By a Staff Reporter
Intense publicity on the "population explosion" is tending to prejudge and distort the issues, according to the Catholic Institute for International Relations. In a new leaflet entitled World Population* the institute's researchers say that population will not be reduced unless greater social justice accompanies family planning.
Statistics given in the CIIR report show that with present growth rates the population of the world is doubling every 35 years, and roost of the growth is occurring in the poorer countries, where improved medicine has lowered the death rate.
In rich countries lower death rates were followed by lower birth rates a process which has not yet taken place among more impoverished neighbours. An important factor in reducing births appears to be the "development" 'brought by industrialisation and improved living standards.
Pointing out that in many countries children are regarded as a financial asset, since children contribute to family income, the CIIR report goes on: "If there is any one factor which, when combined with the availability of family planning services, stands out as effective in population growth rate reduction, it is more equitable incomc distribution.
"Without a form of development that to some extent eliminates gross inequalities and provides security and con-. fidence in the future for the mass of the people. population growth rates will not be reduced substantially however many millions of pounds are sunk into family planning programmes.
"Equally, without the availability of adequate means of family limitation the motivation created for reduced family size by more equitable income distribution cannot be serviced. The answer is not economic development or population control. but social and political development and family planning availability."
The CIIR Leaflet comes shortly before the first intergovernmental World Population Conference, which will take place this August in Bucharest, Rumania, eight months after the beginning or World Population Year.
The report says: "It must be recognised that World Population Year is essentially a rich countries event within the United Nations, and that these same rich countries see its main purpose as being to question how the poor countries can reduce their population growth rates. • "If the World Population Conference concentrates on this issue to the exclusion of the role and responsibility of the rich countries in regard to their disproportionate absorption and consumption of the world's resources. then a crucial opportunity to put the population problem into its full context will have been wasted . . .
"Until the rich countries take measures to adjust world trade to the needs of all, to spend less of their resources on armaments and defence, to find appropriate ways or sharing their wealth, to discourage the brain-drain from the poor countries, we have no right to hope or to expect that solutions to the population problem can be found.
" World Population, available from the Catholic Institute for International Relations, 41 Holland Park, London WII 3RP.