Morocco Leads Way in Population Curbs Report Cites Four Other Nations Making Considerable Progress in Slowing Growth

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A DECADE ago, the North African nation of Morocco was sagging under the weight of a problem familiar to every developing nation: explosive population growth.

Determined to wrest the future from the grip of overpopulation, the government and various private groups launched a campaign to deliver contraceptives and family planning advice to the doorsteps of millions of Moroccan women. Despite a poor economy and high levels of illiteracy, the results have been impressive: Contraceptive use in the conservative Muslim nation has risen to 40 percent, while the average number of children per woman has plunged from 7 in 1980 to 4.5 today.

Morocco's population problems are not yet solved. But, according to a report released today by the Population Crisis Committee, it is one of five third-world nations that have demonstrated the possibilities for coping with runaway population growth. In different ways, says the report, each has disproved the notion that poor nations are helpless in the face of threatening demographic trends. "These five success stories debunk the myths that population growth is an intractable problem against which world leaders are powerless or that fertility declines must await major social and economic transitions in the third world," says the report. India, Colombia, Morocco, and Kenya are among the most dramatic success stories of 1991, according to the report, while the Philippines, Malawi, Saudi Arabia, and Haiti are among the least successful. Thailand and US reverse course

Two other countries with historically opposite fertility statistics have reversed course. In the United States, average family size has increased from 1.8 to 2.1 since 1988. The resulting 2.7 million population increase expected in 1992 is nearly one-third higher than the average 2 million annual increases recorded during the 1980s. In Thailand, by contrast, family planning programs have help reduced average family size from 6.2 in 1970 to 2.2 in 1991. One difference is government support for family-planning efforts, which has grown in Thailand and some other developing countries but which has diminished in the US because of pressure from powerful anti-abortion groups. …