Monday, October 17, 2011

One in Seven Billion

The human population of earth has now exceeded 7 billion.

That can make you feel lost.

We're crowded on earth.

China is the most populated. However, due to strict family planning, their population should be less than it is today in twenty or thirty years. India's population is on the rise, however, but development is slowing.

China and India both have skewed gender ratios. Both countries families favor boys. In India, baby girls used to be left in the gutter to die. Maybe they still are. In China, where urban couples were limited to one child, often female fetuses would be aborted.

By contrast, many European countries face declining birth rates. Countries like Spain and Italy used to give government stipends to couples for each child born. With recent austerity measures, these stipends have ended. People there don't have children when they see no jobs in the future for them, or feel they will be unable to support them.

France, however, has a slightly rising birth rate. This is credited to family friendly government measures that include payments for child care and to immigration of Africans who have large families.

The US too has a slightly rising birth rate, also partly contributed to immigrants who have large families. The US is the third most populous country in the world, behind China and India.

The UN says the world can perhaps absorb the rising populations, mostly fed by birth rates in Africa and Asia. However in Africa, large families and poverty go hand in hand, as in many places. Women have no say in their lives and are unable to take charge of their reproduction due to male dominated cultures. If this were reversed, the UN advisors believe, so that women have rights and family planning access, hope would be there for the future.

Water, rather than food producing land, is a limiting factor, in feeding the worlds' increasing population.

The most densely populated countries with the highest birth rates usually also harbor the worst poverty.

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