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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.
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.