Economic Development & Population Growth



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Economic Development & Population Growth

  • Lec 18 – Tuesday, 15 November 2011 J A Morrison
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  • Liverpool St Station (London)
  • Crowd at Trade Fair (Delhi)
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Admin

  • Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth
    • Will be available via Eres
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PS 0304 Int’l Pol Econ

  • Unit 1: Studying the Global Economy
    • Topic 1: Introductory
    • Topic 2: Perspectives on IPE
    • Topic 3: Explaining Foreign Economic Policy
  • Unit 2: Trading Goods & Services
    • Topic 4: Trade in Theory
    • Topic 5: Trade in Practice
  • Unit 3: The International Monetary System
    • Topic 6: The IMS in Theory
    • Topic 7: The IMS in Practice
  • Unit 4: Migration
  • Unit 5: Special Topics in IPE
    • Sustainability
    • Globalization
    • International Order
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Lec 18: Population Growth

  • Sustainable Development
  • Malthus’ Classic View
  • Population Growth Across Time
  • Malthusianism Today
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Lec 18: Population Growth

  • Sustainable Development
  • Malthus’ Classic View
  • Population Growth Across Time
  • Malthusianism Today
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I. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

  • What is sustainable development?
  • 3 Facets of Sustainable Development
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Our first topic—Topic 9—is on sustainability. What is “sustainable development”?

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Following the 1983 UN Brundtland Commission, we’ll view sustainability quite broadly… “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

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Up to this point, we’ve only been considering the rights & interests of actors in the present. Taking sustainability seriously means including the rights and interests of future generations.

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That makes some sense: who would suggest it were responsible to leave a wasteland for our grandchildren? But surely we must apply some kind of discount rate to these considerations. As we look further into the future, it becomes more likely that some unavoidable calamity—e.g. a meteorite—would wipe us all out anyway.

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Also, how can we know where to invest our resources? Should we let SETI use our computers at night? Or Folding at Home? Or perhaps we should turn them off entirely to preserve the environment?

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Here’s the key starting point: We know that we should include the interests of future generations in our present calculations, but it can be rather difficult to do this. Even assuming altruism, there are significant limits to our capacity to accurately predict the consequences of our actions.

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I. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

  • What is sustainable development?
  • 3 Facets of Sustainable Development
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Three Facets of Sustainability

  • Population Growth (Today)
  • Our Environment (Thursday)
  • Our Financial Legacy (Next Tuesday)
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Population Growth & Sustainability

  • Key issue: how does our rate of increase affect the sustainability of our development?
  • Directly affects the present-versus-future calculation
    • Reproductive rights here and now
    • Circumstances of our progeny in the future
  • Apparent correlation between population growth rates and development
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Our Environment & Sustainability

  • Key Issue: how can we foster development without irreversible environmental degradation?
  • Environmental Sustainability
    • How do we change the environment for the better? (e.g. roads, paths on mountains, &c.)
    • How do we change it for the worse? (e.g. pollution, overfishing, global warming, &c.)
  • Potential correlations between environmental deterioration/protection and development
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Our Financial Legacy

  • Key Issues:
    • what debts and capital do we leave to our progeny (children & grandchildren)?
    • International indebtedness
  • Our Financial Legacy
    • We borrow from the future to meet our current needs
    • But we also develop capital (infrastructure, knowledge & techniques, social/political/economic organization) that we bequeath
  • Potential correlations between indebtedness and development
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Also note the biblical allusions on the course schedule: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth…” -- Genesis 1:28

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This highlights the religious and moral aspects of sustainability. As we engage this, be sure to consider the bearing of various normative perspectives on this issue.

