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Age Related Sterilization Bonus

Get Money For Not Having Babies
  (+1, -4)
(+1, -4)
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This is the second social policy type idea I'll post here. I promise I'll quit after this one. At least for a while.

World population increase is accelerating. For the most part, we have not been able to control this and it's threatening to become one of the worlds biggest problems. We're a pretty serious hazard to the biosphere, endangering endless ecosystems and we're probably setting evolution back quite a bit. Even if we do get some kind of control over global processes, our version of nature will probably look like Jocelyn Wildenstein.

Besides, I want to have a lot of elbow room and I don't want all you people standing around in my backyard.

In poverty stricken areas there currently economical benefits to having many children: more people to care for you when you get older. That's not so good.

My suggestion is to offer a sterilization bonus to everyone. And make it age related. Perhaps a 13 year old can get $50 and a 45 year old can get $10.

Wise people will invest this money.

You may adjust the ages and numbers as you see fit.

It should be quite possible to fund this. There's plenty of money. I'll leave the details up to you.

jmvw, Apr 04 2012

But... http://thethoughtst...penhbighoaxpett.jpg
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Apr 04 2012]

World Population to 2300 http://www.un.org/e...rldPop2300final.pdf
PDF [ytk, Apr 05 2012]

A Modest Proposal http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html
Prior Art; Jonathan Swift's slightly more radical scheme from 1729 [8th of 7, Apr 05 2012]

[link]






       didn't we just do this a couple weeks ago ?
FlyingToaster, Apr 04 2012
  

       Eh yes, but I chickened out and deleted it.
jmvw, Apr 04 2012
  

       [-]   

       This is based on the premise that overpopulation is a problem that needs to be addressed. In fact, that's far from the case. Based on extrapolation from current trends, the general consensus among the sort of scientists that study such things is that the world's population is expected to reach a plateau sometime in the next 40-50 years. This is because population growth rates tend to be inversely correlated with quality of life, and so as the general quality of life improves people have fewer children.   

       In fact, if you're concerned with overpopulation— and substantial evidence shows that you needn't be—the best way to address it is not directly through sterilization programs (which have never been shown to work and are laden with thorny ethical issues), but to simply work towards improving the quality of life in the poorest countries, where the growth rate is highest. The sooner we can bring these countries into the modern age, the sooner we'll reach the population plateau. But we'll get there eventually regardless. Settle down and quit stressing about overpopulation.
ytk, Apr 04 2012
  

       Thankyou ytk! I hate it when people focus on overpopulation like it's the end of the world. It's the asteroid we need to be concerned with.
DIYMatt, Apr 04 2012
  

       I can't share your optimism, [ytk]. The 'population stability through prosperity' theory is vanishingly unlikely to manifest in reality, in my opinion. Bringing the entire world into the modern age and then waiting to see what happens may be a nightmare scenario.
spidermother, Apr 04 2012
  

       How could having a more educated and healthy planet possibly be a bad thing? It does manifest in reality all the time - wealthier people with more education have less kids in the first world, why shouldn't the principle apply to the rest of the world?
DIYMatt, Apr 04 2012
  

       My favoritest comic strip yet! [link]   

       //How could having a more educated and healthy planet possibly be a bad thing?// I feel you are putting words in my mouth, to some extent. I never said that health and education were bad. I just think that that is an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary evidence. And isn't it clear that 'manifest in reality' means an actual, long-term stable population, combined with prosperity, over the entire world? A mere correlation between lower fertility and higher consumption does not make such a thing probable, for statistical, biological, and resource reasons.   

       I live in one of the wealthiest countries on earth, and at present population growth rates, in a mere million years, our descendants alone will have filled the universe such that each citizen will have lebensraum vanishingly smaller than quark. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's precisely why no-one talks about population projections more than a few decades into the future - beyond that, whichever way you slice it, it's seriously messed up.   

