Journal Article

Population and fairness

One of the least-challenged sacred cows of international policy is that public resources should be expended to accelerate fertility decline in the third world. But why? This essay considers three arguments. The first is an efficiency argument associated with individualism; the second is a prudence argument associated with hierarchy. Neither argument is accepted by the third view, which advances egalitarian arguments. Each of these arguments reflects a view of fairness; thus, the policy debate over population is a fundamentally normative one. While superficially egalitarian, the population policy orthodoxy that emerged from the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development is fundamentally individualistic. The true loser at Cairo was hierarchy, more specifically the ecological view that rapid population growth is a problem in and of itself.