Student’s Corner

There are many topics that we avoid at the dinner table to keep harmony within the family. The obvious culprits include religion, politics, and of course war. However, I want to steer the focus to something less obvious yet is equally debated: population control.

The mere idea of telling someone how to raise their kids sparks ethical debates so one can imagine the reactions to limiting the number of children of someone can have. Some may say this is all for the sake of sustainability, for the better good of future generations, for the well being of the Earth. With more people on this planet, the demand for natural resources increases and Mother Nature is already under more than enough strain as it is.

After reading this article however, I’m inspired to suggest that maybe population control really isn’t an ethical debate at all.

The crux of the population control debate is autonomy – the right to make your own decisions. Both men and women are equally important in the child making process but I want to bring attention to the autonomy woman in particular. While the man is an important contributor, the woman really has the final say in if she is willing to carry and bear the child when the time comes.

It has been shown that as more intelligent women have fewer children and a simple explanation I have is that it’s because as they want more time to pursue their goals (I would also like to point out that intelligence is gained through experience rather than being inherited). When we look at Europe and the United States, more and more women are enrolling in colleges and universities to pursue a higher education and advance in their careers. A woman with children has to divide her time between each child and then she can use the remaining time as she wishes. The more children the woman has, the less time she has to pursue her own goals.

When we look total fertility data in the United States, the average woman has 2-3 children compared to a less economically developed country like Niger, where the average woman has 6-7 children. While correlation is not necessarily causation, it seems to be that countries with higher GDP see a decline in population. There are many factors that could explain why, but I think the most obvious one is because those particular countries have more women as part of the workforce so those women have less time to bear children as a result.

Using the US and Europe as an example, maybe the solution to population control is more education and career for women rather than contraceptives. Rather than purposefully educating those in less economically advanced countries about sex, maybe we should let them choose what they want to be educated in and give them the opportunity to pursue that particular thing. Some women become mothers because they want to. Some women become mothers because they are unaware of other opportunities.


Written by Linda Shackles, Class of 2017

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