The Giver- Population Control

People across the nation experience hunger, in which there is little relief.  Some families hold the belief that the more children born, the less work they must do individually.  This may seem like a good idea, but the available food resources keep declining with each birth.  At this point, a need for food management becomes a crucial concern.  A way some countries do this is through population control. Just as in the real world, population control is a central theme of the novel by Lois Lowry, The Giver.  The community has a specific order in which a Twelve enters adulthood training.  However, if a person does not achieve the “assignment”, a release is conducted to control the population.  Population control is not a “foreign” concept, although in this case, it correlates to the foreign country China. 

As does The Giver, China regulates its population through restrictions on birth.  The Giver, allows one boy and one girl to be given to complete a family unit under the advisement of The Giver to prevent starvation from becoming a problem.  According to National Geographic, China’s one -child policy has been in effect since 1979 with drastic consequences for those who did not adhere it.  Families could be fined, face sterilization or abortion.   From 2013-2016, 12 million couples could apply for a second child, however, only 12% of the eligible applied leaving, China in a desperate need to rebuild its population. According to National Geographic, given the choice to have more children, most families decided to limit themselves to one or not have any children because the economic and social issues to succeed were heavy.

However, within the novel, The Giver, the community regulates its workforce through assignments at the age called a Twelve. By doing this, the community guarantees its workforce for the future.  Unlike The Giver, according to National Geographic, China’s one-child policy is the cause of concern for the community.  A decline in births means the future labor force is threatened.  By even having two births per family unit by 2016, laborers would not be available until the 2030’s to 2040’s replace the aging population in the work arena.  This effects not only China, but the rest of the world. Within Lowry’s novel, a suggested world may seem smart to some people, but is the world in need of such a strict regulation?

According to National Geographic, one-fourth of the population will be 65 and older by the year 2100.

I ask, do you think a limit of births should be placed on all countries to prevent hunger?  Why or why not?


2 thoughts on “The Giver- Population Control

  1. Leslie, I really liked the question you ended with. The argument for population control is that it can help decrease widespread hunger, address ecological decay. Basically, having less people in the worlds means less emissions and less mouths to feed. And okay, I can kind of see that argument. Controlling the population could possibly keep certain problems from happening. The issue that I have is that it feels manipulative. First of all, the laws regarding population control, at least in America, would be regulated by old wealthy white men. Old wealthy white men will never have to bear a child, so why should they get to decide if women should have to use contraception or abortions to control child birth? We live in a climate where abortion is such a dividing issue, can you imagine how divided everyone would be if the government enforced how many kids someone could have? Second, how does religion factor into these laws? People are supposed to be able to practice their religions in peace, so what does one do for people whose religions keep them from using contraceptives or abortion? Do we infringe upon their rights? And how would the government enforce such laws? In the 1960s, when the birth control pill was too much of a hassle, many Pakistani women were forced into using intrauterine devices (IUDs) by their government. Would our government resort to those kinds of invasive means to enforce the laws if sterilization and abortion didn’t work? Also, controlling the population feels very pointed toward minorities to me. One article called it ‘the war against the poor’. Basically, some law makers are trying to get this passed so that there is not an overpopulation of impoverished communities, aka people who cannot afford proper contraceptive. Some argue that it works for China, so it can’t be that bad. Those people seem to not remember that there are a lot of other laws in China that aren’t quite ethically or morally sound. I think that yes, climate change and hunger are problems that need to be addressed, but no, I do not believe the answer lies in population control. Once the government gains control over things like reproduction, it opens a door to them taking more of our autonomy away from us. Once that’s gone, we’ll have lives like the characters in The Giver.


    1. Jordan,
      I agree that government should not be allowed to dictate what occurs privately in people’s lives. The government already controls many aspects of it. I believe people have become so dependent upon government that they tend to not make decisions for themselves. It’s like they sit around and wait for orders on what to do with their lives. I know this is off base slightly, but it is an example of dependence upon government. Some people tend not to work because they do not want to lose that government paycheck. The ideal is why work when you can get money from the government for free. Once a society bases its decisions upon the government, the society loses its control, so government becomes the driver behind the wheel.


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