China Reverses Course: Malthus, Ehrlich, and McKibben Hardest Hit

China announced today that it is ending its coercive one-child policy, and will now allow couples to have two children. That’s mighty white of them.

Don’t get your hopes up that this represents a turn toward more respect for fundamental human rights by China’s ruling Communist Party. The change is being made for simple demographic reasons: China is getting old very rapidly, and like other social democracies it needs a lot more younger workers to support old age pensions and health care:

Researchers say the graying population will burden health care and social services, and the world’s second-largest economy will struggle to maintain its growth.

“China has already begun to feel an unfolding crisis in terms of its population change,” Wang Feng, a professor at Fudan University and a leading demographic expert on China, told McKenzie earlier this year.

“History will look back to see the one-child policy as one of the most glaring policy mistakes that China has made in its modern history.”

Wang said the one-child policy was ineffective and unnecessary, since China’s fertility rates were already slowing by the 1980s.

As has been noted, a lot of social democracies, like Bernie Sanders’s beloved Denmark, are fretting openly about low fertility rates, and encouraging their citizens to have more babies. Denmark even made a TV spot:

The obvious problem here—if you’re a liberal—is that the insatiable requirements of the welfare state that compel a higher birth rate runs directly against the anti-natal core of Malthusian environmentalism. The needs of the welfare state will win most of these political struggles. You can almost hear the screams of anguish from Paul Ehrlich, let alone perpetual sourpuss Bill McKibben, who in the late 190s wrote a book entitled Maybe One: The Personal and Environmental Argument for Single Child Families. Wonder if he will write a sequel: Maybe Not: Why No One Listens to Me.


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