Toward the End of Growth: Population in America

Toward the End of Growth: Population in America

Toward the End of Growth: Population in America

Toward the End of Growth: Population in America

Excerpt

Only a few years ago there was a great concern in this country about the rapid increase of population. Public officials suddenly became aware that the nation's population might reach 300 million by the end of the century. Environmentalists were sounding the alarm that continued population growth spelled disaster. A new organization was formed to promote the cause of Zero Population Growth. And in 1970 a Commission on Population Growth and the American Future was created by Congress at the request of President Nixon, who, in July 1969, warned that:

One of the most serious challenges to human destiny in the last third of this century will be the growth of population. Whether man's response to that challenge will be a cause for pride or for despair in the year 2000 will depend very much on what we do today.

Today these concerns seem almost dated. The Bureau of the Census has published downward revisions of the number of people expected by the end of the century. The birthrate, despite most predictions to the contrary, keeps sinking lower and lower. The familiar terms "population explosion" and "baby boom" have been replaced by phrases like "birth dearth" and "baby bust." In some quarters of the Western world that are experiencing the same phenomenon, people are expressing concern about the end of population growth and the possibilities of future declines in numbers. When the U.S. Population Commission issued its final report, the president received it with little evident enthusiasm and rejected two of its more controversial . . .

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