Author Sees Underpopulation Threat





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Tackling the issue of population growth, Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and former UC Berkeley faculty member, addressed students in the Valley Life Sciences Building last night.

While media coverage tends to focus on the dangers of overpopulation, Mosher said underpopulation presents a greater threat to some societies than overpopulation.

In a talk sponsored by Students for Life, a campus pro-life organization, Mosher said many European countries have negative population growth.

"We don't have a problem of overpopulation, but we do have a problem of depopulation," he said. "In countries like Spain and Italy, where the birthrate is around one child per family, pension and retirement funds are being severely tapped. The problem will begin to get much worse in the coming decades."

Mosher expressed doubt about the doomsday prognoses of runaway population growth for other parts of the world, particularly the underdeveloped world.

"We have been hearing since at least the 1960s that population is exploding like a bomb," he said. "It is clear now that it isn't happening. World population will peak in a few decades and then begin to decline."

In the late 1970s Mosher became one of the first Americans to conduct extensive field research in China. He is an expert on Chinese population patterns and population control policies.

He wrote the 1993 bestseller "A Mother's Ordeal" on China's one-child policy and the controversial methods associated with it, including sterilization, late-term abortions and infanticide, and has sharply condemned China's population control methods.

"China's population control policies cannot be justified," he said. "They can't even be justified as jump-starting economic growth. Population control programs undermine public health care, lead to human rights abuses and are unnecessary. With economic growth at roughly 10 percent (in China in the early years of the one-child policy), what difference did it make if population growth was one or two percent?"

The one-child policy was first instituted when Mosher was conducting research in China. His book is largely based on his first-hand experiences of southern China in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"I was an eyewitness to second trimester abortions, third trimester abortions, even infanticide, the killing of healthy infants at birth," he said. "Some desperate couples killed their female infants, hoping to have the chance of having a male child later."

The father of nine children, Mosher jokingly urged audience members not to turn him in to the local Chinese consulate, because they might sterilize him.

He is the author of several other books on China, Korea, and on the relationship between the United States and China.

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