Europeans and Americans are responsible for the world's population problems. It all began 200 years ago in the early days of European and American economic development...[you know the rest of the story if you've read my book].I used the opportunity to push for change, keeping in mind that in 1970 the average woman in the United States was giving birth to 2.5 babies, virtually all of whom would survive to adulthood. Fertility was on the way down, to be sure, but it wasn't clear in 1970 whether or not that was a long-term trend.
We should definitely advocate for the immediate removal of all discriminatory barriers in education and in the professions [remember that this was the first year that women had been admitted as undergraduates at Princeton]. If you can get a woman out of the house and reward her with financial gain and social and economic prestige, then the social and economic costs of having additional children are going to increase for that woman and she is far more likely than ever before to prefer a small family.You will recognize the importance of that theme in almost everything that I have written since then. Keep in mind that between then and now we have added 115 million people to the U.S. population, although the birth rate has dropped to just below replacement level. At the same time the world's population has almost exactly doubled--from 3.7 billion in 1970 to 7.3 billion in 2015. Fortunately, the global birth rate is also on the way down from about 4.6 children then to 2.5 children now. We're not out of the woods yet, though. There will be many more Earth Days before we can relax.