World Population Awareness

News Digest

September 30, 2016

In Syria and Bosnia, Women Are Quietly Changing the World

As the women's rights in development (AWID) forum meets in Brazil, we celebrate those tackling the gender inequalities at the root of conflicts
September 6, 2016, Guardian   By: Madeleine Rees

The past few months have led us into feeling anger and fear.

From the campaigns of Brexit and Donald Trump, conducted as if facts were no longer relevant, we have been subjected to narratives of "othering": migrants, Muslims, a violence in our discourse that is inimical to democracy. China has joined in the conflict in Syria and Iran is openly supporting Russian bombing. Yemen, Libya, Ukraine, Isis, terrorism - the list could go on.

We can retreat into nationalism and direct our fear at others, but nationalism never ends well. However politicians seem intent on repeating the failures of the past.

We descended into chaos when power structures began to favor the few over the many and are highly discriminatory, based on gender, class, race, religion and sexual orientation. This deepens divides and leads to exclusion. Exclusion breeds insecurity and the more insecure people feel, the more likely they are to look for protection.

Militarized security is being offered as a solution.

Recognizing that there is a common voice that wants a different future, feminists, male and female, at the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) international forum, are developing an alternative.These ideas are born of experience, research and practice on how we can move away from cultures of violence to non-violence and political negotiation, based on inclusivity and human rights.

An example of how we can do this is the work in Bosnia and how that has informed women in Syria and Ukraine on the failures that arise from exclusion from peace processes, post-conflict governance structures and policymaking.

In Bosnia, the peace agreement has not worked. We looked at that peace agreement from a feminist perspective, bringing in feminist academics on militarism, political economy, law and policy, to devise a way of transitioning from institutionalized conflict.

There is an alternative. International financial institutions have to stop driving conflict and become part of the solution. Use the trillions of dollars in the system to provide for people. Invest in education, healthcare and realistic reparations to take people out of a humiliating dependency. This would break the stranglehold that nationalist parties have. It would give some of the brilliant women in Bosnia the possibility of participating in governance without having to side with the nationalists.

The lessons are being applied in Syria where, in the middle of war, women are taking on patriarchy, working on delivering human rights and real gender analysis in humanitarian assistance, and education, and trying to get into local government to accelerate that approach. They are not known, not supported, but vital as a means of transforming the conflict from the inside and accelerating the possibility of peace.

There is more being done by feminists worldwide, most of it unrecognized, but it is a real force for change, an alternative to the binary narrative we have now. We need to create the political platform to make it work. doclink

Karen Gaia says: taking on the patriarchy is a big part of the solution.

Scholars' Statement on the Ethics of Using Contraceptives

August 1, 2016, Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research

The Wijngaards Institute Institute for Catholic Research recently gathered an interdisciplinary task force of experts to re-assess the official papal teaching banning the use of "artificial" contraceptives for family planning.

The Catholic Church's ban on using "artificial" contraceptives for the purpose of family planning is based on the arguments advanced in the 1968 encyclical letter Humanae Vitae - On the Regulation of Birth (HV) by Pope Paul VI.

Summing the main argument of Humanae Vitae:

A. The biological "laws of conception” regulating human reproduction show that sexual intercourse has a "capacity to transmit life”. For that reason, each and every act of sexual intercourse has a procreative "significance”, "meaning and purpose” , "finality” , and an "intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life”.

B. The above mentioned "laws of conception” have been established by God. Therefore, intentionally thwarting the procreative capacity, significance and finality that said laws have endowed each and every act of sexual intercourse with "frustrates His design and contradicts the will of the Author of life”.

C. Consequently, "sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive is intrinsically wrong” and so is "any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation-whether as an end or as a means”.

D. Using "artificial” contraceptives to avoid conception is absolutely banned. The reason is that they "obstruct the natural development of the generative process”.

E. Using Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods with the same intention of avoiding conception is morally legitimate. The reason is that in so doing a couple stand "within the limits of the order of reality established by God” and "use a faculty provided them by nature”.


The biological evidence is that the causal relationship between insemination and, on the other hand, fertilization, implantation, and finally procreation, is statistical, not necessary. The vast majority of acts of sexual intercourse do not have the biological "capacity” for procreation, and therefore they cannot have procreation as their "finality” or "significance.”

In addition, it is mistaken to derive a judgment of value (about what morally ought to be) directly from a judgment of fact (about what is), even if the fact were correct. It is also incorrect to deduce a divine command directly from the existence of a law of nature.

The judgement that human beings may not interfere with the biological laws regulating human reproduction because they have been established by God is in contradiction with observational evidence on how human beings interact with the created order.

Human beings have a unique capacity to intentionally alter the schedule of probabilities inherent in the physical, chemical and biological laws of nature. For example: medical intervention, from something as insignificant as taking pain-killers to something as consequential as performing cardiovascular surgery, affects chances of healing, survival, and death.

The moral question is not whether to alter the schedule of probabilities within natural processes, but rather whether, when, and how doing so is conducive to human flourishing and the flourishing of all creation.

In addition, it is contradictory to say, on one hand, that "sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive intrinsically wrong,” and on the other that it is morally legitimate to practice NFP with the "intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result”.

Pope Paul VI states the reason he rejected the final report of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control was because "certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church”. This implies that the constant teaching tradition by the magisterium of the church on that subject cannot be reformed, and is therefore infallible.

The teaching that using "artificial” contraception is an intrinsic wrong always and everywhere is not revealed, nor has it ever been shown to be essential for the truth of the Christian revelation. Accordingly, it cannot become the object of an infallible definition.

The Bible identifies a variety of morally worthy non-conceptive motives for engaging in sexual intercourse. This is confirmed by evolutionary biology and modern sociological surveys, among other disciplines. Those non-conceptive motives for sexual intercourse include pleasure, love, comfort, celebration and companionship. They are morally worthy even without the concurrent occurrence of either a "procreative significance” of the biological "laws of conception,” or the agents' procreative intention.

