Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blog 7

Falling Fertility Rates Makes for Happy Economists?

When one hears the term “overpopulation” the thought of China’s one child policy immediately comes to mind, and for good reason too. China’s one child policy is responsible for reducing the global population by 300-400 million according to the article, “Falling Fertility Rates Makes for Happy Economists?” by R. Albert Mohler. The author of the article supports the One Child Policy as a form of regulatory control, but there are other ways to combat this problem, for instance it may be handled by using economic incentives instead.

The One Child Policy is a form of regulatory control that was introduced three decades ago to reduce the population of China. In terms of reducing population size, the policy was a success, but unfortunately there was a heavy cost to this form of control. One positive effect is that “China’s population is probably 300m-400m lower now than it would have been without [the One Child Policy].”(Mohler, 2009) but some believe this policy may have been too strongly enforced. For instance, because of the strict policy many mothers endured forced abortions and/or were forced to give children up for adoption. In this way the One Child Policy destroyed the rights of these families. The policy also took away the rights of those who were forcibly sterilized by invading their privacy and taking away their chance of reproducing. There are other ways that the overpopulation problem can be solved; a one child policy is not necessary.

One possible way of controlling the population would be to use economic incentives such as lowering taxes for families that only have one child. This incentive would be an efficient way of controlling family sizes because if the tax reduction was significant enough then families would voluntarily choose to have fewer children. Using an economic incentive to control population size is an effective solution because unlike the One Child Policy an incentive gives people a choice and is less of an ethical issue. Economic incentives would also be less economically demanding than a one child policy and a very effective way of managing population size. Therefore, a reduction in taxes for families with only one child would be a very preferable way of managing population size.

I would prefer to use economic incentive as a way of maintaining population size because there is more freedom but at the same time it is effective because people will choose to have smaller families due to the incentives. Economic incentives may seem cost intensive, but in actual fact they are less expensive than a regulatory control. In this situation, the policy must be enforced and monitored which is very expensive since there is a need for many enforcers and also a need to pay them. The solution that does not challenge rights and is less expensive is using economic incentives. Therefore I would prefer to use economic incentives to manage population size.

In conclusion, although the One Child Policy in China is effective, there are more efficient and less problematic ways of decreasing a population. Creating tax reductions for families with only one child will also persuade families to have less children but in a more humane way. This policy would be preferred because there are less ethical issues and would also be less expensive than maintaining the strict regulations of China’s One Child Policy. Therefore, while the One Child Policy may be effective, economic incentives would also be effective and would not interfere with people’s rights.


Mohler, R. A. “Falling Fertility Rates Makes for Happy Economists?” The Christian Post. Last updated: November 12, 2009. Date accessed: November 14, 2009.


  1. We have overshot the carrying capacity of the planet. By drawing down ecological capital, instead living off the returns of that capital, short term growth can be accomplished at the cost of reducing future carrying capacity, with generally disastrous results.

    However, that doesn't necessarily mean we need population reduction. If we dramatically scale back our overconsumption, resource use, carbon emissions, and pollution, we could theoretically raise the carrying capacity. On the other hand, a reduction in population would likely make all of that a lot easier.

  2. i really liked how straight forward your post was. it was clear and to the point and i could really understand what you were trying to get across to the reader. really well done.

    i aswell wrote my blog on the china one child policy and the possible economic incentives that could take place instead of regulatory control. we had really similar idea and i too think it is the way to go.

    you really laid your points out well. they were clear and the point and it made the post enjoyable and educational.
    good job i really loved it.

  3. Good post Rachel, I agree that an economic incentive is a much more humane way of controlling population although I do not know if it would always be as effective. I think it would depend on what country it was implemented in. I personally did not think of the point that enforcing regulatory control would be very expensive and it is a necessary component of the problem to address. Great job.

  4. Although 300-400 million people is quite the cut of population in a country, there is always moral questions that come up with the one child policy. I'll have to agree that the economic incentives are the right way to go because especically in developing countries, money will be a commodity. Overall well written blog.