Population Growth, Economic Freedom, and the Rule of Law


This paper, “Population Growth, Economic Freedom, and the Rule of Law,” challenges many prevailing assumptions about the effects of population growth. Seth Norton shows that the impacts of rapid population growth are not as severe as most people believe. Even more important, he shows how changes in a country’s legal system and economic framework can overcome the problems caused by population growth. Writing for the educated layperson, Norton takes the reader step-by step through his research, based on internationally accepted statistics, to reach surprising conclusions.

Seth W. Norton is the Aldeen Professor of Business at Wheaton College. He prepared this study while serving as a Julian Simon Fellow at PERC in 2001. Supported by the D&D Foundation, the Julian Simon Fellowships sponsors research in the tradition of the late Julian Simon. The authoritative studies of population and resources by Simon shattered conventional wisdom in numerous areas.

This publication (PS-24) is part of the PERC Policy Series of papers that offer policy recommendations on environmental subjects. Jane S. Shaw edited this edition and Dianna Rienhart was production manager. Printed copies are available from PERC.

Download the full report, including endnotes and references.

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