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Population Growth Rate

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.

  1. 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 population growth.
    • 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 secure income.
  2. Are there any activities listed that you would not use? Explain.
  3. 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 country’s 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Couple A selects two members of the class as its children; couple B selects three members of the class as its children.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, and G?
  5. 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.
  6. What conclusions can you draw from this exercise?

3. Make a family tree by going back to your great-grandparents on both your mother’s and father’s 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 neighbor’s or friend’s family instead.

  1. Do your parents have as many children as your grandparents had? as your great-grandparents had?
  2. Are there differences among the generations in respect to life expectancy?
  3. Are there differences between the sexes in respect to life expectancy?
  4. Did any of your family suffer from diseases that are preventable today?
  5. Does your data suggest any relationship between life expectancy, occupation, and/or education level and the number of children people had?
  6. 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 tree?

4. People’s 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.

  1. Find out what your community’s population was ten years ago and what it is today. Has it grown or declined, and by how much?
  2. 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.)
  3. Look over the list and discard any items that will be impossible to get information on.
  4. 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.
  5. With your small group, present your findings to the class in a short written or oral report.
  6. 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 have not?
  7. Individually, use the evidence your class has collected to write a paper answering the question: If your community’s 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.

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