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NPG has published over 140 NPG FORUM and NPG FOOTNOTE papers over the past 27 years. Most of them are fading from memory because they were topical or simply because of the mass of writing that assaults us all. Some of those papers, however, addressed concerns that are still very much with us, even though the numbers have changed — and grown worse.

NPG proposes to reprint some of those papers from time to time to keep the arguments before our reader. We have chosen Lindsey Grant’s 1994 FORUM “The Two Child Family” as the first of those reprints. It rebuts those who believe that reversing U.S. growth would be an impossibly difficult task, involving coercion and brutal measures. It makes the case that population growth can be turned around with a relatively simple change in child-bearing patterns, while preserving a responsible level of net immigration that prevailed for more than half the 20th Century. Indeed, unlike Haiti or most of sub-Saharan Africa, where large families are the accepted norm, a large majority of American women “stop at two” or before. The problem is to convince the other 30 percent.

The problem of growth is more serious now than it was then, because as a nation we have not acted on the truism that growth must stop and turn around, very quickly, if we are to preserve the vestiges of the prosperity that was once the pride of the nation and the envy of the world.

—The editors.

Seen from a reasonably detached viewpoint — from Mars, let us say — the arguments for arresting U.S. population growth would seem so compelling as to raise the question “why isn’t it being done?” It would help the nation deal with the problems that confront us, yet very few of our politicians and pundits even consider the idea. On the assumption that they are held back by unwarranted fears, let me show by what relatively gentle adjustments we could turn U.S. population growth around.

Read the entire paper here

Lindsey Grant

Lindsey Grant is a retired Foreign Service Officer; he was a China specialist and served as Director of the Office of Asian Communist Affairs, National Security Council staff member, and Department of State policy Planning staff member. As Deputy Secretary of State for Environmental and Population Affairs, he was Department of State coordinator for the Global 2000 Report to the President, Chairman of the interagency committee on Int'l Environmental Committee and US member of the UN ECE Committee of Experts on the Environment. His books include: Too Many People, Juggernaut, The Horseman and the Bureaucrat, Elephants in Volkswagen, How Many Americans?

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