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The Environmental Argument

One of the primary arguments in favor of having a smaller population is the environmental argument. Proponents of this argument suggest that an exploding world population is hitting resource constraints. In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich warned that food and water scarcity would result in a billion or more people starving to death. He opined that governments should work towards an optimal world population of 1.5 billion. The New Republic also announced in 1965 that the world population had passed food supply and world hunger would be the single most important fact in the final third of the 20th century.

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The Utilitarian Argument

On the other hand, there is the utilitarian argument, which suggests that a larger population means more “utility” in the economic sense. However, this argument is dismissed as a non-existent individual cannot be included in any utility calculus because there is no “he” or “she” to include.

The Political Economy Argument

The political economy argument, however, suggests that a larger population is beneficial to most individuals as it provides larger opportunities for beneficial exchange, which includes all sorts of voluntary relations between individuals. However, there is no reason to believe that the size of mankind should be the province of collective choices, which are, in practice, government choices. Instead, individual choices in a general context of liberty should determine the number of humans, allowing each potential parent to decide or agree on the number of children they will have.


In conclusion, the debate over whether a larger or smaller population is better for a country or the world is ongoing. While environmental arguments suggest a smaller population is ideal, utilitarian and political economy arguments suggest a larger population is beneficial. However, the individual choices in a general context of liberty should determine the number of humans instead of a certain group of individuals “collectively” deciding how many children families should have. The issue is complex and multifaceted, and it remains to be seen which argument will ultimately win out in the end.

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Hi I'm Oliver Smith, I would say that I take great pride in my work as a journalist and strive to produce high-quality, impactful stories that make a difference. With more than eight years of experience under my belt, I am passionate about uncovering the truth and shining a light on issues that matter.


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