New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 176

new internationalist
issue 176 - October 1987

Population: The Facts


FAMILIES AND FINANCE

Paying for the pills
Of the one billion dollars currently spent each year on family planning programmes in the Third World, one-tenth is contributed by the couples themselves, two-fifths by Third World governments and half by governments and aid agencies in the rich world.

Total family planning aid 1965-1976 (Sm)2

% of total

US

867.534

69

SWEDEN

134.491

11

CANADA

33.846

3

UK

25.172

2

AUSTRALIA

1.564

0.1

OTHER DONORS

186.991

15

TOTAL

1,249.598

100.1


Some rich world governments see population planning in poor countries as a key aid priority. In 1972 the US spent three times as much on family planning programmes in the Third World as it did on health programmes2

Fertility and equality
It is not just the wealth of a nation that influences whether people will choose to have fewer children. Far more important is the distribution of that wealth to individual families3

Per capita GNP ($)4

% of Wealth owned by richest 10%

Total fertility rate5

KENYA

340

45.8

8.0

SRI LANKA

340

28.2

3.4

MEXICO

2,240

40.6

4.6

N. KOREA

2,010

27.5

2.7


Illustration: Hector Catollica Spoilt for choice
A government's plans are sometimes implemented with little or no regard for an individual's family plans The lists of countries below are not necessarily exhaustive, but give an indication of the extent to which human rights are being compromised.

Prohibition Countries which forbid or restrict access to contraception: CHAD, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, GABON, GREECE, IRELAND, MALAWI, MALTA, LIBYA, KAMPUCHEA, SAUDI ARABIA'

Coercion Countries where forced sterilizations have been recorded on a significant scale since 1970: BANGLADESH, BOLIVIA, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, INDIA, INDONESIA, MEXICO, PUERTO RICO, US'

Bribery Countries paying money to users of contraception: BANGLADESH, EGYPT, INDIA, INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, MAURITIUS, NEPAL, SOUTH KOREA, SRI LANKA, THAILAND, TUNISIA, VIETNAM8


Illustration: Clive Offley
FAMILIES PLANNING * FAMILIES PLANNING

Every child a wanted child?
It is a truism that every woman wants to be able to choose how many children she has. But she may not always choose to have fewer children.9

Current fertility rate (A)

Desired family size (B)

A-B

Too few children

NIGERIA

6.32

8.40

-2.06

SENEGAL

7.15

8.40

-1.25

IVORY COAST

7.36

8.50

-1.15

About right

PARAGUAY

4.97

5.30

-0.33

MALAYSIA

4.65

4.40

+0.25

GHANA

6.46

6.10

+0.36

Too many children

MEXICO

6.20

4.50

+1.70

BANGLADESH

6.08

4.10

+1.98

PAKISTAN

6.27

4.20

+2.07

 

Too close, too many, too young
Family planning is not just used for limiting unwanted pregnancies; it can also be used to time the arrival of a wanted child and thereby increase its chances of survival.

· SOUTH INDIA
A child born less than a year after its elder sibling is twice as likely to die in infancy than a child born two to three years after.10

· EL SALVADOR
A child in a family with five children is twice as likely to die in infancy as child in a family of three children.10

· ARGENTINA
A child born to a teenage mother is twice as likely to die in infancy as a child born to a mother aged between 25 and 29.10

Choosing fewer children
Women of different ages were asked about the number of children in the 'ideal family'. In all regions younger women gave a smaller number, indicating a worldwide trend towards a desire for smaller families9

Ideal number of children wanted

by MOTHERS
(aged 45-49)

by DAUGHTERS
(aged 15-19)

AFRICA

7.8

6.6

ASIA and PACIFIC

4.9

3.3

LATIN AMERICA and CARIBBEAN

5.5

3.3

MIDDLE EAST

5.9

4.2

 

The family planning boom
Today there are more women using modern contraception than ever before. An estimated 50% of women in the world who want to stop having children are able to fulfil that wish by these means.

Country

Period

Average annual change (%)

% currently using modern contraception11

EGYPT

1974-82

1.0

34

KENYA (rural)

1967-78

0.2

8

JAMAICA

1975-79

4.2

55

MEXICO

1976-79

2.8

39

BANGLADESH

1976-79

1.4

13

THAILAND

1969-81

3.8

59

US

1965-76

0.4

68

JAPAN

1971-81

0.3

56

HUNGARY

1966-77

0.7

74

 

Type of contraception
An estimated 270 million women are currently using some form of contraception, but this figure and the table below are likely to underestimate - by a wide margin - the numbers of women using traditional methods7. Notice the lack of alternatives in China.

Rich countries (average of 19)

Poor countries (average of 50)

China

STERILIZATION

14

47

35

PILLS/INJECTABLES

23

23

9

IUD

7

9

49

CONDOM

24

6

3

TRADITIONAL/OTHERS

32

15

4


Abortion
Worldwide there is one abortion for every three live births. That adds up to over 50 million a year, half of which are performed illegally. 39% of women live in countries where abortion is freely available. 28% live in countries where it is illegal or legal only when the woman's life is threatened.12

The cost of illegality

  • BOLIVIA 60% of the obstetric health budget is spent on patching up botched, illegal abortions8
  • US Abortion deaths dropped from 292 to 36 a year when abortion was legalized in 19738


FAMILIES OF THE FUTURE

60 years on ...
The exact date when world population is expected to stabilize (i.e. when the number of babies born equals the number of people dying) is revised every year as population growth rates change. At present the predicted date of stabilization is 2045.3

Where will all the people be?

1985(m)

2045(m)

% of total

ASIA (inc. CHINA)

2,552

5,213

51

AFRICA (Sub-Sahara)

442

2,144

21

LATIN-AMERICA

383

879

9

EUROPE (inc. USSR)

745

858

8

MIDDLE EAST (and NORTH AFRICA)

315

706

7

NORTH AMERICA

264

306

3

OCEANIA

19

24

0.2

WORLD

4,720

10,130


The top ten in 2045

Population in millions

Ranking in 1985

Population in 1985 (m)

1. CHINA

1,683

1

1,040

2. INDIA

1,678

2

765

3. NIGERIA

529

9

100

4. PAKISTAN

395

10

96

5. USSR

384

3

277

6. INDONESIA

363

5

162

7. BANGLADESH

305

8

101

8. BRAZIL

292

6

136

9. US

277

4

239

10. MEXICO

197

11

79

 

Illustration: David Eaton The world of five billion
This year world population tipped the scales at five billion.12 It is growing at a rate of around a billion every 12 years. Every minute it grows by 150; every day by 220,000; every year by 80 million. But this stupendous growth rate is starting to slow down and world population is expected to stabilize at around ten billion less than 60 years from now.3 This prediction is an extrapolation from current declines in birth rates, which are, in turn, dependent on economic development and availability of contraception.

Sources:
1 United Nations Fund for Population Activities, 1983 Report.
2
Bradshaw et al, 1977, cited in Simon, J., The Ultimate Resource, Princetown University Press, 1981.
3 World Bank Development Report, World Bank, 1987.
4
GNP = Gross National Product.
5 Average completed family size a curent fertility rates.
6
People magazine, various issues, International Planned Parenthood Federtion.
7
Seager, J., and Olson, A., Women in the World, Pan, 1986.
8
Hartmann, B., Reproductive Rights and Wrongs, Harper and Row, 1987.
9
World Fertility Survey, 1985.
10
The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 1984.
11
Recent Levels and Trends of Contraception Use as Assessed in 1983, United Nations, 1984.
12
Teitze, C., Induced Abortion: A World Review, I 1983.
13 1 billion = 1,000 million.

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