Population predicts regulation — but why?

Source: Marginal Revolution.

As population grows, so does regulation.

The correlation suggests to me that regulatory governance has an irrational basis — that is, the need for regulatory control arises from within itself, not as a response to external conditions.

The opposite might be true, of course. Perhaps the volume of problems to be solved expands with the size of a population. That at least would account for the emergence of regulatory governance, although not necessarily for the observed correlation.

Another possibility is that culture is the primary regulatory mechanism in society. Thus, as the population grows its culture weakens, to be replaced with regulatory governance.

Whatever the root cause, the correlation itself seems a handy rule of thumb.

9 thoughts on “Population predicts regulation — but why?

  1. Interesting premise.

    Social and political norms are like etiquette. Rules of participation are not always codified, but rather dependent upon understood acceptability. The smaller the population the more effective public scorn or approval if for no other reason than people are familiar with each other.

    All this disappears when anonymity removes scorn and money replaces reasons for behavior.

    So when people lose civility and empathy becomes rare, regulations arise to protect folks from the absence of decency, fairness and even respect.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s not that complicated.

    Regulation is the primary tool of the corrupt.

    A larger population implies urbanization and thus more Democrats.

    More Democrats, more regulation.


    1. “Regulation is the primary tool of the corrupt.”

      Uh, more nonsense.
      Mr. Roberts tries to bring up an interesting subject and then you come up with this moronic intellectual garbage? I would like to think you are merely trying to be funny, but I have actually come to think that this really is the best you have.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. once again, correlation is not causation

        Larger populations are typically urban and while the intention of regulation is not corrupt. experience shows us that is the consequence. The regulated capture the regulatory process and use it to crush new
        competition. .

        But again, you don’t look past intention.


        1. Science teaches us that “conservative” minds are hardwired to resist complexity, ambiguity and subtlety but you seem to take it to extremes. Regulations CAN be facilitate corrupt purposes. The lack of regulations CAN facilitate corrupt purposes. And everything in between. Your simple minded declaration that . . . “Regulation is the primary tool of the corrupt” is complete nonsense. And even more nonsensical is your train of “logic” based on urbanization and the premise that Democrats are more “corrupt” than Republicans.

          Of course, your definition of “corrupt” is so broad that any declaration you may offer using that word is already meaningless.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: “Mr. Roberts tries to bring up an interesting subject and then you come up with this moronic intellectual garbage?”

        Dr. Tabor makes a fair point, one reminiscent of Lord Acton’s proverb: “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

        I don’t think that corruption explains the cause of the correlation between population size and regulation very well, but it is a worthy hypothesis.

        In any case, you calling it nonsense without explanation suggests that YOU are the one engaging in nonsense.


        1. “Power corrupts”

          Indeed it does which is precisely why governments and their pesky regulations are needed to restrain the power of the largely hereditary oligarchs controlling our economic life.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The question isn’t whether regulations are needed, it is how to explain the correlation the posted story describes. Changing the subject is a waste of time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s