Population Explosion: Dynamics, Problems, Solutions

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-7-15-26
National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20, Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow 101000, Russian Federation 

Abstract. The population of the global South has more than quadrupled since 1950 which led to several consequences. The neo-Malthusian perspective asserts that the consequences of a rapid population growth are mostly negative and include contributing to absolute poverty, rural overcrowding, pressure on physical and social infrastructures as well as undermining the social order, functions of the State and international relations. It is related to the concept of demographic transition and includes anti-natalism implemented through family planning programs. It constitutes the foundation of international policies pursued by several Western governments, primarily of the United States, even though consecutive U.S. Administrations could not espouse this perspective because of political constraints. When this was done in 1970s, ample American technical assistance and financial aid to population programs flew to developing countries, leading the way for many other Western states. Overall, the impact of family planning programs on fertility was substantial, and they proliferated across the world. Anti-Malthusianism operates at a higher level of abstraction since it assumes a positive relationship between population growth and development, which does not have empirical verifications. In 1960s-1970s, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 have raised the banner of anti-Malthusianism in their confrontation with the West. Nevertheless, the first United Nations World Population Conference (1974) has reached relatively brave consensus which was instrumental in defusing the population bomb. Subsequently, that consensus was diluted by delinking a population growth from the need to subdue it through anti-natalist policies. The paramount global issue of a rapid population growth was absent in deliberations and final documents adopted at the United Nations conferences of 1984 and 1994. Concurrently, practical programs keep spreading and developing, but not in all countries where they are particularly needed. The fading of the donor countries’ interest reveals a short-sighted approach, because in some regions of the world, and especially in sub-Saharan countries, the demographic transition is not likely to end soon by itself. In the meantime, a several-fold population increase will jeopardize their development prospects, putting some of them at the edge of humanitarian catastrophes. 

Keywords: population bomb, demographic transition, population policies, family planning programs, Africa South of Sahara, Bangladesh, China, United States


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For citation:
Ivanov S. Population Explosion: Dynamics, Problems, Solutions. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2017, vol. 61, no. 7, pp. 15-26. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-7-15-26

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