Rises most rapidly in areas least able to sustain it –- unfree, pre-industrial, semi-feudal, collectivist societies hostile to capital formulation and investment, where children are treated as a substitute for it.
When awakening to the problem, regimes in such areas tend to deal with it in the manner most familiar to them: by coercion –- making sterilisation and abortion compulsory; limiting the permissible number of children couples may have; and in some extreme cases the encouragement of famine. Such methods are both wrong in principle and ineffectual –- and ultimately unnecessary –- in practice. For where technology is not permitted to support and sanitise life, nature is a far more potent destroyer of it than man-made prohibitions: the Malthusian spectre of plagues and famine becomes reality.
The real solution as always, is freedom and the rule of law – limited government; the protection of property rights; the freedom and enforcement of contracts; stability of and equality before the law -- which, by giving free rein to entrepeneurs, industrialists and inventors vastly increases the power of the earth to sustain life in increasing numbers. It also incidentally allows women to choose careers other than child-rearing, and entails the right to contracept by any means of one’s choice.This is part of a continuing series explaining the concepts and terms used by libertarians, originally published in The Free Radical in 1993. The 'Introduction' to the series is here.