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Does Better Health Lead To Overpopulation?


It’s a timeless position, one that Ebenezer Scrooge advanced way back in 1843: “If he (Tiny Tim) be likely to die, he had better do it,” said Scrooge, “and decrease the surplus population.” More recently, skeptics of efforts to improve worldwide health have similarly argued that with less death around the globe, populations would skyrocket – further diminishing availability of seemingly limited resources that we must all share. Is this scary proposition actually true? What does the world health data actually reveal?


An objective assessment of the relationship between worldwide health and overpopulation demonstrates exactly the opposite. In a brilliantly simply analysis, Does Saving More Lives Lead To Overpopulation, Bill Gates describes how improving health actually leads to pure numbers of births and populations that grow more slowly. As economies in advance and fewer children die, parents favor smaller family sizes. The nation of Angola, where I serve each summer, has both both some of the world’s highest child mortality and highest populations growth. Contrast this with Japan, where child mortality is extraordinarily small and population growth is actually declining.


Scrooge, the accountant, got his numbers wrong. Saving Tiny Tim’s life would actually reduce the population.


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