Human Fertility in Latin America: Sociological Perspectives

By J. Mayone Stycos | Go to book overview

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Population Control in World Perspective

There are at least two remarkable and unprecedented aspects to the population problem today -- the first is the rate of population growth, the second is the growing inclination on the part of national governments to manipulate this rate.

Rapid population growth was characteristic of most European countries in the past century, and much of the excess population found its way to the New World. But rates of growth in underdeveloped areas today, ranging from about 2 to 3.5 percent per year, are about twice those of European countries during the period of their most rapid growth. A population growing at the rate of 3 percent per year will double in 23 years, and one growing at the rate of 2 percent in 35 years. Since the population bases in the underdeveloped areas today far exceed those of Europe, the implications in sheer numbers of a rapid rate of growth are truly impressive. For example, if India alone were to grow for the next century somewhat more slowly than it is growing now, it would still have millions more inhabitants than the entire world has today.

The basic ingredients of this growth are by now well known. Low death rates, which it took European countries a century to a century and a half to achieve, are being approached in underdeveloped areas in a fifth of the time, but birth rates, which it took Europe sixty to seventy years to bring down to modern levels, show little sign of decline.

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