We all know the threats of the ever increasing population oh humans on earth. Increasing food demands, encoachment, increasing population density of cities, poverty etc. are the problems associated with the increasing human population on earth.

My solution to this problem is a society where the maximum limit on children per parents is 3. A couple may only give birth to 3 children and if they give birth to a fourth child, they lose some of the government facilities like subsidies, free healthcare etc . If a couple wants to have a fourth child legally they will have to take part in one or another form of community service like volunteering for NGO's, donating to NGO's, working in old age homes etc for a period of at least 3 years. This will ensure that some actual benefit is received by the society and that there is a proper gap between two children.

This method of population control will be effective in a society because it is not forcing anyone to have less children, it simply makes sure that some actual good comes to the society and that the society moves forward as a whole. It also doesn't put humans under the threat of extinction as it simply controls the rate of population and doesn't make the population growth rate negative.

Do you think that a similar approach on a global level is feasible/required in the coming years? Why/Why not?


closed as primarily opinion-based by o.m., Hohmannfan, fi12, J_F_B_M, Gianluca Feb 14 '16 at 20:35

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  • $\begingroup$ From the society’s point of view, this works great, but what for the individuals? It is clearly not ideal that families with 4 children gets into economical trouble. $\endgroup$ – Hohmannfan Feb 14 '16 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ To have a fourth child, parents will have to be involved in some sort of community service for a period of three years. I have not thought about the proper implementation of this but it would surely do the society some good. Also as mentioned before, this would save the couple from the economical trouble which would come by having a fourth child without participating in community service. $\endgroup$ – Aniansh Feb 14 '16 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ For many people, a forced period of volunteer labour would mean economical trouble too. Even a week's worth of income is disastrous for a large part of the world's population. $\endgroup$ – Hohmannfan Feb 14 '16 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ By mentioning that, I meant to imply that couples would need to serve the community in some appreciable way which would not be limited to volunteering in an NGO. Also, the act of community service would be part time and not full time. $\endgroup$ – Aniansh Feb 14 '16 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ Have you looked at the details of what happened with such a policy in China? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Feb 14 '16 at 19:52

As with many utopian-sounding ideas, it seems nice, but it is probably a lot more complicated than it sounds. Many people have noticed problems in human behavior or society and then tried to legislate the problem away. This is a good thing for problems like murder, theft, and fraud. But for other problems this sort of legislation can be seen as an attempt to infringe on peoples' natural rights. The question becomes, is that okay? Is the problem you are trying to solve serious enough to warrant becoming a totalitarian state? And will implementing the proposed legislation actually solve the problem? Maybe, and maybe not. Here are some arguments that lawyers and legislators would bring to the table should the policies you propose come about.

Suppose a woman with three children becomes pregnant with a fourth. This population control law would dictate that in order to remain a law-abiding citizen, she MUST undergo an abortion. This seems to me an even more fundamental invasion of her rights than denying her access to an abortion.

Suppose a family with two children decides to have a third child, but are instead surprised with twins? Or triplets?

Suppose a married couple have three children, and then get divorced with the mother retaining custody of the children. Is the father allowed to remarry and have three more children?

Would these rules apply to adoption of children? If not, could a family keep having children as long as they always give them up for adoption? This would seem to be counterproductive to the purpose of the law. If so, would you deincentivize a couple with means to support a fourth child from adopting (and thereby providing a better life for the child)?

Suppose a family has a fourth child illegally. The family has relied on government welfare and healthcare, and no longer receive it. Would the government really allow these four children to starve, be homeless, or be sick because their parents made a mistake? Probably not, in which case the government must either (a) go back on its promise not to support this family, or (b) take the children from the parents, which doesn't really solve any of the problems as the government still has to pay for their support, and is likely not the best course of action for the welfare of the children.

Suppose a family has three children, and one child dies. Can the family have a fourth child? If so, you've got a new problem (which is actually very old problem).