The decision to use modern contraceptives can be taken for a variety of morally worthy motives, and so it can be ethical.

The use of modern contraceptives can facilitate one or more of sexual intercourse's non-conceptive meanings, as well as have additional morally worthy purposes - e.g. family planning, following the requirements of responsible parenthood.

The encyclical admits that Natural Family Planning can be used with the same intention as modern contraceptives, namely, to avoid conception for family planning purposes. To that extent, and all other things being equal, the two contraceptive methods are morally equivalent.

Using modern contraceptives has many proven benefits: among other things, it makes it much easier for both men and women to plan a family, it substantially lowers maternal morbidity and mortality, infant and child mortality, and abortion. Conversely, it can increase maternal, infant and child health. It leads to substantial increases in women's education and contribution to the common good. In turn, the resultant greater investment in children improves their cognitive development, health, educational achievements, and future opportunities to contribute to the common good.

The Statement's findings will be made known to Catholic church officials and opinion leaders, as well as ordinary Catholics, and made available to all UN departments and development agencies who are trying to navigate the relationship between religious belief and women's health as they work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Catholic-run health care centers and schools constitute approximately 25% of the total worldwide. Most of them do not provide contraception.

Striving for Sustainability at 10 Billion: the 2016 World Population Data Sheet

September 14, 2016, NewSecurityBeat   By: Jeff Jordan and Peter Goldstein

Every year the Population Reference Bureau produces a World Population Data Sheet, a widely used print and digital resource for the latest demographic, health, and environment data from around the world. This year PRB has focused on "human needs and sustainable resources".

While fertility rates have declined, PRB predicts a global population of 9.9 billion people by 2050, an increase of about one third from today.

Population Reference Bureau 2016 World Population Data Sheet

Over recent years, PRB's 2050 forecast has been increasing. Rates of fertility decline in many sub-Saharan African countries have been slower than anticipated. The top 10 country fertility rates in the world are all in Africa. Niger, the highest, with an average of 7.6 births per woman, will triple in numbers of people by 2050.

Africa's population will more than double by 2050, gaining 1.3 billion people. Asia will gain only 900 million, and the Americas only 223 million. Europe and Russia will lose 12 million people.

Even though lower fertility rates are relatively low, recent rapid increases in world population have resulted in a large number of people of childbearing age, creating what's called "population momentum." This will cause many countries to continue to grow for many years.

Germany experienced the highest net migration of foreigners in its post-war history last year, at slightly more than 1 million people. For the first time, migrants from outside Europe made up the majority of Germany's immigrants.

Global carbon emissions figures, according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, were up 60% from 1992 to 2013. China's total emissions rose nearly fourfold. India's total emissions increased nearly 300% to 555 million metric tons. Europe's total emissions decreased over this period by 17%, while emissions in Canada and the United States only rose about 5%. Overall, 43 countries were estimated to have reduced their carbon emissions from 1992 to 2013.

Because the "renewables” category includes solid biofuels, which can include whatever people burn for fuel, such as trees and bushes - in addition to solar and wind power, and hydropower --, many low-income countries have high renewable shares, such as Sierra Leone at 80%, while industrialized countries have low renewable shares (8% for the United States). Worldwide, renewables account for 18% of energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency and World Bank.

Looking at public health, PRB found that increasing urbanization and industrialization in developing countries has led to higher concentrations of fine particulate matter that cause asthma and other serious health problems. Middle-income countries face the biggest challenge as their industrialization process moves more quickly than their ability to manage pollution.

Looking at the global income divide, PRB found that municipal waste is a massive and growing public health and environmental problem, particularly in low-income countries where toxins from large numbers of uncontrolled dumpsites end up in water tables and in the air through unsorted refuse burning. While waste volumes tend to rise in tandem with national incomes, wealthier cities also have more resources to devote to controlled disposal and household waste collection.

Having more people means resources must be managed more soundly, and funds made available to do so. Even so, many more billions of people will surely strain the planet's ability to sustain us. doclink

The Pope's Climate-change Blind Spot: Women's Rights

When women are empowered to make decisions about their lives, it's a win-win for people and the planet
September 1, 2016, Sierra magazine   By: Cally Carswell

In May Pope Francis published Laudato Si', the first encyclical exclusively dedicated to an environmental issue. Its core message a plea for equity, making an strong case not only for climate action but also for climate justice -- solutions that reduce emissions and vast global imbalances in wealth, power, and consumption.

He also argued that people could continue to multiply and their lives could improve if the rich stopped consuming so much. Any suggestion that reducing the birthrate is the solution to the climate crisis, he wrote, is an attempt by developed countries to evade responsibility for their excessive consumption.

While it is true that rich nations need to kick their fossil-fueled habits, birthrates do matter. UN projections say that by 2050, population could reach 8.7 to 10.8 billion. Where we end up on that spectrum will affect the global rate of emissions - and, may influence our ability to adapt to the effects of the carbon already baked into the system.

Carmen Barroso, former director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation's Western Hemisphere Region, says Pope Francis' argument is partly from the Catholic Church's stance on contraception and abortion, but it's also a leftover reaction to the dark history of the population-control movement.

In the 1960s and '70s, many people feared that runaway population growth would lead to famine and ecological ruin. Calls for controlling growth were primarily directed at poor countries and resulted, in some cases, in horrific violations of women's bodies and basic dignity. For example, there were forced sterilizations of both men and women in India in the 1960s. Even today women in India are still paid by the state to be sterilized, and about a dozen women recently died in mass sterilization camps.

If you say, 'women cannot have more than one or two children,' there is a problem. But "if you respect women's rights, give them the resources access to the means of controlling their own fertility as they wish, we also have the indirect effect of having fewer people on the planet. And that will be good for the environment," said Barroso.

