Kara Leonard – $1,000 Winner

We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2015 NPG Essay Scholarship Contest. Each year, NPG conducts an Essay Scholarship for high school and undergradute students.
In 2015 the topic was:

Should the United States’ government pursue population policies to protect our quality of life for future generations?

Click here to see all the winning essays

By Kara Leonard, South Piedmont Community College, Monroe, NC

The United States should absolutely pursue population policies to protect the quality of life for future generations. Overpopulation causes a heavy burden on our country naturally, economically, and culturally. Making the nation more sustainable will not just make positive effects in future generations. It can produce countless benefits for the present generation as well. To illustrate this, I will describe the three policy areas that I believe will cause the most immediate positive impacts to our civilization.

The foremost issue in terms of population growth is immigration. The most recent estimate from the Center for Immigration Studies says that 12 million illegal immigrants currently reside in the United States. That is a staggering number for our infrastructure to withstand. Aside from obvious resource concerns, illegal immigration also takes an economic toll. It negatively impacts wages and employment, increases law enforcement expenses, places a strain on public health preparedness and emergency management, and costs taxpayers millions in public education and medical services. Relaxed borders also allow for drug trafficking and the spread of foreign gangs into the United States. Since 2005, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested more than 8,000 illegal immigrant gang members as part of their Operation Community Shield initiative. Keep in mind that an extent of legal immigration can be a positive societal contributor. I would not exist if it were not for immigration. My father’s family came to America from Portugal in the 1950s, but they did so legally. Both of my grandparents became fully naturalized citizens, and I believe that our country’s culture is rooted in a mix of ethnicities. That is a truly great thing. 200,000 legal immigrants per year is a healthy figure to balance our population. Along with a set immigration number, stricter borders, harsher repercussions, and mandatory use of the E-verify system by employers are other steps the government should take.

The next contributor to our inflated population is high fertility rates. On a positive note, the United States birth rate has been declining since 2007 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. To further this track, our government should pursue two major areas. The first step should be to make family planning resources immensely more available and extensive. The entire public should have health education, as well as affordable reproductive control options. The other step is to cease to reward large families. It is dangerous to enact legislative perks that grow with each child. There should be a cap on tax incentives on children. Smaller family units should be merited, and even subsidies for childless couples could be a constructive policy.

The final population policy the government should invest in is opportunities for females. Advanced educational & career opportunities for women lead to lower population growth through lowered fertility rates. I am a 30 year old woman who pursued a bachelor’s degree directly after high school, and now as I change professional fields, I am returning to school. This decision has been met with some adverse responses. It is concerning that there are people that are genuinely confused as to why I am choosing to further my education rather than have children at this point in my life. It is very sad that some see a woman’s only avenue to contribute to society is through procreating. This is a huge disservice to the various contributions of women. How many brilliant minds did not meet their full potential due to the constraints of societal expectations and wage discrepancies? The government implementing policies that instill women’s worth in careers and educational fields will not only help confine our population to sustainable numbers, but it will also help our society take progressive strides in equality for the female gender.