Many families do just fine on their own without government welfare or healthcare. How would this policy deincentivize these families from having any children.

Suppose a woman has a fourth child illegally. Is there any consequence for the father? If not, this policy seems rather unfair, and punishes women more than men. If so, and if she is unsure who the father is, or if the father denies responsibility, does the government require DNA testing? Who pays for this testing?

Could the father of an illegally born child sue the mother for not using birth control? Or vice versa?

After thinking about the above questions it seems to me that more harm would come of this policy than good. I do not think that at this stage of global population, a government that seeks to control someone's life to this extent either does so at the cost of a vital personal freedom, or cannot enforce the law stringently enough to solve the problem.

  • $\begingroup$ These are all very good points. But don't you agree that sooner or later the world will face an over population problem and a policy to somehow regulate population will be required? $\endgroup$ – Aniansh Feb 14 '16 at 16:58
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe. Birth rates in first world countries seem to be dropping just fine on their own. This is especially true in urban areas, where it seems that overcrowding is its own incentive for population control. If it is necessary for a government to control population, I would advocate a gradient tax on each child so that it is never illegal to have another child, it is just more costly. In this way, the government does not eliminate someone's right. But this method must also address all the points a gave in my answer. $\endgroup$ – Alex S Feb 14 '16 at 17:07

As an introduction to the subject of world population growth, I recommend this video of Hans Rosling (do not trust the title, it is barely about religion).

First, if you trust these data, the number of baby per family tends to stabilize around 2 when child mortality drops and income raise. So it is probable that fixing the maximum at 3 children will mainly be ineffective on the long run.

Second, family having more than 3 children are (mostly) both poor and lacking medical assistance. Therefore your system threats to remove subsidies and free healthcare to (mostly) people who already do not have access to them.

And that is letting apart the problem of actually implementing the system.

  • $\begingroup$ The method that i suggest also aims to tackle the issue of poverty by not allowing more than 3 children per couple. You yourself have mentioned that families with more than 3 children are poor. Also, if a family wants to have a fourth child, they can do so by the method mentioned above. And if they are unable to participate in any sort of community service then they may simply not have another baby. My suggestion is basically like the china 2 baby policy. It is only more lenient. $\endgroup$ – Aniansh Feb 14 '16 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ "And if they are unable to participate in any sort of community service then they may simply not have another baby." How do you want to stop from still having one, and what if they still do? $\endgroup$ – MauganRa Nov 28 '16 at 18:46

What kind of world?

Worldbuilding is not a site to talk about hypothetical solutions to real problems. It is a site to talk about problems real people encounter when they build hypothetical worlds for their stories, games, etc.

So would your proposal make an interesting fictional world? Sure!

Would the world work?

Nearly all governments collect money and/or services from some of their citizens. Taxes, military draft, jury duty, you name it. Even if draftees get paid, they're obviously not paid the fair market rate, or there wouldn't have to be a draft. Jury duty may or may not be compensated. And so on.

Nearly all governments give benefits to some of their citizens. Public roads. Recourse to police and the courts. Opera houses subsidized from public funds. Retirement funds guaranteed by the government. Welfare.

  • Some people are net payers. Some people are net recipients. How the various payments are called shouldn't really matter, a decrease of subsidies and an increase in taxes have the same net effect. So you're talking about a child tax, right?

  • The ability to pay taxes in money rather than labor is generally seen as a step towards freedom. If I have to give the government 100 bucks, I can work more, spend less, or take them from my savings. If I have to give the government one workday, I don't have that choice. (There is a slightly different effect when the government wages are not market rates, of course.)

  • The biological acts which lead to having children are highly uncertain. Usually two consenting adults are involved, but they might not have planned to get children. Contraceptive methods may fail. A partner might not be able to give meaningful consent. Summarized, sometimes children "just happen." A fictional world which expects parents to have an abortion in that case, and which punishes them if they don't, is experiencing interesting times.


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