Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Random Thoughts

NPR has interesting and thought provoking articles. Today they were talking about birth rates in Europe, and how they're low enough that Europe's population is actually shrinking. The general perception is that this is a bad thing, but I still wonder myself. The Earth is a finite place with finite resources that can support a finite number of people. It's simply a mathematical impossibility for the planet's population to keep growing and be supported. So the question we should be asking is "how many people can the earth support, and at what quality of life?" To my knowledge, that isn't something that I've seen anyone do research on.

Another interesting fact NPR mentioned was that Iceland has both the highest birth rate in Europe and the highest number of children "born out of wedlock". What I want to know is how many of those "born out of wedlock" children are "single parent" children, which was what the commentators seemed to imply, but never actually said. Just because a kid's parents aren't married doesn't mean that they aren't living in a stable, loving, two-parent environment, and this is one area where the definition of "marriage" really makes a difference. In some countries, like the US, being married means a complex combination of religious rituals and legal arrangements that convey significant benefits and heavily incent marriage over non-marriage. Other countries don't. I'd really like to see more discussion of "single parent" versus "stable environment" versus "out of wedlock", and what those rates are.

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