Bruce Sundquist
(724-327-8737) (New email address)

Alternative Format Options:
Word Processing File - Transmitted to you as an E-mail attached file upon request
Copyright: None - Feel free to use any part of this document.

Previous Editions: // Ed. 1, June 2002 // Ed. 2, January 2003 // Ed. 3, January 2004 // Ed. 4, May 2004 // Ed. 5, August 2004 // Ed. 6, October 2005 // Ed. 7, April 2006 // Ed. 8, April 2008 //







Framing the Issue


The Role of Opposition to Modern Contraception in the IFP Controversy


Goals and Options


Structure of this Analysis




Unmet IFP needs in Developing Nations


Effects of IFP Funding Levels on Reproductive Health in Developing Nations


IFP Economics - Direct Costs and Benefits


IFP - Imposed? - None of Our Business?






The Origin of "Bad Government" Theory


Environmental Determinism Theory - The Alternative to Bad Government Theory


Developing World Ills- Can Market Forces solve them?


An Example of Problems that "Bad Government" Theory can lead to




Indirect Benefits of IFP


The Role of Capital in Limiting Manageable Population Growth Rates





"COULD FAMILY PLANNING CURE TERRORISM?" is now a separate document - See Ref. (08S1).



Time history of the percentage of total population-assistance expenditures allocated to four major categories of expenditures


Global-Scale Maternity-Related Data for the Year 2000 (02D1) +


A recent history of external sources of funding for "population assistance" in developing nations


A recent history of funds provided by external providers, developing nation governments and developing nation NGOs for family planning services and basic reproductive health care in developing nations


A comparison of what was committed to at the 1994 Cairo population conference and what was actually contributed in 2000 using data from Table (2-B)


Some ratios of direct financial benefits to direct financial costs to governments in averting an unintended birth through family planning (04S1) +


Some developing world characteristics that distinguish it from the developed world


Further perspectives on development- and humanitarian aid to developing nations


The Relationship Between Population Growth and Civil Conflict


Rough analysis of the financial benefits from a $15.2 billion/ year investment in universal access to family-planning-related services in developing nations

* Note 1: In the interests of brevity, the term "international family planning" is replaced by the abbreviation "IFP" or "I.F.P." throughout this document.
+Note 2: A reference citation such as (98C2) signifies the second document cited that was published in 1998 and that has a lead author whose last name begins with "C".

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


The growing contentiousness over U.S. support for international family planning (IFP) is traced to the broadening of the issue to include (1) increased educational and economic opportunities for women in developing nations and (2) concerns that demographic issues (over-population and/or population growth) are at the root of the growing social, economic, political, and military instabilities in the developing world. Since these concerns tend to promote increased access to abortion and contraception, support for IFP has grown less bipartisan and more contentious since around the early 1980s. Arguments used by opponents of IFP are analyzed. The economics of IFP are examined and the case is made that just the financial benefits of IFP outweigh the costs by orders of magnitude - for both developed and developing nations. Much of the wretchedness and hope-deprivation found in developing nations can be traced to the largely unmet needs for financial capital (in excess of $1 trillion/ year) due to the demands for capital to fund the infrastructure expansion that population growth entails. The conversion of labor-intensive agriculture to capital-intensive agriculture in developing nations, in combination with a lack of undeveloped arable land in developing nations, adds significantly to population-driven migrations to marginally arable lands and to the urban slums that ring most of the large urban areas of developing nations. A major destabilizing and potentially dangerous result of these trends has been the creation of a rapidly growing "informal" economy throughout much of the developing world. This problem can also be traced to financial capital deficiencies caused by the infrastructure expansion that population growth entails. This problem also adds to the growing social, economic, political and military instabilities of the developing world.


Developed-world support for IFP began in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a largely bipartisan issue motivated by fears of over-population in developing nations. But since around 1980, US support for IFP has become perhaps the most contentious foreign-aid issue considered by Congress. The reason for this change in political environment is the broadening of the issue's scope. Avoiding over-population in the developing world via voluntary family planning has come to be seen as impossible unless desired family sizes can be reduced. This requires increased educational and economic opportunities for women. As a result, opponents of abortion, and modern contraception have come to see growing public concerns over over-population, and desires for expanded life-shaping opportunities for women, as threats. Both views indirectly promote the rising global tides of abortion legality and usage of modern contraceptives, even though IFP and modern contraceptives reduces abortion rates in a direct sense.

Direct costs of developed-world support for IFP-related services, and unmet need for such services, are summarized in Chapter 2. The total cost of funding family planning- and reproductive health services in developing countries was estimated by the UNFPA at the 1994 Cairo Population Conference to be US$15.2 billion/ year in 2000 (in addition to money spent by developing world citizens on their own family-planning). The financial shortfall in 2000 from the $15.2 billion/ year cost estimate is about $10.7 billion/ year - $7.3 billion for family planning and $3.4 for reproductive health. The unmet need for family-planning services in the mid-1990s was about 350 million couples (UNFPA estimate). The UNFPA apparently estimated these needs would cost $20/ couple/ year to fill. It would appear that the number of couples with unmet needs has not diminished since the mid-1990s. The estimated median cost of averting a birth through family planning services, US$58, is perhaps a factor of 10 less that via some other strategies. However the cost of averting a birth via family planning services is about a factor of 10 greater than some more recent technologies (Section (2-C)). A major problem in recent years has been that funds that would otherwise have gone to family planning services have been diverted to HIV/AIDS issues (07S2). (Table (1-S) below.)

Table (1-S) ~ Time history of the percentage of total population assistance expenditures allocated to 4 major categories of expenditures ~
(from a graph) (Data provided to Prof. Joseph Speidel to "Return of the Population Growth Factor: Its impact on the Millennium Development Goals," Report of the Hearings by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health (January 2007) p. 12)

Col. 2 - Family Planning Services
Col. 3 - Basic reproductive health services
Col. 4 - Sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS activities
Col. 5 - Basic research, data and population and development policy analysis.



















































The direct benefits of developed-world support for IFP-related services in developing nations are also summarized. Filling the unmet need for family planning services and basic reproductive health services could reduce the total fertility rate of the developing world from 3.2 down to 2.7 children per woman. The reduction to 2.1 (required for eventual population stabilization) would need to come from reductions in desired family size, i.e. from women having more life-shaping options such as educational and economic opportunities. Only 33% of developing-world population growth comes from unwanted fertility. About 49% comes from momentum caused by the population age structure, and this requires at least two generations to eliminate. About 18% of population growth comes from high desired family size. All this insures a global population several billion larger than today's six billion unless developing world fertilities can be reduced to below replacement levels, i.e. below about 2.1. Some analyses suggest that "replacement level" fertility is somewhat larger in the current environment of the developing world. The world's food/ wood/ freshwater supply systems are unable to support this on a sustainable basis, given the financial capital constraints faced by developing nations (08S2). Even without these financial capital constraints, significant doubts remain as to the ability to meet the basic needs of even the current level of human populations in the developing world.

A key element in the debate over support for IFP is the explanation for the ills of developing nations. If these ills are not related to over-population, then IFP cannot address these ills. Opponents of abortion and modern contraception see these ills in terms of "bad government". Those concerned about over-population see these ills as effects of over-population. This question is evaluated here. A compelling body of evidence supports the conclusion that the basic ills of developing nations are rooted in over-population (Section (4-A)). Bad government is just one of many end-results of over-population that degrade the human condition. Most Americans agree with this contention (Appendix B).

"Bad-government" theory rests on little more than conjecture. Yet it is condemns billions of people to a downward spiral of ever-increasing wretchedness, wars, and all the other life-is-cheap trappings of over-population. The resultant economic, social, military and political instabilities of the developing world subject the developed world to huge, and growing, economic and military risks and expenses. This is especially tragic when that spiral could be largely reversed by allocating an extra $10.7 billion/ year to IFP-related services for a few decades. There is probably no other misdiagnosis that could have such major long-term consequences in terms of the scale and depth of wretchedness created - and that could have such extreme effects on the future.

A second key element in the IFP debate is whether "market forces" would solve whatever substance there is to population problems. Evidence against this is compiled in Section (4-B).

A third key element in the IFP debate is whether developed nations should involve themselves in IFP. Opponents of IFP argue that developed nations should avoid supporting IFP in nations where an element of coercion exists regardless of whether IFP funds support this coercion. They also argue that family planning in developing nations is none of the business of developed nations. Several nations have attempted, invariably out of desperation, to impose family planning on its citizens. Donor nation funds have never supported such projects. These projects have largely failed. Clearly, involuntary family planning has no future. Developed nations must understand the motivations behind these attempts. Withdrawing support for IFP from nations that make these attempts is to withdraw support where it is needed most. This holds the potential for creating serious global problems. IFP might logically be considered to be none of the business of developed nations only if the ills of developing nations do not affect developed nations. Facts and arguments here show that the ills of developing nations do have major spill-over effects on developed nations. Some contend that IFP is being "rammed down the throats" of developing nations. This charge is contrary to the views and wished expressed by developing nations themselves at the 1984 Population Conference in Mexico City. Also, since IFP funding is unable to meet the demands for such funds, why forcibly impose IFP funds on developing nations? (Section (2-D))

An analysis is given here of some of the indirect costs and benefits of developed-world support for IFP-related services (Section (5-A)). There is increasing global awareness that indirect issues such as:

are strongly impacted by the ills of developing nations. The developing world's ills impose serious economic, political and military risks and costs on both the developed and the developing worlds. Thus developed-world support for IFP-related services is easily justified in terms of economic self-interest - not just in humanitarian terms.

Each 1% growth of population requires a capital investment of 12.5% of a nation's GNP (GDP) in its new citizens (educational-, industrial-, commercial-, and transportation- infrastructure, plus housing, land development, judicial systems, other government facilities, utilities etc.). Thus developing nations now require over $1.0 trillion/ year to accommodate population growth. This magnitude readily explains why developed-world development- and humanitarian aid and loans to developing nations have been ineffective in uplifting developing nations. It also indicates the huge gains to be expected from investing relatively modest sums in IFP-related services.

The economic analysis in Section (5-A) includes rough estimates of the financial benefits of a $15.2 billion/ year investment in IFP-related services in developing nations. Just the following potential reductions offer benefits orders of magnitude greater than costs for both the developed and developing worlds.

The developing world's dire shortage of financial capital is examined in Section (5-B). This shortage is so severe as to put investments like the following virtually impossible to meet.

Population growth rates in the developing world are clearly excessive and dangerous. Success of the "Asian Tiger" economies and a number of others in solving their financial capital problems with active family-planning programs could serve as a model for the developing world to follow.

So much is riding on broadening and strengthening public recognition that the ills of developing nations are a direct consequence of over-population (the culprit in natural resource problems) and/or population growth (the culprit in financial capital scarcity problems). Therefore an 800-page document (06S2) has been prepared which reviews, in five web pages, the global literature on degradation and loss of the world's soils, forests, grazing lands, irrigated lands, water supplies and fisheries. These five web pages cover virtually all of the earth's reasonably biologically productive land and water, and identifies population-related environmental stresses as the primary source of the ills of developing nations. These five web pages were used to prepare a major study of the sustainability of the global outputs of food, wood and freshwater (08S2). It shows that the outputs of the developing world's food/ wood/ freshwater supply systems are not sustainable as currently managed - mainly because of the developing world's severe shortage of financial capital. The current population growth rates in developing nations make the financial capital needed to achieve sustainability unavailable because the need for infrastructure growth needed to support population growth creates a huge drain on financial capital resources. The large-scale migrations now going on in the developing world are also analyzed (Section [H] of Ref. (08S3)). These are also shown to be non-sustainable in terms of the options available and the needs for economic, social and political stability. Clearly, the developing world is either over-populated or increasing its population at an excessive rate, and is headed toward conditions worse than today's. Arguments to the contrary, common in the mass media today, largely ignore sustainability issues. Other fallacies behind these arguments are also pointed out in this document.


Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


SECTION (1-A) ~ FRAMING THE ISSUE ~ [1A1]~Earlier Views ~ [1A2]~Recent Views ~ [1A3]~Backlash Examples ~ [1A4]~Why Bipartisanship Died ~ [1A5]~Historical Trends ~ [1A6]~IFP and Maternal Health -Means not Ends ~ [1A7]~Overpopulation Complexities~

US policy has supported IFP since 1965 (01N1). But since around 1980 the issue has changed from being quiet and bipartisan to highly visible and politically charged. Since 1996, IFP- related issues have been among the most contentious foreign-aid matter considered by Congress (01N1). Many believe this divisiveness should not exist. Making IFP-related services widely available to all who want them is one of the surest ways to foster self-sufficiency, promote preventive health care and basic education, nurture strong and healthy families, stabilize economically-, politically-, and militarily unstable regions and enhance the quality of life for all. In many ways, IFP reflects the core values that most social conservatives - and most Americans - hold dear.

Partisan wrangling over this issue can be traced largely to the abortion issue - even though financing abortions with IFP funds has been illegal since 1973. Many see irrationality and irony here. Why would abortion opponents oppose aid for IFP when that aid reduces developing-world abortion rates (currently about one abortion for every female) (99G1) (96G1)? Data on the inverse relation between abortion frequency and access to family planning and contraceptives are given later in this document. Regions of the world where abortion is illegal tend also to be regions with a minimum of access to family planning and contraceptives. Perhaps this is why regions with high abortion rates are also where abortion is illegal (e.g. Latin America). Similarly, regions of the world with low abortion rates are also where abortion is legal (e.g. Europe). One cannot help but suspect that the activities of abortion opponents, globally, have been responsible for far more abortions than the activities of abortion proponents. Adding to this irony, a RAND poll (00A1) found that attitudes towards abortion exert only "minor influence" on American attitudes towards IFP. Also, 80% of those polled supported US funding for voluntary IFP programs in other countries. Few other issues can boast this degree of public unanimity. (See other poll results in Appendix B.) But looking deeper into the issue reveals less irrationality and irony, but greater breadth and complexity. This growth in breadth and complexity is examined below. Thus far, the role of opposition to modern contraception in the controversy over IFP has been ignored. This issue is examined at the bottom of this section.

Part [1-A-1] ~ Earlier Views ~
In the late 1950s and early 1960s International Planned Parenthood Federation and other private foundations began financing IFP aid. The driving motivation for reducing the high population growth rates was the so-called "demographic" rationale (02S1) - concerns over national-level consequences of rapid population growth on economic productivity, savings and investment, natural resources and other environmental values. This motivation still drove policy in 1966 when the UN joined in, followed by the US, other developed countries, and some international organizations such as the World Bank. Global population growth rates were approaching what would turn out to be all-time highs.

During the 1980s a shift toward the "health" rationale occurred (02S1), driven by concerns over the effects of high fertility on maternal-, infant-, and child-mortality. This shift was perhaps driven by a desire to broaden the base of popular support for IFP aid in the face of growing political and ideological influences. As a result, arguments on behalf of US support for IFP were framed in more family-oriented terms, such as:

The "demographic" rationale did not diminish in the 1980s, and is still a growing, powerful motivation for governments, NGOs and private citizens to provide financial support for IFP. The "health" rational was essentially piled on top of it, in part due to the need to defend IFP and to broaden its appeal in the global political arena (02S1).

Part [1-A-2] ~ Recent Views ~
In the 1990s, the "human rights" rationale for IFP was added to the "demographic" and "health" rationales (02S1). It focused on women's rights, principally reproductive rights and the reproductive health of women and men. According to feminists, governments have a "responsibility" to ensure reproductive rights, and to provide family planning services (02S1). Many might not see how this rationale might add significantly to the existing motivations for governments, NGOs and citizens to support IFP financially; they might even see some counter-productivity. The "human rights" rationale probably had its origins in the realization of the difficulties of stabilizing developing world populations purely with traditional IFP/ maternal health approaches. Technology and IFP funding can only go so far. The lower limit to fertility and population growth rate is determined by desired family size. This size was, and is, well above "replacement level" fertility (2.1** children per woman) in the developing world. But it was found that expanding educational- and economic options available to women reduces desired family sizes. This broadened the range of motivations for supporting IFP-related services to using smaller family sizes, achievable with IFP, along with other measures, to expand the educational- and economic options available to women in order to reduce desired family sizes and hence fertility.

