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    075188

    U.N. sees global fertility drop, birth control gains.

    Booth W

    WASHINGTON POST. 1991 May 14; A1, A10.

    The Annual Report of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) shows an increase in contraceptive usage among married couples to 51% in 1991 from 45% in the 1980s. This provides strong evidence that family planning does work. The current world population is 5.4 billion, and increases of 85 million/year and 850 million/10 years are expected. Desired family size has also declined as reported in numerous household surveys. In Latin America and Asia, birth rates have declined from an average of 6 to 3- 4/woman. Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea have birth rates that have dropped precipitously. In Africa, which has the highest fertility rate and the lowest rate of contraceptive usage, there was only a modest decline from 6.6 in the 1960s to 6.2 currently. The declines in family size and birth rate are viewed by a demographer at UNFPA as the result of families seeing the advantages of smaller size. In spite of declines, the rate of growth is still higher than the replacement rate and is a root cause of environmental degradation and mass poverty. Rapid growth (even with fertility reduced from 6 to 4 children/women) in the presence of increased life expectancy and lower mortality means the population will not stabilize until it reaches 10.2 billion in 1085. Stabilization requires contraceptive usage of 75% worldwide. Over the next 100 years, demographers project that the ceiling will be 12.5 billion, with increases primarily in the developing world. Slow growth means widespread use of birth control (59%) in developing countries by the 2000. Contraceptive usage is unevenly distributed. China's usage is 72%, while west Africa's is 4%. The US figures are approximately 70%. There has been greater acceptance of family planning worldwide. Only Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Cambodia, and Laos actively restrict access to family planning services. UNFPA needs to increase spending on family planning to 9 billion US dollars by the year 2000 in order to increase birth control use. The US cut off support for UNFPA, but there is hope that the funding will be restored.
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