       Seriously, do the population projections for just a few hundred years. Assume that prosperity will rapidly increase to, say, US middle class standards globally, and that population growth rates will decrease to first world levels. Then work out how much nice stuff we'll have left.
spidermother, Apr 04 2012
  

       //I live in one of the wealthiest countries on earth, and at present population growth rates, in a mere million years, our descendants alone will have filled the universe such that each citizen will have lebensraum vanishingly smaller than quark.//   

       This statement is a reductio ad absurdum of your entire argument. The only logical conclusion one can reasonably make from that statement would be that the population growth rate is therefore guaranteed to decrease in the future.   

       Making any statement regarding the future population based on "present population growth rates" is misleading. You're ignoring the rate of change in the population growth rate. For example, if the population is currently growing at a rate of 10% per year, but that rate is decreasing at a constant rate of 1% per year, do the math and see what the population will be in 100 years. I'll give you a hint: year 100 sees a 90% DECREASE in the population under this projection.   

       That's essentially what has been happening in the developed world over the last few decades (of course, not to nearly the same degree). While total population in these countries is on the rise, the rate of population increase has been steadily decreasing.   

       //Seriously, do the population projections for just a few hundred years. Assume that prosperity will rapidly increase to, say, US middle class standards globally, and that population growth rates will decrease to first world levels. Then work out how much nice stuff we'll have left.//   

       These projections have been done, again and again, and as I said before, the prevailing scientific thought is that the world population will level out in roughly half a century. If you choose to ignore this fact, and cling to demonstrably bad science, then I guess that's your business.
ytk, Apr 05 2012
  

       //wealthier people with more education have less kids in the first world, why shouldn't the principle apply to the rest of the world?//   

       what principle ? and why should it ? The major difference is that the third world is having their bootstraps hauled up by the first world. Why shouldn't they expect that to continue in perpetua ?
FlyingToaster, Apr 05 2012
  

       With respect, I don't think I'm stubbornly clinging to anything, except that the idea that global population will stabilise over the long term due to global prosperity is an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary evidence. You seem to be stating it as fact; I'm not entirely ruling it out, I just think it's highly unlikely. As far as I can tell, most projections show population in most regions, and in the world as a whole, increasing over the next several decades.   

       To be clear, I'm not denying that there is sometimes a link between prosperity and low fertility (for example, in present day Europe). But it's drawing a long bow to extrapolate that to the future of the entire planet. Over the long term, through periods of relative prosperity and scarcity, the only exceptions to the rule of population increase have been almost insignificant blips, caused not by plenty, but by disease and war. And:   

       "The highest rates of growth – global increases above 1.8% per year – were seen briefly during the 1950s, and for a longer period during the 1960s and 1970s.",   

       a period of unrivalled prosperity and optimism.   

       We're already scraping the bottom of the barrel in many ways - such as extracting oil from tar sands. Are we really going to be able to multiply current levels of consumption by the six times or more needed to sustain 8 to 12 billion or whatever people at first world standards? Alas, it seems more likely that we will be limited by scarcity.
spidermother, Apr 05 2012
  

       And the claim that the entire universe will be full to the brim with people in a million years is anything less than extraordinary?   

       All that I'm stating—along with the majority of the scientific community—is that the population growth rate in developed countries tends to decrease as quality of life increases, and based on this fact and given the rate of quality of life improvements throughout the world, reasonable world population projections predict a plateau in the mid-21st century. If you want to see the evidence you need only do a quick Google search for it.   

       Besides, your claims cannot possibly be true. Global population necessarily must stabilize at some point, if for no other reason than that the demand for resources necessary to sustain life outstrips supply. So you see, the only question (and it's not much of a question, really) is WHEN the Earth's population will stabilize. If you're off in the weeds arguing WHETHER it will stabilize, then you're the one making extraordinary claims.   

