This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Is Israel Becoming Overpopulated?

Population Matters in the UK recently posted a link to a very interesting story out of Israel discussing the idea that overpopulation is a huge problem in that country.
In a society that encourages its denizens to heed the biblical call to “be fruitful and multiply,” one American-Israeli expert is saying that its time for a new approach. Dr. Alon Tal, founder of Adam Teva V’Din – Israel Union for Environmental Defense, said that the most pressing issue facing Israel today is overpopulation. “It’s pushing us over the edge,” said Tal, a North Carolina native who is a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University.
To deal with this particular issue, which Tal said has especially weighed on his mind for the past 15 years, he started the Israel Forum for Demography, Environment and Society, and will soon be releasing a book on overpopulation, titled The Land Is Full.
Tal slammed Israel’s “culture of dependency” that assumes society will foot the bill for large families, noting that it puts a strain on the country both financially as well as environmentally.
To be sure, the UN Population Division projects Israel's population to increase from its current 8 million to nearly 13 million by mid-century and, as I noted four years ago, the Israeli Central Bureau  of Statistics thinks that by that time the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish population and the Arab population combined could comprise nearly half of Israel's population, creating a potential cultural revolution. 

One of the issues surrounding the idea of being fruitful and multiplying is that large families tend to undermine the ability of women to participate fully in society. USAID had a nice sentiment on that score for Father's Day:
...We wish to send special thanks to the many men around the world who continue to support women and girls’ right to equal footing with men and boys, even at the risk of going against dominant socio-cultural norms. Your dedicated service is vital to better health and improved lives for everyone. Only together can we unlock full human potential on a transformational scale.
Smaller families rather than larger families are the key to a better world. 

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