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Smart family planning improves women's health and cuts poverty
The costs to society of not filling the family planning gap may be greater than we can afford

 
Lester Brown, for IPS, for the Guardian Development Network
guardian.co.uk,    Thursday 14 April 2011 07.00 BST
Article history

A woman in rural China inspects a condom. Slowing world population growth means ensuring that women who want to plan their families have access to family planning services. This will help to cut poverty. Photograph: China Newsphoto/Reuters
When it comes to population growth, the United Nations has three primary projections. The medium projection, the one most commonly used, has world population reaching 9.2 billion by 2050. The high one reaches 10.5 billion. The low projection, which assumes that the world will quickly move below replacement-level fertility, has population peaking at 8 billion in 2042 and then declining.

If the goal is to eradicate poverty, hunger, and illiteracy, then we have little choice but to strive for the lower projection.

Slowing world population growth means ensuring that all women who want to plan their families have access to family planning information and services. Unfortunately, this is currently not the case for 215 million women, 59% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

These women and their families represent roughly 1 billion of the earth's poorest people, for whom unintended pregnancies and unwanted births are an enormous burden.

Former US Agency for International Development (USAID) official J Joseph Speidel notes that "if you ask anthropologists who live and work with poor people at the village level they often say that women live in fear of their next pregnancy. They just do not want to get pregnant."

The United Nations Population Fund and the Guttmacher Institute estimate that meeting the needs of these 215 million women who lack reproductive healthcare and effective contraception could each year prevent 53 million unwanted pregnancies, 24 million induced abortions, and 1.6 million infant deaths.

Along with the provision of additional condoms needed to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, a universal family planning and reproductive health programme would cost an additional $21bn in funding from industrial and developing countries.

Shifting to smaller families brings generous economic dividends. In Bangladesh, for example, analysts concluded that $62 spent by the government to prevent an unwanted birth saved $615 in expenditures on other social services. For donor countries, ensuring that men and women everywhere have access to the services they need would yield strong social returns in improved education and healthcare.

Slowing population growth brings with it what economists call the demographic bonus. When countries move quickly to smaller families, growth in the number of young dependents those who need nurturing and educating declines relative to the number of working adults.

At the individual level, removing the financial burden of large families allows more people to escape from poverty. At the national level, the demographic bonus causes savings and investment to climb, productivity to surge and economic growth to accelerate.

Japan, which cut its population growth in half between 1951 and 1958, was one of the first countries to benefit from the demographic bonus. South Korea and Taiwan followed, and more recently China, Thailand and Vietnam have been helped by earlier sharp reductions in birth rates.

Although this effect lasts for only a few decades, it is usually enough to launch a country into the modern era. Indeed, except for a few oil-rich countries, no developing country has successfully modernised without slowing population growth.

Though many developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America were successful in quickly reducing their fertility within a generation or so after public health and medical gains lowered their mortality rates, many others did not follow this path and have been caught in the demographic trap including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen. (Large families are a greater financial burden on both parents and governments, and more impoverished people and societies tend to produce larger families. Thus they become "trapped" in a cycle of poverty and high fertility.)

Countries that do not succeed in reducing fertility early on face the compounding of 3% growth per year or 20-fold per century. Such rapid population growth can easily strain limited land and water resources. With large "youth bulges" outrunning job creation, the growing number of unemployed young men increases the risk of conflict. This also raises the odds of becoming a failing state.

Put simply, the costs to society of not filling the family planning gap may be greater than we can afford.

The good news is that governments can help couples reduce family size very quickly when they commit to doing so. My colleague Janet Larsen writes that in just one decade Iran dropped its near-record population growth rate to one of the lowest in the developing world.

When Ayatollah Khomeini assumed leadership in Iran in 1979 and launched the Islamic revolution, he immediately dismantled the well-established family planning programmes and instead advocated large families. At war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988, Khomeini wanted to increase the ranks of soldiers for Islam. His goal was an army of 20 million.

Fertility levels climbed in response to his pleas, pushing Iran's annual population growth to a peak of 4.2% in the early 1980s, a level approaching the biological maximum. As this enormous growth began to burden the economy and the environment, the country's leaders realised that overcrowding, environmental degradation and unemployment were undermining Iran's future.

In 1989, the government did an about-face and restored its family planning programme. In May 1993, a national family planning law was passed. The resources of several government ministries, including education, culture and health, were mobilised to encourage smaller families.

Iran Broadcasting was given responsibility for raising awareness of population issues and of the availability of family planning services. Television was used to disseminate information on family planning throughout the country, taking advantage of the 70% of rural households with TV sets. Religious leaders were directly involved in what amounted to a crusade for smaller families.

Some 15,000 "health houses" or clinics were established to provide rural populations with health and family planning services. Iran introduced a full panoply of contraceptive measures, including the option of vasectomy a first among Muslim countries. All forms of birth control, including the pill and sterilisation, were free of charge. Iran even became the only country to require couples to take a course on modern contraception before receiving a marriage license.

In addition to the direct healthcare interventions, Iran also launched a broad-based effort to raise female literacy, boosting it from 25% in 1970 to more than 70% in 2000. Female school enrolment increased from 60% to 90%. Women and girls with more schooling are likely to have fewer children, making their education a smart investment.

As a result of this initiative, family size in Iran dropped from seven children to fewer than three. From 1987 to 1994, Iran cut its population growth rate by half, an impressive achievement.

