We think lots of people have this question, but are afraid to ask it. We think it’s a reasonable question.
First, studies have shown that the best way to reduce population growth rates is by educating women in developing countries, where birthrates tend to be highest. (Click here for Singer’s explanation from his book The Life You Can Save, beginning at the word “Nevertheless . . .”) That is most definitely a type of giving that we would consider with this money.
Second, charities that address health conditions—such as those that address malnutrition, or work to prevent malaria—contribute indirectly to the advancement of education and society as a whole. On the most basic level, that’s because women don’t spend time in classrooms if their children are starving or dying of malaria. So you have to address problems like malnutrition or malaria before you can do meaningful work on education or social structure, which in turn leads to lower birthrates.
Third, some of the charitable causes that we’d consider—such as curing river blindness or repairing obstetric fistulae—don’t save lives directly, but do help people move from being nonproductive members of their communities to being productive members. That helps their communities and societies as a whole. That, in turn, is a good thing from a population perspective because more advanced, more sophisticated societies tend to have lower birthrates.