Human Fertility and Population Problems: Proceedings of the Seminar Sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

By Roy O. Greep; American Ethnological Society et al. | Go to book overview

DISCUSSION

Dr. Hisaw opened the meeting for discussion.

JOSEPH SPEIDEL: I am wondering, Dr. Freedman, if there was any governmental subsidy for birth control devices, or how much of some of these peoples' budget this item might be expected to take up.

DR. FREEDMAN: In the particular program that I am describing here the rates are set at a very low level and they are voluntary. That is, anybody who says he can't afford the price can have the contraceptives for nothing. There was quite a discussion at first as to whether the people would value it more if they had to pay for it, but the decision was that the problem of payment should not be an obstacle to acceptance. This program has been going since about the first of February [1963] and it has had very interesting indirect effects which we won't be able to measure for a while but which I think may be very important. For example, the reports are that the price of an illegal abortion has been reduced in some areas as a resuit of the competition of the availability of materials from this program, and that other kinds of contraceptive services being rendered by private practitioners have come down in price as a consequence. I don't think the economic aspect is important at the moment in this situation.

DR. PARKES: I was very interested in what Dr. Freedman had to say about the desired size of families. That raised in my mind what may be a very difficult question. I nevertheless would like to try it out on Dr. Freedman, if I may. We agree, I take it from the figures I quoted earlier, that the world cannot possibly deal with an increase of 2 per cent per year in the population for very much longer. My question is this: Allowing for unmarried people, sterile couples, and the interval between generations, what size of reared family does 2 per cent increase per annum amount to? In other words is the desire for a family of a particular size, in Taiwan or elsewhere, compatible with knocking down this 2 per cent increase?

DR. FREEDMAN: No, it ins't, but of course they don't have 2 per cent, they have 3 per cent at the moment. One aim is to move from

-132-

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