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Population and development problems: a critical assessment of conventional wisdom. The case of Zimbabwe.
ZIMBABWE JOURNAL OF ECONOMICS. 1988 Jan; 2(1):81-100.Conventional wisdom, as reflected in reports by the World Bank and the Whitsun Foundation, maintains that control of population growth is the key strategy for stimulating socioeconomic development and ending widespread poverty. The Witsun Foundation has criticized the Government of Zimbabwe for failing to include specific policies for population control in its National Transitional Development Plan. the report further expressed alarm about future availability of land to contain Zimbabwe's growing population. Communal areas are designed for a maximum of 325,000 families yet presently contain 700-800,000 families. This Malthusian, deterministic emphasis on population growth as the source of social ills ignores the broader, complex set of socioeconomic, historical, and political factors that determine material life. Any analysis of population that fails to consider the class structure of society, the type of division of labor, and forms of property and production can produce only meaningless abstractions. For example, consideration of crowding in communal areas must include consideration of inequitable patterns of land ownership in sub-Saharan Africa. Unemployment must be viewed within the context of a capitalist economic structure that relies on an industrial reserve army of labor to ensure acceptance of low wages and labor-intensive conditions. While it is accepted that population growth is creating specific and real problems in Zimbabwe and other African countries, these problems could be ameliorated by land reform and restructuring of the export-oriented colonial economies. Similarly, birth control should not be promoted as the solution to social problems, yet family planning services should be available to raise the status of women. Literacy, agrarian reform, agricultural modernization, and industrialization campaigns free from the dominance of Western capitalism represent the true solutions to Zimbabwe's problems.
Assessing the demographic consequences of major development projects. Proceedings of a United Nations Workshop, New York, 1-4 December 1986.
New York, New York, United Nations, 1988. vi, 183 p. (ST/ESA/SER.R/81)Although considerable awareness of the behavioral relationships and interactions between demographic and socioeconomic processes has been established, analysis of the specific demographic impact of development projects has lagged behind. To remedy this situation, the United Nations has undertaken a project aimed at developing a practical, cost-effective methodology for assessing the demographic impact of development projects in a variety of settings and countries. The approach developed is based on available sources of data such as censuses and vital registration systems. The methodology was applied in particular to electrification and irrigation projects in selected developing countries and a workshop was convened in 1986 to review the approach developed. Background papers presented at the workshop (included in this volume) focused on both the experiences of other institutions with population impact analysis and on methodological and measurement issues. Workshop participants identified 2 types of problems in measuring the strength of the relationship between a development project input and its demographic effect: those encountered in measuring the observed relationship for a given development project, and those encountered in assessing the relative effects of different projects. It was recommended that changes at both the macro and micro levels should be compared, with an emphasis on how such factors affect demographic behavior. Ecological analysis can then be used to identify the factors that explained demographic differences between communities. There was also consensus that the ideal methodological approach should involve an experimental/control design and a longitudinal time frame. For planners, the utility of such impact studies lies no only in investment allocation or priority ranking of development projects, but in the improvement of project design as well.
Paris, France, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 1988. 90 p. (Demographic Change and Public Policy)This is the first in a planned series of volumes published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concerning the economic and social consequences of demographic aging in OECD member countries. "This detailed statistical analysis of demographic trends in the 24 OECD countries examines the implications for public expenditure on education, health care, pensions and other social areas, and discusses the policy choices facing governments." Data are from official sources. (EXCERPT)
New York, New York, United Nations, 1984. ix, 534 p. (International Conference on Population, 1984; Statements ST/ESA/SER.A/90)Contained in this volume are the report (Part I) and the selected papers (Part II) of the Expert Group on Population, Resources, Environment and Development which review past trends and their likely future course in each of the 4 areas, taking into account not only evolving concepts but also the need to consider population, resources, environment and development as a unified structure. Trends noted in the population factor include world population growth and the differences between rates in the developed and developing countries; the decline in the proportion of the population who are very young and the concomitant increase in the average age of the population. Discussed within the resource factor are the labor force, the problem of increasing capital shortage, expenditures on armaments, trends in the supply and productivity of arable land, erosion and degradation of topsoil and energy sources. Many of the problems identified overlap with the environment factor, which centers on the problem of pollution. The group on the development factor was influenced by a pervasiv sense of "crisis" in current economic trends. Concern was also expressed regarding the qualitative aspects of current development trends, defined as the perverse effects of having adopted inappropriate styles of development. Part II begins with a general overview of recent levels and trends in the 4 areas along with the concepts of carrying capacity and optimum population. Other papers discuss the impact of trends in resources, environment and development on demographic prospects; long-term effects of global population growth on the international system; economic considerations in the choice of alternative paths to a stationary population and the need for integration of demographic factors in development planning. The various papers on the resources and environment factor focus on resources as a barrier to population growth; the effects of population growth on renewable resources; food production and population growth in Africa; the frailty of the balance between the 4 areas and the need for a holistic approach on a scale useful for regional planning. Also addressed are: social development; population and international economic relations; development, lifestyles, population and environment in Latin America; issues of population growth, inequality and poverty; health, population and development trends; education requirements and trends in female literacy; the challenge posed by the aging of populations; and population and development in the ECE region.
In: UNICEF Bangladesh. Situation analysis report, prepared for UNICEF Bangladesh country programming. [Dacca] Bangladesh, UNICEF, 1977 Apr. 20-4.The level and growth rate of population in Bangladesh is seen as 1 of the nation's most critical problems, affecting nearly all sectors of development. Demographic data in Bangladesh is poor due to a lack of a functioning vital registration system or other reliable data collection systems. The most recent estimate of total population as of January 1, 1977, is 82 million. The average density is estimated at 531 persons/km (1974), with 90% of the population concentrated in the rural areas. The crude death rate remains high at 19/1000 population, with an infant mortality rate estimated at 150/1000 live births. The total fertility and annual growth rates are judged extremely high and are related to several factors of underdevelopment particular to Bangladesh. These include mothers' reluctance to postpone or space births because of a high incidence of infant deaths; a low level of literacy and employment of women; inadequate community health care facilities; and a lack of acceptable family planning services in rural areas. The effects and consequences of this demographic situation on all age groups in Bangladesh is apparent in all areas of development: economic growth, food production, and the delivery of health, education and social services. Although the level of contraceptive awareness is high, the extent of acceptance of contraceptive practice in the country is estimated at only 5% of eligible couples. Despite a heavy concentration of government efforts in its Population Control/Family Planning Division (PC/FP), success has been limited due to struggles between the government's Health and Population Division; frequent administrative reorganization; personnel problems; difficulties in transferring local funds; innovative program development rather than concentration on regular program activities; and the resistance of the population to family planning and limitation. A family planning component has been included in most foreign assistance schemes (IDA;USAID;UNFPA). Of concern to UNICEF is the slow implementation of the family planning side and the generally poor level of maternal and child health care which falls under the PC/FP Division, rather than the Health Division.