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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Patriotic sex : fertility, fear and power Togman, Richard


Decades of research has shown the relative futility of government efforts to manipulate the fertility rate of their citizens and that there is a distinct lack of correlation between population growth and indicators of state power. However, over 145 states currently have ongoing and costly efforts to shape the reproductive behavior of individuals to achieve an idealized rate of aggregate population growth. These states differ culturally, economically, and politically, but their population control policies have ever only followed four models. Why do states pursue population policies that have robust histories of failure and invest scarce resources in programs which show little promise of advancing state interests? Why do states that differ on many objective metrics maintain population policies that are broadly similar and have proven historically ineffective? In this dissertation I find that states do not react to the objective facts of their situations but instead respond to an enduring set of ideas that are generated at the international level. I demonstrate this by tracing the evolution of thinking on population growth and how competing models of the effects of population have driven state policies. Through the use case studies, including France, Germany, Russia, India and China, I illustrate how these competing ideas motivate state intervention in the private reproductive lives of millions of individuals.

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