Hide table of contents

About 3 million children under 5 die of starvation annually.  

I don't understand the major reasons why millions of parents have children that probably will have short and terrible lives. And I haven't found good answers online so I'd appreciate any insight you can offer.

The best answer I could find so far comes from: https://www.worldvision.ca/stories/why-do-the-poor-have-large-families
which lists about a dozen reasons.

However I think these reasons are insuffiecent (except for maybe "religious beliefs). For example: 

  • if parents buy into"stigmas against contraception" can't they simply abstain from sex if don't want to bring starving kids into the world?
  • Even if "women are often left without any control over how many kids they’ll end up having", do fathers care more about busting nuts than the misery of children that could lead to?
  • Although "Families in poverty, particularly those who make their living through agriculture, may have more kids as a way of supporting the family’s livelihood" does the parents' desire for livelihod outweigh their aversion to torture their kids with starvation?

If the truth is that most parents of starving children do not hold human life with enough regard to prevent wanton child bearing, I'd really like to know. However I am far from sure the major reasons aren't something something else like "Religious beliefs"or unforseen circumstances like drought.

I just want the truth regardless of how brutal it may be, so I better understand solutions to the problem of starvation, and I could use all the help I can get.




New Answer
New Comment

2 Answers sorted by

You might be misunderstanding some of the dynamics here - it is really hard to successfully conceive a child if you are currently starving, because a very low BMI will interrupt a woman's menstrual cycle. However, a lot of people live extremely marginal lives - for example one failed harvest away from going into calorie deficit, or reliant on transitional forms of employment. So people might conceive a child in relatively good circumstances, and then find that they hit an economically challenging period before the child is five. Children are very susceptible to starvation that an adult can survive too, unfortunately - so even quite a small income shock could be lethal for a small enough neonate

I had not conisdered this before, thank you.

Primary factor in my opinion:

People like children and family life, most people will want to have a family. the viewpoint that it is/could be morally wrong to have children is very uncommon outside of some western and internet based communities, in fact Im fairly confident the opposite (that having children is morally good) is more common

most people consider their lives worth living, therefore would presumably consider their childrens lives worth living

A few other factors:

in cultures with the highest birthrates, starting a family is often considered the default, and it would be a specific and unusual choice to not do that

Education for women, wealth, and access to birth control are all negatively correlated with birth rates

You mentioned some of these, but I think the strongest take-away here is that you are assuming most people share your viewpoint on several very specific and not-universal moral codes which suggest that people should not only not have children under certain conditions (eg poverty) but also go to great lengths to avoid pregnancy

Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities