Population Issues in the United States

  • Oscar Harkavy
Part of the The Springer Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analysis book series (PSDE)


In the fifties and sixties there was widespread apprehension that the U.S. population was growing too fast. Naturalists and conservationists, always more hawkish than demographers and other social scientists on the subject of controlling population growth, were particularly vociferous in their cries of alarm. In their eyes, excessive population growth was the main reason why too much of the nation’s wilderness and farmland was being paved over for superhighways, shopping malls, and housing subdivisions. The twin generators of this pernicious population growth were the post-World War II baby boom and a growing wave of legal and illegal immigration to the United States from Latin America and Asia. A tinge of elitism and/or nativism energized those most upset by these developments.


Family Planning Teenage Pregnancy Family Planning Service Family Planning Program Plan Parenthood 
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  1. 1.
    The U.S. total fertility rate (TFR) rose from 1.824 in 1987 to 2.05 in 1992. The U.S. Census Bureau assumes that the TFR will climb to 2.119 by 2050, reflecting an increasing proportion of Hispanics and blacks in the population. The latter groups currently have slightly higher TFRs than that of non-Hispanic whites, but their fertility is assumed to fall during the first half of the twenty-first century. In 1992 the Census Bureau projected a U.S. population of 383 million as of 2050 (see Dennis A. Ahlburg, “The Census Bureau’s New Projections of the US Population,” Population and Development Review 19, no. 1 (March 1993):160-164.Google Scholar
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    By 1995, however, 85 percent of fecund Catholic wives, aged 25–39, were using contraception (Ronald Freedman, personal communication, July 1994).Google Scholar
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  7. 7.
    Judith Blake, chair of the Department of Demography at the University of California at Berkeley, took strenuous objection to the estimate of five million poor women in need of subsidized family planning services. Based on her analysis of Gallup poll data (subsidized, incidentally, by a Ford Foundation grant), Blake asserted that the five million estimate was greatly exaggerated, that poor women wanted larger families than middle-class women, and that extending family planning services for the poor would not significantly reduce U.S. population growth. She urged, instead, “basic changes in the social organization of reproduction” including removal of sanctions against homosexuality. (Judith Blake, “Population Policy for Americans: Is the Government Being Misled?” Science 164 (May 1969):522-529.) Jaffe, Wishik, and I defended the five million estimate and our policy recommendations in an article published in Science only two months later, entitled “Family Planning and Public Policy: Who is Misleading Whom?” (Science 165 (July 25 1969):367-373). [While I did most of the work on the “Harkavy report,” Jaffe was the principal author of the Science article.]Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 108. Three were leased, one was bought with federal funds, and one with private money.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., pp. 261-262. The population studied is about 60 percent white, 20 percent Latino, 10 percent Asian, and 2 percent black.Google Scholar
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    L. S. Zabin, M. B. Hirsch, E. A. Smith, R. Streett, and J. B. Hardy, “Evaluation of a Pregnancy Prevention Program for Urban Teenagers,” Family Planning Perspectives 18:119, 1986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oscar Harkavy
    • 1
  1. 1.The Ford FoundationNew YorkUSA

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