Munich Personal RePEc Archive

UNFPA’s View on Population: an Economic Analysis

Alejandro, Cid (2003): UNFPA’s View on Population: an Economic Analysis.

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Recently, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published “State of World Population 2002” which holds a Malthusian view on demography: population growth harms economic development. Based on that assumption, the UNFPA directs funds to reduce the fertility of Third World women. The purpose of this paper is to question the arguments and the underlying assumptions of the UNFPA perspective on demography. The critiques of the Malthusian view, from an economic point of view, include: a) statistical data have not confirmed the Malthusians’ predictions; b) the difference between causation and correlation is misunderstood; c) a fixed level of resources is assumed; d) it underestimates the value of human capital; e) the problem of aging population is ignored. Since nowadays not only UNFPA but also many other institutions spent large amounts of money on reducing fertility rates and controlling population growth in the Third World, understanding the relationship between population and economic growth could help improve policies. The conclusion of this paper is that there’s no strong evidence, neither empirical nor theoretical, that population controls would solve poverty and contribute to development. Moreover, some evidence suggest just the contrary.

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