[** While it is commonly asserted that a total fertility rate of 2.1 is the "replacement" rate, this is true only in low-mortality countries such as the US, Europe and Japan. In developing counties with higher levels of mortality, replacement level fertility may be as high as 3.5 or more ("Replacement is Not Always 2.1", 10/15/03 issue of "Population Reports" available from Johns Hopkins INFO Project, ("The Surprising Global Variation in Replacement Fertility" Office of Population Research, Princeton University, 4/12/04).]

Throughout all this, the original "demographic" motives for supporting IFP were strengthening. Globalization, the growing mobility of information, technology, natural resources, goods, people, labor content and capital was making the ills of developing world increasingly real (07S1), if not also frightening, to Americans (08S1). Population-related problems are becoming increasingly less of a problem associated with distant lands, and more of a global problem. African nations that viewed the "demographic" rationale with dark suspicions in the 1970s (e.g. at the 1974 Bucharest Population Conference) have gradually turned around (e.g. at the 1984 Mexico City Population Conference) and now embrace it completely, or nearly so (UNFPA press release of 2002).

At the same time all this was going on, abortions were becoming more common - and more legal - first in developed nations and then in developing nations. Also, contraceptive technology and use are expanding rapidly - even into regions where fundamentalist clerics are quite powerful, e.g. see Ref. (08S4). A backlash resulted because opponents of abortion and modern contraception saw two threats to their cause:

Part [1-A-3] ~ Backlash Examples ~
One anti-abortion group said that women should work outside the home only if there is a financial crisis in the family, and they should consider such employment as "bondage" (89R1). The late economist Julian Simon, whose influential 1981 book "The Ultimate Resource" (81S1) challenged the very concept of over-population, was apparently linked to the Catholic organization Opus Dei, an organization with an agenda opposing modern contraception, women's rights, abortion etc. (86M1). In December 1983, the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education issued a document to all governments which stated "It is the task of the state to safeguard its citizens against injustice and moral disorders such as the . . . improper use of demographic information" (Ref. American Democracy p.184). In other words, it is the responsibility of the government to censor demographic information that suggests the existence of an over-population problem (86M1). The Vatican killed the NSSM 2000 Initiative and the Rockefeller Commission Initiative during the Nixon administration (96M1). These documents compiled the data and analyses for the contention that problems associated with global over-population threatened the national security.

Part [1-A-4] ~ Why Bipartisanship Died ~
Thus a once simple, largely bipartisan issue has been broadening, starting in the 1980s, into an increasingly tangled web of alliances among philosophies of government, theories about global peace and prosperity, and convictions about the proper role of women in society. Bipartisanship grows increasingly unlikely is such a changing and complex environment. The apparent irrationality and irony alluded to above are simply consequences of failures to recognize the expansion and strengthening of the motivations for favoring and opposing US support for IFP.

Part [1-A-5] ~ Historical Trends ~

The above data should make it easy to see the trends during the last half of the 20th century.

Part [1-A-6] ~ IFP and Maternal Health - Means, not Ends ~
The above long-term trends seem unlikely to reflect, primarily, growing concerns over maternal health and helping the world's poor to have the number of children they want or can afford. Nor were these trends likely to reflect primarily growing feelings that family planning services fell into the category of basic "human rights". Instead, these trends and the motivation for financially supporting IFP probably reflect ever-increasing components of:

IFP and maternal health-related assistance were probably never seen as ends of a magnitude comparable to the end of stabilizing human populations. Instead they were probably seen, to a significant degree, as means to a greater end. In the late 1950s through the 1970s IFP-related aid was motivated almost entirely by concerns over-population growth (the "demographic" rationale). In the 1980s and 1990s, a realization developed that only reduced desired family sizes could stabilize the developing world's population. This required not only increased educational and economic opportunities for women, but also reduced risks and hobbling effects related to maternity, i.e. increased maternal health care. Thus those motivated by the demographic rationale found allies in people seeking to broaden basic female outlooks and options.

Whether broadening basic female outlooks and options is seen as an end, or as a means to an end, is also argued here to be immaterial. Over-population entails ever-increasing desperateness in the struggle for basic resources (See Chapter 4). Women - and their status, options and outlooks - have always been victims of this struggle. Thus over-population should be seen as the crux of the matter, regardless of one's priorities. Nothing here should be taken as insinuating that expanded options for women, improvements in maternal health etc. are not legitimate and worthwhile ends in themselves. What is being said here is that these ends are certain to remain unmet unless human populations can be bought within the Earth's capacity to support such populations on a sustainable basis.

Part [1-A-7] ~ "Over-Population" Complexities ~
Over-population is taken in this document to mean

But the issue is significantly more complex. Adding to the complexity:

To avoid getting distracted by these complexities, Ref. (08S2) and Ref. (08S3) review these issues. This enables this document to stay focused on IFP, maternal health care, options for women in developing nations, root causes of developing world ills, the potential for "market mechanisms" to eliminate these ills, and the basic economics of IFP.

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~

SECTION (1-B) ~ THE ROLE OF OPPOSITION TO MODERN MEANS OF CONTRACEPTION IN THE I.F.P. CONTROVERSY ~ [1B1]~Catholic Laity in the Developed World ~ [1B2]~Developing World Modern Contraception Politics ~ [1B3]~Winds of Change in the Vatican ~ [1B4]~Power Politics in the WHO ~
One might at first think that opponents of abortion would be in favor of IFP, because numerous studies have found that increasing the availability of contraceptives decreases the rate of abortion. But abortion opponents tend to be the primary opponents to IFP. One might also think that outlawing abortion would decrease abortion rates. But the regions where abortion tends to be illegal are also where abortion rates are the highest (e.g. Latin America) and regions where abortion tends to be legal are also where abortion rates are the lowest (e.g. Europe). One might explain these two puzzling observations by postulating that opponents of abortion tend to also be opponents of contraception. Thus regions where abortion is illegal would also be the regions where contraceptives are difficult to obtain, and regions where abortion is legal would also be the regions where contraceptives are readily available. This postulate has difficulties however. Opposition to contraception is far less common than opposition to abortion. In fact, 80% of Americans who are anti-abortion support women's access to contraception (based on a 2005 poll by National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (06J1)). This means that only 20% of Americans who are anti-abortion are also anti-contraception.

To explain the difficulty in winning support for IFP we need one additional postulate - that Americans who are both anti-abortion and anti-contraception are far more dedicated and aggressive in pressing their views in arenas of public policy. They are the ones who make contraceptives difficult to obtain in Latin America, and they are the ones who influence legislators to vote against US support for IFP. They make up for the fact that they are an extremely small minority of Americans by their extreme dedication and activism. They can overcome their disadvantage of being an extremely small minority probably because (1) Americans feel generally secure in their own access to modern means of contraception, and (2) Americans don't fully comprehend the magnitude of the potential benefits of IFP in addressing the economic ills of the developing world - and/or they hear that fertilities are plummeting throughout the developing world and assume that the problems IFP are intended to address are well on their way to being solved. They have not yet come to an understanding of the effects of the additional three billion people that are expected in the developing world during the first half of the 21st century on the economic, social, political, and military stability of that region.

Opposition to modern means of contraception is diminishing virtually worldwide. Even in the Muslim world it is in rapid retreat (08S4). But that does not mean that the US population of those opposed to both abortion and contraception is shrinking or growing less dedicated. The leadership of this hard core is the Vatican and it has sufficient resources to sustain this core. This is true even though these resources are largely provided in the US by Catholics whose views on abortion, contraception, and sexual issues in general are at odds with those of the Vatican. Consider the following.

Part [1-B-1] ~ Catholic Laity in the Developed World ~
At the laity level of the Catholic Church in the developed world there is virtually no opposition to modern means of contraception. Some of the lowest total fertility rates in the world are in predominantly Catholic countries (e.g. 1.3 in Italy (97% Catholic); 1.4 in Poland (95% Catholic); 1.2 in Spain (94% Catholic) (data of around 2002)). The world's 15 lowest total fertility rates are all in Catholic countries. This would be impossible without widespread use of modern means of contraception (given that "natural" family planning methods have a failure rate of over 25%). In the US:

Just because the Vatican has little or no influence on the sex-related behavior of Catholic laity, one should not infer that everyone else ignores the Vatican's preaching related to sex. All the politically oriented fundamentalist Protestant electronic ministers in the US rose to power since the initiation of the "Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities" published by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1975. None of these fundamentalist Protestant electronic ministers had shown an interest in abortion prior to that "Pastoral Plan . . ." In fact religious fundamentalist, in general, had never objected to abortion until the Vatican actively coveted religious fundamentalists following publication of the "Pastoral Plan . . ." (86M1). This may partially explain why, around 1980, the IFP issue changed from a bipartisan one to a highly visible, and politically charged, issue. That change apparently had nothing to do with the sex-related values and behaviors of American families - just how US fundamentalist Protestant electronic ministers portray these values and behaviors.

Part [1-B-2] ~ Developing World Modern Contraception Politics ~
Opposition to modern means of contraception is strong in the African nations where HIV/AIDS is running rampant and the Vatican is influential. Clergy there have been known to buy up all the condoms in the local markets and burn them. Some Church officials there say that don't want their nation turning into a "Sodom and Gomorra", despite all the evidence that there is no correlation between contraception scarcity and sexual abstinence or between contraception availability and promiscuity. In the Philippines the Catholic Church warned candidates for public office that they face problems in the 2004 elections if they spoke in favor of non-Church-approved family planning (IPPF News, 8/22/02). The majority of Philippine Catholics is in favor of modern means of contraception. Muslim religious leaders in the Philippines have spoken in favor of family planning and contraception.

Part [1-B-3] ~ Winds of Change in the Vatican ~
Even within the Vatican, change appears to be in the winds in recent decades regarding modern means of contraception. Thomas Burch, one of the 64 lay members of the Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control (1966) revealed in the National Catholic Reporter that the tacit purpose of the Commission was to find a way for the Church to approve modern means of contraception without undermining Church authority (A. Jones, Vatican, "International Agencies Hone Family, Population Positions." National Catholic reporter (reprinted in Conscience, May/June 1984, p.7)) The Papal Commission was asked by "the high authority" to consider two propositions:

The Papal Commission voted 64-4 that changing the Church's stand on modern contraception was both possible and advisable. The report was submitted in mid-1966 to a commission of 20 cardinals and bishops. Eight voted in favor of recommending the report; six voted against it (including Pope John Paul II, then a Cardinal). The remaining six abstained. Cardinal Alfredo (second most powerful person in the church) lobbied against the decision of the commission of cardinals during 1967 and 1968. As a result, the pope ignored the commission and published "Humanae Vitae on 7/25/68 retaining the ban on "modern contraception" (p.23-24 of Ref. (86M1)). Both the people who prevented the change in the Vatican view on modern means of contraception are dead. David Yallop's best-selling book "In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I" (Bantam Books, 1984) submitted substantial evidence that Pope John Paul I was killed by threatened insiders just as he prepared to alter the contraception position and financial organization of the Church (86M1).

Part [1-B-4] ~ Power Politics in the WHO ~
The political powers of the Vatican should not be underestimated however. Professor Milton P. Siegel detailed how the Vatican seized control of World Health Organization (WHO) population policy making from the beginning (Ref. 304 of Ref. (96M1)). Siegel was Assistant Director General of WHO for its first 24 years and is considered among the world's foremost authorities on the development of WHO policy. During the third World Health Assembly (1950), the Vatican threatened to kill WHO and start their own organization if the director general did not stand up before the Assembly and specifically state that WHO would not get involved with family planning. He did. WHO did not get involved at all for more than a decade. In its 45-year history, WHO has had a deplorable record in family planning. Its commitment has been minuscule. Even today, family planning accounts for only a tiny fraction of the WHO budget. The Vatican continues to have considerable influence at WHO. For example, in the mid-1990s it succeeded in having appointed as director of WHO's Human Reproduction Program a professor from a Catholic University in Rome, Dr. Giuseppe Benagiano, the son of Pope John Paul II's dentist. Benagiano promptly set out to kill any further clinical studies of the quinacrine pellet method of non-surgical female sterilization (Ref. 305 of Ref. (96M1)).

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


Arguments developed in Section (4-A) support the contention that eliminating over-population is a goal worthy of efforts on a global scale. This goal can be broken down into three intermediate goals.

Goal (1): Universal Access to I.F.P.-Related Services

In operational terms, universal access to IFP-related services means making sure all couples in developing nations have ready access to family-planning knowledge and services, including access to modern, effective means of contraception, free of coercion to either accept or reject such services. (Involuntary IFP has been found to work poorly, or to be counter-productive (Section (2-D).) Motivations for developed nations to support Goal (1) extend beyond the charitable (Section (5-A)). An analysis by Bongaarts (95B1) concluded that 43% of the fertility decline that occurred in the developing world between the 1960-65 period and the 1985-90 period could be attributed to family planning programs. Another analysis found that as much as 40% of the reduction in developing nations' total fertility rates, (from around 6 in the mid-1960s to 3.2 in the late 1990s), is attributed to IFP programs (98B1). Were Goal (1) to be achieved, developing-nation fertilities could be further reduced to an estimated 2.7 children/ woman - about halfway down to "replacement level" (2.1) (90B1) (94B1) (00S1). However, it is easier to reduce fertilities from 6 to 3.2 than from 3.2 to 2.7 when desired family size is 2.7.

Maternal Health Care: At the 1994 Cairo Population Conference the importance of maternal health care to population concerns was given much greater recognition than before. Recognized was the need for women in developing nations to reduce their relatively high risk of death, disability, paralysis or serious injury associated with pregnancy, narrowly spaced pregnancies, pregnancy at too young an age, too many pregnancies, and other maternity-based problems (Section (2-B)). Aside from humanitarian considerations, the purpose of this is to render women less hobbled by maternity-based problems, making it possible for them to take greater advantage of educational and economic opportunities (Goal (2)). This decreases desired family sizes and hence fertilities. This component of Goal (1) also seems motivated by the compassion Americans feel for the low social status and resultant wretched conditions endured by many women in developing nations. In the 1990s it became a human-rights issue (02S1) (Section (2-B)).

A close symbiotic relationship exists between family-planning services and maternal health-care. Family-planning clinics have the same customer base as clinics devoted to maternity-based problems. Also, offering maternity-based services draws women to the clinics, permitting family-planning issues to be discussed. Also, it makes family-planning clinics more socially acceptable.

Goal (2): Expanded Educational and Economic Opportunities for Women

Educational and economic opportunities have been found to significantly reduce desired family sizes - and hence fertilities. The range of options available to women in developed nations appears to be capable of reducing desired family sizes and fertility to, or below, replacement-level. The question of whether this same result might also be expected in developing nations is examined in Chapter 3. Goal (1) makes it more possible for women, having fewer children, to broaden their range of educational and economic options. So achieving Goal (1) can contribute to achieving Goal (2).

Goal (3): Stabilized Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Water Supplies

Achieving Goals (1) and (2) implies achieving total fertility rates of 2.1 (replacement level) and, after population-growth-momentum effects die off, population stabilization. Achieving this within the smallest possible time - a few generations after Goals (1) and (2) are met - imply a maximum global population of about 9 billion (01U2) (99U4). Yet all basic systems related to supplying food, wood and freshwater are degrading, even under the population pressures of 6 billion. Also, the engines that have driven food productivity-growth over the past four decades are at, or approaching, their limits, or have become counter-productive (08S2). The combination of these two factors force the conclusion that productivity levels are growing increasingly non-sustainable. Also, many of the food/ wood/ freshwater-supply systems of developing nations are being converted to low-labor-input-high-capital-input systems producing food and wood for export to markets with median incomes far greater than $2/ capita/ day median income in developing nations. This conversion is adding significantly to the population-growth-motivated migration to urban areas. There, due to capital constraints, there are nowhere near enough options for the new arrivals (Ref. (08S3)).

These changes are occurring under the stresses of a current global population of 6 billion. The world's population is projected to reach 8 billion by 2025, and 9 billion by 2050 (01U2) (99U4). So system degradation rates, being proportional to excess population, should be expected to be far greater than these population growth rates during the next five decades. Something beyond Goals (1) and (2) is required. The two options are:
(A) A significant period of below-replacement fertilities and
(B) Actions to stabilize food/ wood/ freshwater supplies.

