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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dear Sir: May I comment on Neel's "Priorities in the Application of Genetic Principles to the Human Condition: A Dissident View," which appeared in your Autumn 1991 issue (vol. 35, pp. 49-67)? I have no quarrel with Neel's piece, except when he states on pp. 59—60 that: ". . . there is enough of a eugenic viewpoint still lurking in the background that if dramatic proposals to limit population growth are developed, the question of differential restraints on reproduction will arise. I reject such differential constraints, whether by individual or by country, as obfuscating the real issue." I'm afraid that we can no longer ignore the relationship between aggregate and differential fertility; rejecting it isjust sticking our heads in the sand. Neel seems too serious to do that. For example, the growth rate in Israel remains and will remain high as long as Jews and Arabs are fighting: the Jewish birthrate is high precisely because the Arab birthrate is high. There have been plenty of both scholarly and popular articles on this [1, 2, 3, 4]. The Israelis even have a phrase for it, which everybody there understands: "the demographic problem." One of the reasons Serbs give for slaughtering the Muslims in Bosnia is that the latter are trying to out-breed them (they aren't). Ditto for the Kosovo, where the Albanians do have a much higher birthrate. The Christians in Lebanon have not allowed a census since 1943 (!) for fear of discovery that their country has a Muslim majority. And all the trouble Nigeria has with its censuses is because of differential growth of different groups there. The initial eugenic policy in Singapore in 1984 failed because of resentments of the less educated and poorer groups, the majority of whom is Malay. Whereas the majority in Singapore is ethnic Chinese, but the fertility policy there is still pronatalist and for working women to get certain benefits (not a small amount, incidentally, $1500 + 20% of the woman's annual income for a 3d child and $1500 + 25% of the woman's annual income for a 4th child). To have more than four children, they must have at least 3 GCE O-level passes [for more details see 5, particularly pp. 74—75]. In fact, pronatalist policies are fairly common and have existed in France, East Germany (when there was such a country), Russia, Japan, and many of the countries with below replacement fertility (about 2.1 offspring per woman). There are many such countries in Europe and East Asia (including many of the coastal provinces of China: one wonders how long the "one-child" policy can last given the kind of spatial differentials there [6, pp. 151-152]). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India, the main opposition party there, which may soon rule the world's Permission to reprint a letter printed in this section may be obtained only from the author. 1 56 Letters to the Editor second most populous country, is worried that the Muslims are growing faster than the Hindus, that it is the Hindus who practice family planning, not the Muslims. Even here in the U.S., the ZPG movement seems to be waking up to the problem of differential fertility [7]. Twenty-five years ago, Garrett Hardin wrote a famous article in Science, "The Tragedy of the Commons" (which I'm sure Neel has read), explaining why, if we are trying to reduce overall fertility, such attention to differential fertility is inevitable [8]. Given all the evidence reported here, can we ignore differential fertility when trying to get down aggregate fertility? I'm afraid such interest is more than just "lurking" in the background now. It's out in the open, is rarely eugenic, and has to be confronted. REFERENCES 1.Friedman, T. A forecast for Israel: More Arabs than Jews. New York Times, Al & A8, Oct. 19, 1987. 2.Nigen, E., and Nagi, M. Fertility patterns and differentials in Israel. Biology and Society 5:119-126, 1988. 3.Soffer, A. Population projections for the land of Israel. MiddleEastReview 20, 4:43-49, 1988. 4.Watson, R., and Kubic, M. Israel's Arab time bomb. Newsweek, 26-28...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 156-157
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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