If population growth is unsustainable, are there humane ways to limit it?
1) Empower women
Studies show that women with access to reproductive health services find it easier to break out of poverty, while those who work are more likely to use birth control. The United Nations Population Fund aims to tackle both issues at once, running microcredit projects to turn young women into advocates for reproductive health.
2) Promote family planning
Simply educating men and women about contraception can have a big impact. When Iran introduced a national family planning programme in 1989, its fertility rate fell from 5.6 births per woman to 2.6 in a decade. A similar effort in Rwanda saw a threefold increase in contraception usage in just five years.
3) Make education entertaining
The US-based Population Media Center gets creative to reach women. Its radio soap operas, which feature culturally specific stories about reproductive issues, have been heard by as many as 500 million people in 50 countries. In Ethiopia, 63 per cent of women seeking reproductive health services reported tuning in.
4) Government incentives
Those at UK charity Population Matters believe there should be a senior government official responsible for addressing population-related issues. They urge governments to promote “responsible parenthood” and say subsidies should be limited to the first two children unless the family is living in poverty.
5) One-child legislation
During China’s high controversial one-child policy, fertility fell from six births per woman in the 1960s to 1.5 in 2014. However, Amnesty International reports that the policy led to coerced or forced abortions and sterilisations. It also disrupted traditional support structures for the elderly and led to a gender imbalance.
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