The population paradigm shift started during the 1980s and -- at the 1994 United Nations' International Conference on Population and Development at Cairo -- activists and 179 governments came together. Instead of setting goals for reducing fertility rates through improved family planning, the unlikely alliance of women's-rights and population-stabilization advocates successfully promoted an agenda that put the status of women front and center.

The radical idea that came from the conference was: "If you invest in women's empowerment in a broad sense-access to education, economic opportunity, health care, and reproductive choice-slower population growth will follow," said Barroso.

"The answer to sustainability was not to restrict and abuse human rights," says the UN Population Fund's Daniel Schensul. It was to put women first, and trust that many indirect social and environmental benefits would accrue.

Something else came from Cairo: the idea that marginalized women don't just need the ability to choose whether or not to have children, but they also need better health care during pregnancies, education and jobs to help support their families, and freedom from genital mutilation and child marriage. Promoting gender equality is crucial on its own, Schensul says, but it has also proved more effective than draconian policies at curbing growth.

Internationally, funding for family planning halved from 1995 to 2007. The reasons: The apocalyptic famines never came to pass. There was strong opposition to funding for family planning from the Vatican and Republican administrations. The coercive and abusive policies of the past had given the field a bad rap.

Today, an estimated 225 million women in developing countries worldwide would like to prevent or delay pregnancy but are not using modern contraception. On the other hand, between 1990 and 2010, the enrollment gap between boys and girls in primary school was essentially eliminated in many countries, and maternal mortality fell by nearly half. The global fertility rate, meanwhile, declined by 23%. Population growth dropped from 1.52% 20 years ago to 1.15% between 2010 and 2015.

The connections between population and climate change are less linear than one might think. Niger, which has the highest fertility rate in the world at 6.79 children per woman, also produces very few per capita carbon emissions. The US has only 1.87 children per woman but far more carbon emissions. So slowing population growth in Niger won't do a lot to help deflate the global carbon bubble.

"Whatever the population trajectory, you've got to deal with the energy base and consumption patterns of the population," Schensul says. There are only about 2.03 billion people in the world who make enough money to really be considered as contributing to climate change.

But Pope Francis casts this as an either-or issue. Brian O'Neill, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, published a study in 2010 demonstrating how low, medium, and high rates of population growth might affect emissions this century, taking into account differences in consumption as well as demographic factors other than growth, such as urbanization. He found that if the population grew at a moderate pace as opposed to a rapid one between now and 2050, we'd prevent about 1.7 gigatons of carbon emissions annually by that year. This would amount to about one-fifth of the reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

By 2100, a population that had grown to around 9 billion people -- rather than nearly 14 billion -- would emit seven gigatons less carbon a year. In industrialized countries like the United States, smaller reductions in growth resulted in bigger emissions benefits. But slower growth in developing countries mattered, too, particularly in India and China.

Unfortunately, those least responsible for creating the problem -- poor people in developing countries -- are likely to suffer the most from its fallout. And in these places, rapid population growth and poverty could make dealing with environmental disruption more difficult.

In the Sahel -- the southern edge of the Sahara Desert -- population could triple by 2050, from around 100 million to 300 million. At the same time the area will also be hotter, by 7° - 10°F, making farming more difficult. 12 - 18 million people are already chronically underfed.

Alisha Graves, cofounder of an initiative on the Sahel at the University of California at Berkeley says that child marriage is common in the Sahel, and women who marry young often drop out of school, which limits their future economic opportunities and increases their risk of dying during or soon after childbirth. About 25% of women in the region would like to have fewer children or space their children farther apart, but they have scarce access to the information, resources, and social support needed to do so. A leading cause of maternal mortality is unsafe abortion.

The threats that climate change poses underscore the urgent need to invest in the well-being of girls and women, says Malcolm Potts, also with the Berkeley initiative. Add infrastructure for agricultural adaptation, such as water storage, and you've got a start. Change can occur, but right now "we don't have the will, and we don't have the money," Potts laments.

Climate change may intensify hardships that women already experience, according to Nalini Singh, a program manager with the organization ARROW, in Nepal and Laos, women are walking farther to fetch clean water for their families. In the Philippines, a Catholic country where there is little or no access to contraception, women reported that waters had warmed and fish had migrated elsewhere. In some cases, men leave the village in search of other work, so their wives are bearing more responsibility for day-to-day family life. In Bangladesh and Pakistan, more frequent floods and cyclones have left pregnant women with poor or nonexistent health care and delivery services. Women are also more vulnerable to sexual violence during and after disasters.

Jade Sasser, assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University of California at Riverside cautions that, to support justice for women means supporting their right to have children, as well as to not have them, while offering an array of health services. "Given their full choice, not all women would choose to have two children or fewer."

Francis issued new papal proclamations on the family in April, speaking in favor of gender equality and choice in family size, and he didn't expressly forbid the use of contraception -- but neither did he condone it. However, the Vatican has continued to lobby against expanded access to contraception and abortion.

While population advocates came around to recognizing the centrality of women's rights, and it looks like environmental activists are coming to recognize it, too, will the Vatican? The church's willingness to do so will be one important test of how truly radical Francis's reign turns out to be. doclink

Karen Gaia says: while this a great article, and wonderful that the Sierra Club published this in their magazine, there is no mention of resource depletion. Water, arable land, energy sources, are all being depleted at an alarming rate.

As Populations Swell and Water Becomes Scarce, Food Prices Could Double

May 20, 2016, Reuters   By: Lin Taylor

Martin Halle, policy analyst at Global Footprint Network (GFN) said: "A few things are very clear: the demand for food is going up tremendously because of population growth." .. "[Food production] is becoming more unstable because climate change is affecting production, in the context of growing land and water scarcity. There's very little leeway between supply and demand."

