HOW MANY AMERICANS? by Leon F. Bouvier

HOW MANY AMERICANS?

Population, Immigration and the Environment
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Though dry, a cogent and insistent brief for restricting immigration, from an environmental perspective. Bouvier (Demography/Tulane Univ.) and Grant (Elephants in a Volkswagen, not reviewed) believe that the current US population of 250 million is already too large. We consume more than any nation, the authors write, citing ominous statistics regarding environmental degradation, hazardous wastes, the costs of energy, and agricultural damage. The nexus between population growth and environmental damage, or immigration and the decline of the cities (because immigrants take low-wage jobs away from the domestic poor), however, may not be as direct as they argue. Bouvier and Grant go on to project population patterns through the year 2050, suggesting that the force driving growth is immigration, due to the higher fertility rates of immigrants. If we do nothing to control population, they predict that either scarcity will be spread among rich and poor with increased social controls or else ``Third World'' inequalities will prevail. The authors recommend policies to lower fertility (better birth control, access to abortion), but argue that immigration must also be curbed: With low fertility and current immigration levels, they estimate, the population in 2100 will be 300 million; with drastically lowered immigration, it will be under 200 million. Their recommendation: Cut legal immigration from 800,000 a year to 200,000, and--a far more difficult task--try to curb clandestine immigration. If this were to occur, the authors project, the environment, the economy, and the cities would improve. Bouvier and Grant aren't know-nothing nationalists: They believe the US should support economic, health, and education projects that help Third World countries control fertility. Moreover, they resist charges of xenophobia and racism, suggesting that we must look at the ``quality of life for all Americans.'' Not always convincing, but a worthy stimulus to discussing a topic too often left ``in official limbo.''

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1994
ISBN: 0-87156-496-3
Page count: 184pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1994