Re: QUOTE: Bey on extropians

Bradley Felton (
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 10:27:17 -0600

At 08:25 PM 11/11/97 +0100, Anders Sandberg wrote:
>Steve Witham <> writes:
>> Some recent (& controversial) survey said that around the world, when
>> *women* are reasonably educated, they decide how many kids to have based
>> on fairly rational estimates of the economic prospects for the kids.
>> Btw "we have the technology already", & it doesn't cost $6M.
>It is not controversial, this has been known for a while among
>demographers. Education may not be the solution to *everything*, but
>it comes close :-)

It should be controversial, as it not terribly accurate. It has long been
recognized that the major variable in family size is mortality -- if a
woman has to have a dozen kids to have a decent chance of two or three
surviving to reproduce, than she has to have a dozen kids, lest her genes
vanish from the pool. Without changing her environment, the supremely
educated woman would be facing exactly the same situation -- and would have
to birth a dozen kids (or give up the race).

In an environment where all of her kids have a good chance of living long
enough to reproduce, even the least educated woman will have fewer kids, as
the reproductive advantage goes to those who give their kids a better
launch in life by not splitting their resources too many ways.

In a society where social improvements are being implemented rapidly
(sewers, education, public medicine, etc.), educating women about the
effect on mortality rate that these improvements are likely to have can
speed up the process of family size reduction (so it doesn't take a full
generation for people to realize that their kids are likely to live to
reproductive age), but it is not the cause of the reduction.

Education, while a good idea for all (and not just for *women*), cannot
stop population growth. If education gets in the way of reproduction,
mother nature interprets it as damage, and routes around it. ;-)

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