In the past, countries were able to meet those demands by growing more food on more land. But this has come at a cost, Halle said, since the planet is now running out of water and arable land.

The last severe food crisis was in 2007 and 2008, when extreme weather events hit major grain producing regions the year earlier, causing spikes in the demand and cost of food.

The higher prices led to social and political unrest in North Africa, the Middle East and South East and South Asia.

Demand for food with a higher environmental impact, such as meat, has surged as emerging countries like China and India grow in size and in wealth.

Most of the same countries at risk in the last crises, namely Morocco, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Indonesia, are again at risk if food prices were to increase in the next few years.

The report was produced by GFN and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

More frequent and more frequent drought in places like southern Africa is taking a heavy toll on rural lives and economies. Maize prices in South Africa, the continent's top producer of the crop, reached near record highs late 2015, due to recurring heat waves and poor rains in growing areas.

The study found that if the cost of food doubled, household spending would increase by more than 10% in 37 countries. Benin, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ghana - would be the worst affected, while China and India would lose $161 billion and $49 billion in gross domestic product (GDP).

While higher income countries, like the United States, could benefit from food price hikes, Mulder of UNEP said, their high demand for meat-based products is contributing to the problem. doclink

Karen Gaia said: Between 2000 and 2011, consumption of world grain exceeded production in 8 of those 12 years, according to the USDA.

Humans Projected to Number Ten Billion by 2050s; Half of Us Will Be Living in Asia

August 27, 2016, National Geographic magazine   By: David Maxwell Braun

World population will increase 33% from 7.4 billion now to 9.9 billion in 2050 and 10 million by 2053, according to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB).

Africa's population will double to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, while the number of people in the Americas will rise by only 223 million to 1.2 billion. Asia will reach 5.3 billion, while Europe will decline from 740 million to 728 million. Oceania (which includes Australia and New Zealand) would rise from 40 million to 66 million.

This year's edition of PRB's Data Sheet provides the latest data on 19 key population, health, and environment indicators for the world, major regions, and more than 200 countries. PRB also added six indicators and analytical graphics that explore the balance between providing for human needs and sustainably managing the natural resources on which people depend.

The population in 29 countries will more than double by 2050. Nearly all of these countries are in Africa. In Niger, the country with the highest birth rate, the population will more than triple.

Forty-two countries in Asia, Latin America, and Europe will see population declines. Romania is expected to have a population of 14 million in 2050, down from 20 million today.

The population of the United States will rise 23% from 324 million today to 398 million in 2050.

Over 25% of the world's population is under 15 years old: 41% in least developed countries and 16% in more developed countries.

Japan has the oldest population with 25% of its citizens older than 65. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have only 1% over 65.

Most Sub-Saharan African countries have fertillity rates above 6 children per woman, and one tops 7. The average fertility rate In Europe 1.6, in the United States it is 1.8.

Thirty-three countries in Europe and Asia have more people over age 65 than under 15.

There has been a 60% increase to 9.8 billion tons in annual carbon emissions between 1992 and 2013. China had the largest increase: from 735 million metric tons to 2.8 billion metric tons. Forty-three countries reduced their carbon emissions over the same period with Ukraine having the lowest reduction.

Eighteen percent of the world's energy comes from renewable sources, which include hydroelectric power.

There is an average of 526 people per square kilometer of arable land. The number is 238 in more developed countries and 697 in less developed countries. doclink

The Empty Crib

Our poll of 19 countries reveals a neglected global scourge: the number of would-be parents who have fewer children than they want-or none at all
August 27, 2016, Economist

[Note: Karen Gaia's comments are in brackets and italicized.]

In "The Population Bomb", Paul Ehrlich's bestseller of 1968, urban India played a starring role. "The streets seemed alive with people," ... "People, people, people, people," he wrote. Yet India's birth rate has contracted astonishingly quickly, and with it Indians' notions of the ideal family. 1.9 is now the average ideal for city-dwelling Indians. [India's average fertility rate is 2.5, higher than the global average fertility rate of 2.3. India's population is 1.27 billion people and is growing at 1.2% (2013). It is expected to is expected to reach 1.45 million by 2028, surpassing China in numbers of people. India is only about 1/3 the size of China.]

In a poll, people were asked to specify their ideal family size. We asked how many children they had and how many more they expected to have. We then asked people to explain why they had (or were on track to have) fewer or more children than their ideal, and how their success or failure to hit the mark had affected them.

Our poll shows that the ideal family in Asia's three largest countries (China, India and Indonesia) is now smaller than the ideal family in Britain or America. [If the poll was conducted in urban areas, it will be way off, because population growth is always faster in rural areas].

We also find that access to birth control is seldom much of an issue. Few young people will have more children than they want because reliable contraception was not available to them. [Again, if the poll was only taken in urban areas, where contraception was readily available, this conclusion has no validity when applied to the rural areas of the world where population growth is fastest.]

The poll also signals a global shift. Judging by the collective desires of parents and would-be parents, more suffering is caused by having too few babies than too many.

Of the 19 countries we polled, eight are overshooting -- that is, the ideal family size is smaller than the number of children people expect to have. Nigerians have gone furthest awry: on average, they think the ideal family contains 5.4 children but are on course to have 7.7. Eleven countries are undershooting. Russians regard 2.3 children as ideal; Spaniards favour 2.4; Greeks think 2.6 best. In all three, people reckon that they will end up with only 1.7 children on average. [Could it be that people also desire to raise only the number of children they can care for? Their ideal family size would be bolstered by wishful thinking for a well-off lifestyle.]

Because the replacement fertility rate is about 2.1, the difference between the ideal and expected number of children in these countries is the difference between healthy natural population growth and natural decline. [Natural population growth?? What is natural is that a woman had 5-7 children and only two of them survived long enough to reproduce. For thousands of years this natural phenomenon, along with short life spans, kept world population in check.]