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Lec 18: Population Growth

  • Sustainable Development
  • Malthus’ Classic View
  • Population Growth Across Time
  • Malthusianism Today
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II. MALTHUS’ CLASSIC VIEW

  • Background on TR Malthus
  • The Principle of Population
  • Application to Politics
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By the late eighteenth century, the consensus among political economists was that “populousness”—having high population density—was a good thing…

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  • “Naturalisation is the shortest and easiest way of increasing your people, which all wise governments have encouraged by privileges granted to the fathers of children…And that because (1) People are the strength of any country or government…[and] (2) 'Tis the number of people that make the riches of any country.” – John Locke, “For a General Naturalization” (1693)
  • “This shews, how much numbers of men are to be preferd to largenesse of dominions, and that the increase of lands and the right imploying of them is the great art of government.” – John Locke, Second Treatise (1690)
  • “In general, we may observe, that the question, with regard to the comparative populousness of ages or kingdoms, implies important consequences…But if every thing else be equal, it seems natural to expect, that, wherever there are most happiness and virtue, and the wisest institutions, there will also be most people.” – David Hume, “Of the Populousness of Ancient Nations” (1754)

In 1798, TR Malthus turned this conventional wisdom on its head. Who was TR Malthus?

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Thomas Robert Malthus

  • 1766-1834
  • Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge
  • Author, Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)
  • Challenged JB Say & D Ricardo; Antecedent to JM Keynes
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II. MALTHUS’ CLASSIC VIEW

  • Background on TR Malthus
  • The Principle of Population
  • Application to Politics
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The Principle of Population

  • The Principle
    • Population grows geometrically (1, 2, 4, 8, &c.)
    • Means of subsistence grow arithmetically (1, 2, 3, &c.)
  • Checks to Population Growth
    • Positive: “…wars, pestilence, plague, and famine.”
    • Preventative: Family planning
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Malthus’ point was simple… The earth has a limited carrying capacity. And our demands constantly exceed the Earth’s capacity to satisfy those demands.

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II. MALTHUS’ CLASSIC VIEW

  • Background on TR Malthus
  • The Principle of Population
  • Application to Politics
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 International economic interchange might indeed be zero-sum.

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Political Implications of Scarcity

  • Competition for scarce resources to provide better standard of living for offspring
  • Competition between:
    • Political communities (e.g. oil, water)
    • Classes
  • Tension between:
    • Reproductive rights
    • Share of resources
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Malthus, for instance, had a very low discount rate—perhaps even an inverse discount rate. He was willing to inflict suffering in the present to minimize suffering in the future...

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Malthus on the Evils of Charity

  • “All parish assistance should be most rigidly denied [the poor man]: and if the hand of private charity be stretched forth in his relief, the interests of humanity imperiously require that it should be administered very sparingly. He should be taught to know that the laws of nature, which are the laws of God, had doomed him and his family to starve for disobeying their repeated admonitions.”
  • --TR Malthus
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Lec 18: Population Growth

  • Sustainable Development
  • Malthus’ Classic View
  • Population Growth Across Time
  • Malthusianism Today
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TR Malthus’ dire predictions led the historian Thomas Carlyle to brand political economy “the dismal science.” Many “Malthusians” have followed in this “[d]reary, stolid, dismal” tradition.

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20th Century Pessimists

  • Postwar baby boom inspired concerns
  • Harrison, Make Room! Make Room! (1966)
    • Predicted 7bn humans in 1999 (actually 6bn)
    • Crisis: rationing and social disorder
  • Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (1968)
    • “the battle to feed humanity is over”
    • Predicted massive famines in 1970s and 1980s
    • US population would be at just 22m in 1999
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In fact, all of these dire predictions were wrong. Population growth has not exceeded the rate of increase in the means of subsistence.

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  • Source: US Census.
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  • Source: US Census.

Many commentators have suggested that Malthus forgot about the power of technology…

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Market Solutions to Malthusian Pressures

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  • Resource Scarcity
  • Rising Costs
  • Increased R&D
  • Cheaper Alternatives
  • Increased Efficiency

The result is that the production possibilities frontier—the carrying capacity of the Earth—has been expanded. New technology—techniques and processes—have increased the number of people the Earth can support.

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Malthus might have offered several responses…

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(1) The preventative check. Population has only been growing arithmetically because we have done a good job of deliberately limiting our rate of increase.

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(2) The constraint still exists. Just because we haven’t reached the ultimate limit yet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Malthus would surely point to increasing environmental degradation as generating the potential final limit to population growth.

