Importance of a population policy in Pakistan

Type Journal Article - The Pakistan Development Review
Title Importance of a population policy in Pakistan
Volume 40
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2001
Page numbers 345-3
The primary purpose of this lecture is to make a case for an integrated and effective population policy in Pakistan. An effective population policy is critical in its own right. It is also essential for maximising the positive outcome of all of Pakistan’s development efforts. Despite some very modest progress, the overall population growth rate is still so high that it warrants serious concern. Among the top ten contributors to world population growth during 1995–2000, Pakistan stood third in absolute number, and was Number One in rate of growth. The average total fertility rate per woman of 5.2 in Pakistan, as compared to 2.4 in Indonesia, 2.9 in Iran, and 3.1 in India, is indeed problematic and requires an appropriate policy response. A broader view of population growth and economic development is suggested instead of a narrow family planning focus. Thus family planning programmes (supply-side) would be effective only when the population at large has the desire or motivation for smaller families (demand-side). It is shown that the demand-side of the equation is influenced by a host of social, cultural, religious, educational, and other factors. For purposes of this paper, all these are taken together and termed the knowledge factor. It is suggested that a successful population policy must have a clear focus on increasing the knowledge factor in the country through education and advocacy. Based on the policy experiences of other developing countries and the recent demographic realities in Pakistan, an effective population policy must address the following three objectives: (a) reduction in the rate and incidence of unwanted fertility; (b) reduction in demand for large-size families; and (c) greater investment in adolescents to tackle the population momentum problem. The lecture concludes that Pakistan still has a population problem that it must deal with by a comprehensive and effective population programme. Failure to do so would magnify the current problems which are a result of previous policy neglect.

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