Judith Blake: Demographic Science and the Redirection of Population Policy

Judith Blake’s essay,  “Demographic Science and the Redirection of Population Policy” as found in M.C. and Ridley, J.C. (Ed.) Sheps “Public Health and Population Change” is listed as a source for Jaffe’s table.

[The development school of thought maintains that] “Policy must be therefore directed at accelerating overall social and economic development which, in turn, will indirectly affect the family and reproduction.”

One problem is ‘wanted children’:

The assumption is made that high birth rates in developing countries are today primarily a result of unwanted births.  On this assumption, population policy has recently taken the form of an intensive planned parenthood campaign for contraceptive education and distribution.  Such policy seems to have gone beyond a modification of the sociological and economic assumptions of the “development” approach to the pole of ignoring them altogether.  It is hardly surprising that this extreme course of action is not leading to marked reductions in birth rates and rates of population growth among the illiterate, rural masses that predominate in developing countries. In fact, because family size desires are so substantial in these countries, primary reliance on inhibiting the births in excess of these desires may have little effect on birth rates under conditions of relatively high mortality, and no effect on present population growth rates if mortality declines.

[even if improvements were made in mortality] population growth rates would remain high unless the desired size of the planned families were itself greatly curtailed.

Essentially, Blake argues that the best way to lower the birth rate is to change family roles such that more women enter the workplace, so that they ‘voluntarily’ choose to have fewer children.