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Ask Marilyn: How Do Wars Affect Population Growth?
Richard Brandt of Chicago, Illinois, writes:
Marilyn: If we had never fought in any wars, what would the U.S. population be now?
I've answered this question before, but because readers send it frequently, I think the reply is worth repeating:
You may be surprised to hear that our population would be roughly the same if we had never fought in any wars. The great majority of wartime casualties have been male, and demographers say that population growth is generally determined by the number and child-bearing capacity (called fecundity, pronounced feh-KUHN-dih-tee) of the females. Fecundity is affected by hardship factors such as disease and a lack of food and water, but having fewer men—who remain fertile throughout their entire lives—doesn’t make a significant dent in population growth.
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