Research and Explore
1. Assume that you are the prime minister of a low-income country in
which the population growth rate is 3 percent a year. Your government
has adopted a policy of reducing the rate to 2 percent over the next
10 years. Listed below are some activities that could help your country
reach that goal. Because of budgetary constraints, you cannot undertake
all the activities at once.
- Choose the five activities that you would undertake first and rank them in the order in
which you would implement them. Explain why you chose this ranking.
- Start a campaign of posters, billboards, radio announcements, and newspaper ads that
portray small families as desirable.
- Have the Ministry of Health train more people to provide family planning services in
rural health clinics and urban hospitals.
- Design pre- and in-service training programs for medical personnel to teach them how to
provide family planning services.
- Contract with national celebrities in sports and entertainment to film public service
ads in support of family planning.
- Have the Ministry of Education develop a curriculum for secondary schools about
- Provide financial incentives for parents to send their daughters to school.
- Have the national university do research to determine how to persuade more couples to
practice family planning.
- Enact a law that will raise the taxes of couples who have more than two children.
- Enact a law that will lower the taxes of couples who have fewer than two children.
- Have the Department of Industries develop job training programs for women.
- Use tax revenue to set up a social security fund so retired people will have a small but
- Are there any activities listed that you would not use? Explain.
- What are three additional activities that you would add to your list? Describe each one
and explain how it would fit into your ranking.
2. This activity, which demonstrates how much family size can influence
a countrys population, is designed to be done in class or with
a group of people. If you are doing this activity by yourself, draw
it out on a piece of paper.
- Four members
of the class form two couples. Couple A and their descendants will
always have two surviving children; couple B and their descendants
will always have three.
- Couple A selects
two members of the class as its children; couple B selects three members
of the class as its children.
- The children
of couples A and B select members of the class as their spouses. The
children of couple A and their spouses are couples C and D; the children
of couple B and their spouses are couples E, F, and G.
- Couples C and
D each select two members of the class as their children. Couples
E, F, and G each select three members of the class as their children.
How many children altogether do couples C and D have? Couples E, F,
- Continue the
activity through another generation (the fourth); members of the class
already selected will have to be selected again. At the end of the
generations, there will be eight children who are descendants of couple
A and twenty-seven who are descendants of couple B.
- What conclusions
can you draw from this exercise?
3. Make a family tree by going back to your great-grandparents on both
your mothers and fathers sides of the family. To whatever
extent possible, list the years in which people were born, were married,
and died, as well as their occupations and levels of education. If you
do not know all of the information yourself, interview other family
members; older relatives are excellent sources. After your family tree
is assembled, analyze the data you collected and answer the following
questions to the best of your knowledge.
Note: Although one of the objectives of this exercise is to help
you become more informed about your own family, if you are unable to
collect information from your family, or if your family feels uncomfortable
discussing this information, you can interview a neighbors or
friends family instead.
- Do your parents
have as many children as your grandparents had? as your great-grandparents
- Are there differences
among the generations in respect to life expectancy?
- Are there differences
between the sexes in respect to life expectancy?
- Did any of your
family suffer from diseases that are preventable today?
- Does your data
suggest any relationship between life expectancy, occupation, and/or
education level and the number of children people had?
- How large a family
would you like to have? Does knowing your family history have any
bearing on your decision? How does your decision fit into your family
4. Peoples decisions about family size affect not only themselves,
but also the other people they share resources with. This exercise helps
show how changes in population size over time can affect the demand
on public services and resources. The more information and the more
types of information you can collect, the more complete picture you
can make, so it is best to do this exercise with a whole class. Because
some information may be difficult to find, you may have to settle for
estimates, but estimates can still show trends.
- Find out what
your communitys population was ten years ago and what it is
today. Has it grown or declined, and by how much?
- With your class,
make a list of the services and resources you and your family share
with other members of your community. (Some ideas may include: schools,
roads, public transportation, water, sewerage systems, electricity,
telephones, fuel, or farm land.)
- Look over the
list and discard any items that will be impossible to get information
- Break up into
small groups, with each group taking different items from the list.
With your small group find evidence of how demand for your resources
or services has changed over the past ten years. You may find that
ten years ago, a particular service did not even exist, or that a
resource that was widely used ten years ago is not around today. Use
as many different sources as possible--in addition to your local government
offices, interviews with older family members and neighbors, photographs,
newspaper clippings and archives, and utility companies can be good
sources of information.
- With your small
group, present your findings to the class in a short written or oral
- As a whole class
compare the findings with the population trends. As population has
grown or declined, which items have grown or declined with it? Which
use the evidence your class has collected to write a paper answering
the question: If your communitys population continues to grow
or decline over the next ten years as it has in the past ten years,
what additional changes do you expect to see in the demand for resources
and services? Is this sustainable? Explain.