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The World's Population

Courtesy Reuters

WARS, unemployment, poverty, and many other evils under which humanity suffers are usually attributed to over-population. If there were less people there would be no need for territorial expansion, and everyone might get a larger share of the social product. But mankind seems obsessed by the desire to propagate itself beyond any reasonable limits. It grows more and more rapidly. At its present rate of increase, we are told, the world's population will have reached 5,000 millions before the end of this century, 5,000 millions being at the same time the absolute maximum which the planet can sustain.

There are indeed plenty of authorities to corroborate this belief. In his recent book "Standing Room Only?" Edward Alsworth Ross could point to the fact that the International Statistical Institute reported that from 1920 to 1924 the population of the world had shown "an increase of 103,378,000, or 5.77 percent -- a rate which would double mankind in a half-century." The Statistical Institute three years ago estimated that the world's population in 1920 was 1,791,496,000, and that in 1924 it was 1,894,874,000. But it has since raised its estimate for the year 1920 to 1,811,012,000, and has made a new estimate of 1,879,595,000, for 1926; this is smaller than the one given for 1924, so that it now shows the six years' increase to have been 68,583,000, or 3.79 per cent only -- a rate which would double mankind in about 110 years.

The maximum of 5,000 millions which the world can sustain is the estimate of as high an authority as E. M. East, who, in a report submitted to the World Population Conference in Geneva, declared: "The effort of the human race to expand its numbers is limited to the produce of about 13,000 million acres of tillable soil, two-fifths of which is now under cultivation. And since it takes at least two and a half acres to support each individual under the present standards of agricultural efficiency, it is clear that the world can sustain only 5,000 million people, unless unforeseen radical discoveries in science bring about revolutionary changes in our

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