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Specifics of the whole culture can turn the birth rates either way, surely. But if the culture of a small isolated island favors high birth rates, that will turn out unfortunately within a few generations.

What I suggest is that the Pacific cultures should be geared towards suppressing birth rates, and it must be interesting to analyze their peculiarities in the light of limitations of their habitats. The Pacific cultures are certainly one of the most peculiar in the world - even if the region was settled late.

Jared Diamond considers a few cases in the book "Collapse". In particular (pg 286-293), he describes a small Tikopia island (of just 5 km2) that has been continually inhabited for 3000 years. Several methods of population control were used: contraception, abortion, infanticide, celibacy, suicide, reckless sea voyaging, a momentous war centuries ago. At one point (around 1600 AD) they exterminated all pigs to preserve the soil.

If you are a smart respected fellow living on a small Pacific island, you might wonder at some time how many generations will fill the island beyond the comfort limit for your family. What do you do then? Initiate a wide discussion how the population should be controlled? Ask the elders whether they considered that? Talk with your closest fellows and decide to rig the culture towards sustainability? Use the respect you have and go for a political domination, keeping the population agenda non-obvious?

I downloaded a few text on the Yap islands, though not have time to look through them. But I suspect patriarchy, hierarchy to be present, as they facilitate population limitation pretty inherently and relatively mildly. The economic system (with the big Rai stones at the end of the monetary spectrum rather than firmly exclusive for the chiefs, for what I read) may allow certain degree of meritocracy - as fictitious in practice as it is now globally. The economy effect on population growth is not direct, but I do not see it refuted. The global economy now is just 7 years away from the start of a possibly steady downturn. Sure, the downturn is driven politically, but the motivation behind the politics could be nothing but population numbers.

I can imagine your favorite spectrum of possible society models, without hierarchy and patriarchy as well. The problem is, those models do not address inevitable population limitations neither explicitly nor inherently. Deep down, you would check female fertility, right? Welcome to the club!

by das monde on Mon Jun 29th, 2015 at 09:56:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
das monde:
I can imagine your favorite spectrum of possible society models, without hierarchy and patriarchy as well. The problem is, those models do not address inevitable population limitations neither explicitly nor inherently.

But they do.

Want fewer kids in a non-industrial society? Give women the power over how many kids they give birth to. Women invest most per kid, and in a non-industrial setting takes a mortal risk for every kid.

Then add long breast-feeding period for each kid to decrease fertility and some knowledge of herbs that induce abortions.

Now you have your hippy stone age society. Not that far from what many believe stone age societies looked like (in the absence of proof I remain agnostic, stone age societies were imho probably very diverse).

The command-control structure that you seem to want to place as a control on population growth is more likely to been the reverse (though as far as I know actual policies to affect population growth is a phenomena of the 19th and 20th centuries).

Hierarchial, patriarchial agriculture societies has tended to have more kids then more loose nomadic societies next door. And over all, that has been a succesful strategy. Outbreed the neighbours, take their land with or without genocide (the expansion of Europeans that is connected to the industrial revolution saw quite a few of those).

But we have entered a new, interesting world. In 1900 the birth rates had come down to reproduction rates in Sweden, England, France and Germany (according to Livi-Bacci). Since then more and more countries has joined the club where the command-control structure needs to bribe women to keep above reproduction rate. Where that will take us remains to be seen.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 03:49:20 PM EST
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If women education, empowerment decreases the chances that they would pop up babies, then we could be liberally saved. But the exceptions of Israel, red US states show that women empowerment is not sufficient by itself - or that empowerment cracks could strongly work against. The liberal empowerment is evidently more social than genetic phenomenon - but it requires a high level of society resources. What if only Scandinavia can keep this up for a century?
by das monde on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 10:30:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
education, not "empowerment".  Empowerment is a weasel word.


Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. -- Dr Johnson
by melvin (melvingladys at or near yahoo.com) on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 10:42:49 PM EST
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No. In Israel, Haredi women are better educated than men (assuming you don't count religious studies). Empowerment is the problem.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Jul 3rd, 2015 at 11:54:19 AM EST
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