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or U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) funds for population programs could be increased.

Other Benefits and Costs

Slowing population growth may well lead to less stress on the environment. In reviewing research on population growth and economic development, a National Research Council (1986) report concluded that slower population growth is likely to lead to a reduced rate of degradation of renewable common-property resources such as air, water, forests, land, and species of plants and animals. As discussed above, it should also be noted that population reduction programs may themselves have income consequences.

Research and Development

The links between population growth and greenhouse gas emissions are not fully understood. While some researchers indicate that increased population growth will result in increased greenhouse gas emissions, others feel that a reduction in population will result in increased greenhouse gas emissions as the per capita income of the population increases. A better understanding of the links among population growth, economic growth, and greenhouse gas emissions would aid decision makers in their determination of whether family planning is a worthwhile policy to pursue with regard to greenhouse warming.


The world population is growing rapidly. If there is not a significant reduction in fertility rates, the population may reach 14 billion before stabilizing.

The National Research Council (1986) report noted that reducing fertility would produce at every subsequent point slower population growth and smaller population size. Both World Bank and U.N. population projections show that the sooner fertility rates are reduced, the smaller the world population will be at stabilization.

The links between population growth and greenhouse emissions are complex and not well understood. However, at any given rate of greenhouse gas emissions per capita, a smaller population will mean less total emissions, as well as less stress on the environment in general. For example, at any given level of per capita emissions in 2025, the U.N. low population projection would involve 11 percent less total emissions than the medium projection, and 24 percent less than the high population projection (Sadik, 1990).

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