(Book) Population and Poverty:The Real Score

(Excerpts from the book)

The public debate on the population issue – long settled in most of the developing world– remains unresolved in the Philippines. We aim in this paper to contribute to the debate,in particular to highlight the role the government must play to face up to thisdevelopment challenge.

On one extreme, there are those who say that there is no population problem and, hence, that there is nothing the government needs to do about it. On the other, some view population growth as the principal cause of poverty that would justify the government resorting to draconian and coercive measures to deal with the problem (e.g., denial of basic services and subsidies to families with more than two children).

We consider these extreme views and arrive at what we think is a balanced, more reasoned and, hopefully, more widely acceptable position. Our review of the extensiveliterature and our analysis of relevant empirical data lead us to the following key messages:

Poverty is a complex phenomenon, and many factors are responsible for it. Rapid population growth alone cannot explain poverty. Bad governance, high wealth and income inequality and weak economic growth are the main causes. But rapid population growth and high fertility rates, especially among the poor, do exacerbate poverty and make it harder for the government to address it. The government’s target of reducing poverty incidence to 20% or lower by 2010 would not be feasible, given historical growth rates of population and the economy.

Time and again, Filipino women across all socioeconomic classes have expressed their desire for fewer children. But many, particularly the poor andthe less educated among them, have more children than they want and are unable to achieve their desired number of children. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of Filipinos have affirmed the importance of the ability to plan one’s family or control one’s fertility, and believe that rapid population growth impedes the country’s development.

An unequivocal and coherent national population policy – backed by an adequately funded family planning program that provides accurate information and enables access to methods of contraception of choice – is pro-poor, pro-women, pro-people, and pro-life. Any government that cares aboutthe poor cannot be blind to the fact that many of them have no access to effective family planning services.

Good population policy and programs are not costly and, based on the results of surveys, are likely to be widely welcomed. But political will and commitment are needed to make them effective.

The threat of the so-called “demographic winter” (birth dearth, aging, etc.) for the Philippines is greatly exaggerated, and using it as an argument against a sensible population policy is a plain and simple scare tactic.

(Click on the link below to download and view the rest of the book)

Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/39247790/UP-School-of-Economics-Population-and-Poverty-the-Real-Score


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