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POPULATION GROWTH: MISSTEPS AND BLUNDERS
The Truth behind America’s Population Growth Agenda
Started by The US Administration and Promoted by Economists The World over, Population growth Programs became one of The Most Vital aspects of Developments in The 21st Century. Much to The Dismay of Governments, The Plans have actually backfired...
Issue Date - 23/06/2011
 
I have spent more than forty years of my professional life telling economists, business people, academics, politicians, government officials and the public at large that population growth can be one of the most positive factor in the attainment of long-term sustainable human development. My advocacy of a culture of life was actually prompted by the scientific studies of one of my professors in the doctoral program in economics at Harvard in the early 1960s, the famous Nobel laureate Simon Kuznets. As the father of national income accounting and a notable economic historian, he showed through empirical research that population growth was a major stimulus in the industrial revolution and economic growth that happened in the more advanced economies during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. With data pertaining to almost a century of economic development, he convinced us (his students) and many of his colleagues in the economics department of Harvard that there was no truth to the Malthusian theory of development and that population growth was a very positive contributor to long-term economic growth.

This experience at Harvard greatly influenced the way I taught my first course on Economic Development in the LIA-COM program of De Salle University. During the second half of the 1960s, I had some of the most brilliant undergraduate students at DLSU then. I presented the empirical evidences of Simon Kuznets and other economists and economic historians about the positive dimensions of population growth. I think I was able to convince a good number of them that birth control – an issue already being discussed in countries like India and China then was not a solution to the problem of mass poverty. I presented the same case in favor of population growth to my students in the Economics 11 course at the University of the Philippines in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

 
Not too long after that, the debate on population control started to heat up. First, there was the best-seller of Paul Ehrlich and his wife who were both resource economists in the US, entitled “The Population Bomb”. It resuscitated the much-discredited Malthusian theory that the world will run out of resources if the population continues to grow and that there could be widespread famine. A good number of leaders in the developing world believed the Ehrlichs. In India and China, there were government-sponsored programs of population control, many of them extremely coercive. Forced sterilizations were common in India. In fact, such programs were responsible for the eventual downfall of Indira Gandhi and her clan. Under the communist regime of Mao Zedong, the Chinese citizens had no alternative but to kowtow to the one-child policy. In the first years of his Presidency, Ferdinand Marcos had a very pro-life attitude. After reading the Humanae Vitae, he used to quote in public speeches a phrase lifted from the Encyclical, “we will not limit the number of participants in the banquet of life.”

There were also some leading intellectuals from the government, business and academe who were being affected by the “population bomb” scare. In fact, some of them actually formed part of the commission first created by Pope John XXIII to advise subsequent Popes about artificial contraceptives. Heavily influenced by the pessimistic view of neo-Malthusians, the majority of the members of this commission (including the Filipinos) advised Pope Paul VI to give the moral nod in favour of artificial contraceptives. Demonstrating that moral truth cannot be determined by majority vote, the Pope did not succumb to pressure and declared with his ordinary teaching authority that artificial contraceptives are inherently evil. Then he made the prophecy in 1967 that the widespread use of contraceptives would eventually lead to more abortions, divorces, destruction of family life, psychologically disturbed youth, and other social malaise. True enough, as agnostic George Akerloff, another Nobel laureate in economics, showed through his scientific research, by the end of the twentieth century, the prophecy of Pope Paul VI was fulfilled. Contraceptives opened pandora’s box of abortions, divorces, and other ills besetting the families of today.
          

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