Population Matters

Population growth undermines aid

Population growth undermines aid

A recent study sponsored by Population Matters concludes that investment in measures shown to reduce population growth is key to addressing extreme poverty.

A recent London School of Economics and Political Science graduate project sponsored by Population Matters, More Aid + More People ≠ Less Poverty, showed that high fertility rates and thus rapidly increasing population size were the main reason for the number of people living in absolute poverty to increase in the 20 highest fertility countries during the past two decades, despite a sharp increase in the number of aid recipients.

Total fertility rates in these countries remained well above world average. A key factor in poverty reduction is thus reducing population growth to a reasonable level.

Three aspects of development aid were shown to contribute to fertility reduction: family planning, education and economic infrastructure. However, the percentage of development aid spent on these three aspects combined was a mere 16 per cent, with only a derisory 0.3 per cent being spent on the most important of these — family planning.

Since fertility reduction is key to reducing poverty, aid donors should have invested much more aid in these three areas — especially family planning.

Commented Population Matters chair, Roger Martin, “This is yet more evidence supporting the argument for investing far greater sums in programmes shown to reduce fertility rates and hence population growth. Aid strategies that increase longevity without at the same time reducing fertility are simply running to catch up with ever-increasing numbers of people. Indeed they appear actually to create more poor people, and thus the basis for future humanitarian crises.”

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