Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why you should be interested in how many children your neighbor has

I watched the TED talk by Melinda Gates yesterday, and I have decided to spend the rest of the week blogging about the correlation between family size and the quality of life. At the end of the week, I will collect my thoughts into one coherent post. However, before I launch my rant, I thought I should give a few reasons why you SHOULD be interested in how many children your next door neighbor has. :)

1. Imminent food shortages. Before you laugh out loud at another doomsday prophecy, consider the following statistic from 'Inside Watch Africa': Africa's population has continued to increase annually by 3 to 5% while food production only increased by 2.5% over the last year. On the face of it, this gives two options: reduce the rate of population growth, or increase food production. The more people there are buying (or stealing) food, the less food there is for EVERYone.

2. Increased insecurity. It goes without saying that it is easier for a low-income family to properly raise (and educate) one, or two kids than five or six. A lot of the time, children from VERY large families are not properly educated, well-fed, or well-clothed. If you doubt that, then visit the many overhead bridges and slums that dot the Lagos landscape. Apart from the rich kids who resort to Yahoo and theft in a bid to support their ostentatious lifestyles, many 'poor' kids resort to robbery to support their families - a justifiable reason in their opinion. Summary: the fewer kids a low-income family has, the higher the chances that the kids will be better raised and will become responsible adults.

3. Increased pressure on social amenities. Many parks in Lagos today have been taken over by the homeless. I spoke to two women on an overhead bridge today who openly said they hadn't slept on proper beds in months. To make matters worse, both of them had children (one had three, and the other had a new set of twins) - all of them sleeping around the bridges. In the short term, there will be more pressure on public facilities such as parks, schools, toilets, bridges, and the welfare scheme (if Nigeria ever gets round to having one). Summary: more taxpayer money will go towards catering for the needs of a population increase that could have been avoided with a little more wisdom.

Any other reasons I have left out? You disagree with any of the above? Drop a comment below...

1. Next, we will attempt to explain why the poorest people in Nigeria oftentimes have the most children.

2. For my first post in this series, see 'Why do the poorest people (on average) have the most children?'

3. If you have time, check out the comments on Melinda Gates' talk at the TED website.

1 comment:

  1. You are right, Koye.
    Sure, there are some other reasons and as a demographer, i think we need more of the awareness so it can sink into people's minds that a large family is not ideal in this age.
    Keep up the good work!