oa Africa Insight - Population control

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



The population debate is still a highly sensitive and emotionally charged issue. Received opinion in the West has it that the Third World's poverty is caused by its rapid population growth and that the people of the Third World have either forgotten about their traditional methods of contraception or are too ignorant, stubborn and irrational to control the number of their progeny. In 1798 Malthus postulated that populations grow at a geometric rate, doubling every 30 to 40 years unless checked by decreasing food supplies. And these, because of diminishing returns to the fixed factor, land, would only expand at an arithmetical rate. Each member of the population would have less land to work and therefore less food. Per capita incomes would fall, leading to a stable population subsisting at starvation level. He contended that the only way to avoid the above scenario would be for people to engage in ""moral restraint"" and limit the number of children they produce.

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