A large compilation (06S2) of data on degradation of food/ wood/ freshwater-based life-support systems (and on an analysis (08S2) of the sustainability of the world's outputs of food, wood and freshwater) makes a case that both Options (A) and (B) would be essential. But neither option could ever be achieved without a clear, global understanding of the need for these options. Achieving this requires compelling arguments to rebut arguments by IFP opponents that Options (A) and (B) and Goals (1), (2) and (3) have no relevance to developing-world ills. Chapter 4 makes a case against these arguments.

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


IFP opponents argue against increasing life-shaping options for women, and argue that the earth's key natural life-support systems are so vast and expandable as to make over-population and large-scale degradation of these natural systems little more than remote possibilities (81S1) (01L1). In order to explain the observed degradation of life in developing nations without admitting any role for over-population, abortion opponents have resorted to arguing that the ills of developing nations are:

This places these ills conveniently beyond the ability of developed nations to address them. So in recent years, opposition to support for IFP-related services is supported by arguments aimed at:

The remainder of this document is devoted to:

Some important data: A lot of the data that are needed to gain a quantitative perspective on the issues discussed in this document are contained in the table below. Develop some reasonable degree of familiarity with these data so that you will know when this table might be useful.

Table (1-A) ~ Global-Scale Maternity-Related Data (02D1)

(Data are for the year 2000)




Women Aged 15-44 (thousands)




Pregnancies (thousands)




Unintended Pregnancies (thousands)




Births (thousands)




Unintended Births (thousands)




Abortions (thousands)




Maternal abortion-related deaths




Maternal Deaths




Deaths due to Unintended Pregnancies




Note: Ref. (02D1) breaks the developing world data above down into 4 regions of the Earth, and breaks the developed world into 3 regions of the Earth. Then it breaks those data further down into all nations. It does this for each of the 6 years 1995 through 2000. Note that unintended pregnancies and births do not include mis-timed pregnancies and births. Note that the ratio of unintended pregnancies to total pregnancies suggests that the average woman gets pregnant about one time more than she intended. The average woman on this planet gets one abortion during her lifetime. Comparing abortion rates to unintended pregnancies suggests that about 75% of unintended pregnancies are aborted. Note the huge difference between the various death rates in developing nations as compared to those in the developed world. Only a small fraction of these differences can be explained by population differences. Much of the remaining difference is probably explained by the larger fraction of abortions that are illegal in the developing world. Some of the remaining difference is probably explainable by the lower quality of health care generally.

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~



Magnitude: Some estimates of unmet needs are given below. For perspective, the number of women of reproductive age (15-49) in developing nations is 1.2 billion (99M1) (00S1). A more recent figure is 1.32 billion (04S1). About 236 million of these women have had a tubal ligation or have a partner who has had a vasectomy (04S1).

#1 - According to UN estimates, in the developing world outside of China, the number of women aged 15-49 grew by 13% between 1995-2000, but the proportion in need fell from 19 to 17% (02R1).
#2 - The figure from Ref. (02R1) is lower than Ref. (98U2) in part because the latter also counts women who use traditional family planning methods. These methods usually have high failure rates, resulting in numerous unwanted pregnancies, abortions, maternal deaths and births (02R1).

In Section (2-C) the financial costs of meeting these unmet needs, and the magnitude of the efforts to meet them, are analyzed. It appears that the cost of providing family planning services is about $20/ couple/ year. So an unmet need of the UNFPA estimate of over 350 million couples would cost over $7 billion/ year to fill. The total cost of filling the unmet needs for basic reproductive health services (Section (2-B)) is about half of that. Meeting these unmet needs would lower the total fertility rate (TFR) of the developing world from the current 3.2 about halfway to 2.1 children per woman (the TFR needed for population stabilization after the "momentum effect" has run its course) (Refs. 9 and 51 of Ref. (00S1)) (90B1).

Effects of Universal Access on Population: In 1994, Bongaarts disaggregated the sources of future population growth in developing countries into three categories:

This suggests that universal access to family-planning services could reduce the population growth rate of developing nations from the current average of 1.4%/ year (02U1) by 33% to 0.94%/ year over the short term. It also suggests a (49+33) = 82% reduction to 0.25%/ year over the long term (50 years) as momentum effects die off. The final 0.25%/ year growth rate (12.5 million/ year in developing nations) would need to be eliminated by increased life-shaping options for women. This is out of a developing-world birth rate of roughly 108 million/ year (computed assuming a global birth rate of 130 million/ year (99M1) (00S1) and a developing world population of 5.0 billion (02U1)).

Effects of Past Access to Family Planning Services:

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


Maternal Mortality: In considering the effects of IFP funding on maternal mortality, one must go through a chain of causes and effects, and then judge the magnitude of each such linkage. IFP reduces rates of illegal and low-grade abortions. This reduces maternal mortality in developing nations. US support for the abortion component of IFP services ended in 1973, so no logical direct connection should be made between support for IFP and abortion. The remaining components of IFP services reduce abortion rates. In fact, one of the best ways to prevent abortions is by providing quality voluntary IFP services (01N1). Evidence supports this:

Some perspective on the potential for support for IFP services to reduce abortion rates can be gained from the following:

Some perspective on the potential for support for IFP services to saves women's lives by reducing the rates of illegal and low-grade abortions can be gained from the following:

IFP can significantly reduce maternal mortality. But the above logic and data address only one facet of the issue. Raising public awareness of the consequences of over-population, and providing developing-world women with more life-shaping options works in the direction of making abortions legal (See Chapter 1). This reduces rates of illegal abortions, further reducing maternal mortality.

Other Aspects of Maternal Health: A compelling commentary on the effect of funds for IFP on women in developing nations is by Pamela White, "House Turn its Back on Women's Suffering". It appeared in the Colorado Daily on 9/12-14/97 and is reprinted below (with permission from the Colorado Daily). It appears to reflect the feelings of many women on the issue.

About 600,000 women and girls die worldwide every year from pregnancy and childbirth - a figure equal to US casualties in World War I, the Korean War and Vietnam combined. Most of these women are in their teens and early 20s, forced by their societies into bearing children at a young age and far too frequently.

According to UNICEF figures, 140,000 women bleed to death each year, hemorrhaging violently from uterine arteries meant to sustain life. Tragically, many die within reach of medical facilities because their relatives refuse to allow them to be treated by male doctors. 75,000/ year die from trying to end their pregnancies. The UN estimates that worldwide 50,000 women and girls try to induce abortions on themselves each day (18.3 million/ year), inserting sharp objects into their bodies or taking poisons. Many of those who survive face life-long, crippling pain. Some 75,000 more die from complications of eclampsia - a condition that can cause brain damage and kidney failure. Choked to death by high blood pressure, organs gradually fail, condemning both mother and fetus.

Approximately 100,000/ year die from sepsis, as toxins creep from infected wombs into their blood streams, causing fever, severe pelvic pain and organ failure. Another 40,000/ year die from the unspeakable agony of prolonged labor, following days of futile contractions repeatedly grinding down the skull of an already asphyxiated baby onto the soft tissues of a pelvis that is just too small. Some of those are left to die alone and untreated, as men in some cultures believe prolonged labor to be proof of adultery. And those are only the fatalities. UNICEF statistics show that for every woman who dies, 30 face gruesome injuries and disabilities: prolapsed uteruses, incontinence, pelvic inflammatory disease, genital injuries, back and hip disorders, and paralysis. That's more than 17 million women/ year.

About 0.5-1.0 million women suffer from a condition called fistula. In these cases, vaginal tissue, deprived of its blood supply by the pressure of a baby's skull during a prolonged labor, has rotted and fallen out, leaving rifts in the muscle through which urine and excrement leak from the bladder and rectum into the vagina and out of the body. Lacking the ability to control the passing of their body's wastes, women who suffer fistula become pariahs, thrown into the streets by husbands who are repulsed and no longer want them around. UNICEF reports that these women don't live long. They die from infection, starvation and suicide.

Then there's anemia. And untreated genital injuries, especially perineal tears, that leave a woman dreading sex for the rest of her life because it has become a painful ordeal. Add to that the exhausting burden of repeated pregnancies and births, which even when free from complications are no picnic, and you have a global picture of suffering on the part of women that demands global response.

These figures come from 1995, a year in which US foreign aid for IFP clinics was firmly in place. Without contraception to prevent pregnancies, these figures would skyrocket.

How can such a heavy burden of death, disease and disability have continued for so long with so little outcry? If hundreds of thousands of men were suffering and dying every year, alone and in fear and in agony, or if millions upon millions of men were being injured and disabled and humiliated, sustaining massive and untreated injuries and wounds to their genitalia, leaving them in constant pain, infertile and incontinent, and in dread of having sex, then we would all have heard about this issue long ago, and something would have been done. And something should be done. Something is being done, albeit on a small scale, with the aid of international population assistance that over 100 men in the US House of Representatives vote against yearly.

When men march to war and fall in numbers equal to those listed above, it becomes the stuff of legend, or at least TV news broadcasts and protests. Songs are composed. Stories are told. Monuments are erected. People march and commemorate.

But women, who are killed and maimed everyday, are ignored by a male-dominated world that refuses to see, let alone acknowledge, their suffering. Outside of ancient Sparta, you won't find any society infusing these women's deaths with the inflated significance and puffed-up glory that becomes attached to men's battle deaths.

What is most infuriating, however, is that these deaths and tragic injuries are entirely preventable. Some legislators might be able to turn their backs on these women and dull their ears to their cries, misogynist and arrogant as they are. These are, after all, only women -Third World women at that.

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


Section (2-A) gives estimates of the unmet need for family planning services in terms of numbers of people in developing nations with unmet needs. Here the same issue is taken up, but in terms of the financial costs of filling these unmet needs. Also of interest is the financial cost of the unmet needs for basic reproductive health services in developing nations. (Dollar figures below pertain to $US.)

Total expenditures on family planning in developing nations are about $10 billion/ year ($2/ capita/ year) (98B1). This money comes from five main sources: (1) individual households in developing nations, (2) programs paid for by developing-nation governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), (3) contribution from governments in developed nations, (4) charitable foundations and (5) development banks (mainly in the form of loans). A recent history of funds provided by Sources (3), (4) and (5) for "population assistance" is given in Table (2-A).

The $1.4-billion contribution from the developed world in 1999 is only 2.5% of all official development assistance from developed nations in 1999 ($56.2 billion (00U2)).

Table (2-A) ~ A Recent History of External Sources of Funding for "Population Assistance" in Developing Nations ~ (UNFPA data (00U2)) (in millions of US dollars).

Source \ Year











Developed Nations











UN system











Foundations# & NGOs











Bank grants






















Devel. Bank (Loans)











Grand Totals











# Gates (48%), Ford (13%), Packard (11%), MacArthur (6%), Rockefeller (6%), Wellcome Trust (5%), Hewlitt (4%), Mellon (3%) (1999 data) (00U2).

The "population assistance" figures above include expenditures on sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS activities, basic research and population- and development policy analysis. Figures are available from the UNFPA (00U2) for extracting donor expenditures purely on family planning services and basic reproductive health services during 1995-99. The corresponding data applicable to development bank loans are not available, but it seems reasonable to apply the same multipliers as were applied to the donor data. The results of this analysis (in millions of dollars) are given in Table (2-B) below. The UNFPA (00U2) also provides data for Source (2) - expenditures by developing nation governments and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on family planning services and basic reproductive health services, but only for 1997-99. These data are also given in Table (2-B).

Data on Source (1) (developing world citizens purchasing their family planning methods from a commercial source) are sparse. An estimated 12% of developing world women who use modern contraception methods obtains their method from commercial sources (34% if China and India are excluded) (99P1).

Table (2-B) ~ Recent history of funds provided by external providers, developing nation governments and developing nation NGOs for family planning services and basic reproductive health care in developing nations ~
(UNFPA data (00U2)) (All figures are in units of millions of US dollars).

Use of Funds

Family Planning Services

Basic# Reproductive Health

Source \ Year











Donors (Table (2-A))











Developed Bank Loans






















Developing Nation Gov.











Developing N. NGOs











Grand Totals











# Not meant to cover emergency obstetric services.
Note: Expenditures based on funds received from developed nation donors and development bank loans are not includes in the developing-nation figures above.

Bulatao (98B1) states that expenditures on family planning in developing countries were estimated by several sources for 1990 at $4-5 billion (93W1), and that these figures are higher now. In another estimate (96G1), about $3 billion of the roughly $4 billion/ year spent (around 1995) to provide family-planning services in developing countries is borne by the countries' own governments and by those using these services. The remaining $1 billion/ year is contributed by developed countries (96G1). The reason for the disparities between these figures and UNFPA data above is unknown. The 1994 Cairo population conference set a goal for 2000 of $10.2 billion in public expenditures for family planning services, and $5 billion for reproductive health services. These expenditures were to be split 1/3: 2/3 between outside donors and developing nation governments themselves. Regardless of which data are used, Table (2-B) shows that large gaps exist between government commitments and performance. A rough analysis of these gaps is given in Table (2-C) below. The world's governments, as a whole, appear to be about $10.7 billion/ year short on what they committed to at the 1994 Cairo population conference. Both developed and developing worlds would need to triple their contributions to come close to what they committed to.

Table (2-C) ~ Comparison of what was committed to at the 1994 Cairo Population Conference and what was actually contributed in 2000 using data from Table (2-B) ~

Use of Funds

Family Planning

Repro. Health








Developed World







Developing World














Actual values are rough estimate (All figures in millions of $US.)
Committed totals are expected to grow at the rate of growth of the reproductive-age population, 2%/ year until 2015, and 1%/ year thereafter.

Financial Costs of Meeting Unmet Needs
The financial costs of meeting the unmet needs for family planning services and basic reproductive health services were expressed in terms of numbers of people in Section (2-A). One might expect that the goals that were set at the 1994 UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo would have been based on the UNFPA's estimates of the financial costs of meeting these unmet needs. But the political give-and-take at conferences attended by representatives of 180 governments does not assure this. An evaluation of the goals established in Cairo is given below.

Consider the goal of $10.2 billion/ year for family planning services in developing nations in 2000. Translating this goal to 1994 gives $9.0 billion/ year (2%/ year is the rate of growth of the population in its reproductive years.). The difference between this and the amount being spent by foreign donors and developing nation governments around 1994 was about $1.6 billion/ year (Table (2-A)). This indicates that if the goal had been set at the assumed cost of meeting unmet needs, the assumed cost of meeting the unmet needs for family planning services the UNFPA would have been $7.4 billion/ year (9.0 minus 1.6). Worldwide, over 350 million of the 1.1 billion couples of reproductive age lack access to a full range of modern family-planning information and services (UNFPA estimate) (95U1). According to Bulatao (98B1), the cost of program-supplied modern methods of family planning may be roughly estimated at $20/ user/ year. This suggests a total cost for 350+ million couples of $7.0+ billion/ year - fairly close to $7.4 billion. Thus it appears that the goal for family planning services set in Cairo was indeed set at something approximating the estimated cost of meeting the unmet needs of the estimated number of couples with unmet needs. Data are not available for performing a similar analysis for basic reproductive health services. But it seems fairly safe to assume that, if one of the goals was set based on unmet needs, the other one would also.

Translating Financial Shortfalls into Physical Terms:

Translating Money Spent on Modern Contraception Services into Physical Terms:

About $7.1 billion per year (in 2003 dollars) is spent in the developing world on modern contraceptive services (including labor, overhead, capital, and contraceptive supplies). For the 270 million women in the developing world who use modern contraceptive services, this money prevents (04S1):

Preventing these health consequences also reduces the need for services such as treatment of the complications of unsafe abortions and care for orphans.

Translating the Cost of Meeting Unmet Needs for Modern Contraceptive Services into Physical Terms:

The cost of meeting the unmet needs for modern contraceptive services to the 201 million women in developing countries with unmet needs would cost $3.9 billion (in 2003 dollars). Meeting these unmet needs would avert an additional 52 million pregnancies each year (04S1). Averting 52 million unintended pregnancies would prevent

Costs of Reducing Population Growth Rates: The marginal cost of reducing the global population growth rate (currently about 78 million/ year) has been estimated for a variety of strategies:

Thus the marginal cost of averting a birth ranges from a small fraction of $58 to roughly a factor of ten higher than $58, depending on which approach is taken.

