Friday, 4 December 2015

Things that aren't really true.


Like this...

The most important factor is women’s education. Already today, an Ethiopian woman with secondary education has on average only 1.6 children, compared to a woman with no education who has 6 children.

We're told this again and again but raised levels of female education are a consequence of another more important change - raised levels of income and the end of subsistence farming. If people are poor (and scratching a living from a tiny, unfertile plot of land on less than a dollar a day is what we're talking about here) then having lots of children makes economic sense.

This isn't an argument against sending girls to school more an observation that parents don't send girls to school if they need human resources to scrat a living from the land. The work them and marry them off as soon as they can produce babies. So when Oxfam and others idealise marginal farming systems despite the ecological damage they do, they also prevent the growth that means fertility rates will fall.

Educated women, like lower fertility rates, are a consequence of economic growth - the former isn't the cause of the latter.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As background, in 1980 (around Michael Buerk time) the population of Ethiopia was about 25 million - despite wars, famine and drought, the population is now around 100 million, way beyond the capacity of that nation to support, even with its recent economic growth.
The greatest impact of Buerk, Live Aid, Band Aid etc. was actually to make things worse, by keeping kids alive who have since gone on to breed in such huge numbers, thus expanding the scale of the problem beyond solution.

Their first step towards national improvement should be to stop breeding so many - after 50 years of that, they could then start to catch up with educating and developing a sustainable population-level. Anything else is ignoring that fertile elephant in the room.