A Greek woman feels guilty about the prospect of raising a child without a sibling but might end up doing so, due to Greek's long economic crisis and the greatly raised cost of raising a large family. [She would feel even more guilty raising a second child when she had great concerns about the future.]

In America 39% of people who reckon they will exceed their ideal number of children report that they are more satisfied with life as a result, whereas just 8% feel sorry for themselves. Indians and Pakistanis are even more cheerful about overshooting their ideal family size, as many do. Admittedly, Indians and Pakistanis who have fewer than the ideal number of children are also pleased. [Doesn't this invalidate the conclusions of the poll?]

In all but one of the Western countries we polled, though, undershooting is more often felt to be bad than good. In America 15% of those who have fewer than the ideal number of children think that their life is better as a result, whereas 21% say it is worse. Having no children at all is especially painful.

[In the U.S. in 2014, "47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 had never had children" .. "Given the economic fallout of the 2008 recession, the gender wage gap that just won't quit, the sheer cost of raising a child, and the double duty demands put on women both professionally and domestically, are we really surprised that greater numbers of women are simply opting out of childrearing?" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/09/childless-more-women-are-not-having-kids-says-census_n_7032258.html . Can anyone claim that these women would be happier going against their own decision not to have children during this crisis?]

China's fertility rate has fallen to 1.6, mostly due to urbanization, rising university attendance and the opportunity cost of having babies in a country that is quickly becoming richer.

People who have more children than they think ideal usually say that their partners wanted more, that they reckoned they could afford it or simply that they love babies. Only 13% explain that they did not use birth control or that it was unavailable. [Using birth control does not guarantee pregnancy avoidance - some methods are more effective than others.]

And this seems to be a shrinking problem. Whereas 21% of people aged 55 or over blame their larger-than-ideal families on a lack of reliable contraception, only 6% of people under 35 do so. [Contraception has improved over the years.]

In India roughly half of married women use birth control, and in much of Africa the rate is far lower. [India uses sterilization as the most common means of preventing pregnancies.] In Nigeria 85% of married women in Nigeria are not using birth control, the proportion who have an "unmet need" for it is just 16%. In Nigeria's rural districts, a large family means a more productive farm. As well as having a culture of large families, Nigeria is patriarchal and pious. Men say that babies are God's will; women report that they have little say in the matter, at any rate. [When men decide that a woman cannot use contraception, there is still an unmet need - it is just not reported. Pregnancies are hard on women and few women want as many children as they can possibly have. Women also do not want to have babies that die, but that is what happens when pregnancies are too close together.]

In a Nigerian city a large brood is a burden. Women would like to send their children to school but cannot afford it. Other urbanites increasingly desire smaller families, which helps explain why the ideal family size in Nigeria is two children smaller than people's expectations.

The assumption that family planning should be all about birth control is a 1960s relic. [Then why do 98% of women in the U.S. use it?] In a growing number of countries, the problem of getting hold of contraception is giving way to the problem of getting pregnant. Couples start having children late and find it increasingly difficult. A 30-year-old woman has a roughly 20% chance of getting pregnant each month, falling to about 5% by the age of 40.

The people who fretted about an exploding population half a century ago made two mistakes. They failed to imagine that agriculture could become far more productive. [The Green Revolution is over - Norman Borlaug, the Father of the Green Revolution said it would only last 30 years.]

They also failed to predict that birth rates would fall so sharply [Not sharp enough to prevent the world's population to triple from 1960 to 2050, and water, agriculture, and energy not keeping up with that growth.] That is to their discredit, but it is understandable. Almost nobody could have believed that a country like India would end up suffering a shortage of children. [40% of India's children are malnourished and there is no shortage of children in India.] doclink

Unmet Need for Contraception in Developing Countries: Examining Women's Reasons for Not Using a Method

August 28, 2016, Guttmacher Institute   By: Gilda Sedgh and Rubina Hussain

Recent initiatives have called for satisfying the unmet need for modern contraception, the most prominent one being Family Planning 2020, a global partnership launched in 2012 that aims to add 120 million new users of modern contraceptives in the world's 69 poorest countries by 2020.

Women are considered to have an unmet need for family planning if they are sexually active and want to avoid becoming pregnant but are not using contraception. By helping women prevent unintended pregnancies, programs can reduce unwanted births and unsafe abortions, and improve maternal and child health. These gains can also contribute to other development objectives, such as curbing poverty and slowing population growth.

As of 2014, an estimated 225 million women in developing regions had an unmet need for modern contraception. (Of this total, 160 million were using no method and 65 million were using a traditional method - withdrawal or fertility timing.) This number has not been reduced because increases in contraceptive use have barely kept up with growing populations and rising desire for smaller families.

Every year, an estimated 74 million unintended pregnancies occur in developing regions, most of which are among women using no contraception or a traditional method. If all unmet need for modern methods were met, 52 million of these unintended pregnancies could be averted, thereby preventing the deaths of 70,000 women from pregnancy-related causes.

Satisfying women's unmet need for contraception requires understanding of why women with an unmet need are not using a method. Data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) was used to answer these questions. The DHS program has worked since 1984 with developing-country governments to conduct household surveys of women of reproductive age in more than 90 countries. The survey program focuses on fertility; family planning; reproductive, maternal and child health; and related topics.

Instead of asking women directly whether they need contraception, the DHS infers need based on a woman's current sexual and reproductive status (sexual activity, fecundity, pregnancy and contraceptive use) and whether she wishes to have a child (or another child) soon or ever.

Since the surveys ask this question only of women using no method at all, not of those using traditional methods, this report is limited to women not using any contraceptive method.

Both married women and sexually active (having sex in the last three months) never-married women were surveyed. Young women aged 15-24, married and not, were also included in the analysis.

