More thoughts on Catholic teaching and overpopulation

September 18, 2006 | 6 comments

Just thought I’d throw out this little follow-up in case anyone’s interested:

While doing some thinking last week about Catholic teaching and its potential to lead to overpopulation, I realized that the perfect person to ask about this would be my 92-year-old grandfather. He was in his 20’s during the Great Depression, so he remembers it all very well. It was basically an overpopulation situation since there were not enough resources to go around. He said he knew plenty of people who were bone thin from malnourishment, that all resources (food, money, jobs, clothing, etc.) were hard to come by.

Since those were days before birth control, I asked him if the situation seemed to have any effect on people having children. He said it did. Those who were married tried to avoid pregnancies to the extent they could, and those who were unmarried waited to get married. Back then getting married went hand in hand with having children, so if you couldn’t afford children you waited to get married until you could. He and my grandmother postponed marriage for a long time, until they were out of college and had saved up some money, so that they knew they’d be able to take care of any children they had.

It confirms what my gut tells me, and what some of the studies that are linked to in this post at DarwinCatholic seem to show: if all people were to suddenly follow Catholic teaching we wouldn’t be plunged into a dire overpopulation situation. Some would choose religious life; if resources started getting scarce, many young people would postpone marriage until they were in a better position to take care of children (as my grandparents did); and married couples would use natural methods to try to avoid pregnancy until they felt they could provide for another child.


  1. Kaltros

    hmm… something that seems to stand out to me about people who worry about overpopulation is the assumption that people will be having sex one way or another, everything else be damned. and that seems to match up with the idea of ‘appeasing your desires’ and what not, no restraint, etc… at least, that’s what these people who fear overpopulation are apparently thinking. with contraception, whaddya know? sex without that ‘pesky’ child business. what a sad world that sounds like.

  2. Kate

    katlros – indeed. There is a large number of pop. control advocates who seem convinced that sexual self-control and continence is both unhealthy and impossible. Which, I think, says much more about the personal lives and problems of such advocates than it does the state of humanity.

  3. Angus McWasp

    I would agree with your grandfather. Both sets of my grandparents were conceiving children during the Depression–and had two children each. Two of those children married each other (of course)and the other two married other individuals. These three families conceived children after WWII: my paternal uncle married very late, and had three. My maternal uncle married in his twenties, and had six. My father and mother had 7. Not a Catholic in the bunch, and I would say the resources available greatly influenced their decisions.

  4. John

    A minor point. There was no shortage of resources in the Depression. People just didn’t have the money to buy them. Farmers could still produce the same crops, if they could afford fertilizer, etc. But often they could not sell what they grew.

    But the hunger is true. I’ve several times encountered stories of young men who joined the CCC or the Navy, and were just dazzled by “Three squares a day, and all you can eat!”

  5. Anna

    There was a shortage of resources during the depression. The American Mid-west had a drought which literaly caused the topsoil to dry up and blow away. So the depression wasn’t just caused by a shortage of money although that was a contributing factor since the resources that were available were not being distributed.


  6. Anonymous

    More Nonsense, there is no such thing as over population. The great depression was triggered by the bankers (the private federal reserve in our case) like the current one in order to consolidate power and wealth and to usher in a new era. people couldn't eat becasue there was no money, the bankers had contracted the money supply severely and foreclosed on many farms.

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