A great deal of work has been done over the past two decades on the determinants of population growth, but far less on its consequences. As this discussion has shown, however, the resulting knowledge base yields only a very broad understanding of why, how, and when fertility changes occur. It is evident that there is no generally accepted theoretical framework for explaining the conditions, correlates, causes, and consequences of population change in the developing world. This lack accounts to a great extent for the inadequacy of the data base (United Nations Secretariat, 1984). In their comprehensive review of the state of knowledge about population—development relationships in the less-developed countries (LDCs), which includes mortality and migration as well as fertility, Miro and Potter (1980:147) concluded: “It seems clear... that the present state of knowledge on the determinants and consequences of demographic behaviour is somewhat uneven: there remain several important areas where no central paradigm has emerged and several different views or schools of thought are in competition with one another. Perhaps the three most important unresolved questions are with regard to the determinants of fertility, the consequences of internal migration, and the consequences of alternative trends in fertility.” In the conclusions to their large-scale study on the determinants of fertility in the developing world, Bulatao and Lee (1983a) acknowledge that there is no dominant theory or paradigm in the field and provide (1983b), as indicated in Chapter 5, a description of how fertility responds to modernization, which they qualify as speculative and “far from being an established view” (ibid.:785).


Population Growth Fertility Decline Family Planning Program Population Policy Slow Population Growth 
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  1. 1.
    In one explanation of why the research base is so narrow (Documents, 1985a:565), it is stated that for many years there has been “a broad consensus of informed opinion” that rapid population growth constituted a major impediment to economic development in the Third World so that “in recent years, as they considered the relevant main issues well settled, most sponsors of social science research, including US government agencies, assigned low priority to research on the economic consequences of population change.”Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See, for example, Schubnell (1984:7), who, as editor of a symposium on population policies in Asia, pointed to the “dilemma [that] everybody is using the notion of the demographic transition or, more generally, the road of modernization. In nearly all the papers submitted to the Symposium . . . modernization is claimed as a remedy for solving the severe problems of today etc ., but we do not have a reliable theory of this phenomenon.”Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    It is the writings of Simon, as Finkle and Crane (1985) noted, that gave new intellectual legitimacy and ammunition to critics of LDC populanon programs, a criticism that surfaced prominently in the policy statement adopted by the United States delegation to the International Conference on Population held in Mexico City in August 1984. This statement, according to the Population and Development Review (Documents, 1984a:575), “marks the most notable conceptual and philosophical departure from previous US population policy statements.” The statement claimed (ibid .:576) that “ the relationship between population growth and economic development is not necessarily a negative one . . . . Indeed, in the economic history of many nations, population growth has been an essential element in economic progress.” The United States position that population growth need not adversely affect economic development received virtually no support from the other delegations (Finkle and Crane, 1985;Wulf and Willson, 1984). As Demeny (1985b:101) reported, “The virtually unanimous answer to this question whether population growth has deleterious consequences for development) given at Mexico City was affirmative.” It is beyond the scope of this book to consider the domestic politics that led to the adoption by the Reagan administration of the United States position as an attempt to mollify the demands of the New Right coalition when the 1984 presidential election was in the offing. Both Finkle and Crane (1985) and Wulf and Willson (1984) provide informed, detailed analyses.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    It should be noted that the Working Group did not include anyone affiliated with the Population Council.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ozzie G. Simmons
    • 1
  1. 1.Fordham UniversityThe BronxUSA

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