Contraception and population trends

  • Brian Cook
Part of the Biology and Environment book series (SBES)


Throughout most of man’s existence on Earth, his numbers have been small and have increased only slowly. Four natural checks served to keep the population low; a short life expectancy, a high neonatal mortality, a late age at puberty and a long interval between births. The recent growth of urban, industrial society disrupted these checks and caused the population to soar, last century in countries that are now affluent, this century in the Third World. The increase in population was a result of falling death rates rather than increasing birth rates. After a while, birth rates began to fall in developed societies as parents perceived that more children were surviving to become adults. In urban societies, children are economic liabilities; they require expensive food, shelter and education, and too many of them mean that resources for the family as a whole become insufficient. Initially, contraception probably played only a minor role in reducing the birth rate, but over the last quarter of a century in developed societies, it has become a major factor in stabilising population growth.


Family Planning Population Trend Circulatory Disease Oral Contraception Legal Abortion 
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© The Contributors 1981

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  • Brian Cook

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