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(Off topic, but relevant) Population

Please go thro' an very well written summary on population. I think it
is a fairly balanced representation of the current state of the art in
this area.

                               Clark Wolf
                          Department of Philosophy
                             107 Peabody Hall 
                            University of Georgia
                             Athens, GA 30602

URL: http://www.phil.uga.edu/faculty/wolf/pop.htm

Some key quotes:

* Empirical evidence linking rapid population growth to slower
development is surprisingly limited, and what evidence there is suggests
that negative effects of population growth are usually relatively small.
[National Research Council, (1986). See also Birdsall (1994) p. 192, fn
1.] Amartya Sen has shown fairly conclusively that famine and
destitution have rarely if ever been caused by population growth or
size, and argues that there is no serious evidence that the rate of
population growth is outrunning our ability to produce enough food to
feed the earth's human population. [Sen, (1994b) 66]

[PS: rumour goes that Amartya Sen has once again been nominated for the
Nobel Prize; let us see tomorrow night]

* Prof. Wolf's recommendations

(i) Efforts to expand women's educational opportunities are likely to
have the effect of lowering fertility. 

Comment - evidence on this is not quite as clear as people think. It
needs women to be studying thro' part of their reproductive years, and
merely providing primary education is not likely to have the desired
effect. No harm in primary education, though.

(ii) Providing women with employment opportunities can have a similar

Comment - I fully support this as the key mechanism thro' which lower
fertility will usually operate. This reflects the growth of the
macroeconomy and the institutions in the system. Fastest way to reduce
population: faster economic growth.

(iii) In developing countries, children often constitute the primary
means of support for older people. Evidence has shown that old-age
pension and social security can indeed act as a "substitute" for
children. (Nugent & Gillaspy, 1983)

Comment: Not quite sure if this will work. As Prof. Nugent himself has
noted, the provision of old age care by children is the cheapest form of
insurance. Providing institutional old age care is not only expensive,
but suffers from serious moral hazard problems. Also, evidence on this
in Costa Rica is not quite so strong, it appears. Anyhow, Prof. Nugent
could comment on this, if he likes.


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