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8 billion people: why trying to control the population is often futile – and harmful

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Publication date14/11/2022
PublisherThe Conversation
Medium of outputOnline
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Alarmism about population growth has a long and chequered history. On one side are concerns that there are too many people, and that sheer numbers are causing our current environmental crisis. On the other side are arguments that we have too few people. Elon Musk has said that “population collapse due to low fertility rates is a much bigger risk to civilization than global warming”. And a recent column in the Sunday Times naively argued that the UK should “tax the childless” in order to address declining fertility rates.
As demographers – experts in the study of population – we see both of these arguments as misguided and fundamentally answering the wrong question.