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    Public opinion about, and media coverage of, population growth.

    Simon RJ

    In: The state of humanity, edited by Julian L. Simon. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Blackwell Publishers, 1995. 619-27.

    The author of this monograph chapter states that during the period of the mid-1960s to the end of the 1970s population growth issues were newsworthy coverage in the US and coverage increased dramatically in the New York Times. The Washington Post, in the 1970s, covered population issues differently from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. During the 1980s, the Times and the Journal reduced the coverage of the negative effects of population growth, and the Post increased its negative coverage. During the 1980s, coverage declined in the Times and to some extent in the Post. The Journal maintained the same level of coverage. National opinion polls indicate that the general public has been concerned about population growth issues over the past 45 years. Most people believe that both world population growth and US population growth are too high. Increased population size is associated in the public's mind with increased energy consumption, increased air and water pollution, and too many immigrants in the US. In 1971, 41% of those polled thought population growth was a major problem, and 27% thought it was somewhat of a problem. 19% viewed it as a potential problem. 25% believed it would affect their quality of life and 29% believed in its potential to affect their life. 27% thought it could affect the quality of their life, but were unconcerned. 65% in 1971 considered that US population growth was a serious problem. 57% accepted present US population size as appropriate and 22% desired a smaller population size. During 1947 and 1974, public opinion shifted in the direction of greater concern about population growth and its negative consequences. In 1991, 65% believed overpopulation to be a serious problem. During 1976-88, concern about overpopulation declined. Increased concern appeared in 1988 and peaked in 1991. Environmental concerns also increased during 1974 and 1991.
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