¿La derrota final de Thomas Malthus?

Recientemente, la ONU corrigió sus proyecciones de crecimiento de la población. Hoy viven cerca de 6.3 mil millones de personas en la Tierra. Si las tasas de fertilidad en los países relativamente pobres continúan siguiendo las tendencias marcadas por los países que hoy son relativamente ricos, estamos a poca distancia de la población mundial máxima de 9 a 10 mil millones, que se alcanzará en 2050-2100.

Pero no es improbable que, después de ello, la población comience a declinar. Las mujeres, que en los países ricos de la actualidad están bien educadas, saben leer y escribir y tienen variadas opciones sociales y económicas a su disposición, han llevado la fertilidad a niveles por debajo de la tasa de reemplazo. El problema no es que, en promedio, estas mujeres deseen menos de dos niños; de hecho, el promedio deseado es un poco más que dos. Pero debido a que muchas de ellas demoran el tener niños hasta pasados los treinta años, la tasa de fertilidad real no alcanza a ser la que desean.

Una población mundial de 9 a 10 millones de personas no es una cifra por la que tengamos que preocuparnos acerca de Parson Malthus, el economista inglés del siglo 19 que profetizó un futuro en que las personas se multiplicarían más rápido que los recursos necesarios para sustentarlas y, por lo tanto, morirían de hambre por millones. De hecho, para muchos es una sorpresa el hecho de que la época de la explosión demográfica pueda estar llegando a su fin.

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