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Zero Population Growth: The Goal and the Means Author(s): Kingsley Davis Source: Daedalus, Vol. 102,
Zero Population Growth: The Goal and the Means Author(s): Kingsley Davis Source: Daedalus, Vol. 102,

Zero Population Growth: The Goal and the Means Author(s): Kingsley Davis Source: Daedalus, Vol. 102, No. 4, The No-Growth Society (Fall, 1973), pp. 15-30 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20024164

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KINGSLEY

DAVIS

Zero Population

Growth:

The

Goal

and

the Means

When

in

1967

"zero

population

growth"

was

first mentioned

as

a goal

of

population

of

name

policy,1

it were

it was

not

itself

defended

that

or discussed;

with

only

the means

the

as the

to

reaching for a movement, In what

the

debate,

the

considered.

a

lively

I shall

search

Since

debate

first

for what

time,

some

behind

ZPG

becoming

as well

has

consider

ensued

lies

over

of

the goal

the main

the

debate,

means.

follows,

then

nature

developments

hoping

in

illuminate

of population policy.

I

The

question

policies

one

achieve.

no

clear

a goal,

at

issue

then

obviously

search

A

statement

because

control

of

when

current

ZPG

were

was

effective

introduced

or

what

of

the

was

the

whether

To

policies

the

answer

were

population

that

ineffective.

goal

question,

to

needed

of

of

it did

was

the

to know

the

literature

the

goal.

not

specify

frequently

dangers

of

trying

revealed

considered

population

control"

to what

the

in

movement

could

not

be

end."

policy

How

litera

"Population

"control

justified

population

ever,

ture

since

population

by

graphic

by graphic

accounts

increase?dangers

seldom

specific

for

given

rates

of

increase

but

ascribed

to

any

continued

exponential

rate?I

 

drew

the

conclusion

that

the

implied

aim

was

no

population

growth

at

all.

I

therefore

undertook

 

to determine

whether

the

population

measures

being

pursued

or

advocated

 

in

official

circles

were

likely

to achieve

having

if ZPG

ZPG.

Although

a prominent

fellow

demographer

described

me

as

"vigorously

endorsed"

the

goal

of

ZPG,2

the

question

was

simply,

is the goal,

will

the measures

being

adopted

succeed

or

fail?

The

answer

was

independent

of whether

 

I or

anyone

else

actually

held

that

aim, but,

tion

about

My

tion

as

subsequent

was

debate

a

proved,

common

or even

then

current

of

least

to

ZPG

aspiration

NPG

(negative

people

not

provide

popula

concerned

popula

stability.

all

they

growth)

indeed

growth.

among

all

did

population

conclusion

was

control

to

for

any

"family

that measures

collective

planning"

purpose,

and

for population

control,

about

Limited

hence

couple

15

16

KINGSLEY

DAVIS

could

condition

anyway.

1970,

accomplish

for

reach

An

example,

by

a class

not

the

ZPG

of a critique

The

only

would

industrial

level,

the

be

to

level

help

of

countries

a

above

approaching

they would

Between

in

modern

a

soon

1960

reach

and

their

fifty

War

in the

to popula

by

might

attack

be

an

industrial

fertility,

is far

level

however,

industrial

rate

a

had

ZPG.

fifty

countries

would

of

double

the world

it

increase

increased

less

than

population

years.

As

14

percent,

these

that

countries

it was

family

a more

ever

rapid

had

that

the

in this

than

after World

first

arose

II

For

context

tion policy.

than

underdeveloped

as

a goal,

of

countries

before

that.

the

the c o n c e p t

concept

exclusive

approach

family

unfortunate

planning

vested

as

means

approach

reacted

planning

powerful

the

idea

interests

that

other

ing

necessary,

programs

but

also

the

of

foundations,

goal

of

ZPG

international

itself.