Singh et al (04S1) give a review of the literature on the ratio of the direct financial benefits to direct financial costs to governments in averting an unintended birth through family planning:

Table (2-D) ~ Some ratios of direct financial benefits to direct financial costs to governments in averting an unintended birth through family planning (04S1) ~


Benefit/ Cost

Typical high-mortality, high fertility African Country

1.2 ($440/ $368)

Typical low-fertility Latin American Country

12 ($1600/ $133)









Costs are abnormally high in Africa because family planning programs there are typically in their start-up phase, with high initial infrastructure costs and few users. In the other nations, the lists of direct financial benefits considered appear to be incomplete. This would suggest that actual benefit/ cost ratios are considerably higher than the ratios tabulated above.

A relatively new strategy for averting births involves the use of radio- and TV "soap operas" (social-content serial dramas) to sell people in developing nations on the benefits of having fewer children (See Chapter 3). Evaluations of benefit/ cost ratios are incomplete, but preliminary data indicate that the ratios are far higher than those listed above.

The same "soap opera" strategy is being used to change social behavior in such a way as to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS. The financial cost of changing the social behavior of one person via this strategy has been found to be an astoundingly low 8 cents. This could produce a huge spillover into birth aversion, since so much of the funding that would otherwise go to family planning in developing nations is being increasingly diverted to the battle against HIV/AIDS. The strategy also offers the distinct possibility of achieving huge reductions in the number of new cases of HIV/ AIDS at fairly low cost. A study (05H1) compared the cost of effectively curing a case of AIDS by the normal anti-retroviral therapy to the cost of a number of media/ communications strategies for averting a case of HIV in the first place. The study found that the anti-retroviral therapy approach is several hundred times greater than the least expensive media/ communication strategy for preventing a case of HIV/AIDS from occurring. The social content serial drama approach (not included in the media/ communications strategies studied) could reduce the cost of preventing a case of HIV/AIDS by on the order of yet another factor of ten (07S2).

Cost Effectiveness: Various technological advances have resulted in IFP-related services becoming one of many strategies for reducing fertilities and thereby averting births. The cost of the least expensive strategy for averting births has been trending downward dramatically in recent decades - by factors on the order of 10-100 (07S2). These strategies all have limits in terms of minimum achievable fertility being limited by desired family sizes. However any reduction in fertility rates reduces the scarcity of financial capital in developing nations (See below.), and this increases the opportunities for human capital creation (education) and this, in turn, expands upon the range of life-changing options available to women and girls. This, in turn, tends to reduce desired family sizes even further. This results in all sorts of societal benefits extending far beyond the immediate issue of family planning. In the last hundred years, no nation on Earth has moved from the poor and less developed status to prosperous and developed status until it reduced its total fertility rate (TFR) to 2.3 (97P1).

Trade-offs: Selzer (02S1) notes that, in an environment of severe scarcity of funds, funding of maternal health care almost certainly decreases funding for family planning services. Also, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is taking funds away from both maternal health care and family planning services, particularly family planning services. In Chapter 5 it is noted that reducing population growth rates entails a "demographic bonus" in excess of $1.0 trillion / year for the developing world. An obvious strategy thus presents itself - focus all possible funding on family planning related services (and other inexpensive strategies for reducing fertilities. Then use some of the hundreds of billions of dollars from the resultant demographic bonus on maternal health care and HIV/ AIDS. The result would be all three needs being funded vastly better than they are at present. There are two problems with this scheme. Political problems would be severe, at least according to several international family-planning organizations. Also the developing world is so financial capital-starved due to its high population growth rate that allocating some portion of the demographic bonus to maternal health services and HIV/ AIDS would be practically impossible - a classic Catch-22.

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~

SECTION (2 - D) ~ I. F. P. - IMPOSED? - NONE OF OUR BUSINESS? ~ [2D1]~China and the UNFPA - Guilt by Association ~ [2D2]~Consequences of Denying IFP Aid to China ~ [2D3]~China's Plight ~ [2D4]~The Future of Involuntary Family Planning ~ [2D5]~Whose Family-Planning Values are being "imposed?" ~ [2D6]~Is IFP none of the Developing World's Business? ~

Opponents of IFP argue that:

  1. IFP does not address the root causes of developing world ills.
  2. Any population-related ills can be solved by free-market mechanisms.
  3. In some or all cases, family planning is being forcibly imposed on developing world couples.
  4. In any case, IFP is none of the business of developing nations.

Arguments (1) and (2) have been addressed earlier in this document. Here, Arguments (3) and (4) are examined.

Part [2D1] ~ China and the UNFPA - Guilt by Association ~
One reason Congress cuts aid to the United Nations Family Planning Organization (UNFPA) for its IFP activities is allegedly its anger over the UNFPA's perceived relationship with China's coercive abortion program. However, according to Steven Sindling, director of population science at the Rockefeller Foundation, UNFPA spent most of its efforts in China encouraging Chinese officials to switch from the primitive steel-ring IUD to copper-T units, which harm women less, and usually have reversible effects. UNFPA also spent much effort attempting to persuade Chinese officials to stop compelling abortions, but in order to stay in China UNFPA did not aggressively denounce what was happening there. When word of China's forced abortions reached the West, the UNFPA was tainted by association. From 1986 to1993 and even today, Congress gave UNFPA no funding, citing the Chinese program. Withdrawal of US support for China's budding transition to voluntary family-planning, i.e. eliminating support for UNFPA, produces an additional 200,000 Chinese abortions/ year according to experts' estimates (Gregg Easterbrook, The New Republic, 11/23/98).

Part [2D2] ~ Consequences of Denying IFP Aid to China ~
China has had to take extreme (by western minds) measures to reduce fertility to 2.0 children/ woman. This has been accomplished mainly in urban areas where only 200 of 1278 million Chinese live. In rural China, where a billion Chinese live, a 1996-98 study (99H1) found fertility remaining at around 4. This helps to explain why:

Future Chinese expansion could hardly go anywhere else but to Taiwan, Bangladesh, Japan, Korea, India, Outer Mongolia, Russia, and other areas where wars would likely be precipitated. These wars could readily involve the US, and cost the US vastly more that the money saved by denying the Chinese the funds they need for family planning services.

Part [2D3] ~ China's Plight ~
Anyone who has studied Chinese soil-erosion, cropland urbanization, deforestation, desertification, dam siltation, irrigation problems and numerous similar carrying-capacity issues (06S2) knows how close to the edge of major instabilities China is. Once this is understood it becomes abundantly clear why China's leaders have resorted to draconian measures to maintain order and reduce population growth. Over-population and population growth have made human life cheap in many regions of the Far East. The problem is that forced abortions tend to lead eventually to a public backlash and result in effects opposite from those intended. A far more effective strategy for reducing China's population growth rate would be to sell the benefits of smaller families, greater levels of female education, etc. on a voluntary basis.

Part [2D4] ~ The Future of Involuntary Family Planning ~
Involuntary family-planning procedures that have been tried in various parts of the world (China, India, Peru) have all failed. The Peruvian government attempted to impose abortions, sterilizations, etc. on some of its poorer citizens. This was probably a consequence of environmental stresses faced by Peru being similar to those faced by China (06S2). It is understood that protests from around the world were largely responsible for ending Peru's more forceful population-control measures. Attempts at imposing involuntary family planning in India resulted in the assassination of one of its leaders and has caused a public distaste for anything smacking of family planning. This public perception is only slowly going away. All this suggests that involuntary family planning is hardly the wave of the future.

Part [2D5] ~ Whose family-planning values being "imposed?" ~
On 6/4/99 in The Daily Oklahoman, an Op-Ed by Stirling Scruggs, Director of the Information and External Relations Division of UNFPA defended the consensus of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. The Conference's "Programme of Action" was approved by, among others, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims; it brought together countries representing every region." Scruggs also pointed out that UNFPA "only provides assistance where it is invited to help." (in response to an "Inside the Vatican" article contending that developed nations try to impose their family-planning values on developing nations.)

Despite this, the American Life League (ALL) president, Judie Brown, said, "The alleged population problem is merely a cover for racists to force abortion and contraception on poor women." "The whole issue when you come right down to it for us is that there should not be any family clinics - none, for any reason whatsoever." ... "There is no reason for anyone to be concerned with controlling someone else's family, none." (Panafrican News Agency (11/1/99) )

Similar sentiments were expressed in an interview of Republican candidates for the 7th Congressional District (TX) (Houston Chronicle, 2/7/00). One said, "The US needs to quit forcing birth control on other countries." Another said, "I think it's wrong to tell other countries what to do." Another called it "improper and impertinent" for the US to export birth control and family planning to other nations.

But others have pointed that 120 million couples [excluding the unmarried] in developing countries do not want another child soon, but have no access to family-planning methods or have insufficient information on the topic (00P1). About 100 million women want fewer children, but have no access to contraception (6/9/99 Reuters). Why would IFP agencies expend inadequate resources working to forcibly impose their services on people when there are hundreds of millions of people who want their services but who can't get them due to IFP agencies lacking the funds needed to expand their services? With regard to the ALL statement, see Ref. (06S2) and Section (4-A) above. By 1984, developing nations had virtually all become convinced of the urgent need to reduce their population growth, and they articulated that position at the 1984 Mexico City Population Conference. (This represented a reversal of their position at the 1974 Bucharest Population Conference).

All this gives a compelling case that, indeed, family-planning values are being imposed on developing nations. But it is the family-planning values of opponents of IFP that are being imposed. The lives of billions of developing-world folk are being rendered increasingly desperate by being denied access to the family-planning services that they want.

Part [2D6] ~ Is IFP none of the Developed World's Business? ~
It appears clear that donor-supported IFP projects are not impositions of family planning on people in developing nations. But this does not invalidate the argument that IFP is none of the business of developed nations. This argument was articulated by American Life League (ALL) president, Judie Brown, and seven Republican candidates for the 7th Congressional District (TX) (See above).

At the 1984 population conference in Mexico City, developing nations collectively concluded that over-population was a serious threat. Thus it would be difficult, today, to say that developing nations are unwilling recipients of IFP assistance. The premise that developed nations have no justification for being involved in IFP in developing nations depends on one or both of two premise:

  1. Over-population does not exist - now and for the foreseeable future and/or
  2. Over-population affects only developing nations -- no spillover effects on developed nations.

A 900-page review (06S2) of the global literature on the serious degradation of the earth's entire system for producing food, wood and freshwater (summarized in Ref. (08S2)) gives compelling evidence against Premise (1) - evidence that, by and large, cannot be explained by allusions to incompetent and/or corrupt governance. As for Premise (2), consider just the following effects of developing-nations' over-population on developed nations:

Any one of these effects offers developed nations more than enough justification for taking over-population and population growth in developing nations seriously, and for taking action to aid couples in developing nations who want to limit their fertility but who lack the means to accomplish this (Section (5-A)).

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


Goal (1) of the strategy for stabilizing the developing world's population and food/ wood/ freshwater systems is universal access to IFP-related services, including modern contraceptives (Chapter 2.). It believed to be capable of reducing the total fertility ratio (TFR) in the developing world from its present 3.2 children per woman to 2.7 - halfway down to replacement level (2.1). This Chapter 3 takes up Goal 2 - expanded educational and economic opportunities for women - as a means of reducing TFR from 2.7 to 2.1.

Children as Social Security: Increasing life-shaping options for women decreases desired family-sizes. But there is a Catch-22 operating here. The financial capital costs of population growth result in limited financial infrastructure in high population-growth-rate countries (Section (5-B)). Thus there is little by way of incentive or means to save. As a result, children tend to be seen as the only viable form of social security. But this makes the financial infrastructure and savings problems even worse. This would suggest that even small reductions in population growth rates could produce large economic benefits that could foster even greater reductions in population growth rates. Increased educational and economic opportunities reduce women's dependence on children in two ways.

Evidence from developed nations (where women have a broad range of life-shaping options) suggests that a 0.6 reduction in TFR may be possible through increases in life-shaping options for women, since TFRs there are under 2.1. However government-based social-security systems in developed nation are likely to remain better than those in developing nations for some decades due to issues like the large external debts in developing nations. So sufficient opportunity-based reductions in developing-nation TFRs are not assured.

Second-Order Effects: Reducing developing world TFRs from 3.2 to 2.7 via universal access to IFP (Goal 1) reduces the capital- and other costs of raising children. In societal terms, lower TFRs reduce the cost of accommodating population growth. This "demographic bonus" (Section (5-A).) provides several benefits:

These benefits have the potential to pay off in further rounds of reductions in desired family sizes and fertilities and increasing demographic bonuses. These positive-feedback loops reduce the need for specific Goal-2 efforts.

The Demographic Bonus: "Demographic bonuses" are not to be taken lightly. Reductions in fertility in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan during 1960-1990 from six to two (1.8 in east Asia) is partly responsible for the impressive rise in East Asian savings and investment rates since the late 1960s. This is believed to have been a significant factor in these nations becoming the world's five fastest growing economies in the world during 1960-1990 (98B1). The net effect of the reduction in "dependency ratio" (dependents per worker) in northeast and southeast Asia was large enough to produce the entire decline in foreign capital dependence after 1970, by itself turning these regions from net debtors to net creditors on world capital markets (98B1). Between 1965 and 1990, the slowing of population growth accounted for as much as one third of the rapid growth in per-capita income in East Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan (98B3). Singapore's living standards are higher than Germany's (04H1). South Korea and Taiwan are already at European levels of GDP per capita.

A common misconception needs to be dispelled here. Some have argued that the eight or so nations that progressed from developing world status to (or near to) developed world status during periods of active family planning programs got rich first, and that this was followed by falling fertilities. They argue, in debates over the value of family planning services, "Wealth is the best contraceptive." Research has found, however, that when family planning services are easy to obtain, and free of barriers, both educated (rich) and uneducated (poor) women in developing nations use contraception at the same rate (05L1). Wealth is apparently not a pre-requisite, or a precursor, to low fertilities. Just making family planning services readily available produces both wealth and low total fertility rates. This happens as a result of reduced fertilities eliminating a huge demand for financial capital (infrastructure needed to accommodate population growth) that leaves developing nations starved for financial capital and, consequently, human capital. The experiences of the five "Asian Tiger" economies and several other economies that evolved from developing world status to (or near to) developed world status demonstrate this quite clearly. In fact, no data apparently exist suggesting that wealth is a pre-requisite to low fertilities (97P1).

Chapter 5 discusses the relationship between capital formation and population growth in the developing world. A case can be made for the contention that the capital drain caused by population growth plays a crucial role in defining the differences between the developed and developing worlds. The key role of capital formation in defining life-shaping opportunities for developing-world women should thus come as no surprise.

Other Promoters of More Options: Large-scale increases in global communications technology and hardware are spreading western culture to developing nations. Substantial majorities of people even in many African countries now have regular access to radio, as demonstrated by recent Demographic and Health Surveys. These communications media have been found to promote declining fertilities in developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Women of developing nations see the freedoms of women of developed nations and the economic advantages of small families, and the ideas resonate. Organizations like Population Media Center ( have found that radio- and TV "soap operas" (social-content serial dramas) and other formats can be influential (and very cost-effective) in expanding opportunities for women and reducing total fertility rates. An analysis of data from a radio serial in Tanzania ( found that the total cost per new adopter of family planning was fewer than 80 cents (US) while the cost of selling a person on the idea of changing their behavior to avoid HIV/AIDS was 8 cents (US). Such cost-effectiveness figures are unmatched by any other known strategy. Figures on cost effectiveness in terms of the cost of averting a birth are not yet available, but it seems likely that these media strategies will prove to be far more cost-effective than normal family planning services (condoms, birth-control pills, tubal litigation, vasectomies etc. - see Section (2-C)). Keep in mind however that there is a symbiotic relationship between organizations that sell people on the idea of smaller families and seeking family-planning services and organizations that provide such services. More coordination between these two types of organizations is needed (07S2).

