Defusing Africa's Population Bomb: There's No Need to Fear Nigerian Babies

Debunking the latest batch of population hysteria—this time, sub-Saharan Africa's big families have Chicken Littles losing their cool.

The front page of yesterday’s New York Times informed readers that “in a quarter-century, at the rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people—a population about as big as that of the present-day United States—will live in a country the size of Arizona and New Mexico.” The capital alone houses 21 million people and has all the accompanying strains—ungodly traffic, potential for political unrest, upward pressure on food prices, insufficient hospital capacities—which the article uses as an example of how a “population bomb” will hurt sub-Saharan Africa.

The article implies Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries must figure out how to engineer a decline in family size and birth rates before achieving economic progress—in this account, people start having two kids instead of 12 and can invest much more time and money and education in each child.

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