       //As far as I can tell, most projections show population in most regions, and in the world as a whole, increasing over the next several decades.//   

       Yes. And then the world population is expected to plateau at between 9 and 12 billion in about half a century. Think of it as an asymptotic approach to this number. While the population will increase over what it is now, the closer we get to this number the more slowly it increases, until it effectively levels out. For the developed world, we're already seeing this happen. And while the developing world hasn't started to level out yet, all signs indicate that with global improvements in technology and living standards, these countries will eventually begin to experience the same thing—exactly as we did. If you believe otherwise, then that's a claim that flies in the face of historical evidence, and you need to provide extraordinary evidence indicating you know something the rest of the scientific community doesn't.   

       You also need to provide extraordinary evidence controverting the laws of physics, because there just ain't enough resources to support all of those people you predict coming into being. In terms of energy alone, we're already struggling to meet our needs, and there are no signs of that situation improving any in the near future. So again, I say: Your belief that the population is spiraling rapidly upwards simply has no scientific basis.
ytk, Apr 05 2012
  

       I mustn't be making myself clear. I completely agree with you that the human population will be limited (although that's not remotely the same thing as stabilised). I just have trouble accepting as fact that the limiting factor will be universal global prosperity.   

       //Your belief that the population is spiraling rapidly upwards simply has no scientific basis.// Again, will you kindly refrain from putting words in my mouth. I expressed no such belief. I simply find it more likely that the limiting factor will be scarcity rather than prosperity.
spidermother, Apr 05 2012
  

       Okay. Which part don't you believe? That things aren't getting better overall? Or that as quality of life improves population growth decreases? Both are easily verifiable with a quick search on The Google.   

       Look for the UN projections for world population. High estimates of the population in 2050 show constant linear growth between now and then, and low estimates show slowed growth followed by an actual decline in population. The middle estimate shows population leveling off around 9 billion people.   

       The relevant document is a 240-page tome entitled "World Population to 2300" (link to PDF), and it provides ample evidence and analysis to support these projections. I'm not sure why you have so much trouble accepting this, but you really ought to face the facts that it's your claim that is extraordinary.
ytk, Apr 05 2012
  

       It's true that populations have a way of controlling themselves, however I fail to find a single example of "everyone got so comfy that they stopped having babies" in nature. Possibly you can explain the basis for this theory. Also how this isn't "hubris".
WcW, Apr 05 2012
  

       I don't see any harm in anything if it's voluntary, but why do it this way?   

       Why not, instead, offer financial incentives to people with fewer children - sort of an inverse child benefit? This preserves people's freedom of choice, but also gives them the freedom to change their minds.   

       And, if it's true that people in poor rural areas have large families because it makes financial sense, then a reverse child benefit is the logical way to counter that tendency.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 05 2012
  

       This needs more background paragraphs and references to questionable science, and then I'd be comfortable with it as a Vernon idea.
RayfordSteele, Apr 05 2012
  

       //It's true that populations have a way of controlling themselves, however I fail to find a single example of "everyone got so comfy that they stopped having babies" in nature. Possibly you can explain the basis for this theory. Also how this isn't "hubris".//   

       Just look at a list of countries by population growth rate and you'll see it plain as day. Undeveloped countries tend to have higher population growth than developed countries.   

       The theory is simple. As more opportunity exists for prosperity, people—particularly women—tend to put off childbearing until later in life. As a result, they have fewer children. Also, as people move from rural to urban areas as development progresses, the cost of living goes up and smaller families become easier to maintain in terms of necessary space and resources. That's not to mention that with greater prosperity comes increased access to family planning methods such as birth control.   

       We are already seeing this theory borne out in places like the United States, where the average family size has decreased from 3.1 in 1970 to 2.6 in 2007, and Europe, parts of which have actually experienced a sustained decrease in population in recent years.   

       As for your last statement, the only hubris is entertaining the notion that if WE don't take active steps to solve what WE perceive to be a problem, then there's no way anything will POSSIBLY change.
ytk, Apr 05 2012
  

       Precisely.   