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Lec 18: Population Growth

  • Sustainable Development
  • Malthus’ Classic View
  • Population Growth Across Time
  • Malthusianism Today
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“If only Malthus, instead of Ricardo, had been the parent stem from which nineteenth-century economics proceeded, what a much wiser and richer place the world would be to-day!” – Keynes on Malthus (1933)

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Do you think Keynes was right? In what ways would our understanding of development benefit from the insights of TR Malthus and the modern Malthusians? What is the relevance of Malthus today?

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IV. MALTHUSIANISM TODAY

  • Populousness & Development
  • Population Control
  • Malthus & the Environment
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One of the key questions centers on the relationship between economic development and population growth.  Simply put, were Locke & Hume right or was Malthus? Does populousness bring riches or poverty?

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Pop Growth in the World’s Richest Countries

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  • Country
  • Pop Growth Rate Rank (of 236)
  • GDP Per Capita Rank
  • Liechtenstein (0.702%)
  • 148
  • 1
  • Qatar (0.957%)
  • 134
  • 2
  • Luxembourg (1.172%)
  • 114
  • 3
  • Norway (0.341%)
  • 173
  • 5
  • Kuwait (3.547%)
  • 1
  • 6
  • Singapore (0.998%)
  • 130
  • 9
  • USA (0.975%)
  • 134
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  • Ireland (1.12%)
  • 122
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  • From CIA World Factbook (2009).

Pop Growth in the World’s Poorest Countries

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  • Country
  • Pop Growth Rate Rank (of 236)
  • GDP Per Capita Rank
  • Zimbabwe (01.53%)
  • 85
  • 229
  • Democ Rep Congo (3.208%)
  • 9
  • 228
  • Burundi (3.279%)
  • 8
  • 227
  • Somalia (2.815%)
  • 15
  • 225
  • Central African Repub (1.491%)
  • 90
  • 223
  • Niger (3.677%)
  • 3
  • 221
  • Afghanistan (2.629%)
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  • From CIA World Factbook (2009).

So, Locke & Hume may have been misguided: The poorest countries in the world have some of the fastest population growth rates. And the world’s richest countries have some of the slowest population growth rates.

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But which is cause and which is effect?

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IV. MALTHUSIANISM TODAY

  • Populousness & Development
  • Population Control
  • Malthus & the Environment
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If population growth rates are inversely related to development, then we might consider making more extensive use of Malthus’ preventative check.

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But the politics here get very heated very quickly. And as it should be… This is an issue of reproductive rights, involving the “right to choose” how many children to have.

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Across time and space, many states have sought to regulate the rate of population growth…

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Eugenics in early 20th C

  • Assumption: lower classes proliferate the most
  • Goal: limit population growth, particularly of “undesirables”
  • Enjoyed prominent advocates: M Sanger, W Wilson, T Roosevelt, W Churchill, & JM Keynes
  • 1907: Indiana passes first US Eugenics Law
  • 1924: Virginia orders compulsory sterilization of mentally disabled
    •  Challenged in US Sup Ct case Buck v. Bell (1927)
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“We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” -- Opinion of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Buck v. Bell (1927)

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The Virginia law was upheld in an 8-1 opinion. That was in 1927. Within a decade, the Eugenics movement in the West had picked up a lot of steam…

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The Nazis were fully committed to Eugenics.

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Population control—although not necessarily eugenics—continues today…

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China’s One Child Policy

  • Restricts urban couples to just having 1 child per family (with some exceptions)
  • Implemented in 1979
  • Affects more than 1/3rd of Chinese population
  • Strong domestic support
  • But potential increase in forced abortions & infanticide
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IV. MALTHUSIANISM TODAY

  • Populousness & Development
  • Population Control
  • Malthus & the Environment
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Clearly, Malthus’ insight seems sharpest when viewed through the lens of environmental politics. “Indeed, in an era of global warming, Malthus may prove among the most-relevant philosophers of the Enlightenment.” – Robert D. Kaplan

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This is where we’re headed next time…

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