Friday, January 09, 2004
Predictions (the book)
Ok, so I'm reading another book about the future called Predictions. This one was published in 1999 (or there abouts).
I've just read a touch on a recurring theme that I've seen in the 4 future-oriented books I've read so far: the population explosion.
There was mention, in the introduction to this book, that "Most population experts now believe that the growth in human numbers will level off in the mid-twenty-first centur, for the same poorly-understood reasons that growth is levelling off now in som many technologically advanced countries."
Now, I've read no further than this very sentance - though I've glanced ahead - so I don't know if they offer anything up on this, but a thought occurred to me that I thought I'd take a moment to record:
Is it likely that the reason the population increase tends to level off as societies reach a certain level of comfort, the very reason they boom leading up to it: to give us more time? When many childeren meant help with the daily chores of living, more childeren meant more time for the parents to spend not working. I guess a different way of looking at this is that each child brings some unit of work to a family situation, and so long as that level of work is less than the level of additional work required to support that new individual (in the somewhat long term), then you have a net gain of work for the family.
As technology sets in to a society, each person can perform more units of work, and at some point the breakeven point can be reached with a small number of family members where there is leisure time on top of work time. At this point, or some point just passed it, each new family member adds more of a certain kind of work than they remove by existing. I guess that means that technology hasn't solved the work problems related to child rearing, at least not so much that more children means even more efficient living.
I'm sure there are many holes in this theory. I see a few even now, but it was interesting enough to capture. Perhaps you'll find it interesting enough to comment on.