Spokesmen

and

for

the

government

g o v e r n m e n t

population

bureaus?

agencies,

all

committed

therefore

which

the

yielded

arguments

to

the

assumption

that

that

is, by

the

the

massive

population

people

problem

have

of

they were

of

Let

is

them)

due

to

and

unwanted

a goal

and

births

the

(unwanted,

solution

had

who

that

that their leadership

of

is to provide been

ardent

contraceptive

either

else

deny

by

goal.

services?felt

not

challenged.

supporters

seemed

they

Actually,

with

Accused

had

pursuing

pursuing

means

or

both

examine

that many

their

their

assumed

own

arguments

of

that

the means.

goal,

especially

counterarguments.

to

had

imply,

or

either

to

they

to

began

the

using

goal

us

incapable

affirm

later

the

of

adequacy

reaching

ground,

and

the

doing

to

but

reference

ZPG

as

a Goal

To

declare

that

Yet

ZPG

soon

was

after

not

at

all.

not

the

the

ZPG

"The

goal

of

existing

population

three

programs

leaders

further

was

dangerous.

concept

appeared,

of

to

the population

the

population

that

say

for

movement

only made

program,

this declaration

least

in

program

but went

family-planning

limitation

at

federal

the United

[of

control,

States,

is not

family

but

Others

planning]

to

improve

were

its

less

ad

has

health

hasty.

vocates

been

advanced,"

and

They

as

of

reduce

did

naive,

ZPG

as

enthusiasts

by

critics

points

 

they

said,

"not

the

impact

of poverty

directly

repudiate

not

unrealistic,

or

was

used

as

a

demanding

ignorant

ZPG

of

Americans

them

say

that

for population

and

ZPG

a

deprivation."3

as

For

criticism.

critics

goal

but

instance,

By

could

of

child

only

demography

embargo.

sometime

recommending

a drastic

births

painted

the

authoritarian.

for

immediately,

basis

the

science

with

a

ZPG

merely

require

more

uncertain

timing

advocates

interpreting

accuse

who

On

in the

the

them

were

the

ZPG

of

un

other

being

wittingly

hand,

future,

These

Since

threatening

interpreting

could

are worth

ZPG

as wanting

they were

indefinite

inevitable.

in

fertility.

their

age

examining.

Immediate

existing

would

certainly

have

had

reduction

deaths,

societies

than

ZERO POPULATION

GROWTH

17

structure

otherwise

each

average,

frightening

Frejka

be necessary

Dr.

is

and

more

favorable

this

fact,

have

to

future

reduce

prospect

growth

only

the

births

than

to be

fertility,

it would

attained,

younger

be. To

compensate

compensate

young

woman

her

that

own

for

would

if instant

to

This

ZPG were

her

was

current

on

the

in

below

replacement.

zero

described

terms:

warns

for each

two-child

to achieve

family

population

immediately,

for

year

the next

2000.4

d r o p

drop

it would

20 years or

to limit

not

itself

to one child

until

after

so, with

families

permissible

cyclical

be

only

on

The U.S. Population Commission

would create a regrettable

This

be possible

said that the sudden

fluctuation

without

half

the

in reproduction

on

be

.

.

This

the

that

in fertility.5

children

and

overall

[ZPG] would

a

few

years,

have

not

considerable

as many

school

.

disruption

as there

to society.

are now.

In

there would

would

number

disruptive

effects

the

system

The

subsequently

effect would

of persons

entering

labor force.

of

an

accordion-like

continuous

expansion

and

contraction.

Actually,

from

Frejka

1965 would

found

that, with

migration

birth

woman

excluded,

rates

a U.S.

population

twenty

life,

all women

some

fixed

require

white

age-specific

by

each

1.2 children

women

during

her

the next

reproductive

However, in the U.S.

not

years

which,

if

would

bear

yield

children.

an

experienced

of

during

average

Among

per woman.

aged

35

to 39

in 1960,

15.5 percent

fixed

average,

child

not

fluctuation

enced

of

40

so

in

had

either

each

never

married

or never

woman

who

did

have

mean

that

could

be

two.

As

Put

for

children

the

in

a

70

in these

borne

a

a child.

So,

in Frejka's

on

population,

and

1.4

sound

in

the

children

to

child

could

if 60 percent instantaneous

the

bear,

the

one

does

children?a

percent

had

frightening.

school-age

past.

During

aged

59.5

of

to

million,

5

ZPG

19

be

that

against

been

hitting

reached

terms,

less

to

than

had

ZPG

"disruption

be

society,"

that

to

resulting

experi

number

34.9

would

actually

1970

up

the

change

from

twenty

continental

percent

in 1965,

the

years

from

1950

United

increase.

the most

States

In

drastic

period

shot

Frejka's

from

hypothetical

million

this

when

In

was

would

not

Notestein,

finite

answer

calculations

of

beginning

of

in children

1965

to

1990,

age would

the number

to

twenty-five-year

percent.