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


Around 1980 the issue of funding IFP changed from being quiet and bipartisan to highly visible and politically charged. It seems worthwhile, then, to attempt to determine what significant event(s) took place around that time that might have produced that ideological shift. The link that is made below is likely to be contentious, so the relevant logic and data must be treated in some detail. One will also note, below, how deeply the abortion issue has penetrated into the basic character of US politics. It was not just policies affecting IFP that were affected by the ideological shift, but also foreign policy, social policy, environmental policy, military strategies, among others, that have been strongly affected - adversely for the most part. However, an understanding of all this can be beneficial in understanding trends in American politics.

Some noteworthy characteristics of the developing world that distinguish it from the developed world are listed in Table (4).

Table (4) ~ Some developing world characteristics that distinguish it from the developed world ~

These ills have been attributed to over-population by such entities as the World Bank, numerous government agencies of developed and developing nations, about 70% of the American people (Appendix B) and probably an even larger fraction of non-governmental organizations globally. However most opponents of support for IFP claim to see these ills as results of "bad government". For example, in an interview with Republican candidates for the 7th Congressional District (TX) (Houston Chronicle, 2/7/00) One said, "There's room for everyone.... It's a question of how we spend our resources," and blamed "oppressive regimes" for over-population in other countries. Another said the US would better serve the world by exporting "freedom and democracy." Another said better distribution is the key to over-population in certain nations, also implying government problems rather than more fundamental problems.

[4-A] ~ Origin of the "Bad-Government" Theory ~

These candidates' views appear to date back to the early 1980s, as US support for IFP was becoming less bipartisan. Dixie Lee Ray, of the Reagan administration, argued that the scale of natural systems is far greater than that of human activity. This implies that human activity cannot significantly degrade natural systems, and therefore that "over-population" is a fictitious concept. The cornucopian appeal of Ray's argument probably aided the Republican Party over the years in opposing, for example, environmentalists who kept raising concerns over deteriorating environmental values and loss of natural resources.

In December of 1983, the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education issued a document to all governments which stated "It is the task of the state to safeguard its citizens against injustice and moral disorders such as the ... improper use of demographic information" (Ref. American Democracy p.184). In other words, it is the responsibility of the world's governments to censor demographic information that could suggest the existence of a population-related basis for the problems of developing nations and the world as a whole (86M1). President Reagan apparently either took the Vatican's December 1983 document seriously, or saw significant political benefit in the document. (Most, or all, of President Reagan's top officials were Irish Catholic.) Dixie Lee Ray had a scientific background, giving her views an extra degree of credibility that Reagan needed. Someone like President Reagan could easily see the combination of the Vatican's admonition and Dixie Lee Ray's cornucopian viewpoint as a politically valuable concept. The concept apparently spread throughout the Republican Party and apparently remains a part of Republican Party ideology to this day since all post-Reagan Republican presidents have supported it.

"Demographic information" is outside the sphere of interest of most, if not all, religions. The intense interest of the Vatican in "demographic information" (86M1) therefore calls for interpretation. The only significant link appears to be the fact that the Vatican would find it difficult to defend its position opposing modern contraception in a world where there are growing concerns for the sustainability of mankind's key life-support systems, and for environmental values generally. As will be noted in Chapter 5, high rates of population growth make financial capital scarce due to the huge investment in infrastructure growth that is required to accommodate population growth. This would tend to keep prices of financial capital high, and labor prices low. Such conditions would appeal to wealthy landowners in natural resource-oriented economies such as that in Latin America. This alternative explanation of the Vatican's "demographic information" document seems less plausible that the modern-contraceptives-based explanation.

Renouncing any link between population-related issues and the developing world's ills then requires an alternative explanation for developing world's ills. The "bad government" theory was thus born. This view appears to provide much of the basis of Reagan's statement, at the 1984 Second UN International Conference on Population in Mexico City, that population growth is a "neutral" phenomenon (01N1). As will be seen below, Ray's theory probably formed much of the basis for the views and policies of Reagan (and the post Reagan Republican Party) on population issues, environmental issues, foreign policy, and even military strategies. For example, the war in Iraq was apparently seen as a simple problem of eliminating the "bad government" to achieve peace and democracy. These same views and policies have persisted within much of the Republican Party to this day. All this is perhaps best seen as a reaction to a global outpouring of studies and research linking developing-world ills to over-population that first took serious hold in journals and public media in the mid-1970s and that has been expanding ever since.

[4-B] ~ Environmental Determinism Theory - the Alternative to "Bad Government" Theory ~

The Vatican's term "demographic information" actually refers to links between such population-related issues as over-population (or excessive rates of population growth) and human ills such as those found throughout the developing world. However such links are a sub-set of what is commonly known as "environmental (or material) determinism theory." That theory finds its most common use among anthropologists (77H1) who find that the theory can explain a large range of evolutionary changes in human culture - family, social, economic, religious, and political structures, traditions, and policies. This theory says that evolutionary changes in human culture reflect, primarily, adaptations to changing forms and degrees of environmental (material) stress. The Vatican would probably find environmental determinism theory at least as unacceptable as the "demographic information" subset.

"Bad Government" theory is one example of interpreting human history in terms of key individuals and major events, as some historians are inclined to do. But this gives the future a disturbing unpredictability and randomness that is unsettling in its lack of usefulness. Environmental determinism theory can eliminate much of this unpredictability and randomness and be quite useful. Anthropologists (77H1) find that they can explain a large range of evolutionary changes in human culture - family, social, economic, religious, and political structures, traditions, and policies with environmental (material) determinism theory. This theory says that cultural changes reflect, primarily, adaptations to changing forms and degrees of environmental (material) stress. The linkage between developing world ills and environmental effects of over-population is one of many applications of environmental determinism theory.

Environmental determinism can explain such diverse observations as the origin of sacred cows in India, the origin of capitalism, and the numerous genocides in Rwanda in recent decades (04D1). The unique success of environmental determinism in explaining many aspects of numerous cultures (77H1) provides added support for its current application - attributing the ills of developing nations to population-related issues such as over-population or excessive rates of population growth. Numerous public opinion polls (Appendix B) indicate that a large fraction of Americans use environmental determinism on an intuitive basis, since few have ever heard of the theory. This intuitive logic of the theory lends it added support.

The Need to Differentiate: Over-population and "bad-government" appear to be the only plausible explanations for the partial list of developing-nation ills in Table (4). Dealing successfully with these ills requires a correct choice between these two alternatives. A bad choice condemns billions of people to an eternity of such ills. Of course, even if the "bad-government" explanation were correct, the correct choice would lead to the same outcome. This is due to developed nations being loathed to interfere in the politics of developing-nation governments until some instability spillover threatens developed nations. Elsewhere it is argued that a "proactive brother's keeper" strategy would probably be far more productive and far less expensive (08S1).

Reality Checks: One way to distinguish between the two explanations is to compare predictions of the two explanations with reality. Examining some rate processes is useful in this regard. A "bad-government" explanation offers no compelling reason for huge changes, over time, in the phenomena being explained. Why, for example, should developing-world governments be far worse in 2000 than in 1980, and why worse in 1980 than 1960? Over-population theory, on the other hand, predicts a major worsening of developing world conditions from 1960 to 2000. This is because growing populations during this time have increased the difference between population and carrying capacity - and by a far larger percentage than percent change in population.

Consider some key rate processes.

These figures indicate high rates of degradation in developing nations over the past 4-5 decades - just what one would expect from an over-population explanation of developing-world ills - and just what would not be expected if "bad government" were the root cause of developing-world ills.

Causes of "Bad Government": Environmental determinism would say that wars are fought mainly over resources, and only begin after resource stresses become acute. It would indicate that, as man's material condition deteriorates, rivalries among national, ethnic, racial, class and religious groupings lead to conflicts over basic necessities. As conflicts grow increasingly desperate and bloody, government becomes increasingly difficult to administer, justice becomes too expensive to administer fairly, and capital investments grow increasingly risky. All this makes capital and other resources even scarcer, producing steepening downward spirals. All this says that bad government is an inevitable consequence of over-population. Those who see bad government as the basic source of developing world ills have interchanged cause and effect. "Bad governments" exist throughout the developing world beyond any doubt. It is important, however, to understand the origins of such governments. Brushing off these origins with glib words such as "evil," and addressing the "bad government" problem with purely military approaches, as many developed world leaders are prone to do, gets us nowhere because that is not where the fundamental problem(s) lie.

Historical Differentiation between Over-Population and Bad Government: Civilizations have been found to survive as progressive entities for no more than about 50 generations (12 centuries) in one place before they collapse (08S2). But three major exceptions to this stand out - civilizations that lasted far longer. All were located in major river deltas where mechanism(s) existed for soil-replenishment (55C1). If human history were to be defined by key individuals and major events (bad governments, high taxes, etc.) instead of changing forms and degrees of environmental stress, then how do major river deltas and soil replenishment enter the equation? Is it all coincidence? And why would any multi-century limit on civilization lifetimes exist if the course of civilization depends primarily on such short-term phenomena as key individuals and major events (i.e. "bad government")?

Spatial and Chronological Differentiation between Over-Population and Bad Government: The "Bad Government" theory would predict that developing nations would be randomly situated about the Globe, and that this random pattern would change in its detail over a time frame of decades as political leadership changed hands. Neither of these predictions agree with reality to any significant degree. The overwhelming bulk of developing nations are in tropical climates. What does bad government have to do with climate? On the other hand, over-population and tropical climates are linked by the fact that about 90% of tropical soils have low productivity (fertility). Some tropical soil types have never hosted advanced civilizations. Also, tropical climates have longer histories of human settlement, and hence more severely degraded and eroded soils. Developing nations not in tropical climates almost invariably hosted major, old civilizations prone to large-scale erosion, deforestation, over-grazing, waterlogging and salinization of irrigation systems. All of these yield enduring legacies of degraded environments. What does modern-day bad government have to do with such minutiae of ancient history? On the other hand, such minutiae link well with over-population.

Who Sees Over-population as the Root of Developing-Nation Ills? The use of environmental determinism to link developing world ills to the environmental effects of over-population did not start here. A large bibliography (97W2) lists many dozens of titles that do just that. Many other references ((99W2), (98H2), (00C1), (94H1) and dozens of reports and books by Worldwatch Institute) present voluminous data on the same issue. The belief that over-population, not bad government, is the root of the ills of developing nations has been gaining far broader acceptance in recent decades. Publications of such organizations as the CIA (00C1), the RAND Corporation (98B1), (00A1), (00N1), (00U1), the National Security Agency and Worldwatch Institute (in numerous publications) see developing world ills in terms of environmental-determinism theory and over-population. For example, the CIA (00C1) notes that a key driving trend for the Middle East in the next 15 years will be population pressure. They point out that, even now, in nearly all Middle Eastern countries; over half of the population is under 20. "In much of the Middle East, populations will be significantly larger, poorer, more urban and more disillusioned." (00C1). The CIA report concludes that "linear trend analysis shows little positive change in the region, raising the prospects for increased demographic pressures, social unrest, religious and ideological extremism and terrorism directed both at the regimes and at their Western supporters."

Former Indian Health Minister, Sripati Chandrasekhar feared that over-population would turn India to communism (01M1). His linkage between over-population and communism indicates that he believed in environmental determinism, even though he may have never heard of the theory.

Margaret Sanger, who founded the first family-planning clinic early in the 20th century, clearly was comfortable with environmental determinism theory when she said that there are connections between rapid population growth, the status of women, governmental instability and world peace (01I1). It was noted (08S1) that the overwhelming bulk of armed conflicts over the past 100 years or so had their origins in environments of extreme duress. It was also noted that a foreign policy of preemptively addressing the underlying sources of the duress could have spared the world of all, or virtually all, of the armed conflicts over the past 100 years - and at a vastly lower cost that the cost of engaging in all those wars. This is probably the origin of Margaret Sanger's linkage between population growth and world peace.

Even recent terrorist attacks against the US are being seen in terms of environmental determinism, e.g. "Terrorism thrives in an age of weakened states that have been undermined by population growth, resource scarcity and mass movements of people to cities (See Section [H] of Ref. (08S3)), producing hordes of angry, unemployed young men whose attraction to radical causes increasingly cows relatively moderate governments in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia" (01C1).

About 87% of Americans believe over-population to be a problem, even in the US (10% believe it does not). 55% consider those problems "major" (Roper poll, 6/4/90). 71% of Americans believe that "too much population growth in developing countries is holding back their economic development" (vs. 55% in 1994) (Washington Post, 4/5/00). These linkages between population and "problems" and economic development are evidence that Americans overwhelming use environmental determinism theory to guide their thinking, even though few have ever heard of the theory explicitly. The intuitive obviousness of environmental determinism theory, along with numerous anthropological studies, also supports the theory.

Thomas Merrick (World Bank Institute) (02M1) analyzed the thinking and research on the link between fertility and poverty over the past 1.5 centuries. Although he sees the relationship complicated by other factors, he concludes that "... it is important that policymakers understand the new evidence supporting the view that lower fertility does contribute to poverty reduction, and that public policies that help poor people better manage their reproductive lives have societal as well as individual benefits." He further concludes that a slower rate of population growth, combined with sound and equitable economic development and the reduction of gender inequality, appears increasingly likely to reduce poverty in developing nations. (This document would argue that gender inequality and the lack of sound and equitable economic development are not independent variables, but usually are the dependent variables, i.e. some consequences of the wretchedness and hope deprivation caused by rapid population growth.)

The Role of "Brainpower": A common challenge to the belief that over-population is the cause of developing-world ills is that increasing the number of people increases the amount of "brainpower" for solving problems that population growth creates (81S1) (96S2) (99E1). Obviously "brainpower" has not been able to reverse the net degradation of developing nations. Even worse, "brainpower" tends, increasingly, to come up with short-term expedients that result in long-term degradation, and net results that are grossly negative (08S2).

Bad-Government Theory - A Reality Check: Comparing theory to reality presents the cornucopian theory of Ray and the bad-government theory with other problems. It must be assumed that key natural resources exist in considerable over-abundance for these two theories to be credible. In numerous cases discussed in Ref. (06S2) and summarized in Ref. (08S2), this is not so. A few examples are summarized below.

Case 1 - Africa: Africa is an entire continent with more civil wars, social disintegration, hunger, poverty and similar developing-nation ills than anywhere else. It is becoming hard for refugee hoards escaping one conflict to avoid entering the crossfire of other conflicts, or from precipitating conflicts wherever they go. Africa's food production per capita has been dropping for decades - the only continent for which this is true, though South America is close. Bad governments tend to receive the bulk of the blame. Africa's potential for food/ natural fiber production is said to be far greater than current production, supporting the "bad-government" theory. But Africa has some of the world's worst soils, and its population growth rate is the world's second-highest. (The world's highest population growth rate is found in the Muslim world, and its problems are similar to, or worse than, Africa's.) The capital- and annual costs of making bad tropical soils productive pushes the cost of crops well above what Africans can pay (02F2), meaning crops produced capital-intensively are exported, hurting rather than benefiting Africans. (Median per-capita income in developing countries is under $2.00/ day (Refs.11, 25, 26 of Ref. (00S1))).

The latest (1994) of several genocides in Rwanda claimed over 900,000 people -- 14% of Rwanda's population. The overwhelming majority of them were Tutsis, but in northwestern Rwanda at least 5% of the residents were slaughtered even though there were no Tutsis. Rwanda contained 2040 people per square mile, twice the population density of the Netherlands (a nation that has far better soils, far more fertilizer and far greater ability to import food). The average Rwandan farmer worked 0.07 acre of land with agricultural practices not far removed from those of the Stone Age. Much of this cropland is highly erodible, rocky hillsides where sustainable agriculture is all but impossible. Rwandans could not afford fertilizer because inadequate infrastructure made it far more expensive than in Europe (02F2). By 1990, 40% of Rwanda's population was living on less than 1600 calories per day - famine level. A team of Belgian economists concluded that the outbreak of fighting "provided a unique opportunity to settle scores or reshuffle land properties, even among Hutus". It is not rare to hear Rwandans argue that the war was necessary to wipe out an excess population and bring numbers in line with the available land resources (04D1). What could a highly competent government leadership possibly have done under such circumstances to eliminate all these genocides?

