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Journal of Modern African Studies. 1982; 20(1):45-67.Discusses the question of government policy toward control of population growth in its relation to economic development, especially in Africa, where population growth rates are high and the rate of economic growth very low. The author reviews the debate between supports of Marx and Malthus, and the family planning versus development debate which he sees as evolving from it. Merit may be found in the arguments of all sides, but some middle ground between the radical positions must be found. It must be recognized that a population problem exists, and that family planning can play a supportive role in keeping fertility rates down, but that a certain level of socioeconomic development must be reached before much can be done about the problem while recognizing that high fertility is itself and impediment to reaching this level of development. Cultural conditions leading to high fertility must also be considered, as well as the political and administrative dimension; both are briefly examined. The author concludes that assistance for population activities is worthwhile and desirable, but not at the expense of other areas of development which contribute to lowered fertility by themselves. The United States should review its policies with this in mind. In a postscript, the author notes that U.S. policy would appear to be undergoing review by the current administration; a shift towards urban Africa and towards encouragement of participation by private industry, evidently underway, would lessen the effect of U.S. development assistance on poverty and the high fertility rates in Africa.