ZPG,

the

because

ZPG

over

the

ZPGers,

achieved

head

the

buffeted

indefinite

them

a desirable

to people

Blake:7

goal;

who

would

fall by

41.5

discredit

immediate

a straw man,

happy

to

them

see

trying

Population

scarcely

within

for presumably

for

future.

it

is the

favor

Establishment

so literal-minded,

their

the

lifetime.

wanting

But

ZPG

as well,

opposite

"Zero

only

growth,"

possibility

the

inevitable."6

said

in

The

a

arguing

have

content

with

instantaneously,

for

supposedly

"is

the Establishment

.

One

wanting

. not

.

it

simply

cannot

given

in

world.

object

by

Judith

to this was

By

of

this

reasoning,

inevitabilities?the

the human

effort

effort

expended

to control

the

on

postponing

time

and manner

of

death,

maintaining

all

sorts

houses,

.

18

KINGSLEY

DAVIS

saving

stationary world

money?is

all

pointless.

will

population

The

never

spokesmen

come

for ZPG

about without

do

not

argue

ZPG policy,

but

that

a

rather

that,

without

directed

effort,

zero

growth

have greatly increased over present

of high mortality instead of fertility control.

levels,

will

and

occur

only

perhaps

after

then

by

human

numbers

the mechanism

A

a

related

"stable"

question

zero

was

whether

ZPG

advocates

the

term

result

 

had

in mind

an

"actual"

"stable

population"

refers

if

age-specific

fertility

and

is

of

enough

(usually

time

be

concerjt

age-specific

three

the

?r more

birth

from

and

the

among

inde

at which

an

) would

abstract

current

different

used,

rates

Thus

a population

that

is actually

described

as

"failing

to replace

itself,"

eventually

be produced

the

population

population

would

concept

by

the

decline.

has

no

or

rate.

that

remained

In demography

would

eventually

constant

a fixed

age

long

or

"intrinsic"

population"

the

age

import

structure.

to

the

m o r t a l i t y

mortality

population

rates

generations

generations

generations

death

current

other

pendently

growing

because

rates

ones.

things,

at

current

This

usage,

) to produce

( called

of

The

the

structure,

rates

"stable"

"stable

to measure

current

the moment

the

age

however,

is sometimes

structure

birth

with

age-specific

that would

death

rates,

the

and

is misleading;

stable

relevance

age-specific

to

calculate

to

the

rates,

the

actual

future

for

it

rests

on

a

situation

attributes

which

of

a

never

comes

nongrowing

the

assumption

about

in reality.

stable

population

of

It

constant

is useful

(called

a

"stationary population")

together

with

the

demographic

 

changes

required

to

reach

different

it in given

 

lengths

of

time,

and

this has

often

been

done,8

but

this

is

from

calculating

an

actual

hongrowing

 

population

and

the

age-specific

birth

and

death

rates

required

to reach

it

in

some

given

length

of

time

from

the

present.

In

any

case,

the

question

of which

kind

of

ZPG

they meant

was

at first

confusing

to those

ZPGers

who

 

were

not

acquainted

with

technical

demography.

Soon,

however,

they

overcame

that

hurdle.

 

Apart

from

cavils

about

the

timing

of ZPG,

there

were

two

objections

to a nongrowing

population

regardless

of when

it came

about:

that itwould

interfere with economic

development

 

and

that

it would

 

produce

a

high

proportion

of aged

persons.

These

arguments,

both

old,

are worth

examining.

 

The

economic

argument

holds

that

some

population

 

growth

is

a

good

thing

because

 

it provides

economies

of

scale,

promotes

 

a bullish

investment

psychology,

and

provides

openings

for

the

young;

but,

 

as

the

economist

Stephen Enke pointed

out,

 

"the more

slowly

population

grows

the more

capital can be accumulated

per member

of

the

labor

force,"

and

"only

those

who

own

something

valuable

and

scarce

can

count

on

larger

real

incomes

as

a

result

of

population

growth."9

His

simulation

models

for

the

United

States

show

that

a

net

reproduction

rate

of

unity

from

1975

on

would

yield

a

higher

per

capita

GNP

than

either

of

two

higher

growth

trends.

 

One

has

only

to

look

at history

to

see

that

slow

population

growth

does

not

mean

economic

stagnation

nor

does

fast

growth

mean

 

prosperity.

Between

1890

and

1940

Ireland's

population

 

declined

 

by

16 percent,

yet

ZERO POPULATION

GROWTH

19

during

that

period,

according

 

to figures

compiled

product

per

manhour

rose