MR: universal access to contraception critical for stabilising population

27 September 2014

Media Releases 2014

If we are to avoid having 12 billion people on the planet by the end of the century, we must make contraception readily available to all couples.

On 18 September 2014, an important paper was published in the journal Science from the United Nations’ Population Division, saying that world population is unlikely to stabilise this century and instead could grow from the current 7.2 billion to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by 2100.

According to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), it was yet another attempt by the UN demographic unit to shake the persistent myth that world population will stabilise at 9 billion by mid-century.

SPA national president Jenny Goldie notes that the authors stress that these higher projections could be moderated by greater investments in family planning and in girls’ education.

“The study found that the main reason for the increase in the projection of the world population is the slowdown in rate of fertility decline in Africa, whose population will quadruple from the current one billion to 4.2 billion (median projection).”

“The fall in fertility rates has not only stalled in many places, it has actually reversed, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa,” Ms Goldie says.

“Cultural preferences for large families certainly exist; nevertheless, African families are on average having one child more than they prefer. Contraceptive uptake in the sub-Saharan region is a mere 25 per cent. Many couples are thus having more children than they want or can feed properly.”

Ms Goldie says the authors qualify their projections by saying they take no account of potential negative feedback from the environmental consequences of rapid population growth.

“It states that ‘the addition of several billion people in Africa could lead to severe resource shortages which in turn could affect population size through unexpected mortality, migration and fertility effects’.

“In other words, without rapid population stabilisation through widespread access to contraception, people could either starve, migrate or be too malnourished to reproduce,” Ms Goldie says. “It is thus critical we increase the family planning component in Australia’s overseas-aid budget.”

Further information: Jenny Goldie 0401 921 453

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