Among the more frightening numbers in the most recent U.N. population projections is the prospect of Nigeria -- already sub-Saharan Africa's most populous country of 150 million -- ballooning to an incredible 756 million people. Most everyone agrees that this would be, in a word, bad. Already, the majority of the country's citizens live on just a few dollars a day; public services are stretched to capacity and often non-existent outside the cities. There is little chance that any country anywhere could keep up with a growth of five-fold over just a century, let alone this one.
What's to be done? Jeff Sachs, Columbia University economist and an advisor to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon offered one controversial suggestion in an interview with the AFP while in Nigeria this week: working toward a goal of a three-child limit. Alex Thurston at Sahel Blog asks if this is a good, or even feasible idea. Well here's my take: Imposing some sort of three child limit wouldn't work, would create enormous perverse incentives, and would probably discriminate against impoverished and rural families.
Her two reasons are very much worth reading, but I would like to add one more. Given the spread of abortion technology, as well as the increased technological advances regarding pregnancy health, particularly as it regards one’s ability to determine the sex of the fetus, I would bet that there would be a slight increase in the male ratio of the population, over the long term. While this effect would not be as pronounced in Nigeria as it was during, say, China’s one child rule, it would likely pop up to some extent, and usher in the attendant violence and general misbehavior that a predominantly male population brings.