Case 2 - Environmental Marginalization: In Zimbabwe, white farmers initially got all the level, bottom-land farmlands, while black Africans got the steep hillsides to farm - where extreme erosion rates on low-grade, highly erodible soils limit cropland lifetimes. Considering Zimbabwe's high population growth rate, the recent bloody conflicts over croplands were easily predictable. And it is far from clear that any government, however capable, could have prevented the bloodletting. A nearly identical problem occurred in the post-World War II Philippines leading, in the 1980s, to groups like the Marxist New People's Army that threatened US interests (00N1). If there is so much potential cropland in Africa or the Philippines, why are environmentally marginalized farmers unable to find anything other than steep, rocky, erosion-prone hillsides?

Even in developed nations like the US and Canada, potential croplands are said to greatly exceed croplands in use. But even there, virtually none of the undeveloped cropland (plus some croplands currently in use) can be farmed sustainably (08S2). Why would it be different in developing countries where population pressures on the land (and soil erosion rates (06S2)) are far greater?

Case 3 - Horn of Africa: Government-by-local-warlord in Somalia and elsewhere on the Horn of Africa might surely be cited as the cause of this region's ills. But look deeper. Rains that fall on Ethiopia, Somalia, etc. come out of the west where the water in them fell and transpired from leaves of vegetation five or so times on its way east across Africa. Overgrazing just south of the Sahara Desert means far fewer plant leaves to transpire moisture back into the atmosphere. This translates into prolonged and increasingly frequent droughts in eastern Africa, translating into hunger, social disintegration, increasingly violent conflicts over food, wood and freshwater - all that is needed for the evolution of warlord-governments. What other type of government could possibly survive the stresses of frequent large-scale hunger?

Case 4 - Israel: Israel's exploding populations of Israelis and Palestinians have badly depleted and degraded surface waters and have drained aquifers so low that sea water now intrudes. (Only 2-3% seawater ruins an aquifer.) Palestinians (with one of the Muslim world's highest population growth rates) feel increasing pain from water scarcity, and feel cheated by Israel's water allocations, to say nothing of Israel's land allocations. If honest and capable government were to replace the existing governments, what would they do to resolve the water- and land-scarcity problems and avoid bloody clashes? Here again, shallow analyses conceal any possible role of over-population and population growth. This insures ever-worsening, conflict until the population problem at the base of the issue is admitted to and dealt with (00C1).

Case 5 - Turkey/ Syria/ Iraq: Turkey builds huge dams to feed its growing population, insuring far less water for Syria and Iraq's growing populations that already suffer from water scarcity. Even in 2004, Turkey's increased water withdrawals as a result of its huge GAP dam project on the Euphrates River reduced flows to Iraq from 30 to 10 km3/ year (04R2). Demands for irrigation water there exceed the available capacity drastically (04R2). Soil erosion, over-grazing, deforestation, desertification and salination of irrigation systems have been on-going in the Middle East for centuries. The situation is even worse in nearby Jordan where tap water in Amman (Jordan's capital) is available only one day per week (01S2).

How would replacing "bad" governments in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Jordan stem the disintegration of that part of the Middle East? Where are the vast tracts of unused, fertile land, the broad rivers and thick aquifers that would have made the countless disputes over these key resources academic? The large amounts of unused or misused basic high quality land- and water resources that are required to explain the above by a bad-government theory simply do not exist, and a huge volume of literature supports this contention (06S2).

Case 6 - South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan: If the bad-government theory were correct, actions based on the over-population theory should produce few, if any, benefits. But results (where enough time has been given to measure the outcome) have been outstanding. Consider parts of the Far East where "demographic bonuses" (reduced needs for capital facilities) from population growth-rate reductions have produced major benefits. Reductions in fertility in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan during 1960-1990, from six or more to two or less, is partly responsible for the impressive rise in East Asian savings and investment rates since the late 1960s. This is believed to have been a significant factor in these nations becoming the world's five fastest growing economies in the world during 1960-1990. The net effect of the reduction in "dependency ratio" (dependents per worker) in northeast and Southeast Asia was large enough to explain the entire decline in foreign capital dependence after 1970, by itself turning these regions from net debtors to net creditors on world capital markets (98B1). Between 1965 and 1990, the slowing of population growth accounted for as much as one third of the rapid growth in per-capita income in East Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan (98B3).

Case 7 - Tunisia: Another nation with a strong commitment to family planning and that has reaped a large demographic bonus is Tunisia (03N1). The total fertility rate in 2002 was 2.08, down from 7.2 in the 1960s. Its per-capita income is now $2070 - one of the highest in Africa. It is one of the fastest-developing countries in the world. Tunisia's stability is attracting foreign investors that have helped it sustain a 5% annual growth rate of GDP over the past six years (vs. 2.6% in Morocco and 3.1% in Algeria). Per-capita GDP data would show a far more striking comparison. Another benefit of the demographic bonus is a very low incidence of HIV/AIDS. One reason for the success of Tunisia's overall population program has been its breadth. Much effort has also been expended on educating women and getting them into the workplace. There are now more women than men in local universities. Another reason for the success of the population program is the support it has been able to draw from Tunisia's religious leaders. Friday sermons in mosques are often devoted to reproductive health and related subjects (03N1). It is interesting to compare Tunisia with its neighbor Algeria. Both nations had about 4 million people in 1957. Tunisia, with a strong family planning program, now has 9 million people, while Algeria now has 30 million people. While Tunisia has prospered, Algeria is ensnared in seemingly endless and extremely bloody civil war and chaos (99G2). Hordes of North Africans from high-population-growth-rate countries are now pouring into Western Europe and creating huge social, economic and political problems. These problems could have been greatly reduced or eliminated had Western Europe invested relatively modest amounts of family planning aid in North Africa.

Case 8 - The Barbados and the Bahamas: It is also interesting to note that the Barbados and the Bahamas are now classified as part of the developed world. They got their initial stimulus from bringing their birth rates down (04R1). It is even more interesting to note that, in the last hundred years, no nation on Earth has moved from the poor and less developed status to prosperous and developed status until it reduced its total fertility rate to 2.3 (97P1). If bad government were the root cause of the developing world's ills the transition from developing world status to developed world status would have nothing to do with total fertility rates. If population problems were the root cause of the developing world's ills, changes in total fertility rates would strongly influence the transition from developing world status to developed world status - exactly what has been observed. What is so frustrating about all of this is the fact that major reductions in Total Fertility Rates can be achieved quickly and cheaply. Research at the University of Sao Paulo Brazil studying TV-Globo's "telenovelas" and their impact, states that telenovelas have been the principle force driving Brazil's total fertility rate down from 3.4 in 1989 to 2.3 in 1996 (97P1). Telenovelas (or "social content serial dramas" or "soap operas" as you prefer) cost only a few dollars per birth averted -- a small fraction of the cost of averting a birth by any other means.

Case 9 - The Gaza Strip: The Gaza Strip receives an annual average of 32.6 cm of rainfall, 117.25 mcm/ year (million cubic meters/ year). Much of this is lost to evaporation, so the sustainable productivity of Gaza's aquifers is around 65 mcm/ year (05U1). Ref. (05U1) tallies the inputs to, and outputs from, Gaza's aquifers. This data (from 1995) is obsolete, given the huge population growth rate in the Gaza Strip. If the return flows and abstraction rates are corrected to an estimated 50% population growth since 1995, the drop in groundwater table would now (2005) be 74 mcm/ year (vs. 2 mcm in 1995) assuming no increase in brackish water inflow. Such drops in the groundwater table suggest significant increases in brackish water inflow, which endanger the integrity of the aquifer (See below). The population of Gaza is expected to nearly double between 2000 and 2020.

Ground water in the Gaza Strip, (sustainable productivity: 65 mcm/ year) is Gaza's only source for fresh water. At present, more than 100 mcm/ year are pumped from these aquifers. This is resulting in the invasion of seawater into Gaza Strip aquifers. Many hydrologists believe that the Gaza Strip aquifers have already passed the point of no return (05U1). Tests show increased salinity levels to, in some cases, greater than 1500 ppm of chloride, making the water unsuitable for drinking (1993 data). Salt levels today must be much higher.

Contemplate now the proposed peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians in the light of the above - or the contention that the problems of the Palestinians are simply the result of "bad government". Within a matter of decades, Gaza's only water supply will be too salty for human consumption or even irrigation. Do the Israelis really believe that, after a peace treaty goes into effect, or after the "bad government" is replaced, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are going to die by the thousands from salt-water ingestion without putting up some sort of struggle? Do the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip really believe that a program of terrorism has any conceivable hope of solving their water supply problems? Israel is likely to have serious water problems by then also. Instead of dealing in mindless, visionless, callously indifferent, unworkable peace treaties or "bad government" theories, would it not be better for the Israelis and Palestinians to face the fundamental problem together and figure out some way of financing and developing a program of family planning that could bring Gaza's population down to a level of harmony with its aquifers? Not just the water problems could be solved. The problem of infrastructure funding could also be solved, enabling Palestinians to develop the human capital it needs to contribute something other than unskilled labor to the global marketplace.

Bad-Government Theory's Pedigree and Consequences: "Bad-government" theory suffers from comparisons to reality. It also suffers from a dubious pedigree. In contrast to the over-population theory and its voluminous supporting documentation, "bad-government" theory rests on little more than conjecture. Support of serious research appears to be non-existent. Yet "bad-government" theory is a primary argument for denial of over-population as the reason for the developing world's ills. This, coupled with developed nation policies of non-involvement in developing-nations' governments, thereby produces "do-nothing" policies that condemn billions of people to an eternal downward spiral of ever-increasing wretchedness, hope deprivation, wars, genocides, social-, economic-, political- and military instability, and all the other life-is-cheap trappings of over-population. It also inflicts costs on developed nations far greater than the costs of addressing over-population (Section (5-A)).

Shallow conjectures that see developing-world ills in terms of individuals and major events ("bad-government") only insure that these ills spiral out of control over time. There is probably no other single mistake that could have such extreme long-term consequences in terms of both the scale and the depth of wretchedness created - and that could have such deleterious effects on the future.

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


The "Mexico City Policy", enunciated by the Reagan administration at the 1984 UN population conference, held that:

  1. Population growth is a "neutral" phenomenon.
  2. To the extent that population growth could be considered a problem, "market forces" would solve it.

All subsequent Republican presidents have repeated this position. Counter-arguments to position (1) are found throughout this document. The "market-forces" position (2) is refuted below. Problems created by over-population and population growth cannot be solved by a "market-forces" approach because:

Subsidies, positive feedbacks and tragedies of the commons make free-market approaches largely counter-productive, as explained below. This is not to say that Adam Smith was wrong. It merely means that markets containing such factors are anything but "free markets", so the conditions required for Adam Smith's doctrine to be valid do not exist. Supporting IFP is far easier, physically and politically, than creating free markets where "market mechanisms" can work their efficiencies. Also a "Catch-22" is operating here: reducing over-population and/ or population growth would probably do more to make markets freer than any other politically viable government action.

Conditions for a Free Market: Adam Smith's theory that a free market environment tends to maximizes economic efficiency is well known. But economists - liberal and conservative - agree that this is true only if:

In fact, a "free market" does not even exist unless everything is priced at what a willing owner/ seller and willing buyer would agree upon. The above two "exceptions" are thus not really exceptions, but merely criteria for the existence of a "free market".

The Real-World Marketplace: Subsidies and "tragedies of the commons" often cause market forces to produce disastrous, not beneficial, results. Consider five examples of positive feedbacks (instabilities) and non-internalized costs in some key food/ wood/ freshwater resource systems. (For more details on these examples, and for more examples, see Ref. (08S2).)

1 - Soils: One might expect that as soil resources become scarcer, soil conservation would become more important. In fact, as human pressures on croplands increase, soil erosion increases significantly. The crescent of land from Korea to the Mid-East has the world's highest soil erosion rates and the greatest population pressures upon the land. The US, Canada and Western Europe have the lowest soil erosion rates and the lowest population pressures upon the land.

2 - Forests: As human pressures on forests increase, timber is cut at ever-decreasing ages. This reduces forest productivity, causing forests to be cut even younger. Most of the really major floods of recent years have been attributed largely to deforestation in headwaters. Had the increased costs and risks of the flooding been internalized (charged to the loggers - as would have been the case in a free market), logging would have been done more carefully.

3 - Grasslands: When population pressures upon grasslands increase, overgrazing results. This reduces the productive capacity of the land escalating the level of overgrazing even further. Costs associated with soil loss and land degradation are not internalized. It is interesting to note that, in the western US, grassland overgrazing is only made worse by "free-market" economics. Privately owned grazing lands are more degraded than publicly owned grazing lands. This is true despite the fact that private grazing lands tend to be less arid than public grazing lands, and therefore are intrinsically less erosion-prone (02W1).

4 - Irrigated lands: When population pressures on irrigation systems increase, irrigators attempt to get more food and natural fiber from a given amount of freshwater, causing salinization, reducing the productive capacity of the land - often right down to the point where it becomes abandoned salt flats. Again, the costs associated with soil degradation are not internalized.

5 - Fisheries: When population pressures on fisheries increase, over-fishing results, reducing the productivity of the fishery - often to the point of fishery collapse and species extinction. The economic losses are not borne by the fishing industry, but are heavily government-subsidized (world-wide), causing the fishing industry to see apparent economic benefits to wiping out fisheries.

Market Stability: Most of these instabilities result from non-internalized costs, placing too high a discount on future harvests, and often a significant component of tragedy-of-the-commons effect. Collapses of past civilizations would not have dominated human history unless positive feedbacks were major forces in mankind's interaction with the land. Systems dominated by negative feedbacks are inherently stable and thus do not collapse. Below are some examples of tragedies of the commons in some key food/ wood/ freshwater resource system commons.

1 - Aquifers: Aquifers (a "commons") in the US Great Plains are being drawn down, far faster than the rate of recharge, to produce surplus food/ wood and subsidized freshwater. By the time a legitimate (free-market) need develops for the food, most of these aquifers should be about dry. Aquifer draw-down is virtually a global phenomenon.

2 - Coral Reefs: Fishing in the world's coral reefs (a "commons") is now often done using dynamite and/or cyanide to secure a one-time harvest of fish, at the expense of greatly reduced productivity at the blast site for decades, if not for centuries. The person who did the dynamiting or who applied the cyanide never pays a cent for the damage he/she did to the "commons."

3 - Wild Fisheries: Aquaculturalists raising fish in ocean pens put so many fish into each pen as to result in very diseased, antibiotics-laced fish which escape, spreading diseases to wild fish (a "commons"), damaging or wiping out wild fisheries without the aquaculturalist being charged a penny for the massive damage he/she has done to the "commons."

4 - Dam backwaters: The world's grasslands produce tens of billions of tons of erosion sediments annually (far more than even croplands) as a result of overgrazing. This sediment winds up in dam backwaters (a "commons"). This significantly increases the overall cost that the government must endure to subsidize the world's irrigation systems (Section (A-4)). Irrigation itself is heavily subsidized globally. This results in wasteful water consumption patterns and makes water-conservative irrigation practices seem non-competitive. This waste occurs most often in semi-arid and arid regions whose economies are severely water-resource-limited and therefore suffer massive damage as a result of wasting water. Those who did the damage do not pay a penny for the massive damage they have inflicted on the overall economy.

Free Markets Politics in Developing Nations: Problems with economic fundamentals are just one facet of trying to address population-based problems in developing nations with "market mechanisms" where markets are anything but free. Political problems associated with using market forces to treat population-based problems are more vexing. US foreign aid is often not used to support capital developments in developing nations, but to subsidize consumption, such as food (e.g. in Egypt) and bus rides (e.g. Venezuela) (08S3). Increasing the role of market forces would mean abolishing such subsidies, resulting in social- and political upheavals. Even small price increases in basic commodities often cause riots in developing nations (98B2), even when the alternative is large increases in external debt. In Latin America, elimination of subsidized water and electricity as a result of utility privatization cause riots and the rise of leftist politicians (02F1). These political upheavals and external debts should, themselves, serve as compelling evidence of over-population and/or excessive rates of population growth. But more typically they result in changes in governments - usually to the extremes.

