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[The controversies over population growth and economic development] Die Kontroversen um Bevolkerungswachstum und wirtschaftliche Entwicklung.
In: Probleme und Chancen demographischer Entwicklung in der dritten Welt, edited by Gunter Steinmann, Klaus F. Zimmermann, and Gerhard Heilig. New York, New York/Berlin, Germany, Federal Republic of, Springer-Verlag, 1988. 19-35.This paper presents a broad review of the major theoretical and political viewpoints concerning population growth and economic development. The western nations represent one side of the controversy; based on their experience with population growth in their former colonies, the western countries attempted to accelerate development by means of population control. The underlying economic reason for this approach is that excess births interfere with public and private savings and thus reduce the amount of capital available for development investment. A parallel assumption on the social side is that families had more children than they actually desired and that it was only proper to furnish families with contraceptives in order to control unwanted pregnancies. The competing point of view maintains that forcing the pace of development would unleash productive forces and stimulate better distribution of wealth by increasing social pressures on governments. The author traces the interaction between these two viewpoints and shows how the Treaty of Bucharest in 1974 marked a compromise between the two population policies and formed the basis for the activities of the population agencies of UN. The author then considers the question of whether European development can serve as a model for the present day 3rd World. The large differences between the sizes of age cohorts and the pressure that these differences exert upon internal population movements and the availability of food and housing is more important than the raw numbers alone.
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.