Economics on the small scale

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Population Growth, part II

Michael O'Hare's rebuttal is more in depth in mine, though some of his arguments need tweaking.

Malthusiastic extrapolations are not appropriate because people adapt their reproductive strategy based on their situation. The two main strategies are known as K-selection (few offspring) and r-selection (many offspring). K-selection implies a high investment in individual offspring, r-selection implies low to minimal investment in individual offspring.

As hunter-gatherers, humans are naturally K-selectors. As manual-labor farmers, we are r-selectors. As city-dwellers, we are naturally K-selectors. But if you are a city-dweller with no resources to invest in your offspring, then r-selection is your best shot at genetic survival.

With this additional wrinkle, there is no contradiction between high-density rich cities having a low population growth rate and a high-density poor city having a high-population growth rate.


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