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Step One, Population Control

Presidio Economics | Tuesday May 3rd, 2011 | 0 Comments

This post is part of a blogging series by economics students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here.

By: Jonathan Gibson

Sustainability is all about fundamentals; it’s about fairness, equality, responsibility, and paying as we go.  Underlying these fundamentals is the supply and demand of resources.  With fixed world resources, we humans are forced to limit demand for these resources through population control.  Rising populations around the world imply our well-being per person is steadily declining.  As controversial as it may be, all world-citizens need to consider population control as a means to sustaining each of our families, tribes, streams, rivers, oceans, food stock, and our livelihood.  Fewer people will result in more of us meeting our basic needs including health, jobs, and greater prosperity for everyone.

We must take action to control the world population.  Consider if you will the impact of more people on the earth, on health, and on the economy.  In all cases, the more people we have, the more constrained our resources are.  The more people we have, the more environmental resources required to sustain them, the more potential for spread of disease and the fewer resources we have to fight disease, and the less nourishment each person is able to receive.  From an economic perspective, the fewer people we have the more resources available to share (see China’s example here).  Generally, healthier people are able to work more productively and may even be able to get better jobs given a healthy persons relatively greater ability to perform well at any given job.

Controlling populations is typically accomplished by simple, low cost solutions such as education and contraceptive services.  Education materials and curriculum, usually taught in primary schools, are straight-forward and are often provided for free by not-for-profit groups.  Additionally, contraceptive products and services, such as condoms and counseling, are low-cost and relatively much cheaper than raising a child.  The biggest hurdles to implementing these solutions are cultural and political opposition.  First of all, women’s rights are often limited in developing countries where population control is arguably the most important issue.  In some places government policies may restrict education and availability of contraceptives.

To spread this critical population control message responsible global-citizens ought to appeal to people’s own needs; health, jobs, and economic gain.  In order to broaden the coalition for population control, our sales pitch must emphasize the greater prosperity of fewer people.  The result is better nourishment, better health, and more wealth per person.  Showing people “this is better for you” will convince them to adopt population control practices.  Government policies are of primary importance.  The following companies, which have made profitable businesses selling condoms throughout the world, may be used as examples to governments:

            Church and Dwight – Trojan (Stock, Website)

            Reckitt Benckiser – Durex (Stock, Website)

            Ansell – Lifestyles (Stock, Website)

While the contraception industry is a high-capital business, its operations produce high-volume and low-cost products.  Governments have the ability to increase their citizen’s wealth by adopting population control measures and reducing the contraception industry’s highest barriers such as quality certification, brand development and awareness, and access to distribution channels.

All of us are responsible for the well-being of ourselves and future generations.  We must start acting to limit population growth so as to maximize our own well-being.  To spread this message we must appeal to people’s selfishness, the human tendency to act based on prospective personal gain.  By appealing to governments, businesses, and citizens, we can create shared benefits and make the world a better place.  Let us all get back to basics and remember to pass-along this population control message wherever we go.

Jonathan Gibson is currently pursuing his MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in SF, CA.  Please contact Jonathan regarding sustainable business opportunities, or to discuss this article, at jonathan.gibson@presidiomba.org.


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