A review of DHS surveys from 1995 to 2005 showed that women's lack of knowledge about contraception had declined substantially compared with that in the 1980s, and that concerns about the side effects and health risks associated with modern contraceptive have become increasingly common. Also women commonly cited infrequent sexual activity and breast-feeding as reasons for not using contraception, indicating that they believed they had a low risk of becoming pregnant.

A review of studies of young women, primarily unmarried women in Sub-Saharan Africa, identified a lack of family planning education and information regarding how contraceptive methods work as underlying themes.

Young women were concerned about side effects and health risks, such as menstrual disruption and infertility, and unmarried women were also unwilling to risk the social disapproval associated with seeking services. Studies of women who stopped using their methods were concerned about changes in bleeding patterns, weight gain and headaches. Men as well as women had concerns, about the effects of contraceptive methods on women's bodies -- their weight, menstrual cycles, libido, sexual desirability and pleasure. In addition, both men's and women's opposition to family planning could be related to traditional gender norms or to a suspicion that outsiders (Westerners) aim to control women's fertility.

Demographic and Health Surveys from 52 countries between 2005 and 2014 were used.

Of the 52 countries included in this report, 32 are in Africa, 13 are in Asia and seven are in Latin America and the Caribbean, The number of women interviewed in the most recent surveys ranged from 2,615 in Sao Tome & Principe to 124,385 in India. The populations of women surveyed in the 52 countries account for 66% of all women of reproductive age in the developing regions of the world excluding China.

The definition of unmet need for contraception used was: a woman of reproductive age (15-49) has unmet need if:

she is married (legally married, cohabiting or in a consensual union) or unmarried and sexually active;
she is not using any method of contraception, either modern or traditional;
she is fecund; and
she does not want to have a child (or another child) in the next two years or at all.

In addition, women who are pregnant, or who have not resumed menstruation after a birth in the two years preceding the survey, are classified as having unmet need if they indicated that their current or recent pregnancy was unintended.

Women with unmet need are grouped by whether they have unmet need for spacing births (delaying a first birth or postponing higher-order births) or limiting births (stopping childbearing altogether).

Some reports focus on levels of unmet need for modern contraception, which classifies women using traditional methods as having unmet need, because traditional methods have comparatively higher failure rates.

This report, however, looks at women having unmet need for any method - that is, those using neither a traditional nor a modern method - because these women are asked to give a reason for nonuse. Women who use traditional methods are not asked why they are not using a modern one.

This study includes not only women who want to space births and women who want to limit births, but also women who want to postpone motherhood. Delaying childbearing can enable women to complete their educations, earn income or both.

In the DHS, women who are not using any method of contraception, and who say that they do not want to have a child in the near future, are asked: "You have said that you do not want a child soon/another child soon/any more children, but you are not using any method to avoid pregnancy. Can you tell me why?" The questionnaire also follows up with "Any other reason?" but offers no specific prompts.

Women typically report these reasons:

a woman reports infrequent or no sex, or believes she is unable to get pregnant;
postpartum amenorrhea, breast-feeding or both;
opposition to family planning by the woman herself or someone close to her;
awareness and access issues, including awareness of methods and their availability and cost, and access to a source; and/or
issues pertaining to method use, including side effects, health risks and inconvenience.

To examine more closely the experiences of women who gave specific reasons for nonuse, we present the following:

*the proportion of women who had sex in the past three months and past month, among those citing infrequent or no sex as their reason for nonuse;
*the proportion of women who gave birth in the past six months, among women citing postpartum amenorrhea or breast-feeding; and
*the proportion of women who had ever used any contraceptive method-among those citing concerns about side effects and health risks, among those citing opposition to contraception, and among those citing access issues.

Survey data on women's ideal family size compared with the mean number of lifetime births per woman (the total fertility rate) reveal that on average, women have more children than they prefer to have. Outside of Central Asia, where the gap between desired and actual fertility is negligible, women have between 0.5 and 2.2 more children than they intend to have.

Unplanned births range from 3% of all births in the Kyrgyz Republic to 60% in Bolivia.

The majority of married women in Latin American and the Caribbean and in Asia currently use contraception, and most of these users rely on a modern method, except in a few countries in Central Asia. In contrast, in Africa, the majority of married women are not using contraception, with the exception of Swaziland, Rwanda, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Egypt, where 51-59% of married women are using a method.

The proportion of married women who rely on traditional methods varies widely, from 0-1% of users in many countries to 37% in Azerbaijan. Still, in the majority of countries (41 out of 52), fewer than 10% rely on such methods.

In the 52 countries studied, the proportion of married women aged 15-49 with an unmet need for a method of contraception (either modern or traditional) ranges from 8% in Colombia to 38% in Sao Tome & Principe. Unmet need is highest in countries such as Haiti, Ghana and Uganda, where the use of contraception is still very low. In 24 countries, at least a quarter of married women have unmet need; 20 of these countries are in Africa. At the other end of the spectrum, the five countries with the lowest levels of unmet need -- Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Indonesia -- have the highest levels of contraceptive use. A few countries, such as Niger and Nigeria, have relatively low unmet need along with low contraceptive use because the desired family size is still relatively high.

If the majority of women who need contraceptives would like to have a child in the future, then programs focusing mainly on sterilization would not be appropriate, and some women might be reluctant to use IUDs and implants in settings where removal could be difficult. Offering effective short-term methods, such as pills and injectables, or backup methods, such as emergency contraception, along with the former could be more acceptable and appropriate.

In the Latin American and the Caribbean countries with surveys, unmet need is highest among women aged 15-19, and it declines for each subsequent five-year age-group. In Asia, unmet need is highest among the youngest age-groups. In Africa, unmet need is roughly equally high across all age-groups except for women aged 45-49, who have the lowest level. In Burkina Faso, Burundi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Swaziland and Tanzania, unmet need is highest among women 35-39 or 40-49 years old - groups who most likely have reached their desired family size.

