[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Thailand? You said? RE: Population

On Fri, 22 May 1998, Antony Joseph wrote: 

> But have you looked at Kerala in India?  Somehow  it seems to defy your
> model. The local govt there has made a massive effort to educate the masses.

All studies so far have yielded critical roles to (a) health
infrastructure (infant mortality declines), (b) education, particularly
the education of women, (c) rapid income increases, (d) urbanization, and
(e) supply and cost of contraception.

All models control for all these variables - and more, of course. The only
difference is in the relative importance on a particular variable in a
particular state, region, or nation. The reasons for that could be
completely local, like the quality of health care or the quality of
education, or the influence of political leadership, which is not easy
(though not impossible) to capture in statistical exercises.

Given that in India, contraception is available virtually at zero cost
(there are psychic costs, which of course need to be lowered through
greater publicity and education), the other variables need much more
attention. Finally, the Thai study - which simply adds to other models,
clearly indicates that economic needs DO drive fertility in a very big
way, and that parents need to be convinced of the use of investing in
education on their children. 

There are three essential components of these models:

a) demand for children (for old age security or insurance, for other
economic returns: strongly affected by income growth, educational status, 

b) supply of children (primarily the situation of infant mortality in a
state or nation)  

c)  cost of contraception (whether modern methods are avaialable cheaply
and easily, and people know how to use them)

The point I was making was that **simply** supplying contraception or
telling people about the advantages of a small family will simply not help
- beyond a very limited point. The demand has to be lowered, severely. The
most influential policy for lowering demand is rapid economic growth.
Educating people helps, but is perhaps not the constraining factor. In
fact, what was observed in Thailand (an almost amazing drop, like a rock,
of fertility) has been observed throughout the rapidly expanding SE
tigers.  The following data from p.40 of "The East Asian Miracle" by the
World Bank (1993) illustrates some of this: 

Country				Average annual growth of population
				1960-70			1980-90
"Capitalist model of competition and rapid economic growth"

S. Korea			2.6			1.1
Thailand			3.1			1.8
Hong Kong			2.5			1.4

"Socialist model of lecturing to people and expecting them to have
lesser children in the 'public interest'"

India				2.3			2.1
Pakistan			2.8			3.1
Bangladesh			2.5			2.3	

Believe me, there are no secrets now. The results of 35 years of
experimentation in the developing countries, are out in the open. We need
to pick up these results, explain them to the people, and use the results. 

> My appreciation to the leaders of this discussion who have
> been strongly resisting the pulls from different debators to move towards
> policital activitism.

a) There are no 'leaders' or followers. Each person represents himself or
herself. I accept no leaders and you should not, too. Everyone has to
think for themselves. We are a nation of One.

b) Political activism per se, is not an answer. A clear vision is vital
before any action can be taken. As we can see, many of us differ on the
basic importance or mechanics of how the social and economic reality
operates. These differences need to be ironed out to a large extent before
the next stage. Each of us would then be able to take the message out and
debate further, a precurser to action. 

If at the end of these debates, we do agree to the set of policies that
can stop about 200,000,000 people [*] from being born in India in the next
50 years, while fully respecting each individual's optimal decision and
freedom, while removing poverty, and while taking per capital incomes to
levels close to what is found in S.Korea today, then we will be BOUND to
act to bring about this different and better India. 

Sitting still, **after** these debates, would not help.


[* Please correct the data in the previous mail:  India's min. populatioin
in 2051 is about 1.55 billion and the max. expected is about 1.75 billion,
as per the Population Reference Bureau]