Can Asia's population bomb be defused?

Asia. 1983 Sep-Oct;6(3):16-23, 43.


PIP: The UN optimistically identifies an emerging trend in Asia and in much of the rest of the world in the form of determination by women to reduce their family size by resorting to birth control methods, often against the wishes of their husbands. The new trend also seems to parallel women's new desire to go out and work. Yet, it is also in Asia that such countries as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Burma are the cause of serious demographic concern. The overall Asian population increased to rise to 3.6 billion and by 2025 to 4.5 billion. In 2025 Asia's population will continue to constitute nearly 60% of the world's population. Experts predict that what happens in Asia will largely determine the overall trends in world population. The population experts usually divide Asia into 2 regions, East Asia, such as Japan and China, have engineered dramatic fertility declines. China's population control efforts are probably the world's most sensational. China more than halved its birthrate from 34/1000 in 1970 to 16 in 1983 and hopes to reach 5/1000 by 1985. Most countries of South and West Asia, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Burma, have annual birthrates of 45/1000, and it is these countries that can least afford such population growth. According to the UN, the biggest population increase in Asia over the next decade--more than 220 million--will be in India and its immediate neighbors. The current performance of the majority of Asian states in controlling population growth is discouraging. Only a handful of countries--Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and China--have displayed the necessary energy, imagination, and determination and have committed funds to population projects. In a number of Asian countries various incentives and disincentives have been created to influence people's fertility decisions, and such things seem to work. Several factors, for example, account for Thailand's progress in population matters, including the availability of injectable contraceptives and minilaparotomy; close cooperation among the medical community, private family planning organizations, and government bureaucracies; the imaginative use of foreign donor aid; and innovative linkage of birth control and development programs. The West's financial committment to population programs in Asia and elswhere is slackening, yet, as the experience of Asia shows, investment in population programs is probably the best contribution the West can make to development.

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Asia, Eastern
  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Asia, Western
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Demography
  • Developing Countries
  • Economics
  • Family Planning Policy
  • Family Planning Services
  • Financial Management
  • Health
  • Health Planning*
  • Health Services*
  • International Cooperation
  • Motivation
  • Population Control*
  • Population Dynamics*
  • Population Growth*
  • Population*
  • Public Policy