Meria With Derek Hoff “The State and the Stork”

11/6/12 Meria Interviews Derek S. Hoff, Associate Professor of History at Kansas State University on his latest book “The State and the Stork, The Population Debate and Policy Making In U.S. History”. Where’s the discussion/debate on population and the economy? Babies are seen as future taxpayers and consumers; The Global 2000 Report; Quality of life; bombs,babies and bulldozers; Population isn’t just about the environment, race, eugenics – it’s more than that; the debate ended in 1970; why? pro-choice vs. intolerance; scientific racism; the ghost of eugenics; Manifest Destiny included the superiority of the white race; what is white? the closing of the frontier; Malthusians; finite resources; population or prosperity; moving back to the Cities; Americans don’t do long term issues well; Nixon’s commission on population growth; Reagan dismissed population arguments; ageing crisis as a political construct; who spends the money – the rich or the working class?




From the colonial era to the present, the ever-shifting debate about America’s prodigious population growth has exerted a profound influence on the evolution of politics, public policy, and economic thinking in the United States. In a remarkable shift since the late 1960s, Americans of all political stripes have come to celebrate the economic virtues of population growth. As one of the only wealthy countries experiencing significant population growth in the twenty-first century, the United States now finds itself at a demographic crossroads, but policymakers seem unwilling or unable to address the myriad economic and environmental questions surrounding this growth.

From the founders’ fears that crowded cities would produce corruption, luxury, and vice to the zero population growth movement of the late 1960s to today’s widespread fears of an aging crisis as the Baby Boomers retire, the American population debate has always concerned much more than racial composition or resource exhaustion, the aspects of the debate usually emphasized by historians. In The State and the Stork, Derek Hoff draws on his extraordinary knowledge of the intersections between population and economic debates throughout American history to explain the many surprising ways that population anxieties have provoked unexpected policies and political developments—including the recent conservative revival. At once a fascinating history and a revelatory look at the deep origins of a crucial national conversation, The State and the Stork could not be timelier.

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