The problem is not one of developed nations being unable to persuade developing nations to make greater use of free-market mechanisms. The exact opposite is often the case. For example, artisan fishermen supplying local markets in developing nations are not generally subsidized because they lack the political clout to gain subsidies. Thus local marketplaces in developing nations are often free markets, and incentives for over-fishing are minimal. But developed nations are purchasing fishing rights from developing nations, opening these fisheries to the heavily subsidized factory trawlers of developed nations. They have little reason for not over-fishing, or for not destroying bottom habitats with huge heavy, bottom-scraping nets, or for avoiding huge, wasteful by-catches.

Free Market Politics in Developed Nations: Political problems involved in instituting market mechanism, even in the US, far exceed the political problems associated with supporting IFP. Free-market mechanisms are even more difficult to institute in developing nations because the initial consequences are harsher. In the semi-arid and arid western US, production and consumption of water, grass, trees, minerals, soil, water-pollution rights for mineral extraction, dam backwaters and numerous other key resources are heavily subsidized by federal-, state- and local governments. Documents over 100 pages long (94D1) are required just to list the subsidies for natural-resource production and consumption this region receives. A descriptive list (99W1) of state subsidies to just ranchers in just two states (NM and AZ) ran to 23 pages before admitting that a complete list would require a far more extensive effort. Just a cursory list of subsidies for public-land ranching (91J1) arrives at a subsidy of $200-$800/ cow/ year. The sales price of the cow often does not cover the cost of the subsidy.

Were the above-mentioned subsidies eliminated, many residents of the semi-arid and arid West would be forced out. But more typically, residents of the semi-arid and arid West elect legislators who protect their subsidies. People then engage in businesses that are not even remotely profitable in a free market sense. But because of government- and public subsidies (94D1), they are "profitable." Meanwhile the surface water, grass, trees, soil, aquifers, dam backwaters, ore deposits etc. continue to degrade and vanish.

Just list the major subsidy receivers in the US food/ wood/ freshwater supply system - farmers, fishermen, loggers, ranchers, miners and irrigators. Then it becomes clear that any proposal to institute free-market mechanisms in US food/ wood/ freshwater production systems would not stand any hope of passing muster - even within the Republican Party. It would seem that, before "free markets" are relied upon to provide sound economic decisions, maximize economic efficiency, and accommodate growing populations, one should first establish that free markets actually exist, or at least lie within the realm of the possible.

The Role of Free Markets in Global Food/ Wood/ Freshwater Systems: Per-capita food supplies are 24% higher, and real food prices are 40% lower than in 1961, even though the global population has increased from 3 to 6 billion since then (00W2). Some would suggest, then, that free-market mechanisms have done a good job of solving population problems. However increases in global food supplies since 1961 came about almost entirely from:

Thus any major role of free-market mechanisms in keeping food/ wood/ freshwater supply-growth up with population-growth might be hard to identify.

Another "Market-Forces" Argument: A "market-forces" argument that surfaced in the 1980s (87J1) declared that decisions about family size and reproduction are a private issue, and contraceptive practice is a "private good" the supply of which is better left to market forces. This argument might have validity if (a) decisions about family size and reproduction have little or no societal impact, and (b) markets for contraceptive practices were free ones. Condition (a) is clearly false as arguments throughout this document make clear. Merrick (02M1) has argued that Condition (b) is often false also, pointing out that:

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~

SECTION (4-D) ~ An example of the problems that "bad government" theory can lead to ~

In recent decades, the World Bank (WB) (dominated by the US), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (dominated by Europe) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) apparently decided that the cause of the developing world's ills was the high level of inefficiency in the policies of the respective governments, i.e. "bad government." By eliminating inefficiencies, i.e. government subsidies, the developing world's condition would, in theory, be greatly improved, and the probability of these nations being able to repay the $3 trillion in external loans would be significantly enhanced. So the WB, IMF and WTO used the leverage they had as a result of their loans to developing nations to impose "Structural Adjustment Programs" (SAPs) on these nations (08S3).

These SAPs eliminated many, if not all, of the "inefficiencies" (subsidies) e. g. public education and public transportation. They were not entirely consistent in this. They forced the agricultural systems of developing nations to compete directly with heavily subsidized agricultural systems of the developed world. For developing nations, where agriculture is typically 50-70% of the economy, the results were devastating. Also, the dire need for financial capital forced many developing nations to sell the rights to their marine fisheries to heavily subsidized fishing companies from the developed world, putting many local artisan fishermen (typically not subsidized) out of work. The harvested fish then usually went to developed world markets instead of local markets in developing nations (07S4). Many farmers and fishermen were forced to migrate to the rings of slums that surround the bulk of large urban areas in developing nations. There, their limited range of urban skills resulted in these relocated farmers and fishermen becoming part of the "informal economy," (08S3) where basic survival can be challenging. During the same period, the combination of the lack of undeveloped arable land and population growth forced farmers to divide their land repeatedly among multiple heirs. Also, developing world agriculture is undergoing a shift from labor-intensive agriculture to capital-intensive agriculture, greatly reducing the number of agricultural workers per unit area of agricultural land.

The result of all these simultaneous processes is one of the world's largest human migrations ever - the rural-to-urban migration. Assimilation of migrants into urban areas is largely impossible due to a combination of:

The results are (1) huge rings of slums surrounding most of the large urban areas of most developing nations and (2) rapid growth of the "informal" economy that typically operates under squatter-like arrangements. The formal economies of the developing world are hardly growing at all, due in large part to the massive layoffs of those in the formal economy resulting from the SAPs imposed by the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO. Because of this stagnation, the "informal" economies of the developing world can be projected to expand to about two-thirds of the overall economy of the developing world (08S3). This is likely to produce all manner of social, economic, and political instabilities on a massive scale. These instabilities would be a result of those in the "informal" economy seeking to redress the numerous abuses that are typically heaped on them by the currently politically dominant members of the "formal" economy (08S3).

The UN's major study of urbanization (03U1) concluded that the single main cause of increases in poverty and inequality in developing nations during the 1980s and 1990s was the "retreat" of the state (i.e. privatization imposed by SAPs). The middle class disappeared. The brain-drain to oil-rich Arab countries, and to the West, increased dramatically (95B2). In sub-Saharan Africa, SAPs resulted in capital flight, collapse of manufactures, marginal or negative increases in export income, drastic cutbacks in public services, soaring prices, and steep declines in real wages (97R2). It is interesting to note that some developing nations, e.g. China, Chile, and Vietnam, were able to avoid the imposition of SAPs. These nations have been faring much better, economically, than the developing nations upon which SAPs were imposed.

The efforts of the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO to improve the economic conditions of developing nations by forcing the "bad governments" of these nations to accept "efficiency" improvements (SAPs) have obviously backfired. The likelihood of the developing world being able to repay its $3 trillion debt owed to the developed world has decreased, not increased. Massive, global-scale human miseries have resulted from this ideological blunder. Had these three agencies of the developed world examined the ills of the developing world a bit more closely, they would have realized that the loans to developing nations were made to accommodate the effects of population growth, i.e. to fund the expansion of the infrastructure required to accommodate population growth.

They were also made to finance the "inefficiencies" (subsidies) of developing nations that were spent on things like food, public educations, public transportation, water etc. But without such subsidies, large-scale social, economic, and political instabilities would have resulted, and these would have made the situation even worse. The basic problem is the dire shortage of financial capital virtually throughout the developing world. If one estimates the financial capital required to fund the infrastructure growth called for by population growth (about $1.2 trillion per year- see Section [5-A])) the magnitude of this financial "sink" is easily seen to be sufficient to explain the dire financial capital scarcity and all the countless consequences of dire financial capital scarcity characterizing the developing world. Had the World Bank et al, funded active family planning programs with a tiny fraction of their $3 trillion in loans to the developing world, the SAP disaster would probably never have occurred.

This was not the first ideology-based blunder for the WTO. It apparently believed that totally unrestricted financial capital flows among nations were in the best interests of all concerned. So the early trade agreements forced "bad governments" that believe otherwise to eliminate essentially all restrictions on financial flows that might slow these flow. One result was the massive currency devaluations of 1998 in Southeast Asia and Latin America, including Mexico. These imposed extreme hardships on hundreds of millions of people already living on subsistence wages in nations where economic safety nets were largely non-existent. In later trade agreements, developing nations refused to go along with the elimination of such trade restrictions. In so-doing, they were basically returning to policies that reflected adaptations to changing forms and degrees of environmental stress, and renouncing ideology-driven "bad government" theory.

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~



Introduction: Direct costs and benefits (Section (2-C)) are easily shown to be a small fraction of the economics of IFP. Governments, non-governmental organizations, and the public, world-wide, are becoming increasingly aware that indirect issues such as:

are all strongly impacted by population growth, and population levels. This chapter attempts to estimate, in financial terms, the benefits to be expected from reducing developing world population growth rates for just some of the above indirect issues. It will be shown that the costs associated with the impacts of over-population and population growth on these indirect issues vastly exceed the fertility-reduction costs alluded to in Section (2-C) and described in more detail in Ref. (07S2). It will also be seen that these impacts accrue to developed- and developing nations alike.

Support for IFP is not an expense, but a lucrative investment for nearly every nation.

As the mobility and flows of information, technology, capital, people, labor content, entrepreneurship, natural resources, goods and services continue to globalize (doubling roughly every decade or two), the reality of this statement can only grow increasingly evident (07S1). Also being globalized are the ills of the developing world - the wage rates, the social-, economic- and political instabilities and the cheapness of human life. For example, see Ref. (08S1). These changes, too, make the benefits of supporting IFP all the more apparent.

Capital Costs of Population Growth: Economist Lester Thurow (95C1) contends that a population growth rate of 1%/ year requires a capital investment of 12.5% of a nation's GNP (GDP) in infra-structure (educational-, industrial-, commercial-, and transportation- infrastructure, plus housing, land development, judicial systems and other government systems, utilities etc.). Strictly speaking, Thurow's figure was computed for the US. But the reasonable assumption that capital infrastructure is directly proportional to GDP makes this infrastructure capital-cost estimate valid globally. Reducing population growth rates thus entails an economic benefit in terms of reduced need for infrastructure capital, called a "demographic bonus" (98B1). Population growth in the developing world is 1.4%/ year (02U1) (The mid-1960s peak was 2.4%/ year). The developing world's 2002 GDP was $6.8 trillion. Thurow's correlation thus indicates that the developing world needs about $1200 billion/ year in new infrastructure to accommodate its population growth. This translates to $16,400 for each person of net population growth. The corresponding figure for the developed world is roughly $220,000 per person of net population growth. This estimate seems roughly compatible with a UN estimate (01U1) of $400 billion/ year for infrastructure and utilities in urban areas like water supply, sanitation, energy and transport for accommodating the expected migration of 800 million Asians to cities during the next 20 years.

Capital Shortages: Very few developing nations can afford the infrastructure growth that is required to accommodate a 1.4%/ year rate of growth in its population, nor do these nations have sufficient credit-worthiness to borrow it. But unmet infrastructure needs risk social, political and economic instabilities, increasing risks for capital, and increased external debt. For example, one of main reasons for the CIA's (00C1) pessimistic forecast for the Middle East is the region's weak educational system (one of many capital costs associated with population growth). This produces generations lacking the technical and problem-solving skills required for economic growth. These disillusioned, wretched youths are then easy prey for religious fundamentalists. (Section (5-B) has more on the role of financial capital shortages.)

Potential Size of the Developing World's Demographic Bonus
Economic benefits (the "demographic bonus") of universal access to IFP-related services to developing nations in terms of lower capital costs of accommodating population growth can be estimated. Reducing fertilities does not quickly reduce population growth due to "momentum effect" (caused by the population's young age structure -results of previous high fertility). Bongaarts has disaggregated the sources of near-term population growth in developing countries into three categories (00S1).

Thus universal access to IFP services would lower population growth in the near term by only 33%, and by 49+33 = 82% in the long term (about two generations - 50 years) as momentum effects wear off. This translates to a savings in population-growth-related capital costs in developing nations of 33% of $1200 billion/ year ($400 billion/ year) in the near term, and 82% of $1200 billion/ year ($980 billion/ year) in the long term (before correcting for long-term growth of population and GDP).

Development and Humanitarian Aid (DHA): The bulk of DHA (typically about 97%) pays expenses that population growth necessitates, directly or indirectly. Table (5-A) below provides perspectives.

Table (5-A) ~ Further perspectives on development- and humanitarian aid to developing nations ~

Developed-world DHA expenditures (1999) (00U2)

$56. billion

Developed world IFP expenditure (Table (2-C))

$ 1.6 billion

Developing world's annual needs of infrastructure growth (#1)

$1200. billion

Annual IFP cost of lowering developing world fertility halfway down to replacement level (#2)

$15.2 billion

Short-term annual demographic bonus from this fertility reduction

$340. billion

#1 - Necessitated by developing world's population growth.
#2 - 1994 Cairo Conference figure (See Section (2-C)).

These figures suggest gross misallocations of resources. The developed world pays out $56 billion/ year in a largely futile attempt to cover part of the $1200 billion/ year needs of the developing world's infrastructure costs of population growth. Yet, were it to invest just $15.2 billion/ year in IFP for several decades it could reap, for the developing world, a demographic bonus of $340 billion/ year (short-term) or $1200/ year (long-term) plus a huge benefit for itself (Table (5-B)). In spite of all this, it can only bring itself to cover $1.6 billion of the needed $15.2 billion/ year in IFP allocations.

Private Financial Flows to Developing Nations: Private financial flows from developed nations to developing nations in 1997 were $270 billion (ENN Direct, 10/15/99) (triple the flow in 1992). Social-, economic-, political- and military instabilities in developing nations subject these financial flows to considerable risks. Population growth, and the economic costs of accommodating it, create a large fraction of these risk to these accumulated capital flows (over $1 trillion during the past decade alone).

Peace-Keeping and Emergency Aid: Donor-nation expenditures on international peacekeeping and emergency humanitarian aid are $10 billion/ year (ENN Direct, 10/15/99). Again, over-population and population growth are a large share of the root causes necessitating this aid. For example, Serb leader Milosevic was told around 1991 that the Kosovars have said they will win their battle against the Serbs "in bed". (Kosovo's birth rate then was 9 children per family - a rate Serbs could not match.) It was predicted that Muslims would soon be a majority, not only in Kosovo, but also in Belgrade. (Santa Barbara (CA) News Press, 4/24/99) (Kosovo went from 98% Serbian Christian to 99.5% Albanian Muslim in less than 70 years.)

Military Spending: US military spending in 2001 was $310 billion (00S2). The likely enemies that necessitate this spending all have problems with over-population and population growth.
A significant fraction of this $310 billion/ year reflects costs of containing the problems that $15.2 billion/ year spent on IFP would go a long way to eliminating.
Global military spending data:

A significant fraction of this military spending probably has its origins in conflicts and instabilities related to over-population and population growth. (The highest rates of increase in arms sales in recent years have been on sales to countries with enormous unmet social and economic needs in Africa and south Asia - countries that can least afford such purchases [Wall Street Journal (8/31/01)]). A RAND study of the effects of demographic factors on national security (00N1) provides evidence of the strong effect of demographic changes on military security and conflicts. Below are some key points of the RAND analysis.

(1) Demographic changes are changing the nature of armed conflict. Conflicts are increasingly likely to be in urban settings where the US military's technological advantages in long-range precision fires and information processing will be largely nullified by restrictions on movement and line of sight, the presence of civilians and the difficulty in distinguishing friend from foe. The devastating effects of the battle of Grozny on Russia provide a chilling picture of what developed nations could face increasingly often (00N1).

(2) Demographic changes affect the nature of the sources of national power. Developed nations, faced with shrinking or slowly growing populations, are substituting technology for numbers. Thus they are engaging in capital-intensive warfare. Developing nations see an economic need to draft large numbers of youth in order to keep unemployment rates low, preserve social stability and protect often shaky regimes from insurrection (00N1). Also they lack the financial capital to engage in capital-intensive warfare. So they engage in labor-intensive warfare - usually termed "terrorism" in the battles of words that invariably parallel armed conflicts.

