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Thelma and Louise

People of China Adopt Their Own One-Child Policy

Could it be the people will do the right thing even when the law doesn’t require it? I am thrilled at the news in this Associated Press story:

China’s Birthrate Dropped Despite Allowing 2-Child Families

You may recall that China relaxed its infamous “one-child policy” two years ago out of a misplaced concern about the size of its economy. Its population is due to peak in about a decade and then start contracting, and that means aggregate GDP is highly unlikely to keep climbing. Of course, pursuing the goal of everlasting GDP growth is pretty much like Thelma and Louise putting the pedal to the medal as they headed for the cliff.

Our planet can only support a certain amount of human activity before life support systems crumble and it spits us out. Pursuing additional economic growth when we’re already far into overshoot is nothing short of stupid. And trying to goose population growth in order to grow your economy just doubles down on that sure-loser of a bet.

Fortunately, the good people of China are reacting to the evidence before them. They can see that life is better with fewer of them.

“The birthrate in China fell last year despite the country easing its family planning policies and allowing all couples to have two children, a result parents say of the stresses of urban life.”

So, even though the government is stupidly in the car with Thelma and Louise, looking at the speedometer instead of the cliff ahead, the people are saying “one is enough.”

While this report doesn’t address the issues of overshoot and sustainability, at least it doesn’t adopt the far-too-common assumption that declining birth rates are an economic catastrophe. I thank the AP for that. And I thank the people of China for making a very loving decision for future (smaller) generations.

Let’s celebrate. Declining birthrates and contracting populations are cause for joy everywhere on a full planet.

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Dave Gardner

Producer of the documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. Dave writes and speaks regularly on the subject of growth addiction, including the pro-growth media bias that perpetuates prosperity-from-growth mythology.

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