       <link>
8th of 7, Apr 05 2012
  

       I believe, if you ignore imigration, the US already has neutral or negative population growth.
MechE, Apr 05 2012
  

       //I don't see any harm in anything if it's voluntary//   

       By offering a flat rate for sterilization, you're effectively creating a regressive tax on having children. The net result is that you're putting disproportionate (artificial) economic pressure on the poorest individuals not to reproduce.   

       One may argue that this is the intent of the idea and ultimately the goal of such a program, but the whole thing smacks of creepy eugenicist social planning to me.
ytk, Apr 05 2012
  

       //By offering a flat rate for sterilization, you're effectively creating a regressive tax on having children.//   

       Yes, that's true, at least under the realistic assumption that the money has to come from somewhere (ie, there's a net loss to people who don't accept the offer). But then again, any financial incentive to have fewer children amounts to the same thing.   

       I don't like the proposed idea. However, if overpopulation is seen as a problem, then it makes sense to offer some sort of financial incentive to have fewer children.   

       In one sense, it would be better to have these incentives provided by the richer nations (much as the richer nations perhaps ought to pay to help the poorer countries reduce their environmental impact). But then you get into all sorts of other issues.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 05 2012
  

       //However, if overpopulation is seen as a problem, then it makes sense to offer some sort of financial incentive to have fewer children.//   

       That's already the case in China. The unintended consequence has been a sharp rise in female infanticide. Granted, this is in part due to the importance of sons in Chinese culture, but there can be no denying the contributory effect of the One Child Policy.   

       My larger point though is that this line of thinking is flawed. Just because overpopulation is seen as a problem, /doesn't/ necessarily mean it makes sense to attempt to solve that problem—at least not directly. Solving the root problem is more effective than treating a single symptom.
ytk, Apr 05 2012
  

       //The unintended consequence has been a sharp rise in female infanticide. //   

       You know, I'm not normally one for conspiracy theories, but what if that isn't an unintended consequence? After all, it will go a long way towards reducing population in the second generation.
MechE, Apr 05 2012
  

       //Just because overpopulation is seen as a problem, /doesn't/ necessarily mean it makes sense to attempt to solve that problem—at least not directly.//   

       Yeah, I sort of agree. On the other hand, every bit helps. And, regarding China, my understanding is that the one-child policy isn't really about rewarding people who have fewer children, but about penalizing those who have more. There are also the issues of gender bias and of infanticide. But I don't think that invalidates the simple idea of rewarding people for having fewer children.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 05 2012
  

       //Just because overpopulation is seen as a problem, /doesn't/ necessarily mean it makes sense to attempt to solve that problem—at least not directly.//   

       Fair enough; though I tend to think that the world is already overpopulated, and is unlikely to sustain even a modest increase in both population and per-capita consumption in the long term without serious grief. And (partly for that reason) the idea that prosperity will result in population stability is just a theory, not a fact. Hopefully we can arrive at a gentlemanly disagreement over that.   

       //Solving the root problem is more effective than treating a single symptom.//   

       Or as Spike Milligan put it, "Copulation equals population equals pollution."
spidermother, Apr 05 2012
  

       Evolution nicely provides a self-correcting mechanism, which is not in need of augmentation. And, in the absence of an intelligent observer, the biosphere doesn't give a fuck.
theircompetitor, Apr 05 2012
  

       what, me worry? I'm thinking the biosphere should be thankful (in advance) for that asteroid we'll move out of the way, eventually.
theircompetitor, Apr 05 2012
  

       There is another problem with this whole train of though: it assumes that if the population grows to 9-12 billion everybody will be living in tents eating Soylent Green. If we keep up this rate of developing eco-friendly products and energy sources then by the time the population gets that large we should have much better fuels than oil and coal. Food should never be an issue, right now we have so much extra food that farmers are paid to destroy surplus crops.
DIYMatt, Apr 05 2012
  
      
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