- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Pharos Books; 1st edition (1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0886873045
- ISBN-13: 978-0886873042
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Birth Dearth: What Happens When People in Free Countries Don't Have Enough Babies? Hardcover – Unabridged, 1987
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Despite the increase in earth's population, the worldwide fertility rate continues to drop and is trending very close to the replacement rate. (The current differential is less than 0.3 children per couple and is shrinking.) Once the worldwide fertility rate reaches the replacement rate the inevitable long-term outcome will be a stable worldwide population. And should the fertility rate drop below replacement the inevitable outcome will be a drop in worldwide population. For decades now the fertility rate in all the Western European countries (as well as Japan) has been below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple (which is the replacement rate for the most developed nations). The fertility rate of Italy dropped as low as 1.1 before rebounding slightly to close to 1.3. Even in the United States, which has historically experienced a somewhat higher fertility rate, its fertility rate has now dropped slightly below replacement (at just about 2.05). As the least developed countries become less dependent on traditional agriculture, as healthcare improves in these countries, and as the shift from rural to urban areas continues, their fertility rate (which is currently responsible for keeping the worldwide rate above replacement) will also drop.Read more ›
Wattenberg understood that the birth- dearth would present great social problems including that of younger and smaller generations demographically having to work harder to pay the massive government debts to social security programs for the retired. But the birth- dearth promises social and economic problems in additional ways including a problem of declining economic growth over-all. So far as we know economic expansions have historically been connected with expanding populations. We know no precedent for declining populations being accompanied by new economic growth.
Wattenberg is also sharply critical of the culture of narcissism of individual focusing on ' me and me alone' which he sees as responsible for the ' birth dearth ' in the West. Here he is not simply social scientist but moralist of the first order.
To reverse this "dangerous trend" Wattenberg prescribes a number of remedies, including: provision of day care centers to help working mothers (which ought to be done in ANY case!), larger tax deductions for children and even cash bonuses for parents. Otherwise, he claims, we will be faced with a world "where the U.S. will no longer be the most important country in the world".
Any ecology-conscious person could be forgiven, however, for asking: "Yeah, Ben, but can this planet afford those extra numbers?"
The answer is a resounding 'NO!'. In terms of the impact on non-renewable resources, each child in a Western-developed nation consumes a disproportionate share with the U.S. offering the worst example: 6% of the world's population gobbling up 30% of the available resources in a given year. What Wattenberg is proposing (and largely for economic gains) is nothing short of lunacy in this light.
A far more rational take is afforded by Herman Daly, University of Maryland Professor of Ecological Economics, in his book 'Steady State Economics'. The problem is the concept of "growth" is bogus on its face.Read more ›