Groups Who Think Population is Important

1 November 2003 | Part 1

Some groups who think that population control is the most important way of taking countries out of poverty:

  • The United Nations (see UN Report Dec 2002 Fertility Education Key to Fighting Poverty)
  • Scientific Academies across the world from Albania to Venezuela, including our Royal Society, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Scientists of USA, and The Third World Academy of Sciences. (Supplement to Royal Society News, November 1993)
  • The governments and peoples of all prosperous countries (otherwise they wouldn’t be prosperous!) – Europe, North America, Australasia, Japan, South Korea etc
  • The governments of all countries which are becoming prosperous (otherwise they would not be becoming prosperous!) – China, Thailand, Chile, parts of India, and many others, including, with some political and religious hesitations, Malaysia; and recently, but effectively, Iran, with pre-marriage classes and publicity for family planning.
  • The historians of the twentieth century. The last two I have read – one a communist and one a non-communist – both think that population increase is the most important reason why we have failed to get rid of extreme poverty. And, curiously enough, all ex-communist countries, bar one or two. “Curious” because the idea that relentless population increase could be the cause of widespread poverty used to make Karl Marx almost apoplectic with fury, as he saw that it undermined his whole case against capitalism. Demography isn’t popular with supporters of liberation theology either. (An interesting example of a communist country is Cuba. Cuba’s fertility rate has been down to almost European level for years, and Cuba has had the lowest fertility rate of any country in Latin America for decades. This is the main reason for Cuba ticking along reasonably well, despite its economic system and its poverty.)

Groups tending to be dismissive of population as a cause of poverty:

  • Catholics – those accepting orthodox teaching.
  • Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
  • Sub-Saharan Africans – excluding South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and lately Kenya.

And pretty well no one else.

I believe I understand why these three groups are dismissive of rapid population redoubling as a cause of poverty, but any views would be gratefully received.