Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Taking Population Seriously

The article in question deals with third world population growth in relation to power structures and fertility. The author's mainly talks about how decision making power can lead to higher fertility rates. Also, depending on if certain power structures within a country are democratic or anti-democratic, it will affect the number of children a woman will have. All in all it is the amount of social power the poor have that will affect fertility rates.
There are many people that believe that overpopulation is the culprit for hunger and starvation and poverty in these third world countries. But as we have learned in class and read in this article, the reasons are more complex than that.

The author talks about the "Power Structures Perspective". What this is saying is that economic, social and cultural forces are keeping the fertility rates high in the global south. High fertility becomes more of an effect of poverty than a cause. When people have are facing starvation and have no income it helps to have more children to have more help and to care for the parents in their old age. They see having more children as a key to surviving.

The type of power structure a country has will affect the fertility rate, whether it be at the governmental level, economic level or within the family. In countries where women have much less power, they are often persuaded to have more children by their husbands and community, especially to have a boy. It can be said that these women have no control over their own fertility. People who have no idea up here in the global north seem to think that these people don't know any better and don't know when to say when. But, as it turns out, they do know what they are doing, it is just the dire situations in which they are in that foster these high reproduction rates. I thought it was interesting in the article the author points out that when the men have low esteem due to not being able to provide an income for their family, they grasp at the self-esteem they can get by feeling superior to their wife, which will then make them much more powerless.

The solutions to these problems are that economic and political change is needed in order to enhance the security of the poor members of these societies. The author talks about family planning incentives that some countries have instituted to help with population problems. Of the seven countries that have done this, the ones that actually instituted social change by providing birth control programs and assured basic necessities were the ones that succeeded the best. When people have access to affordable birth control, food and other basic needs, it leads to higher confidence and then to lower birth rates.

The main idea I got from this article is that in order to help the population problem, there needs to be a change toward a more democratic power structure. Fertility rates will only grow in impoverished conditions due to the low standings of the poor.

1 comment:

  1. "We argue that such a change in policy cannot come about until US citizens reorient their government's understanding of what is in our interests" with our interests being along the lines of "until our government transcends its deep fear of redistributive change abroad, our tax dollars will go on supporting governments that block the very changes" spoken about above.

    However, we have many internal problems to deal with too. I'm not sure how currently accurate this is, but we use a quarter of the world's oil and generally have a much smaller population density.

    I find the Indian state of Karala very interesting. Foster talked about in The Vulnerable Planet as a 'poor', well educated, sustainable state (or something similar), and it was an effective example in this essay as well.