The bad news is that in July 2010, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared the country's family planning programme ungodly and announced a new pronatalist policy. The government would pay couples to have children, depositing money in each child's bank account until age 18. The effect of this new programme on Iran's population growth remains to be seen.

Nevertheless, (Islamic Republic of ) Iran's history shows how a full-scale mobilisation of society that incorporates public outreach, access to family planning resources, and gender equality in education, can accelerate the shift to smaller families.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/apr/14/smart-family-planning-reduces-poverty
Ya Ali, molla Ali (as)

"There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance" - Imam Ali (as)

"''melate ma neshan dade'ast ke be hadaf haye khod momen, va dar rahe on, ta nesar'e jaan eestade'ast.. chenin melati, az america va az hiiich ghodrati nemitars'ad, va be yaari'e khoda neshan khahad daad ke pirooz az on' e hagh, va momenan be hagh ast!"

- Rahbar'e moazzam'e Enghlab'e Islami Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

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I have spoken about this before . A successful country has both population control and planned free market economy . The size of a population should be kept at ideal levels . The ideal level for population will allow for the fastest growth and decline to maximum and minimum desirable population levels . The maximum and minimum population levels are needed to cope with events such as war and famine or industrial growth . The method of determining the ideal population level can be done using scientific methods .
Error is inconsistent with my prime function .

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I have spoken about this before . A successful country has both population control and planned free market economy . The size of a population should be kept at ideal levels . The ideal level for population will allow for the fastest growth and decline to maximum and minimum desirable population levels . The maximum and minimum population levels are needed to cope with events such as war and famine or industrial growth . The method of determining the ideal population level can be done using scientific methods .

yes you can, but you also have to take things into account.

for instance if you are at war that is costing lives, its good topromote population growth like immam khomeini advocates.

a lot of people attribute the problems of iran tosay to the population boom, i however think the population boom was neccessary and has actually given IR iran huge amount of man power neccessary for military and growth.

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There is nothing wrong with a large population if you have the ability to provide them with employment and food in my opinion. I would like Iran's population to exceed 100 million, but only if they can all be employed, all be fed, housed and educated and if our cities, roads and public transport system can handle that number.


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rouz
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There is nothing wrong with a large population if you have the ability to provide them with employment and food in my opinion. I would like Iran's population to exceed 100 million, but only if they can all be employed, all be fed, housed and educated and if our cities, roads and public transport system can handle that number.



Yes, overpopulation is a relative thing. A nation without any resources (or the means of attaining them from elsewhere)  can have a population of one million and be overpopulated. Currently, Iran has the resources but lacks the means of providing it to all of its population. So I'd say it is overpopulated.

You also need to look at the population density and the effects it has on peoples life standard. Will an increase of 30 million lead to a further increase in the population of Tehran? Iran is a big country but the habitable areas are limited.

 

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Uninhability is also a relative term too. Look at Las Vegas or Dubai or Riyahd.

You are going to need a lot of desalinisation plants, but it can be done.

Also currently a few cities in Iran are overpopulated (Tehran) others are actually not.

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rouz
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Uninhability is also a relative term too. Look at Las Vegas or Dubai or Riyahd.

You are going to need a lot of desalinisation plants, but it can be done.

Also currently a few cities in Iran are overpopulated (Tehran) others are actually not.

Las Vegas and Dubai are environmental disasters. The immense waste that goes into developing cities in the desert where the basics of human needs are  not present is not sustainable. Dubai is one big shopping mall that lacks all natural charm. You need to stay indoors not to die of heat exhaustion. You have not been in these cities if you want Iran to take the same route.

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rouz
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Also currently a few cities in Iran are overpopulated (Tehran) others are actually not.

Since many of Iran's cities fail to provide their inhabitants with jobs, housing and clean air... not to mention safe infrastructure such as safer roads, earthquake resistant buildings etc.  they are indeed overpopulated.

...I just told you overpopulation is a relative thing. Its not about absolute numbers but the capability of providing for them.
Last Edit: April 14, 2011, 12:42:21 PM by Barberry

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Gottfrid
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Whether it's an increase in mouthes to feed (and the associated practices such as inhumane treatment of animals in mass farming, nitrogen polution(1) etc), an increase in power requirements (recources becoming more scarce, more pollution), overcrowding that can lead to quicker spread of disease, the reduction in democracy (a bigger population gives less value to each individual vote. This pertains to the video about the exponential function that was posted here a while back), and a probable increase in unemployment... I don't see the benefits in a population growth and i think we should consider not only limiting growth but seeing how we can decrease the size of the population.

If we don't, some very immoral decisions will have to be made in the future in the name of sustainability.



1. Nitrogen polution costs EU up to 280bn a year. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13025304

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, the reduction in democracy (a bigger population gives less value to each individual vote.



:lol::lol:

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Gottfrid
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what have i said?

anyway.. i think this is useful

The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See (part 1 of 8) Small | Large
(all 8 videos)

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Gottfrid,

I think population growth has a lot to do with military needs as well.

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Gottfrid
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Gottfrid,

I think population growth has a lot to do with military needs as well.


We're in an age where quantity (population) is meaningless in comparison to quality (of arms). Also, it's 21st century .. i was hoping that economic growth would be more important than war.

We're also in age where fairly powerful countries steer away from large scale conflicts for the sake of their economies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Arches though it might be a bit flawed, it still relatively true.

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@YMJ

I think the main reason why muslims are allowed to have four wives , is to allow rapid re-population of society after a war . In WWI
the ratio of men to women was low in Europe and this led to social problems later . So Islamic law does consider increase or
decrease of population to serve society .

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