Oh yes, another classic among potentially controversial topics. I'm gonna presume that anybody who's even looking at this section of the site already knows a thing or two about overpopulation and the repercussions it has in various aspects of life.
Our 7 billionth person was introduced to the world a few months back (I think early November, but I'm not 100% about that.) The reason why I happened to think of this now was because it was recently covered as a topic in my Environmental class, and we looked at some of the current situations in various places in the world. Mainly, we looked at India, Japan, the U.S., and sub-Saharan Africa. Oddly enough, China wasn't studied, but I think that its current 'growth' rate isn't as substantial as India because of the governmental actions they've taken as a means of population control. (Just a guess though, so I'm not claiming that as fact or anything.)
That said, we watched a documentary in which regular people from all 4 of these areas were interviewed to try and get an understanding of these various population-related phenomena that were prevalent in each location respectively.
First was India. A number of women who already had 6-8 children had a common problem. Apparently, in poorer areas, girls are looked as an economic burden because they are typically married off to another family and their fathers don't have them around to take care of them in their old age. So, if the wife is producing daughters, the husbands tend to keep pushing for more children until there are at least 2 sons. It sounds like an oddity, but it's shown to be a common trait and that's in part responsible for the explosion of new babies. What's even scarier is that the population already started to explode decades ago, and these large numbers of children are now entering the reproductive years, which will only cause a larger explosion by an exponential scale.
In Japan, the situation is reversed. There are so few children, that the nation's population is projected to be halved within the next fifty years if there is no significant change in this current trend. Pretty soon, they also think that 1 in 3 people in the nation will be over age 65, which in itself is also frightening. When childless women in their 20s were interviewed, a lot of them said that they're very focused on their careers and are uninterested in having children at this point in time. In the meantime, life expectancy is increasing and the birth rate is very low.
The U.S. would basically be in the same situation as Japan if not for the fact that we frequently utilize immigration for the sake of gradually increasing our numbers. So, our population is increasing, but it's not to the same extreme.
Sub-Saharan areas of Africa like Kenya are experiencing a similar situation to India in terms of view points and birth rates that result from them, but the issue is that the death rate is extremely high from the spread of HIV-AIDS and other diseases. So, the growth isn't quite as one-sided. Another problem with this scenario is that the diseases kill off mainly young adults, leaving behind mostly children and the elderly, both of whom need to be cared for by the people who are dying off the fastest.
With some of that background information, I was curious to see what others think about population control. Obviously, there is a correlation between stabilizing/declining populations of developed nations (seeing as how special circumstances keep the U.S. from being like Japan), and exponentially increasing populations of developing nations. Presumably, the link between them is the level of quality education that people are receiving.
On a bit of a tangent, in noticing that more education tends to lead to slower population growth (if it grows at all), I'm wondering what it has to say about us psychologically. Education typically leads to success, and by these current standings, successful people are less inclined to have as many children, so I'm curious if it shows how selfish we truly are.
Sorry for the lengthy post, but it's one of my favorite environmental topics (probably the only one besides energy that doesn't bore the shit out of me.)