Letter: Rise in birth rate not the answer

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The Independent Online
Rise in birth rate

not the answer

Sir: D R Smith raises the question of future population increase (letter, 2 December) and suggests that an increase in the birth rate "could be considered desirable to counter the ageing population".

In fact it seems unlikely that there is any such problem of an ageing population. Given the increasing tendency towards forced early retirement, and endemic high unemployment, it is clear that whatever the restraints on our ability to provide for an increasing number of elderly may be, a shortage in the working-age groups is not one.

Even if it were, to advocate increasing the birth rate would require the same false logic as that behind such scams as pyramid selling and chain letters. Not only would it increase the number of dependent members of the population in the short term, but in the long term would mean a larger retired population, as the new generation in turn grows old.

The increase in the number of households is being caused at least as much by fragmentation of families as the increasing population. On the other hand, as Mr Smith points out, the population is still increasing, but few could share his view that the predicted increase of 2.1 million deserves the epithet "only".

Like it or not, we are now facing harsh dilemmas because our population has grown so high relative to our natural resources. Is it not time that population became an important subject of national debate, and one which all political parties should address?

CHRISTOPHER PADLEY

Green Party Population Policy Working Group

Market Rasen,

Lincolnshire

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