Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits

Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits
Author Steven W. Mosher
Cover artist Jaime Saranczak
Language English
Subject Non-fiction
Publisher Transaction Publishers
Publication date
Pages 296 pp
ISBN 978-1-4128-0712-8
LC Class HQ766.M59 2008

Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits is a nonfiction book by Steven W. Mosher, first published in 2008. "Population Control" is a detailed exposition on the global effort to combat what many see as overpopulation. Steven argues that not only are the methods employed by the those who advocate universal population control immoral in many cases, but overpopulation itself is a myth.


Steven Mosher was first exposed to the population controlling policies when he visited China as an undergraduate sociologist in 1979 to conduct anthropological research. While there, he witnessed the implementation of China’s one child policy in the Guangdong providence firsthand. Mosher has since dedicated his life to exposing human rights abuses around the world. Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits is the result of years of research and dedication to this cause.

Discussion of the population problem

The first four chapters are devoted to analyzing the population scare. The origin of the overpopulation myth is discussed in Chapter 2. In the late eighteenth century an Anglican clergyman named Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population, the first modern alarm against a worldwide crisis of population. In his book, he described the imminent danger of continually unchecked human population growth. Mosher examines and disproves Malthus’ assumptions and flawed reasoning and then the social-Darwinian (if not eugenic) ideology on which he feels the population control movement of today is based. In chapters Three, Four, and Five, Mosher describes the methods and abuses often employed by the Family Planning officials in countries around the world. He and his investigative team uncover numerous personal accounts to the world to show how "the notion that people are somehow social, ecological and economical nuisances" predisposes "governments to treat their own citizens as a form of pestilence." He exposes the pernicious nature of policies which, "instead of trying to lift their poor out of poverty... instead try to reduce their numbers." Thus, authentic economic development is neglected, human rights abuses abound, and essential freedom is put at risk. "Population control encourages domestic tyranny of a personal and deadly sort." Mosher next gives reasons demonstrating that population control policies are harmful even without coercive mandates by government.

Hidden costs of population control

In chapter 5, Mosher addresses the major cost of reproductive policy: the human rights abuses which accompany it. He cites examples from China, India, Columbia, and Peru where women are coerced and bribed to take part in "Tubal Ligation Festivals", sometimes to the detriments of their health and even the loss of their lives (5: 122). In China, he cites the one-child policy which has resulted in the death of many Chinese women and girls. Mosher says that "urging governments to interfere in the intimate decisions of couples concerning childbearing . . . does not encourage limited government and the rule of law, but the opposite, an intrusive bureaucracy and human rights abuses"(5: 121). He also cites Amartya Sen, an Indian philosopher and economist awarded the 1998 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, arguing that giving support of "family planning arrangements in the Third World over other commitments such as education and health care" serves only to "produce negative effects on people’s well-being and reduce their freedoms."[1] The sixth chapter concentrates on persuading the reader that the "Population Control Agenda" actually undermines primary health care in third-world countries by often taking higher bureaucratic priority than basic necessities. Mosher demonstrates this through documented examples of malaria victims in Africa, unable to obtain basic medical supplies while the hospitals were filled with thousands of birth control supplies. This over emphasis of preventing people in USAID and other charities has hurt its ability to actually help those living in Third-World countries (6: 164-65). Likewise, Mosher argues, the AIDS epidemic has been spread by the lack of basic sanitation in the population control program. The reuse of dirty needles, used for injecting contraceptives, has accounted for nearly two thirds of HIV/AIDS infections in Africa. To support this, Mosher cites a three part meta-analysis of the African AIDS studies by David Gisselquist and Stephen Potterat in the respected peer-reviewed journal International Journal of STD & Aids.[2]

Illusory benefits

Having discussed the abuses found within the policies of individual countries, in chapters 7 and 8 Mosher argues that there are two distinct types of population control proponents: those who advocate it for the benefits to the funding countries, and those who support it for the supposed benefits to the recipient countries. He attempts to explain that both of these positions are based on insecurely founded. In chapter 7, Mosher confronts the claims that population control benefits the donor countries. He argues that the actual affect just the opposite for several reasons. First, reducing the population deprives the world of its most precious resource: the humanity itself. Second, population control policies exported to other countries are an attack on traditional cultures. Mosher cites the respected political commentator Dinesh D'Souza who identified the population control policies in the "Cultural Left" as one factor in the alienation of the "traditional patriarchal family" and the promotion of "secular values in non-Western cultures" which is partially responsible for the rise of Islamic terrorism against the West.[3] Lastly, Mosher claims that the impetus for much of the U.S. population control policy has had the same motive: reducing the demand for immigration. Mosher argues that reducing population does not reduce immigration. He cites the Columbia University’s Professor Saskia Sassen in the World Policy Journal to demonstrate that "there is no systematic relationship between emigration and what conventional wisdom holds to be the principal cause of emigration, ...overpopulation, poverty, and economic stagnation." [4] Mosher then argues that the best way to stop illegal immigration is not to eliminate "potential immigrants before they are born, but by encouraging authentic economic development" (7: 231). Mosher concludes noting that population control is sadly based in an anti-people attitude which targets those who “resemble the family planners least: the poorer, darker populations of the developing world. (7: 234)”

Controversy and book reviews

Mosher’s work has been the center of a great deal of controversy. The attacks by many who support the ideals of population control and praise from their opponents clearly indicate the polarization which stems from man’s role in the world.

Washington Times

“In ‘Population Control,’ Mosher incisively explores the history and effects of the population control movement from a pro-people perspective, based on the belief that because each person has unique value, more people means more for all of us — more economic production, more potential for artistic and scientific achievement, more innovation.” [5]

“Not only have the facts proved Mr. Mosher’s Christian-derived beliefs true — the tremendous increase in global population since World War II has been accompanied by tremendous increases in prosperity and scientific achievement instead of the mass starvation and other disastrous consequences predicted by population controllers — but he sounds the alarm about the coming underpopulation crisis. Population control, including its First World variant of anti-family materialism, has become far too successful.” [5]

The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

“Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits is a scholarly sociological study of a relatively recent but worldwide phenomenon. The book is very well structured, which goes far to make the sprawling and complicated subject understandable even to the nonspecialist. By marshaling facts and noting real-world trends, the author definitively explodes several common, politically correct myths that are based on the superficial use of statistics or flawed economic assumptions and paves the way for a sobering interpretation of current demographic realities.” [6]

Mosher’s “moral indignation is often unmistakable but always firmly under control. The unflinching objectivity with which he describes the human rights abuses and corruption caused by population controllers is the most severe indictment possible.” [6]

“Through detailed case studies, Mosher demonstrates that whenever government regulates fertility, human rights and primary health care both suffer.” [6]

See also


  1. Amartya Sen, "Population: Delusion and Reality," New York Review of Books, 22 September 1994, 71.
  2. Gisselquist, David, Potterat, John J., Brody, Stuart, and Vachon, Francois, “Let it be Sexual: how Health Care Transmission of AIDS in Africa was Ignored,” International Journal of STD AIDS, 2003, 14:148-161.
  3. Dinesh D’Souza, The Enemy at Home: The Culture of the Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 (New York: Doubleday, 2007).
  4. Saskia Sassen, “America’s immigration 'problem'," World Policy Journal 4(4) (Fall 1998): 811-832.
  5. 1 2 Washington, The (2008-07-27). "Taking on the overpopulation myth". Washington Times. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
  6. 1 2 3 "The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly". Ncbcenter.metapress.com. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
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