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    Curb on population growth needed urgently, U.N. says.

    Lewis P

    NEW YORK TIMES. 1992 Apr 30; A12.

    The UN Population Fund's urgent plea for a sustained and concerted program to curb population growth in developing countries is reported. The reasons were to reduce poverty and hunger and to protect the earth's resources. The Fund released current world population figures which place 1992 population at 5.48 billion and project growth to 10 billion in 2050 with a leveling at 11.6 billion in 2150. These figures are 1 billion beyond projections made in 1980. The current rate of growth is at 97 million/year until 2000, 90 million/year until 2025, and 61 million/year until 2050. This rate of growth is the fastest the world has ever experienced. 34% of the rise will occur in Africa, and 97% in developing countries. The projected consequence of this growth is a continued migration to cities, increased hunger and starvation and malnutrition, and an increased pressure on the world's food, water, and other natural resources. This effect amounts to almost crisis conditions which places the world at great risk for future ecological and economic catastrophe. Food production has already lagged behind population growth in 69 of 102 developing countries between 1978-89. An urgent new campaign is called for to promote smaller families, better access to contraception, and better education and health care for women in developing countries. Women's status needs to be raised to allow for women being given property rights and improved access to labor markets. If the effort is successful, the population growth within the next decade could be reduced by 1.5-2 billion. Currently at least 300 million women do no have access to safe and reliable forms of contraception. The number of very poor has risen from 944 million in 1970 to 1.1 billion in 1985. The former strategy of urbanization and rising incomes have been found to be an unnecessary precondition for reducing family size. Poor countries, such as Sri Lanka and Thailand, have nonetheless shown sharp fertility declines with appropriate population policies, e.g., fertility dropped from 6.3 children/women in 1965 to 2.2 children/women in 1987. There have also been similar declines in fertility in China, Cuba, Indonesia, Tunisia and other poor countries. The agency's current budget is $225 million a year, and has been functioning without US aid since the 1976 ban over abortions in China.
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