Monday, February 11, 2008

How does high population growth affect economic development?

From Canada Free Press, a critique of a July 20 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation piece of the transfer of aid to Haiti, where Canada has already sent $700 million since the late 1960s and pledges to send another $520 over the next four years.

Two issues are raised here. What is the affect of population growth on economic development? When do those people making development aid decisions take this into account?

From Canada Free Press:

In Haiti there are 35.87 births per 1000 and in 2006 4.94 children were born per woman. The Canadian fertility rate was 1.53. The annual population growth rate is 2.5%, which means that Haiti’s 8.7 million people will double to 17.4 million in just 28 years if this rate persists.

Yet, of the staggering $353 million in projects currently under way in Haiti under the auspices of the Canadian International Development Agency---NONE, ZERO, SQUAT, NADA---were listed under the category of “family planning”.

This, after a Senate committee last January concluded that $575 billion (US) spent in African development aid in the last forty years, much of it by Canadian taxpayers, had left Africans in a worse state than before the aid was provided. In flat contradiction to the theory of Demographic Transition, short-term material improvement only served as an incentive for African women to have more children. The population boom exhausted resources leaving more people subsisting at a higher level of misery than a generation before. Clearly prosperity is not the best contraceptive after all.

The question remains, when is Ottawa going to learn its lesson? When is foreign aid going to be made conditional on population control so that it can be made effective? And when is the CBC going to start to do some analytical journalism instead of the politically correct nutrasweet flag-waving we saw on the 20th of July?

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