(3) Demographic changes are influencing the most likely sources of future conflicts. (See Ref. (08S3) for a more detailed analysis of these demographic changes and their consequences.) The squalid conditions that exist in the ever-widening rings of slums that now surround many developing-nation cities are increasingly fertile grounds for radical and revolutionary groups seeking recruits for battles against existing regimes. Mass migrations or refugee flows in politically tense regions appear to be coming more common, increasing the risks of war. Refugees can:

The skewing of national age distributions in favor of younger citizens often puts extreme pressure on educational-, health-, sanitation-, and economic infrastructure of developing nations, creating domestic instability. The combination of undeveloped minds, wretchedness and hope deprivation make these youths easy prey for radical groups and religious fundamentalists. The emergence of large populations of "floating" migrant workers (e.g. in China) can also increase social instability. In short, demographic shifts in political environments that are already tense as a result of territorial disputes, ethnic rivalries, ideological divides, environmental stresses, etc. can spark violent conflicts or war. Bosnia, Kosovo, Lebanon, Northern Ireland and Rwanda provide recent examples of this. If a stable partition cannot be achieved, the usual end-state is some type of long-term foreign military occupation (00N1).

A study by Population Action International (04P1) has made the relationship between population growth rate and civil conflict fairly quantitative. Their results are given below.

Table (5-A1) ~ The Relationship between population growth and civil conflict

Birth Rate per 1000






Probability of Conflict*






*Likelihood of an outbreak of a civil conflict in a given decade.

Since 1996, 11 African countries have been embroiled in civil wars. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in the 1990s, Africa has had more wars than the rest of the world combined (09M1) (Africa has the world's highest rate of population growth rate.)

The Developing World's External Debt: In 1999 this debt was $2.45 trillion. It increases by about $1 trillion every 10-15 years, so in 2009 it should be about $3.1 to $3.45 trillion. Developing nations' debt service, alone, was $270 billion in 1998 (UNDP's annual Human Development Report). Some of this debt has been "forgiven" and further "forgiveness" will be sought. Deteriorating economic conditions, the mass migration from rural areas to urban slums and from there into the "informal" economy (08S3), population growth and explosive growth of external debt in most developing nations give good reason to believe that most of this debt will never be repaid. This poses serious threats to the world's banking system, and to US taxpayers who ultimately stand behind much of this debt. Debt service alone costs the average citizen in developing nations $0.16/ day, a burden for someone struggling to survive on $1/ day in the informal economy to under $2/ day (the median per-capita income (global) (Refs.11, 25, 26 of Ref. (00S1))).

Once it is realized that the developing world's external debt is not going to be repaid, lending money to bankrupt developing nations may cease. This would significantly worsen developing world ills. A few likely consequences (in addition to the loss of perhaps $3 trillion in loan defaults):

Yet in the face of all this, $15.2 billion/ year (an additional $10.7 billion/ year) could reduce developing-nation population growth by 33-82%. This would give them a demographic bonus of 340- $840 billion/ year, and significantly reduce the risks of loan defaults on developing-world external debt.

Benefit/ Cost Analysis: Data above can be used to roughly estimate the benefits of a $15.2 billion/ year investment in universally available IFP-related services in developing nations. That reduces developing-world fertility from 3.2 to 2.7, and population growth rate by 33% short-term, and 82% long-term. This is done in Table (5-B) below. By way of perspective, global economic output was $29 trillion in 1997 (Ref. 27 of Ref. (00S1)) and economic output of developed nations was $24.85 trillion (00W1). A $15.2-billion/ year expenditure on IFP would represent 0.07% of developed-world GDP. A list of potential flaws in this analysis follows Table (5-B).

Table (5-B) ~ Rough Analysis of the Financial Benefits from a $15.2 billion/ year Investment in Universal Access to Family-Planning-Related Services in Developing Nations (Savings are in US$ billion/ year)

Developed Nations


Reduced International Development Assistance ( $ 56 billion x 33%)


Reduced risks to private investments ($1728 billion (10-year-cumulative) x 3%)


Reduced int'l peace-keeping & emergency humanitarian aid ( $ 10 billion x 33%)


Reduced outlays for military operations ($ 507 billion x 20%)


Reduced defaults on developing nation's external debt ($2450 billion x 3%)


Benefits of increased global security/stability ($100/person x 1.3 billion people)


Total Annual Benefit


Developing Nations


Reduced capital cost of providing for added people ($1200 billion x 33% (near-term))


Reduced capital cost of providing for added people ($1200 billion x 82% (long term))


Reduced outlays for military operations ($ 273 billion x 20%)


Benefits from reduced wretchedness (Table (4-A)) ($100/ person x 4.75 billion people)


Total Annual Benefit (near-term)


Total Annual Benefit (long-term)


Time-Frame Flaws: Developed-world support for IFP-related services should not need to continue indefinitely. All this support needs to achieve is a demographic bonus (and financial benefits to women from enhanced education- and economic opportunities) sufficient to permit developing-world residents to finance their own family planning and maternity-related health-care. In theory, this could occur within a decade after universal access to IFP services is first achieved. Experiences of the "Asian Tiger" economies would suggest a few decades (98B1), though the analogy is imperfect.

Debt-Related Instability Flaws: Sources of capital may conclude that loans to developing nations are not likely to be repaid. The resultant instabilities (not included in the table above) would be extremely costly to all concerned.

Carrying-Capacity Shortfalls: Achievement of universal access to IFP-related services and their after-effects might not bring the world's human population within the carrying capacity of the developing world's food/ wood/ freshwater systems. Additional investments in restoring these systems to sustainability may be needed (Section (5-B)).

Globalization Effects: Reducing the developing world's extreme capital deficiency problems could create new markets for developed world goods, and reduce the developed world's trade-deficit problems. In an environment where:

The prices of everything must converge, globally (07S1). So labor prices in developed and developing nations must converge over time. Material standards of living in the developed and developing worlds differ by a factor of 9.6 (02W2). Reducing the developing world's extreme capital deficiencies would reduce its labor surpluses. This would raise the wages and benefits toward which those in developed- and developing nations must ultimately converge. These issues are discussed in far greater detail in Ref. (07S1).

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~


(NOTE: Ref. (08S2) provides background for some of the material below. This final chapter addresses some of the issues in this document in terms of a common denominator - financial capital.)

Ref. (08S2) builds a case for the contention that the developing world is over-populated and/or suffers from the effects of rapid population growth on financial capital scarcity. Some of these arguments might be refuted by arguing that at least the potential exists for some of the food/ wood/ freshwater supply systems to be restored to sustainability and possibly to become more productive in a sustainable sense. All that is needed, besides political will, is financial capital. This is true in theory, but needs to be examined in realistic terms. Some financial capital needs for restoring sustainability and increasing productivity of food/ wood/ freshwater supply systems in developing nations are listed below. Because the developing world is financial-capital starved and operates in a capital-consuming mode, these capital needs must come from demographic bonuses, i.e. from reductions in population growth rates.

Cropland Soils: To reduce erosion rates, investments would be required in conservation tillage ("No-till") technology. Investments in transportation infrastructure would be needed to make imported chemical fertilizers more affordable. To restore organic matter contents of soils, more fossil fuels would need to be imported so that livestock manure could be used as cropland fertilizer instead of being burned for cooking food. Expensive land-use controls would be needed to stem the rate of urbanization of croplands (currently about 0.3%/ year on a global basis (06S2)).

Wood: Investments in forest plantations would be needed. Guards would be needed to keep desperate people from hauling off saplings and pole timber for use as firewood. Investments would be needed to make tropical soils capable of supplying fast-growing species with the minerals needed at the high rates required by these species. It is not yet clear that this is possible. High water demands by fast-growing species would require further major capital investments. The huge and widespread rates of timber theft for export would have to be reduced by heavy investments in law-enforcement.

Grazing Forage: The world's grasslands are more or less all grazed (and usually overgrazed) by domestic livestock. Greater reliance on grain-fed livestock merely transfers the problem from one resource under pressure to another resource under pressure. Fertilizing and irrigating pastures is not even economically viable under developed-world conditions and supplies of chemical fertilizers and irrigation water for such purposes would be hard to come by.

Irrigated Croplands: Huge capital investments would be required to install drainage tiles under most irrigation systems to avoid salinization. Huge capital investments would also be needed to convert to drip irrigation to reduce water consumption by 30-60%. Surface water supplies would need to be increased (to reduce aquifer draw-down) by some combination of: (a) new dams (invested in at several times the current rate to compensate for the rate of sedimentation of backwaters), (b) improved pollution controls and (c) inter-basin water transfers (extremely expensive even by developed world standards and increasingly politically difficult). The freshwater currently provided by glaciers (which are vanishing the world over) would have to be replaced by some as-yet unidentified source of freshwater. (Vanishing glaciers threaten the continuity of freshwater flows for about three billion people - half the world's population.)

Wild Fisheries: The key issue is protection and restoration of key habitats that serve as breeding grounds. Better water pollution controls would be needed to clean up estuaries. Mangrove swamps would need to be protected from land-development projects. Coral reefs would need to be protected from dynamite, cyanide poisons, water pollution and huge ocean trawler nets. Vanishing sea grass and Sargassum beds would need to be protected. Trawlers would need to be replaced by boats that avoid damage to bottom habitats on continental shelves. Subsidies for the fishing industry would need to be eliminated to reduce over-fishing and restore depleted fisheries.

Aquaculture: It is not yet established that most types of aquaculture contributes to, or detracts from, human carrying capacity. The needs for wild fish to serve as food for aquaculture fish, the need for huge tracts of level land which must be abandoned after a decade or so due to toxicity levels, the destruction of wild fisheries by escaped, diseased pen fish, and the need for soy and grain for use as fish food are just some of the negatives that must be compensated for in some way if a net positive balance is to be achieved.

No attempt has ever been made to estimate the total of the above-listed financial capital needs, but it seems clear that the total would be huge, even by developed-world standards - and virtually impossible to quantify, but examining some facts and figures (below) gives insight.

Capital Formation in the Developing World
The GDP of the developing world was $5800 billion/ year in 1997 (00W1). The developing world must invest $1200 billion/ year in capital facilities for its new citizens (educational-, industrial-, commercial-, and transportation- infrastructure, plus housing, land development, judicial systems and other government institutions, utilities etc.) in order to accommodate its population growth (Section (5-A)). It must also have enough financial capital formation to pay for its military expenses, which were about $273 billion in 1999 (CIA World Fact Book, 2000) plus added financial capital for terrorism-related expenses, and to pay for replacing capital facilities lost in acts of terrorism and the dozens of civil wars that rage through developing nations. It must also have sufficient financial capital formation to make payments of $270 billion/ year (1998 data, UNDP annual Human Development Report) on its $2450 billion external debt (1999 data) that increases by $1 trillion every 10-15 years.

Considering just these few factors indicates that the economic activity that generated $5800 billion/ year must, from this amount, generate over $1563 billion/ year in financial capital formation. For a region so close to subsistence level in so many areas, a capital-formation rate of this magnitude (27% of GDP) is inconceivable. But without this rate of financial capital formation, per-capita values of infrastructure must continually decline. Also external debt, and debt payments thereon, must become even larger and less manageable. The resultant growing desperateness of the competition between national, ethnic, religious, class and racial groups for the basic necessities of life must add to the cost of military and terrorist activities and the cost of replacing capital facilities lost in military and terrorist actions. Also, social, political, economic and military instabilities diminish the safety of capital investments. This can only discourage financial investments from investors in the developed world. This magnifies whatever financial capital scarcity problems exist.

Some Examples of the Effects of Scarcity of Financial Capital in the Developing World:

If population growth rates can be reduced, the $1200 billion/ year in infrastructure needed to accommodate this growth is proportionately reduced. Declining population growth rates also decreases competition among national, ethnic, religious and racial groups for the basic necessities of life. This decreases military- and terrorist expenses and the capital losses that civil wars and acts of terrorism produce. The payments on external debt are largely the consequences of past excessive population growth rates. Thus the rate of capital formation could be increased, merely by reducing population growth rates. Experiences of the "Asian Tiger" economies support this view (98B1).

Compare that to the developing world as a whole. It must borrow about $160 billion/ year from external sources, even as these sources pour about $270 billion/ year of private investment capital and $56 billion/ year of development and humanitarian aid into developing nations. The correlation between external debt and population growth rate is strong. Of the 41 countries designated as "heavily indebted poor countries" by the World Bank, 39 fall into the category of high-fertility nations, where women, on average, bear four or more children. Similarly, the 48 countries identified by the UN as "least developed" are expected to triple their population by 2050 (02H1).

While the experiences of the "Asian Tigers" offer hope, only 33% of developing-world population growth is subject to rapid reduction via universal access to IFP. So even under the best of circumstances, several decades would be required for significant reductions on population growth rates in developing nations. But during this time frame, several billion people will be added to the population of developing nations. This makes all the sustainability and degradation problems noted in Ref. (08S2) more severe. This also raises the financial capital requirements noted in the list at the top of this Section.
It is far from clear that, even under the best of circumstances, the developing world has any hope of winning the capital-formation race against growing capital demands without significant reductions in population growth rates. Yet losing this race imposes high costs and risks on the entire world.

Capital Intensive Agriculture: An Alternative Route to Developed World Status?
The developing world is undergoing conversion of labor-intensive food/ wood/ freshwater production to capital-intensive production, probably financed mainly by developed-world capital. This is certain to produce more fish, grain, etc. per hour of labor, and even more fish, grain etc. in total. This has got to produce benefits somehow - benefits apparently ignored above. In developed nations, labor-productivity growth has been on-going for a century or two. There, freeing people from subsistence-level economic activity has always created labor forces for expansion of manufacturing or service activities. That produced industrialized, well-educated, technologically advanced societies and consequent far larger GDPs and living standards - i.e. developed-nation status. Why can't the developing world simply follow in the developed world's footsteps?

Since much of the developing world remains at a subsistence-level, this transition from developing- to developed-nation status has not been occurring, or is occurring at painfully slow rate - or is backsliding into civil conflict and wretchedness. There must be a reason for this that was not operative in the early days of the current developed world. Arguments below support the contention that this reason is the inability to accumulate financial capital in environments of both rapid population growth and over-population.

When increases in capital-intensiveness and/or technological advances free someone in a developed nation from agriculture, that person obtains employment in manufacturing or in the services sector of the economy, and society advances because of that. That transformation requires capital to obtain the requisite new skills and to create new production and service facilities. In the early days of this transformation, the required productive capital creation was possible, in spite of large population growth rates of the time, probably due to the untapped, high-quality natural resources for agriculture, forestry and fishing that created an environment conducive to capital investments, public education, unions, social stability, above-subsistence-level wages, etc. In modern-day developing nations, people freed from agriculture cannot follow similar paths because those paths require financial capital for training and for production facilities. That financial capital is largely absent in modern-day developing nations for various reasons.

Evidence from the "Asian Tiger" economies supports the above line of reasoning (98B1). Some contend that the progression from developing to developed nation is more precarious than suggested by the "Asian Tiger" example (02M1). They point out that factors such as sound economic policies, the rule of law, enforcement of contracts, property rights, access to adequate saving mechanisms and sound domestic financial markets are also essential. However these factors are not independent of the issue of wealth accumulation. Reduced fertility translated readily into things like money for improved education and less desperate existences, and these promote environments more conducive to these other essential factors. (See environmental determinism theory in Section (4-A).)

As an example of the precariousness of the transition, it has been pointed out that Latin America has not benefited from significant fertility reductions to the same degree as East Asia (02M1). However Latin population growth rates remain twice those in East Asia (01U2), probably due to religious influences. So the burden of financing capital infrastructure needed to accommodate population growth never dropped to the low levels enjoyed by East Asians (perhaps because that region is less influenced by fundamentalist religions). The resultant wretchedness has produced corruption (00I1) and bad government, which have caused economic meltdowns, which have eliminated mechanisms for saving and reduced confidence in financial institutions (03B1), all of which magnify the ill effects of population growth. Also, because of an abundance of natural resources and a large indigenous population, Latin American nations grew up relying on raw materials, cheap manual labor to exploit them, and low government taxation. The system concentrated land ownership and wealth in a few hands, deprived governments of money to spend on education and offered little incentive for the elite to invest in human capital or technology. Latin America has also historically relied on monopolies and franchises, leaving few opportunities for entrepreneurs to advance through hard work and innovation (05L1). Brazil only recently made primary education mandatory.

Go to Home Page of this Website ~ Go to Reference List ~ Go to Appendix B (Polls data) ~ Go to Table of Contents ~