Among married women with unmet need in all regions, the four most common reasons women cite for not using contraception are

*that they have sex infrequently or not at all;
*that they have concerns about the side effects, health risks or inconvenience of methods;
*that they have not resumed menstruation after a birth, are breast-feeding or both; and
*that they or someone close to them opposes family planning.

Relatively few women say that they are unaware of methods; that the cost is too high; that they lack access to contraception; or that they are not fecund.

Women may believe they have little or no risk of conceiving if they have sex infrequently or not at all; they are experiencing postpartum amenorrhea (they have not resumed menstruation after giving birth), are breast-feeding or both; or they believe that they are infecund.

About one-third of married women with unmet need in Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean cite infrequent or no sex as a reason for not using contraception. In Africa, about one-fifth of women cite this reason, on average. With regard to individual countries, the reason is especially prevalent in Nepal (where it is cited by 73% of women with unmet need), Bangladesh (57%) and Peru (53%). In 12 countries, infrequent or no sex is the most commonly cited reason for nonuse.

Women citing this reason may perceive that they have sex too infrequently to warrant contraceptive use, or believe that contraceptive methods are too burdensome for the number of times they have intercourse. Alternatively, they may be having infrequent sex in order to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.

Across the 52 countries, 23% of married women with unmet need, on average, report not being sexually active in the past three months.

Among the married women who cite infrequent or no sex as a reason for nonuse, about half (47%) report being sexually active in the past three months, compared with 77% among all women with unmet need.

Substantial proportions of married women who cite sexual inactivity as a reason for not using contraception also report that their husbands are away or staying elsewhere - 46% overall, but with much variation by country: Proportions range from 16% in Tanzania to 79% in Haiti and Armenia and 87% in Nepal. Other women may be avoiding sexual activity instead of using a contraceptive method; these women could clearly benefit from improved services, including a range of contraceptive methods from which to choose.

Attention must also be paid to the women citing infrequent or no sex who are sexually active - from 22% of those with unmet need in Armenia to 79% in Cambodia. This group may be underestimating their risk of becoming pregnant. In fact, some of the women citing this reason were sexually active within one month preceding the survey - between 8% and 61% of women gave this response in Armenia and Cambodia, respectively. These women need better information and counseling about contraceptive methods that would be appropriate and effective in their situations.

Postpartum amenorrhea, breast-feeding or both. A woman who reports postpartum amenorrhea (lack of menstruation since her last birth) or breast-feeding as a reason for not using contraception may believe that her likelihood of becoming pregnant is minimal, or she could be afraid that a hormonal method will negatively affect her breast milk or her health. Alternately, her reasons could be cultural: In some societies, women are expected to abstain from sex during the postpartum period, and therefore, they might feel that contraceptive use is inappropriate.

On average, postpartum amenorrhea, breast-feeding or both are more commonly cited in Africa than in other regions. In Sub-Saharan Africa, high fertility and long durations of breast-feeding could explain this relatively high prevalence.

According to WHO, the contraceptive benefits of lactation are limited to women who are exclusively breast-feeding, and they extend for six months after birth or the duration of postpartum amenorrhea, whichever is shorter. In more than half of countries in which women cited postpartum amenorrhea or breast-feeding as a reason for nonuse, the majority had given birth more than six months ago, had resumed menstruation or both, and were therefore potentially at risk for unintended pregnancy. Unless these women are practicing postpartum abstinence, they may be underestimating their risk of becoming pregnant.

Opposition to contraception could reflect a woman's personal beliefs or those of her partner or another person who influences her contraceptive decision making. The opposition could stem from conservative social values, religious or fatalistic beliefs, or concerns about certain attributes of various methods.

Compared with married women with unmet need who cite any reason for nonuse, those who cite opposition are less likely to have ever used a method in nearly all countries.

In most countries, only 0-4% of married women with unmet need are unable to identify a contraceptive method; the proportion reaches 5% or more in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Timor-Leste and Bolivia. It is not clear whether these women do not know about family planning, or whether they need to know more about specific methods before deciding to use one. Women who have poor knowledge of contraception may live in an environment with a low presence of family planning services.

In addition, fewer than 10% of married women with unmet need cite the high cost of contraception as their reason for not using a method in most countries. The countries in Western Africa and Middle Africa where reasons related to knowledge, access and cost are still prevalent require greater efforts to expand the availability of low-cost contraceptive supplies and services.

Married women also rarely cite a lack of access as a reason for not using contraception. Such reasons could include not knowing a source, not being able to get to one (i.e., because of distance or a lack of transportation) or both.

It is possible that access-related issues are underreported because most women cite only one reason for nonuse.

In most countries, 20-33% of married women with unmet need report not using contraception because they are concerned about side effects and health risks associated with use. Some of the women have had side effects in the past; that they heard about side effects or health problems from others; or that they simply fear that the methods could be harmful.

One study found that women who cited side effects and health concerns were significantly more likely to have used a modern method in the past than were women who cited other reasons for nonuse. Additional research has shown that concerns about side effects and health risks are major reasons for discontinuing contraceptive use, and that these concerns are especially common among women who previously used injectables, IUDs and oral contraceptives.

Never-married women with an unmet need for contraception give a range of reasons that are similar to those of married counterparts, except that many say that they are not using contraception because they are "not married".

Infrequent or no sex was the most common reason cited by never-married women with unmet need in six out of seven Latin American and Caribbean countries and in 10 out of 23 African countries. But, by definition, all never-married women with unmet need had sex in the three months preceding the survey. It was found that most of these women had not had sex in the prior month -- only 26% did on average; thus 74% last had sex 2-3 months before the survey. Some of these women might be sexually active only sporadically, or their relationship status might be in transition. They would need services and methods that suit these circumstances.

