us as well. We could no longer let the poor people in a dictatorship produce our luxury items. We’d probably had to pay more and maybe settle for less.
The fertility rate is low in Europe which is probably a natural consequence of our prosperity. I have no idea how hard lives they have, but I would imagine that even people in countries like Greece and Spain, where they have been struggling, people are not in te same desperate situation as in for example. Zimbabwe. Moreover, the desperation doesn’t apply to the entire population. Besides, civil war is an unknown phenomenon in most European countries.
I think the solution to population growth is creating financial growth and democracy in Africa, Asia and South America. I almost make it sound easy. It is not, but in a way it is. We provide crumbs in development aid, but otherwise it is up to those countries to fend for themselves. We don’t care whether those in power share with the people or not. As long as we get paid we accept it. There are many reasons why especially African countries have an economy that is not working. Many of these countries have weak institutions (I am thinking especially democracy), high unemployment, poor infrastructure, inadequate or a lack of banking and laws/regulations that doesn’t encourage economic growth.
Since the economy is weak in many of these countries there are also many individuals that can neither save or borrow. I don’t know who owns the land, but if many farmers don’t own the land they operate, or if ownership is unclear, that may be a hurdle. It is only natural that we don’t put our soul in something if it is possible that the government will take it from us.
The question of institutions is a very complex one, because we’re not just talking about Africa. Argentina was more or less bankrupt about a decade ago, but according to Moody’s, they currently have a stable outlook. Venezuela is one of the largest oil producers in the world, but they have a crazy regime. I remember seeing a TV program a few years ago where they interviewed some farmers. President Chavez had decided that the land should belong to the people. He therefore confiscated land, and gave it to people who did not have any idea about what to do. I think Mugabe did the same in Zimbabwe. So they are struggling to produce enough food. Venezuela has also had problems servicing government debt despite the fact that the country produces more oil than for example Kuwait and Iraq. This is a site that tries to disprove that Venezuela is a democracy. It isn’t much better when we help dictators in Eastern Europe either.
I think we have to buy goods from countries that are struggling and give them some of our production and growth. There are some companies that invest in African countries, but they probably extract larger values than they put in. This does not develop the country more than if we give the money to a dictator. Norwegian companies Statoil, Yara and Jotun have invested in countries like Libya (under Gadaffi), Eritrea, Angola and Burma (everyone seemed so eager to please the military dicatorship when they changed name to Myanmar). As for the Norwegian oil fund most Norwegian governments have had a certain discrepancy between what they say about this fund and what it actually does.
I have hypothesized that people who earn little more than the necessities of life will have fewer children. I think that’s what has given many European countries a birth rate as low as 1,4. Norway has actively worked to stop this development, so ours is as high as 1,9. This would also have meant a reduction in the population without immigration.
This is what I think we need to encourage in developing countries. It’s is going to take a long time because the people living now will probably continue the high fertility rate for some time. It is important to think very long term. But the question is whether we are willing, because this will probably mean a little less luxury for us. But it would have been a fairer world. It would have been a livable world far into the future.
The alternative is not particularly pleasant to think about.