Discussions of population growth often concentrate on the benefits of limited family size and reduced or stabilised world and regional populations. However, recent demographic statistics suggest a "birth dearth" in some regions of the world and a world population growth that has increased at a rate less than predicted. While roughly two births per woman is needed for population stability, many nations are seeing below-replacement-level rates of reproduction--e.g. Italy and Russia at 1.3, Japan and Germany at 1.4. Some analysts have found that population reduction may have unintended adverse consequences for nations and regions that practice it, and that population growth has distinct advantages associated with it.
Benefits for Families
Individual families have traditionally looked upon increased membership as a benefit, not a liability. In cultures where families cohere and where children are taught to and expected to contribute to the resources of a family, more children means more wealth. A 1987 USAID report, for example, has this to say: "Nothing can give a Nigerian man more pride than to be surrounded by an admiring crowd of family and children. They are not just a sign of his wealth and power, they are his wealth and power." Grown children are also depended upon in many cultures to provide for parents in their older years; larger families make that provision more secure.
Nations whose population rate runs at below replacement level normally see a demographic shift toward a more elderly population. This alters the face of a culture, but it also has huge ramifications in nations where retired members are supported by a tax system funded by the currently employed. In Australia, for example, 2050 population predictions suggest a move over a hundred-year span from a 7.5:1 ratio to a 2.7:1 ratio of working citizens to retirees.
Many economists contend that larger numbers of young people energise an economy by growing the productive labour pool, driving manufacturing and services through consumption and increasing the national savings rate. Young people have incentives to save for purposes like home purchases, college tuition for children and retirement plans.
"New Urbanism" advocates for a higher population density to benefit neighbourhoods and cities. It proposes that urban sprawl, where a population is distributed into homes in suburbs and then commutes each day in to schools, stores and places of employment, wastes resources and damages communities. New Urban communities are carefully planned to maximise the use of space, distributing the population in an efficient and dense pattern.
The free exercise of the right to reproduction can lead to areas in which there is higher population growth. Often this means the population of underdeveloped countries increases at a higher rate than that of some wealthier nations. Recognising the sovereignty of these poorer nations and the rights of its citizenry can be an important part of advocating for global human rights.
High population growth in a region can also be achieved through immigration, which can gift an area with linguistic, religious and social richness. BNET's Phil Dobbie notes that, for Australia, "accelerated population growth [through immigration] seems to have helped with economic prosperity, contributing not just to total income but to our earnings per head of population."
Creation and Innovation
Each individual that is a product of a higher population growth rate has the potential to make unique contributions to the society she is born into. Benjamin Franklin had 12 siblings and comedian Steven Colbert is the youngest of 11. Each new human on the planet has the potential to be the one to cure a disease or create a product that serves millions.
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