Never-married women who cite their nonmarried status as a reason for not using contraception might give this response because they are not having sex regularly; because they believe it would be socially unacceptable to seek contraceptive supplies and services before they are married; or because service providers deny some or all contraceptive methods to unmarried women.

Generally speaking, the majority of women citing this reason for nonuse reported that they had sex in the prior month, suggesting that "not married" does not mean infrequent sex but some other barrier to using contraception. The specific barrier is unclear, however. Among many women citing this reason, not being married did not prevent them from using a method in the past.

Fairly small proportions of never-married women with unmet need, between 1% and 22%, report they are not using contraception because they are infecund. Women may give this response because they are experiencing postpartum amenorrhea or are breast-feeding, or possibly because they believe they are too young to be fecund. In any of these cases, the response reflects their belief that they are unlikely to become pregnant.

Although women of different ages face different personal circumstances, the reasons they cite for not using contraception in spite of not wanting a pregnancy are similar. Four reasons are most common (see table below):

*infrequent or no sex (even though they are categorized as sexually active);
*postpartum amenorrhea (not having resumed menstruation after a birth), breast-feeding or both;
*opposition to contraception (by the woman or someone close to her); and
*concern about the methods themselves-their side effects, health risks or inconvenience.

Among young women who want to avoid a pregnancy, 11% say they are not using a method because they are "not married," and smaller proportions report being unaware of contraception, lacking access to a source, or being infecund.

Younger women cite "not married” as a reason for nonuse more often than older counterparts, possibly reflecting that younger women have more sporadic sexual relationships.

There is far more to this report than reported here. Click on the link in the headline to see the entire report. doclink

Karen Gaia says: a woman whose husband objects to contraception might not know if she has access because she is afraid to investigate it. Thus access-related issues would be underreported.

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals Leads to Lower World Population Growth

July 12, 2016, IIASA - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

An analysis by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) quantitatively illustrates that demography is not destiny and that policies - such as the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in female education and reproductive health, can greatly contribute to reducing world population growth.

In September 2015 the leaders of the world under the umbrella of the United Nations in New York subscribed to an ambitious set of global development goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which unlike earlier goals give specific targets which apply to all countries of the world. If pursued, several of these targets, particularly in the fields of health and female education will have strong direct and indirect effects on future population trends mostly working in the direction of lower population growth.

Based on a multi-dimensional model of population dynamics that stratifies national populations by age, sex and level of education with educational fertility and mortality differentials, we translate these goals into SDG population scenarios resulting in population sizes between 8 and 9 billion in 2100.

Today, the future of world population growth looks more uncertain than a decade ago, due to a controversial recent stall of fertility decline in a number of African countries and a controversy over how low fertility will fall below replacement level, particularly in China.

In 2008 projections by Lutz, Sanderson, et al. gave a 95% interval for the global population ranging from 5.2 to 12.7 billion in the year 2100.

In 2015 a different approach by the UN Population Divisiongave a much narrower 95% interval ranging from 9.5 to 13 billion in 2100.

Another recent set of world population projections defined in the context of the work of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) showed in the medium scenario a peaking of world population around 2070 at 9.4 billion, followed by a decline to 9 billion by the end of the century with high and low scenarios reaching 12.8 and 7.1 billion respectively (Lutz et al. 2014; O'Neill et al. 2015).

In this paper the most relevant of these goals were translated into SDG population scenarios to quantify the likely effect of meeting these development goals on national population trajectories. This method shows the world population peaking around 2060 and reaching 8-9 billion by 2100, depending on the specific variant of the SDG scenario.

World population growth is sometimes called the elephant in the room due to its capability to cause environmental degradation as well as in making adaptation to already unavoidable environmental change more difficult (Ehrlich & Ehrlich 1990; O'Neill et al. 2001; The Royal Society 2012).

Population is widely perceived as a politically sensitive topic: the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development explicitly opposed the setting of "demographic targets" saying that the role of the state is to assure reproductive rights and to provide reproductive health services. It is presumably for this reason that the new SDGs do not mention population growth or fertility explicitly in any of the 169 targets.

There is increasing evidence that education, particularly in countries in demographic transition, has a direct causal effect on lowering desired family size and empowering women to actually realize these lower fertility goals with availability of reproductive health services also helping to enhance contraceptive prevalence. Universal primary and secondary education of all young women around the world is a prominent goal in its own right (SDG 4) and is politically unproblematic.

Lowering child mortality and decreasing adult mortality from many preventable causes of death are also politically unproblematic policy priorities. For child mortality the SDGs give precise numerical targets which could be directly translated into demographic trajectories and could be complemented through estimates of the indirect effects of better education of survival at all ages.

The population growth trajectories that would result from the successful implementation of the SDGs will come to lie far outside the 95% uncertainty range given by the 2015 UN probabilistic population projections.

The extrapolation model used by the UN gives all national fertility trends given equal weight, irrespective of whether they summarize the experience of just a few thousand couples or hundreds of millions of couples. In fertility, couples and not states are the relevant units of decision making and couples rather than countries should be given equal weight, which would greatly change the projection results.

The world community under the leadership of the UN launched an unprecedented global effort to strongly accelerate global efforts in development within the framework of the SDGs. Many of these goals, if reached, will have important effects in lowering future fertility and mortality rates, particularly in the least developed countries. Leaders of all countries and the entire UN system have committed themselves to do whatever it takes to reach the specified targets. This new global effort is a discontinuity of past trends and hence cannot be captured by statistical extrapolation of past trends.

Policies in the field of reproductive health and female education can have very significant longer term impacts on global population growth. Progress towards reaching the SDGs can result in accelerated strictly voluntary fertility declines that could result in a global peak population already around mid-century. These strong effects of the SDGs on lowering global population growth in a politically unproblematic and widely agreed way provides an additional rationale for vigorously pursuing the implementation of the SDGs. doclink

Warren Buffett: We Only Have One Planet

September 14, 2016, Bloomberg