Should there be a limit on the number of children one person can have?

(Manu Foy) #21

I don’t think there should be a finite number set as a limit to how many children one can have under their care. As long as they have the ability to provide reasonably adequate care towards the children. If one did not have the ability to provide adequate care towards their children, that should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by child protection.

(Manu Foy) #22

I agree that the population should not be getting the level of growth it’s getting now. Because it is unsustainable. But we also cannot allow our population to drop too rapidly either. We need to have a population large enough to sustain our current ageing population. But that’s something Australia could probably do with the population decline we would see without immigration. But managing the size of the population would be better done through managing immigration, as opposed to limiting the number of children people can have.

(David Boxall) #23

Agreed, but suggesting curbs on immigration tend to attract accusations of racism. Sustainable Australia has been targeted that way.

I wonder whether we have time for a gradual decline in population. When she strikes, nature will not be gentle.

(Manu Foy) #24

Yeah. That’s unfortunate. Especially when the focus is on how many people are in the country and not where they are from.


So? If we let irrational false accusations dictate our actions, we will quickly find ourselves subject to the whims of irrational people. We’re in the business of evidence, not PC fashion.

(Andrew Downing) #26

Did you actually look at the charts?
As affluence spreads, births decline. If not for immigration, Australian population would be in decline, as is the same in the majority of western nations.

Either you are ignoring this, or you are talking about something else for which you have provided no evidence.

(David Boxall) #27

You appear to be confusing correlation with causation. I’m familiar with that site. While trying to convey a positive message simply, it tends to mislead.

Is the cause affluence? Is it education? Is it a combination of factors? The latter, methinks. Other factors are what will bite us

What other people believe governs what we can get done.

I reckon we need Australia’s population to fall far more rapidly than economists would like.

On reflection, I wonder whether that’s viable. Australia won’t stand in splendid isolation as the world burns. I know the growth in global population has slowed, but the damage has been (and continues to be) done.

I was recently reminded of a 1980s miniseries, in which James Burke played the role of a historian from the future. In one scene, he mentioned Australian troops machine-gunning people as they swarmed up a beach in northwest Australia. While over-dramatic, that scenario is not beyond the realms of possibility. Come to think of it, the likes of Nauru and Manus could be viewed as steps down that path.

So no, Australia’s birth rate (which is the topic of this thread) is not most of the problem (though it is undeniably part of the problem). Most of the problem is overpopulation, both here and in the rest of the world, with its associated environmental degradation, conflict and so-on.

(Tim Challis) #28

There is a lot of rubbish stated with solemn conviction regarding population growth trends. For myself, the last straw was reading of the extrapolation attempt by the Victorian colonial statistician, Henry Heylyn Hayter (a man of no mean talents generally, though this example rather undermines them) to predict, from the 1891 and prior censuses, that the Australian population in 2001 would be 189,269,663 precisely.

In other words, who knows and who cares? This is not an issue worth burning out brain-cells over.

(Alex Jago) #29

Population is only one factor of the problem. Higher income societies have a far higher overall environmental impact than lower income societies.

Focus needs to be on getting the high-income impact per capita way the heck down (I’m talking a tenth of what it currently is if not less) before the remaining large low-income populations make their transition.

(David Boxall) #30

That some of us have so much, when so many have so little, is grossly unfair. Is it rational, however, to deny the impact of the sheer numbers? Can we realistically get per-capita impact down to sustainable levels, without also reducing the numbers?

Population will be the subject of tomorrow’s Four Corners. It will also be the focus of Q&A, later that evening.

Who “knows” anything? How do we “know” anything? Do we truly “know” anything? When you say “know”, what do you mean precisely?

I reckon environmental degradation and conflict are indicators. Whether we close our eyes is an individual choice.

(Tim Challis) #31

Context is all. I was attempting to indicate the futility of population growth predictions but Alex has already shifted the discussion in a different direction so my point is now moot.

(David Boxall) #32

And I’m trying to point out that the issue relates less to predictions than to observations. I’m not predicting that Australia (and the world) will be overpopulated. I’m saying that they already are - and by quite a lot.

(Andrew Downing) #33

There are a number of solid causative explanations for the correlation.

  1. Reduced infant mortality - meaning you don’t need to have twice as many kids to achieve replacement level.
  2. Affordability of birth control - so you don’t just kid by accident
  3. Education - also so you don’t just kid by accident
  4. Social security - so you don’t need children to look after you in your old age.
  5. In most countries, reduced influence of religion to drive up populations. Don’t “Go forth and multiply.”

Are you suggesting that affluence will increase without these things?

In practice, it doesn’t matter which way around the causation occurs.
In more socialist countries, they focus first on providing items 1…5 above, and then affluence happens.
In more free market countries, the focus first on affluence, and then items 1…5 above happen.
Either way, they end up in the same place, where population growth is limited.

You seem a bit lite on the “Other factors what will bite us”

(David Boxall) #34

Y’reckon? I’ve mentioned them repeatedly.

(Alex Jago) #35

Vox isn’t the most impartial place ever, but their biases aren’t that different from my own and I suspect their arguments will make sense to most others in PPAU too.

The most important part of that article is the figure from page 4 of this Oxfam PDF:

(Andrew Downing) #36

I just went back through all of your posts on this topic.
Not seeing it.
What are these other factors that will pop up and blow our population out unexpectedly?

(David Boxall) #37

I think I see your problem. You’re assuming that our population isn’t already a problem.

My view is not quite as rose-tinted as yours @AndrewDowning. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

(David Boxall) #38

Everyone has their biases. I’ve been observing for the better part of a century. For what it’s worth, my conclusions are:

  • the planet is grossly overpopulated (as is Australia), probably by a factor of more than three;
  • conflict, asylum-seeker flows, environmental degradation and the like are symptoms of the harm we’re doing;
  • humanity will carry on until nature takes its course and;
  • it won’t be pretty.


Population control is the wrong answer to the wrong question. The foundation underlying “overpopulation” theories is about sustainablity. Are we living sustainably? Can we? That’s the real question with real answers.

(John Jeffery) #40

No. There shoulf be immigration limits first.