Most of us have heard about the concerns over the population of the planet and how it could affect the future for everyone, but there are things we can do about it so our planet can be saved. One of those things is having a well-educated populace because the bottom line is that the more educated people are, the fewer children they have. This, in turn, is a good thing for the planet and for each of us individually.
Why Is Overpopulation a Problem?
There is certainly nothing wrong with people having families, but the truth is that the earth has very limited resources, and those resources might not be enough if there are too many people using them. Currently, there are nearly 8 billion people on the earth, and that number is projected to be between 10 billion and 12 billion by the year 2100.
The reason this is a problem can be summed up in one word: consumption. Natural resources such as land that can be used to grow food and even available water are being used at alarmingly high rates, and the more people who are on the earth, the more those resources will disappear. More pollution, less land, and fewer ways to find new sources of water are all big problems.
With fewer people using up these resources, the earth will be able to stick around much longer, and this is why the birth rate on our planet is such a big concern to scientists, social scientists, and others.
How Does Education Affect Population Growth?
If you look at statistics about birth rates, one thing stands out clearly: the more educated people are, the fewer children they tend to have. During the 1970s, there was a movement that suggested couples have only two children—one to replace each of them when they were gone. Based on this suggestion, it was believed that the population would never get out of hand.
And there are some helpful suggestions to make this happen. Educating people, increasing access to reproductive health care, and raising the legal age to marry all seem to help, and while the “one child” policy has proven not to work, the numbers are definitely going in the right direction in many parts of the world.
Many developed countries have experienced fertility rates that fall below the rate of 2.1 children per female. Bulgaria, for example, had a population of 9 million in 1990; today, the number is around 7.3 million. On the other hand, Nigeria still has an average birth rate of 5.5 to 6 children per female, much higher than the current average across the globe.
Other things that seem to work are increasing women’s access to credit and using awareness campaigns to change people’s attitudes about family size. In places such as Bangladesh, where the birth rate averaged six children per female in the mid-1970s and is now a little more than three per female, the methods used there are working.
What Are the Advantages of Slowing Population Growth?
There are numerous advantages to having a population that isn’t out of control, and they include:
- More available land to grow food
- Fewer chances of having slums and other negative living conditions
- A lower poverty rate
- Less chance of famine since food is easier to grow and access
- Reduced need for social services from the government
- Decreased overcrowding and congestion
To be sure, most experts agree that educating the populace is the number-one way to reduce the population, and education is something that is easy to do and costs very little, both in advanced first-world nations and even in underdeveloped nations.
And it does seem to be working. For instance, when you look at the rate of population growth across the globe, you’ll notice that it has slowed considerably since the 1970s. As of 2020, that growth is roughly 1.05%, according to the independent open-source database Worldometer. This is down from 1.08% in 2019 and 1.12% in 2017.
Other advantages of slow population growth include:
- Improvement in the environment. The fewer people we have on the earth, the less we damage the environment. This is important because the more we damage the environment, the closer we’ll come to needing another place to live besides Earth.
- Decreased odds of international conflict. Conflict is inevitable when different countries have different amounts of available food and water. When all countries have access to healthy food and clean water, conflicts are much less likely.
- Reduction in poverty. With more people competing for jobs, more poverty is likely to occur. Food ends up costing more, and even access to good health care can be lowered. All of these things combine to increase the likelihood that more people will live in poverty.
An important part of education includes what we know already works to curb the birth rate, and studies from various countries have pointed to two things that will help: easy access to contraception and medically accurate sex education.
There is no doubt in the experts’ minds that education is key to curbing the birth rate and that curbing the birth rate produces all types of advantages for the population as a whole. Even in practical terms, one important perk is that with a lower birth rate comes the fact that we’ll be able to remain on this earth with plenty of resources, which benefits everyone.
Fortunately, the birth rate is coming down in many parts of the world, and this is good for everyone.