Population growth is a driver of the long-term demand for food. Investing in education for girls and helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies can help keep demand sustainable.
CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden recently identified population growth as one of three top destabilizing trends currently facing the world.
Late last week Chinese family planning officials made headlines by indicating that Beijing might consider relaxing its thirty-year-old mandatory one-child policy. China’s family planning policies are notable not only for being baldly coercive but also for being the excuse the Bush administration offers for defunding the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Demographic trends can interact with other factors such as poverty, poor governance, competition for natural resources, and environmental degradation to exacerbate tensions and contribute to conflict. But demography is not destiny, and family planning and reproductive health can play an important role in preventing and reducing instability.