Tag Archives: family size

Support Women’s Education Worldwide to Help Fight Overpopulation

The size of the human population on this planet has much to do with how much damage our species does. There’s a lot of us, and while in some countries the population is shrinking, in others it’s still growing.

There are a lot of reasons for this. In many areas, a large family is still needed to ensure that the parents will have enough support. In many areas, too many children still die at young ages.

I’m no fan of telling people how many kids they should have. That’s a very personal decision. But I am a firm believer in doing what we can to help people choose to have smaller families.

Educated Women Choose to Have Fewer Women on Average

This isn’t a blanket statement saying that all educated women choose to have a small family. Some choose larger ones. But there are a number of studies that show that giving women more education results in smaller average family sizes.

Other factors have an impact too, of course. Women who marry young have larger average family sizes. Some cultures push much harder for large family sizes. Access to any sort of family planning effects family size. And you can’t forget the many who believe that having as many children as God gives them is the right way to live.

Is a Smaller Family Size Good for Everyone?

I hope the answer to that question is as obvious to you as it is to me. Of course it isn’t the best solution for everyone. Different situations mean people have different needs.

But it is a good thing for many. Fewer children means the parents have fewer expenses related to raising them. It may be easier to educate them. The mother has more chances to earn money, whether at home or at a job.

It also is easier on the mother’s body. Pregnancy has its risks, and these are higher in poorer countries. It may be a wonderful risk in many ways, and most women undertake those risks willingly, but the risk is still there.

How Does Education Help?

The more education a woman gets, the more likely she is to know what resources are available to help her control how many children she bears. She’s also more likely goals beyond bearing children, and more likely to be able to work toward those goals.

It’s not all easy, of course. If the culture she’s in is not accepting of smaller family sizes or of contraception, she’s going to face pressure. But in most cases acceptance increases over time.

Women who get an education marry later on average.  I don’t mean “get a college education,” I mean even a few years of school. This means they’re more likely to start their families a little later, and so probably have fewer children.

She may also be better able to provide educational opportunities for her children. Much depends on what is available, but also an educated mother is better able to help in her children’s education.

More educated women also have more options open to them in how they can contribute to the economy. They can speak out for their community.

How Do We Help?

The best way to help women worldwide get more access to education is to support organizations that help make schools that are open to girls. Central Asia Institute for example, works to create community-based education in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with a focus on girls.

How Many Children Can You Have and Still Be Green?

Like it or not, family size greatly impacts your environmental footprint. You can hand down clothes and toys, buy used, eat organic food and so forth, but there’s still an impact when you have more children.

Is that something to feel bad about when you’re trying to be environmentally friendly?

It’s easy to feel a bit of green guilt when you have more than one or two children. I say this as a mother of three. I don’t regret any of my kids, but I’m well aware of the fact that they’re an additional impact on the environment. I can limit the impact now, but it’s going to increase as they get older no matter what I do.

I’m not about to tell anyone how big their family should be. That’s a personal decision. But I do strongly recommend being as environmentally friendly with them as they grow up, and hope that they continue the practices as adults. Not all do, you know.

This is a tangled issue. On the one hand, a growing population overall is hard on the environment. We only have so many resources.

On the other hand, a shrinking population is brutal on the economy. Just how do you support an aging population without a lot of younger people?

In many developed countries, the population is shrinking anyhow. Parents on average are having fewer children than the population replacement rate. Is it then a problem to have more children when the population overall is shrinking, or is it a social good?

I have all these questions. But there aren’t easy answers.

But there are some answers for when your children are growing up and living in your home. You can consume fewer resources as a family. Delight in thrift stores and hand me downs. Enjoy regular vegetarian meals, and if you eat meat, serve smaller portions of it.

Take steps to be more environmentally friendly in your family’s lifestyle. How many televisions does your home really need? How many computers? Do you really need to upgrade before a complete breakdown? Is repair practical?

Start a family garden. Go hiking. Clean up trash. Volunteer for a good cause.

These are things you can do no matter your family size that can make a positive difference in the world. Talk to your children about why you do the things you do. Teach them to make good lifestyle decisions in all aspects of their lives. Teach them that happiness does not depend on having “things.”

The average consumption of resources in the United States is such that it would take 5 Earths to support humanity if everyone lived as the average American does. Think about that as you raise your family and teach them to consume fewer resources as best you can.

But no matter how many children you have, or how many you think are the limit for an eco friendly family, don’t judge those who have more children or fewer. There’s a lot more to the question than just “is it green?” sometimes.