chapter  1
35 Pages


Within the broad spectrum of proposals aired at the Bucharest World Population Conference in 1974, the two policies most commonly advo­ cated for reducing population growth in poor countries were more rapid economic growth and more effective family-planning programs. The for­ mer, it is believed, creates the desire for smaller families and the latter provide the means. There is evidence to support both positions. No country has ever achieved a high standard of living without experienc­ ing a significant decline in its birth rate. Nor has any sizable country in modern times experienced low birth rates over sustained periods in the absence of significant economic growth. One can argue about the degree to which these generalizations apply to this country, or that, and can find historical counterexamples.1 Moreover, some hopeful signs in one or two of the developing countries indicate that birth rates may fall in the next few decades before general economic development occurs. But as generalizations go in this field these two are better than most.